My dad was a Hawkeye. He came to Texas after WWII because he got drunk on the train coming out of Seattle after he was mustered out of the Navy. He ended up in Ft. Worth, as he used to tell it, "out of whiskey and out of money."
So, he stayed. Eventually, he got a job flipping hamburgers at a Rockey-Feller's Hamburger stand on the street in Ft. Worth. He was a great salesman of hamburgers. He kept some chopped onions frying on the side of his little grill. The smell enticed customers from two blocks around. One of them was my mother, who rode the bus up from Joshua, Texas each day to her job at the old Montgomery Ward store on 6th Street in Ft. Worth.
My mother was just at six feet tall. My dad was just under five and a half feet tall in his prime. Their's was a marriage made in Heaven with a step ladder.
Talk about confidence. Imagine you are a six inches shorter than the woman who buys a hamburger from you on the street side. She has a real job. You sell burgers. She could eat peanuts off your head. You have a little less than no money.
You have a date with her than night. Then, another and another. Soon you are married. What a salesman.
Hawkeyes have confidence. Hawkeyes have entrepreneurial skills. Hawkeyes know it is better to live in Texas, if only you can get here.
Yes, I know he got here drunk. He stayed even after he sobered up. He was one smart Hawkeye, like most of them. Now, they start to decide the fate of the 2012 National Imposition.
This Iowa caucus will cull the GOP room faster than Herman Cain at a NOW rally. After this one, the candidates left will include Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. I think that will be how they finish tomorrow in Iowa. Michelle Bachmann and Rick II (Santorum) will start to fade now, short of money and staying power. Sarah Palin will take another look at this weak gene pool and rethink her decision to stay out this time. John McCain will wish he were ten years younger.
In fairness to Santorum, he is realistically running for Vice-President this time around. If he makes a decent showing (I hear his name more and more as the others go "Oops") he could position himself well for 2016, when there will be no incumbent in the White House. The choice of Joe Biden for VP also means there will not be a strong former VP to run from the Democratic side. The field will be very, very open in 2016. Santorum needs to be careful not to make a major error that might hurt him in 2016.
We should also note this Iowa caucus will be the first in years where candidates did not have to take the ethanol pledge. The federal subsidy for ethanol expired today, un-mourned by hungry people and cattle growers. More than 40% of the American corn crop (think Iowa) was taken up to produce ethanol for gasoline, though it took more energy to produce the additive than it saved. Imagine paying enormous amounts of federal subsidy money to distill a product that actually defeated its own purpose simply by its own production. This was government thinking at its finest.
Now, the Iowa caucus can proceed without an ethanol pledge, which was used for decades to make certain a candidate had to damage his/her candidacy nationally in order to make himself/herself viable among corn growers in Iowa. With this straight edge removed, candidates must now find other wedge issues or just go negative. Rick Perry has seen the light on abortion and English as the official American language. Romney and Paul have gone super negative in ads attacking Perry and Gingrich. Gingrich has spent his time answering the negative ads against him and keeping his wife in front of the crowds to show how he has converted to monogamy.
When the mud splatters tomorrow, Mitt Romney will have a slight edge over Ron Paul. Perry and Gingrich will be hard to distinguish in the crowd behind Romney and Paul. If Bachmann or Santorum are to have a chance, one will have to make a major move up the ladder in Iowa. If voter fatigue sets in with either of the second tier of "major candidates," Bachmann or Santorum could vault into third.
Here is the thing to watch. While Ron Paul can survive even if he finishes second to Romney, Romney will be seen as fading if he finishes anywhere other than first in Iowa. If Romney slips to third his candidacy will come down to do or die in South Carolina.
Opinions expressed here are mine alone.