The GOP in Iowa; Live blogging the coverage

GOP in Iowa –Live blogging the coverage

 

Gingrich

The last 48 hours leading up to results from the Iowa caucuses, and “every second counts” according to CNN. That principle does not apply to air time. Yesterday evening, minutes after saying repeatedly that CNN would be bringing you the candidates’ words, live and unfiltered, Candy Crowley cut away just when Ron Paul was heading to the podium.

CNN had been actively touting its direct presentations of the candidates, saying It’s as though you are there. You too will hear the candidates, just as if you were in Iowa. Et cetera. The audience out in televisionland, however, never did get into the room to hear Paul speak to his live audience. A split screen a little while later showed where each candidate was, Rep. Paul speaking at the podium, one visual in the graphic among six. No audio. Instead, more commentary from Crowley—repeating summations of the up-and-down already amply reported–more commentary from guest pundits, and a couple quick cut-aways to Newt Gingrich, in interview, and to Michele Bachmann on the campaign trail. Admittedly some humor value was there to be had. Bachmann said more than once, aiming in the general direction of the mic thrust into her face, that “thousands” of Iowans were switching to her. Bachmann has repeatedly declined to say that she would support the Republican nominee for president, whoever s/he was, always declaring that she will be the nominee. It could have been the diplomatic answer but was styled verbally with typical Bachmann ham-handedness. She did the same kind of thing when asked questions about the war, saying repeatedly, “I’m a mom.” Then she pushes herself as the one “genuine” candidate in the mix.

Crowley interviewed Paul on air today, with clips aired more than once. Since most of the air time in the interview went to Crowley rehashing attacks by opponents—mainly Gingrich–against Paul, the interview was not equivalent to live coverage of the candidate speaking. Paul’s answers tend to be terse and to the point, one source of his appeal. So Crowley ended up doing more of the talking in the interview.

 

Santorum reported as surging

As of this writing, Mitt Romney tops the polls in Iowa, followed closely by Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Santorum is aiming fire at Paul. Paul validly responds that the overwhelming majority of Americans want us out of Afghanistan, as he does.* Gingrich and Rick Perry are closely fighting for 4th-5th. Michele Bachmann is consistently at the bottom.

One hesitates to be a mind reader, but somehow that last item feels—what is the word?—unsurprising.

One good thing about listening to television is that it makes you think about the language we use.

A phrase that should be retired, whether it comes from the candidates or the commentators, is “At the end of the day.” I am influenced in this wish partly by the late John Weiglein, a good man who wished the same thing.

Another candidate for retirement, aside from Gingrich and the rest: “If you will.” (Rick Perry is already retired.)

“If you will” is a phrase used when putting forth something a bit doubtful, or something not established, or something a bit risky. The phrase is what one offers when stumped for a final answer or a precise formulation, compelled by the exigencies of the conversation to provide an interim suggestion. It softens the overreach. It is a social gesture to reassure the hearer that one is not overreaching, or at least not wantonly or for the fun of it. It is not a phrase to be used when one is saying exactly what a thousand other pundits have already said, or when one is describing something in perfectly ordinary words. Example: “Michele Bachmann’s coming in last in GOP polls is unsurprising, if you will.”

 

*As does this writer.

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