I am confused. Did anyone lose in Iowa on Monday?
Iowa 2016 was a millennial soccer game. Nobody lost, but instead of participation trophies, everyone got to deliver a victory speech.
“We’re just so happy with the way everything worked out,” Donald Trump said, after his (huge, classy) numbers came in. “I’m honored.” He was so pleased with the results, he said, that he might buy a farm in Iowa. “We will go on to get the Republican nomination and we will go on to easily beat Hillary or Bernie or whatever the hell they throw up there,” he concluded.
Hillary threw a triumphant rally, thanking the state from the bottom of her heart and saying she was “breathing a sigh of relief.” Also, she looks forward to getting to discuss things with Bernie Sanders more. Really, that is what victory is for Clinton: getting to spend more time with Bernie Sanders, engaging in robust discussion. This was her preferred outcome. She is in no way screaming internally and this is not at all the nightmare scenario she has dreaded for eight years, nope, ha-ha.
Ted Cruz (who, setting him apart from any of the previously named candidates, actually had the race called for him) delivered what threatened to be a Filibuster of Victory (Clinton started and ended her speech while he was still ticking away), with his trademark delivery of someone slightly overplaying himself in a high school theater production. He announced that he was the second coming of Ronald Reagan, as the prophets had foretold, and that “What scares them is the old Reagan coalition is coming back together, of conservatives. We’re seeing conservatives and evangelicals and Libertarians and Reagan Democrats all coming together as one and that terrifies Washington, D.C.”
After seeing his caucus totals, Bernie Sanders emitted a loud whoop and announced that “What Iowa has started is a political revolution.”
“This looks like the fourth victory speech of the night,” Rachel Maddow observed on MSNBC. Her count was low.
Marco Rubio had already thanked Iowa for results that would surely propel him to victory in November. (Although in the Republican party, not winning in Iowa is a far better predictor of getting nominated than winning in Iowa, so: maybe he has a point?) “So this is the moment they said would never happen,” he proclaimed. Really? They said you wouldn’t…come in third in Iowa? Who is this “they,” exactly? “For months, for months they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offer too much optimism in a time of anger, we had no chance…. But tonight, tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a very clear message.” Yes! That message was, “Marco Rubio is our third-favorite of the GOP candidates.”
Which raises the question: did anyone not win in Iowa?
Well, Mike Huckabee and Martin O’Malley, both of whom announced Monday night that they are departing the race.
But why go? Huckabee wasn’t even last. And O’Malley placed a respectable third, which, in the Rubio calculus, entitled him to ride uninterrupted into the White House trailing clouds of glory. Instead, he thanked voters “for giving me an opportunity to write this story of this country’s future,” he noted. (Who knew that this was what he was doing! I thought he was embarrassing himself with a guitar on daytime shows, to no effect.) But if he’d known that the theme of the evening was erroneously claiming victory when you came in Second (sorry, “First But One”) or Third (sorry, ‘A Strong Showing But Free of the Iowa Curse’) or even Fourth (“Just Wait For New Hampshire, When The Establishment Awakens”), we could have had a victory speech from him too.
Just what we needed.