Impeachment is not the issue in Iowa

CORN IS. AND HEALTH CARE. AND IMMIGRATION. AND THIS WACKY WEATHER. WILL SOMEONE DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

BY ART CULLEN

Right now, impeachment is not top of mind in Iowa, even for the most likely caucus-goers. Corn yields are more urgent as the golden harvest pours in. Maybe off 10-15%, a farmer friend says. It’s that wacky weather that brought floods and late planting, and has mucked up the harvest. That’s what people are talking about in Northwest Iowa.

Of the more than dozen Democratic presidential candidates who have stumped in Storm Lake, only Tom Steyer brought up impeachment. Nobody is asking. They want to know about immigration and health care, and what to do about wacky weather and corn yields.

That’s precisely what JD Scholten hears on his tour of 39 towns in the Fourth Congressional District that are less than 1,000 population. Not one question about impeachment. No mention of President Trump. Not even much talk about Rep. Steve King, the Republican whom Scholten hopes to unseat.

It’s already baked into the cake.

Democrats loathe Trump but they know the Senate will not evict him. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, during her recent break tried to tell farmers that Trump really is their friend. They weren’t buying it. He double-crossed them by waiving ethanol blending requirements for 31 refineries, and he started a trade war with China that has knocked soybean prices on their ear.

Ernst did get asked by some Democrats at her recess appearances about impeachment. She begged off. She is a juror, you know. We’ll have to see.

That is, the polls say Iowa Republicans still love Trump. Ernst is staying put, so far. So is Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. They have told Trump to straighten up on ethanol but it is not clear he is listening. Each likely will be asked to take the vote of their career after the House moves to impeach.

If the vote were today, they would stand with Trump. They know their base.

The Democrats think he is a liar, a scoundrel and a crook. They knew that before he was elected. Our Main Street merchant businessmen friends aren’t Republican anymore. They’re anybody but Trumpers. They know who he is, knew it when he was elected.

Those who voted for Trump are still pretty much with him.

They aren’t paying that much heed to the colonel or the diplomat or the defense official who courageously testified to Congress. Quid pro quo is not on their lips. Busch Light is. The boys at the bar this week were arguing that Medicare for All will tax them to death, and that the floodgates will be overcome at the border as refugees seek a free colonoscopy.

Scholten tells voters that he sort of likes Medicare for All, but there might be a better way to get to universal health care. They nod their heads. They are not worried about freeloading colons.

They want to know who can win. Period.

Are Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren too radical? Not when your rural hospital might close. Does Mayor Pete have a glass ceiling? He is smart and honest, people seem to agree. But can he win? And where is Joe Biden? That’s what people in Iowa talk about, when they talk politics out loud.

They are not talking about Rudy Giuliani’s calligraphic style addressing the envelope that said “White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” with swampiness on the Ukrainian ambassador inside. They are outraged that Trump would withhold aid to Ukraine to dig dirt on the Bidens, or the FBI. But they were outraged long before. Iowa Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to rationalize it. Dissing ethanol might be impeachable, but not this.

Mainly, folks wonder whether it might snow in the middle of the corn harvest. And whether that idled ethanol plant will fire up again. And if they will lose money again this year because of this trade war without end. And if the weather will be this weird again next year — they expect it will. They would like to know that someone will try to do something to help them as their prospects wisp away and the cable talk chatters. Next year, they will vote in numbers never before seen, Scholten expects. That’s when the eviction notice is served.

This column was also published in The Guardian US (www.theguardian.com).

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