How scary is Iowa?

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I know, I know: It doesn't deserve the hype. And Mitt Romney's going to be the Republican nominee anyway; the rest is all theater. And I was just joking about how it might help Obama if one of the true wingnuts won the Iowa Caucuses.

But in the cold light of a Jan. 4 morning, I have to say:

It's pretty fucking scary that the voters in Iowa not only took seriously but gave a fair amount of support to someone who has made much of his career out of being a homophobe and a racist. Oh, and really, really stupid:

“There are people who were gay and lived the gay lifestyle and aren’t anymore. I don’t know if that’s the similar situation or that’s the case for anyone that’s black. It’s a behavioral issue as opposed to a color of the skin issue, and that’s the diff for serving in the military.”

Seriously: I know that he only got 30,000 votes, and there are a lot of evangelical Christians in Iowa, and I suppose not all of them hate queer people. Al Sharpton -- and whatever you say, Sharpton's no political fool -- says that Santorum helps the Democrats by forcing Romney to continue to pander to the right. And I don't believe that even 25 percent of the Republican voters in the nation as a whole would support someone with Santorum's views.

But still: It's 2012. And the most virulently antigay candidate in a right-wing field is right up near the top in the first real contest.

Isn't that a little bit alarming?