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Latarski: Birthing pains
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Now that the Iowa Caucus is over, we can go ahead and celebrate the real start of the presidential primary season.

The good news is this is our democracy in action; the bad news is, it will be in action for the next nine months.

The fact that this period of time is similar to that of the birthing process should not be considered an accident. Both can bring about joy and pain and you seldom know what you are going to end up with but know you will be stuck with it for a while.

We can be thankful it is not similar to the birthing process of the elephant because that takes about two years. Come to think of it, some of these folks have been running for about two years, so I offer my apologies to the noble pachyderm.

Iowa is different in that it is not a go-to-the-voting-booth primary but a caucus, which is a collection of sewing circle meetings that essentially result in a straw poll.

Caucus sounds like a gathering where people should be shucking corn, which makes perfect sense in Iowa and may actually be pretty close to the method needed to select a candidate for president.

While the Iowa caucuses garner considerable attention and ballyhoo as being the first test of candidates where real people voice their opinions rather than pollsters or pundits, Iowa has only been first since 1972.

Despite its perceived importance, Iowa is like the big football game where you hold your breath waiting for the start as the kicker approaches the ball, only to have the wind blow it off the tee. And "caucus-goer" sounds like a line of people waiting for a new ride at Six Flags.

Because Iowa was first the media swarmed the poor state like a school of piranha going after a capybara crossing the Amazon River. This means even if we wanted to ignore the whole business it would be impossible.

But the truly astonishing thing about early primaries is how someone cannot win but be declared a "winner" because they don't lose as badly as anticipated and a winner can be deemed a "loser" because the win was not as big as expected.

This causes some, often unable to conceal their own surprise, to announce they are carrying on their campaigns with zest.

Others, who have campaigns as lifeless as the Dead Sea Scrolls, will announce they are in the race to the end--oblivious to the fact the end just arrived.

Mitt Romney appeared to be the winner in Iowa but it was basically a tie with Rick Santorum so Romney will be view as a loser because, as the perceived front runner, he did not win big.

Santorum will be declared the big winner because it appears he came from changing tires at Sears last week to now being a serious candidate.

Ron Paul is the loose lug nut candidate but a "winner" because he finished in the top three.

Michele Bachman, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry are, as they say in the business world, free to pursue other interests. Naturally one or two of them will not give up and continue to lumber through the primary season looking for a miracle like a stegosaurus looking for a crabapple tree. While none of them will run out of gas eventually they will run out of money and that will be the end.

In politics, winning and losing, like beauty and the ball out of bounds, is in the eye of the beholder.
So it is on to New Hampshire and South Carolina where the game will truly be afoot. It is still a long way to November.

Just remember primaries are a lot like poker games; the winner pulls in the pot and smiles and the loser says, "deal the next hand."

Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at