Sunday, April 8, 2007

Why They Come to Iowa

Days Unit Bush Leaves Office = 653

Iowa is tiny, in terms of both geography and population, it is less diverse than the country as a whole, it is far less urban than the country as a whole, and generally is so dull and unimportant that one of the top priorities of the governor and legislature this term is to figure out how to keep native Iowan sons and daughters from fleeing the state before the ink is even dry on their diplomas.

Which leads to the entirely fair and reasonable question asked around the country about why it is that such a tiny place, along with equally small and nationally non-representative New Hampshire, should hold such outsized clout in the presidential nominating process. Why would candidates and the national press even brother with places like these when culturally, financially, demographically and in almost every other respect, the coasts dominate the terms of discussion in this country?

From today's New York Times, recounting an encounter at an Obama event earlier this week at the V.F.W. Hall in Dakota City, here's your answer:

"Mr. Obama was approached by a woman, her eyes wet. She spoke into his ear and began to weep, collapsing into his embrace. They stood like that for a full minute, Mr. Obama looking ashen, before she pulled away. She began crying again, Mr. Obama pulled her in for another embrace.

The woman left declining to give her name or recount their conversation. Mr. Obama said she told him what had happened to her 20-year-old son, who was serving in Iraq.

“Her son died,” he said. He paused. “What can you say? This happens to me every single place I go.”

The next day, at the rally here, Mr. Obama described the encounter for the crowd. The woman, he said, had asked if her son’s death was the result of a mistake by the government. “And I told her the service of our young men and women — the duty they show this country — that’s never a mistake,” he said.

He paused carefully as he reflected on that encounter. “It reminds you why you get into politics,” he said. “It reminds you that this isn’t a game.”"

That's why.


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