Not that I really care about the 2016 campaign, but No More Mister Nice Blog is reporting, Iowa Republicans Apparently Live in Their Own Information Bubble, Not the Beltwy’s. It looks at how Iowa Republicans are looking at potential 2016 presidential nominees. They are big on Paul Ryan, which is just short of the most boring thing I’ve ever heard. Much of that is just that he’s attractive. Big deal.
What was more interesting, but no more surprising was, “Iowa voters are apparently not obsessed with the post-2012 media flavors-of-the-month, Chris Christie and Ted Cruz.” The reason for this is simple, although most political observers just don’t seem to get it. Both Christie and Cruz are assholes. That doesn’t play most places.
Rural areas tend to be more conservative for a number of reasons. One is that they aren’t terribly diverse. It is so much easier to think that black folks are bad if all you ever see are black men charged with murder on the television news. What’s more, in low crime areas, people tend to take an over-sized approach to law enforcement—they want to “throw the book” at people for small crimes. These are unfortunately aspects of rural populations. But one fortunate aspect is that the people generally have a more rigid idea of decorum.
Ted Cruz, for all his Texas “charm,” comes off as the Princeton University elitist that he is. Every time I see him on the television, I’m not struck so much by his being wrong as I am by how he seems to be talking down to me. I get the very same thing from Rand Paul, who also doesn’t come off too well in Iowa. They both come off like they are trying to school me in basic economics. “If only you fools would read your Friedrich Hayek a bit more carefully, you’d understand how the world really works!”
I understand that Paul Ryan thinks the exact same things, but that’s not how he comes off at all. In fact, if you really listen to him (and I’m afraid most liberals do not), you will hear all kinds of populism coming from him. He talks about the unfair tax code and about how working people are being kept down. Sure: all his solutions will only make matters worse, but his pitch is directed at the middle classes and wanting to save them. The same goes for Rick Santorum, who has great economic rhetoric (and whose economic policies would actually be more populist).
As for Chris Christie, well what do you expect? The only reason the Villagers are so fond of him is that they see him as a “third way” kind of guy. He gets the same treatment that John McCain does. He’s a conservative, sure. But he doesn’t hate the gays! Except he does. He doesn’t want to limit access to abortions! Except he does. He doesn’t want to destroy the environment! Except he does. He’s also corrupt. But none of that matters, because to the beltway crowd, he seems reasonable. Of course, part of that is just that he’s a governor in a blue state. What do these people expect? Did they think he was going to go out of his way to prove how conservative he was during a re-election campaign?
As for the people in Iowa, I’m sure that he comes off as the very rude man from New Jersey that he is. He’s the guy that yells at reporters and teachers and anyone else who asks him a question that he doesn’t like. And don’t forget: he’s big. And that just makes him seem like a bully—which he is! The only places that Christie is likely to do well are the places that will be won by the Democrat in the general election: New Jersery, New York, California. So if the national Republican Party is stupid enough to nominate Christie, have at it. But it would seem that the people in Iowa are a bit smarter than that.
I am well aware that there is right now a highly paid team of political consultants who are simultaneously working on ways to make Christie look more traditionally conservative (that is, fascist) and less like a total asshole. I just don’t think that second part can be done.
 I saw a blond woman on television talking about income inequality and how she dug herself out of poverty. All I could think was, “Yeah, but almost no one is gorgeous like you are. Do you really think your looks have nothing to do with your being on television?” Looks matter enormously in everything.