How About “Never?” Does “Never” Work For You?

So one of today’s new items from Iowa (apologies to the commenters who hate reading about the caucuses, but sorry, the subject is dominating what little political news we have) is that Rep. Steve King, the savage nativist whose name is supposedly magic in Iowa conservative circles, is attacking Ron Paul and hinting he might yet endorse someone else to stop him.

Gee, Steve, have you looked at a calendar lately? The caucuses are on Tuesday, after a holiday weekend when even Iowa political junkies will be distracted. They say “better late than never,” but at some point “late” becomes the functional equivalent of “never” (as suggested in the title of this post, borrowed from one of my favorite New Yorker cartoons of all time).

In the last presidential cycle, King waited until December 17 to endorse Big Fred Thompson, and has reportedly regretted not moving earlier; Fred finished third behind Huckabee and Romney, though he did survive to keep Huck from winning a South Carolina victory that might have derailed McCain’s nomination. But it’s long past December 17, and you gotta wonder if King’s losing his touch for real, or maybe just can’t bring himself to diss his doomed friend Michele Bachmann.

Or perhaps King himself is a bit distracted this year. He’s facing his toughest re-election fight ever, against Christie Vilsack, wife of the former two-term governor and current Secretary of Agriculture, and a very popular figure in her own right (it was Christie, not Tom, who gave John Kerry a crucial push in 2004 with a pre-Caucus endorsement). The district (changed significantly by redistricting) is pretty conservative, but word on the street is that Iowa Republicans are worried that King was slow to get his campaign up and running.

In any event, the political world is hardly holding its breath for King to indicate his choice in the Caucuses, and unless there are an awful lot of undecideds who cherish his opinion, he probably shouldn’t even bother.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.