So Now It Really Begins...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Since this photo was taken in September, the number of Republican presidential candidates has dropped to six

There are very few certainties in life but if it is a year that is divisible by four, you can bet with little reservation that a US presidential contest is in full swing as the new year is ushered in.  2012 is no different from its predecessors in 2008, 2004 and the turn of the century in 2000. I've been taking some time off from my journalism studies during the winter break period but I haven't been ignoring what is playing out in the print and television media.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that I am a political 'junkie' and follow the activities of the federal government to the degree that some subscribe to Las Vegas gaming odds on sporting events and the various rationales on which those predictions are based.  Since I moved around so much during my adult life, I don't have the same level of fanaticism  towards state or local politics (although some races--and politicians--do capture my attention from time to time).

On the presidential campaign front, we just finished the first two rounds of voter input towards picking the Republicans' eventual nominee to face off against the incumbent--and unopposed--President Obama in the fall and the overall outcomes were the same.  On January 3rd, we saw a result that wasn't totally outside the probability of outcomes with Mitt Romney edging out the late-surging Rick Santorum by a razor-thin margin of just 8 votes in the Iowa causes.  Conversely, last night's New Hampshire primary produced a relatively easy victory for the former Massachusetts governor who finished 16 points and 40,000+ votes ahead of Ron Paul.  We have already seen one candidate bow out after Iowa (Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann) and there could be more after the next contest scheduled for January 21st in South Carolina.  Although the GOP changed their method of allocating delegates for this campaign cycle (no longer 'winner-take-all' affairs), it would be tough to see anyone overcoming Romney's momentum if he were to win the first three contests and some see this upcoming primary as being a 'line in the sand' for traditional conservative voters against a candidate many feel does not fit that description.

Since I want to keep this blog politically 'agnostic', I won't comment on my personal politics here but look at them from an objective--and journalistic--perspective.  As the hosts for the nation's first two stops on the road to the White House, Iowa and New Hampshire get a disproportionate amount of national exposure in this process.  This attention comes from local, national, and even international media outlets who want to give their consumers a first-person accounting of one of our nation's fundamental democratic principles--that our leaders are placed into their positions upon the consent of the governed, and that is through the voting process.  Both states see a spike in their tourism and hospitality sectors during election cycles (and probably count on them to keep their overall budgets in the black for the rest of the 3-1/2 years they are ignored by the major media players).  Since South Carolina is turning out to be such a pivotal contest, I'm guessing we will see cable networks setting up the shows in diners, town halls and other venues throughout the 'Palmetto State' to give their viewers as much coverage as they can tolerate (and many businesses will be extolling the virtues of democracy all the way to the bank).

With my 'outing' of myself above, I'd also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Chuck Todd on the second anniversary of his MSNBC political program "The Daily Rundown".  Since I work evenings, I don't have the luxury of viewing all of the campaign-related video and other data in real-time that I used to and I rely upon this program to fill me in on what is considered to be newsworthy in Washington political circles.  Started on January 11th, 2010 with co-host (and now "Today Show" co-host) Savannah Guthrie pictured above, this hour-long show brings on guests and contributors from both sides of the nation's political spectrum (and even a few who may barely recognize such an identifying device).  In addition to the discussions, two of the features that make the show unique (and a "can't miss" for me) are the president's daily schedule as well as a (usually) challenging trivia question that allows viewers to 'tweet' their answers to get a 'follow' via Twitter to the first correct submitter (I must admit that I'm much too sleepy at that hour to be the first but I've gotten my fair share of correct answers over the months). The White House 'soup of the day', on the other hand, is something I don't wait to hear about with bated breath.

Todd was in the news for an interview he conducted early last month with reality show host Donald Trump and the adversarial tone the self-promoting Trump took with Todd over issues surrounding controversy surrounding the business magnate (and potential third party adversary) hosting a Republican debate (which was eventually cancelled due to a lack of participants).  Todd had to bite his tongue a few times during that exchange and his eye-rolling at around the 2:00 point is priceless.  I'm guessing that there are days even someone of Chuck's stature wishes he was still in bed and not having to put himself at the mercy of a 21st century edition of a 'carnival barker' in front of a national television audience.

I've enjoyed their first two years and I'm hoping that there will be many more to come.  Congratulations on providing an intelligent program on politics for me and my fellow 'junkies!

P.S.  My next class (JOURN 300, Newswriting and Reporting) starts on January 23rd so I should have a little more time to get some other things done beforehand--like more consistent blogging.  

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