Bring On the Clowns

The spring of the year preceding a presidential election has arrived, and again we are entertained with the quadrennial parade of professional pifflemongers to the steppes of Iowa, a state inebriated by the hypothesis that it alone has the wit and discernment to distinguish the genuine pretenders from the merely egomaniacal. Iowa takes for granted its sagacity in the matter of judging cows and would-be presidents at state fairs, so other states wishing to wrest control of Iowa’s perpetual first-in-the-nation status would do well to acknowledge the bucolic charms of Iowan prairie life and the political wisdom they invariably confer. And so every four years—but nary a one in between—the lowing herds of nostrum peddlers and gasbags obtrude themselves on proud Iowa, sip coffee with the salt of the earth in Mama’s Café, order up a plate of hotcakes and corn syrup, and nod earnestly as local boy Billy Bob dilates on geopolitical conundrums and especially the need for the ethanol subsidy. Then it’s back on the bus and down the straight, flat road. Collectively they form a claque of traveling grovelers, mountebanks, and dancing bears whose bedrock convictions sway with the prevailing winds and the vagaries of the particular audience. Who doesn’t love a great circus, especially the clowns?

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