Friday, October 14, 2005

Iowa & New Hampshire, the White House Way

There is a curious AP story on the White House efforts to direct Iowa and New Hampshire GOP activists to pressure Presidential Wannabes to vote the White House Way on the Miers’ nomination. From the AP wire via Waterloo Courier,

The White House is seeking the help of Republican activists in Iowa and New Hampshire to pressure GOP senators with presidential hopes to support Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers.

The effort, coming as the White House seeks to reassure conservatives skeptical about Miers' qualifications, is largely aimed at turning up the heat on Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, White House aides acknowledged on Thursday. …

…. The White House effort to try to pressure Brownback and others through prominent Republicans in New Hampshire was first reported on Thursday by the New Hampshire Union-Leader. White House aides confirmed the account and said a similar effort was being made in Iowa.

… while Brownback does not feel he knows enough about Miers yet to decide how he will vote, he does not have a problem with the request made of him in the letter and thinks every judicial nominee should get an up or down vote.

I suppose this is a stay-tuned sort of story with more memo, letters and background to come, but I can’t help wondering about a White House that actually believes Iowa’s elite political culture holds sway with the base.

This is one more example of how the early primaries have become extensions of inside the beltway politicking. Allowing the ossified political cultures in Iowa and New Hampshire to carry the water for the White House is a classic example of artificial presidential grassroots work.

In presidential grassroots politicking of the past, candidates would show up and Iowans would show up, it was organic, stuff happened. Now it seems orchestrated, the leaders of GOP leaning activist groups are often putting out D.C. approved policy statements, with the implicit message that if you don’t follow our line we don’t intend to deliver the votes. And those votes come from the loyal, single issue, follow the leader (screw it) -- sheep, which are the preferred marks for these activists to cultivate.

It’s hard to predict how this White House end run on the DC Conservatives is going to work. One scenario, a successful badgering of ultra conservative PWs achieves the desired result, a swiftly confirmed Miers. An alternate scenario, the DC Conservatives -- guys like Paul Weyrich, Grover Norquist, even Bill Kristol (although, as a nice Jewish guy from New York, it’s hard to see how much sway he could pull with a state that held a major event on Yom Kippur) -- shore up their Iowa connections by promising lots of political perks to the Iowa & New Hampshire activists holding the line on Miers.

This sort of politicking could actually end up creating one big mess, leading to a fractured Iowa GOP political base. And that cannot be a good thing going into a hard-hitting governor’s race.

It's disturbing to know that these interest groups think they can play the Iowa and NH processes as though they were puppetmasters. It's even more disturbing to think for a moment that they might be right.
It is October, we should expect spooky things to be happening...even in politics.
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