The Plank

"the Caucus Racket"

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Leave it to Christopher Hitchens to write the most spot-on take down of the Iowa Caucus, rife with "open corruption," "Tammany tactics," and "mini-bribes." Hitchens illustrates the depths to which our democracy has sunk in detailing the Obama campaign's sending instructional DVDs to caucus-goers' homes; "Nobody needs a DVD to understand one-person-one-vote, a level playing field, and a secret ballot." Of course the secret ballot -- fundamental to any democratic process -- is absent in the caucus, replaced by a bizarre, Midwestern public shaming ritual straight out of a Garrison Keillor novel, pretty much all that's needed to render the Iowa primary illegitimate (a notion, however, that doesn't seem to faze the supporters of "Card Check Neutrality" and its legislative enactor, the Orwellian-named "Employee Free Choice Act"). Hitchens's damning conclusion, with which it's hard to disagree, is that "it makes the United States look and feel like a banana republic both at home and overseas."

--James Kirchick 

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