The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Trouble in River City

Rich Galen

Monday January 13, 2020

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  • Everyone knows about the Meredith Wilson musical, "The Music Man."

  • Everyone who has ever done a statewide race in Iowa knows that "River City" in Wilson's play is actually Mason City, Iowa. And, most have done the obligatory campaign event in the indoor-replica of River City's Main Street.


    When I was involved with the late Fred Thompson's campaign we did that and, during a lull in the proceedings I walked into a meeting room. Hanging from the ceiling of that room were trombones.

    Because I have a personality disorder, I felt it necessary to count those trombones.

    There were seventy-six.


  • As we approach the February 3 Iowa Caucuses, a particular song from that show comes to mind: "Ya got Trouble."
    Ya got trouble
    Right here in River City
    With a capital "T" and that rhymes with "P"
    And that stands for Pool

  • The particular "trouble" brewing in Iowa as we move to within three weeks of the beginning of the Democratic nominating process is the intramural fighting that has surfaced between top-tier Liberals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

  • The latest Iowa Poll run under the auspices of the Des Moines Register, shows a jumble at the top for support:
    Bernie Sanders - 20 percent
    Elizabeth Warren - 17 percent
    Pete Buttigieg - 16 percent
    Joe Biden - 15 percent

  • Sanders, by all accounts, has a massive on-the-ground operation. The old story is, unlike an election where someone goes to the grammar school lunch room, casts their vote, then goes back out into the often-brutal Iowa winter and goes home, a caucus requires a commitment of several hours sitting in that lunch room listening to speeches on behalf of each of the candidates.

  • Thus, having the troops (phones and, if necessary the four-wheel-drive vehicles) available to actually get your supporters to that lunch room is crucial.

  • is reporting that the Sanders campaign is using a call script that paints Warren as a "a candidate of the upper crust who could not expand the Democratic base in a general election."

  • The script, aimed at Iowans leaning toward Warren, goes on to say, "people who support her are highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what."

  • The thing about phone scripts is, they can seep into the political discussion for a long time before they come to light. In many cases, a negative script like this, is useful to use with "soft" supporters of your opponent to either get them to switch to your candidate, or to stay home and not vote at all.

  • This is called, "voter suppression."

  • Sanders and Warren, as Lee Atwater used to say, are "Fishin' out of the same end of the pond." They are both looking for Iowa Liberals.

  • Among Democratic Socialists (which is Bernie's self-proclaimed affiliation) there is no greater slur than to say that a candidate is the darling, and/or in the thrall, of "affluent" voters - The Man, The Bosses, The One-Percenters.

  • For her part Warren, according to the Politico piece, whined over the weekend that she was "disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me."

  • The script says to tell people who are leaning toward Biden to say, "No one is really excited about him" and to those who favor Buttigieg, "He's not winning over young people or African-Americans."

  • As the days continue to tick down to caucus night and, assuming the polls remain tight, this opening salvo from the Bernie Sanders campaign may well generate return fire from the campaigns of Biden, Buttigieg, and Warren.

  • That could mean that no matter who wins on February 3 (or whenever the Iowa Democratic Party decodes the results) the political gnashing of teeth moving east into New Hampshire, back west to Nevada, and then south to South Carolina will make it all the more difficult to join hands and march off happily after a nominee is chosen.

  • This, for Democrats, is trouble with a capital "T."

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Wikipedia entry for "The Music Man" and a YouTube link for the song "Ya got Trouble." Also links to the Des Moines Register poll, to the article about the Sanders phone script, and to a Tweet containing the actual language.

    The Mullfoto is from last weekend at the pool behind the Delano Hotel in Miami.

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