Iowa Pander Watch

Welcome to caucus week, when campaign staffers and reporters freebase NoDoz, rumors of back room deals circulate, and Iowans are told they’re God’s gift to the political system.

The corollary to that last part is that any suggestion that Iowans are not the Second Coming times 3 million —or that their antiquated caucus system is somehow inferior or in need of reform—earns a candidate swift rebukes from his or her rivals. A late-night e-mail from Obama spokesman Bill Burton catches this lede from the Columbus Dispatch :

Beginning the presidential nominating process in Iowa, as will occur this week, “makes no sense,” says Gov. Ted Strickland, who recently campaigned there for Sen. Hillary Clinton. “I’d like to see both parties say, ‘We’re going to bring this to an end,’ ” he said.

Strickland thus violated the first commandment of Iowa politics: He desecrated the caucus.

Time ‘s Mark Halperin assures us all that ” Clinton campaign disavows remarks .” But that doesn’t mean Obama and Edwards won’t take this puppy for a ride. It probably won’t spark blowback of Shaheen-like proportions , but I wouldn’t be surprised if an apology also completely unrelated to the Clinton campaign is in the works. Or maybe they’ll let Strickland off with 100 Hail Hawkeyes.

UPDATE 12:19 p.m.: Apparently Strickland isn’t alone