Did CIA PETE And COBRA Do The RIGGED?
Monday's Iowa caucus was a disaster on the level of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, but it's an insult to the inherent poetry of clusterfucks to suggest there's some organized conspiracy behind whatever the hell happened last night. It's Black History Month. We can at least try to accept that white people can epically fail at a task. They don't need the assistance of shadowy figures in smoke-filled rooms.
The problems started because it was a close race, which was heavily predicted, and calculating caucus results is hard, especially when at least several dozen people participated. The human body only has so many fingers and toes to count on. But folks -- especially those who work for cable news -- wanted a clear winner declared RIGHT AWAY and before their East Coast bedtimes. They weren't going to stay up all night like the caucus was a common World Series or Academy Awards. When it became clear we wouldn't get any definitive results last night, there was speculation that the delay was intended to benefit Joe Biden. I think actually winning might've benefitted him more, but yes, a muddy result from a craptastic caucus is great news for John McCain's former Senate colleague. It doesn't mean the Iowa Democratic Party was in cahoots with Uncle Joe. The delay was reportedly the result of a technical mishap.
When I woke up this morning, I found the hashtags #CIAPETE and #MAYORCHEAT trending on Twitter. Although the latter is certainly hilarious, they both are irresponsible. There's no (as in zero and none) evidence that Pete Buttigieg cheated or engaged in any deliberate skullduggery to perform well in a state that was tailor-made for him. Iowa is 91 percent white, and if you watch "Finding Your Roots," you'd know that most white people aren't actually that white. Caucus-goers also skew older. Older white people are naturally going to love the Eddie Haskell candidate. The results, which we might officially learn at some point in this calendar year, don't seem that surprising. It's not like I won.
Mike Cernovich is an anti-feminist conspiracy theorist who inexplicably has a Twitter following. He claimed to have discovered a "connection" between Buttigieg and the technology company -- "Shadow," because "COBRA" was already taken by GI Joe -- behind the app that imploded last night. I watched enough "X-Files" while not dating in college to know that conspiracy masterminds don't leave such obvious clues or at least none that someone with Cernovich's limited intelligence could find. Deleting incriminating texts is pretty low-hanging fruit when you're "rigging an election."
Cernovich, of course, is a noted kook. I shouldn't make too much of him shouting at the rain. It's not like he's a sitting senator ... and holy crap, Lindsey Graham said something crazy again, didn't he?
Yes, I think these two unrelated things are not part of an organized conspiracy to protect Joe Biden from the electoral hurricane that is Bernie Sanders. This is why Jill Biden thinks Graham sucks now. He sounds like Donald Trump, except even Trump's post-Iowa tweet was less InfoWars-esque.
Last night wasn't even entirely the app's fault. It just wasn't tested for shit. As someone who's managed operations and major tech releases, your job is to either make sure a new system works or adequately explain why it won't. It doesn't appear that either happened. They just ran with it. The results themselves -- with first, second, and final round "alignments" -- are maddening and confusing, but somehow part of a "reform" Bernie Sanders spearheaded and supported, but Sanders supporters now condemn because it didn't help Sanders. This is like a guy convincing his wife to have a threesome and then she runs off with the other woman. You need to accept some responsibility for how things turned out.
I've defended Buttigieg from the more absurd accusations against him, but I will make fun of him for his "victory" speech. I'm not dragging him for declaring himself "the winner and champion" when there were no official results yet. It was a smart move to seize momentum. Biden will still crush him in states with a sizable minority population. Buttigieg will likely break the streak of Iowa predicting the eventual nominee since 2000. He's "Huckabee-ed" the Iowa caucus for Democrats.
I do agree with Buttigieg that Iowa "shocked the nation" last night. That's true. We were all shocked by the incompetence. But that's no conspiracy.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).