It's been quite a week around the country. It started off on Tuesday with the widely anticipated Iowa caucuses, the very first test of a candidate's appeal to the electorate and the results were somewhat surprising. The front-runner, Mitt Romney, won by only 8 votes over the late-charging Rick Santorum while the libertarian-minded Ron Paul was a distant third. The old political hack, Newt Gingrich was fourth, Rick Perry, once the rising star in the Republican Party who is now seen mostly as spoiled goods was fifth, and Iowa native Michelle Bachmann, who won the Iowa straw poll back in the summer, finished a dismal sixth and dropped out of the race the next day. Jon Huntsman, who didn't campaign in Iowa at all because he was putting all of his time and money into the New Hampshire primary that votes this coming Tuesday, was last.
Why do we pay so much attention to Iowa? It's certainly not a mirror of the country at large since it is predominantly agrarian and small city based. Its voters are divided almost evenly between Democrats, Republicans and Independents with each group claiming about one third of the registered voters in the state. In this past week's caucuses, only 5.4 percent of the registered voters in Iowa actually cast a vote. So, it would seem to be so insignificant as to not matter at all. On the other hand, no candidate who has finished worse than third in Iowa has ever gone on to win their party's presidential nomination. So if you believe in averages as predictors, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman ought to follow Michelle Bachman's lead and bow out of the race too because the odds are severely stacked against them.
Another surprising development was the announcement made by Senator Nelson that he will not run for a third term for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska. Dick Trail addressed this development in his Tuesday column and although I agree that the Senator probably made that decision after looking at the numbers and seeing little chance of winning the election, I had to smile when my good friend Dick defined the Senator as being part of "the Liberal Democratic faction" in Congress. Many of us know that Senator Nelson is one of only two Democrats in Congress who vote most frequently with Republicans and I've said before in this column that Senator Nelson was a Democrat in name only. I like and respect Senator Nelson and wish him well in whatever he decides to do after his term is up but to describe him as a member of the liberal Democrat faction is really stranger than fiction.
Another piece of information that came out this week may not surprise many of you. MSN Money reports that nearly half of all members of Congress are part of the 1 percenters. The median net worth of a U.S. Senator in 2010 was 2.63 million dollars, up 11 percent from the previous year. The median net worth of a House member was over $756,000. That figure has almost tripled since 1984 while the net worth of ALL Americans declined slightly during the same time period. Does anybody really think these people represent the best interests of the average American? And what happens if you throw them all out, like some people are suggesting. I'll tell you what would happen. They would be replaced by people just like them. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
And, finally, Pat Robertson made news again this week, which shouldn't surprise many folks. Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network many years ago and has been its head and chief spokesman ever since. He even threw his hat into the Presidential primaries a few years ago but dropped out fairly early. His comments earlier this week have gone viral and have become a YouTube sensation because of a "conversation" he said he had with God. Now a conversation means that two or more people are exchanging information with each other and that's exactly how Robertson described his interaction with God. Robertson asked God questions and God answered. God told him that the United States faced an evil like no other it had ever faced before. Robertson asked him if a comet was going to hit earth and God said no. Robertson asked him if sun spots were going to turn the earth upside down and God said no. Robertson asked him if we were facing the end of the world as the Mayan calendar seems to indicate and God said no. What do you think the terrible evil that we face is?
God told Pat Robertson it is Barack Obama.
That's right. The President of the United States is the most serious evil this country has ever faced, more evil that the Germans during World War I and II, more evil than the Japanese in World War II, more evil than the North Koreans in the Korean War or the Vietcong in the Vietnam War, more evil than the threat of nuclear destruction during our decades long cold war with the Soviet Union and more evil than the now dead Osama bin Laden and his gang of terrorists. Republicans have been saying this ever since Obama was elected, especially the talking heads like Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter and Robertson and because of that, I hear those same sentiments echoed around town because many people just repeat what they've heard without doing any fact checking themselves at all.
So this sounds a lot more like Pat Robertson's sentiments and political philosophy than God's.
When I was serving as the youth minister of the Baptist Church I belonged to when I was in high school in Arkansas, I remember a conversation I had with our pastor about a sermon I was going to preach. I admired and respected our pastor deeply and always went to him for counsel. I was telling him about a particular point I wanted to make to the congregation and he told me to tell the congregation that God had laid that point on my heart to share with them. I told him that God HADN'T laid it on my heart, that I just thought it was just something they should hear. He told me he understood that but that points always carry a lot more weight with people when they come from God instead of man.
Although not as many people fall for that sham today as they did a generation ago, there are still a lot who do because of personal guilt over their own behaviors and attitudes and a fear of death and that's a shame.