Thursday, July 26, 2007


Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 543

Non-native Iowan that I am, I must confess that the annual RAGBRAI bike marathon across the state has never held the mythic stature with me that it does with others who have lived here their whole lives. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a cool event, but to hear some talk of it, you'd think it's right up there with the Iliad, rather than roughly on par with the Butter Cow at the State Fair.

[Now having cleared the room of native Iowans, let's continue, shall we?]

I first heard about RAGBRAI more than 20 years ago, back when Bruce Babbitt was tooling up for his White House run and hit upon RAGBRAI as the ultimate Iowa "get to know you" event. Babbitt rode the entire route, almost 400 miles, and summed up the experience by muttering, "They told me this state was flat."

Ever since Babbit, at least one or two candidates have saddled up for RAGBRAI each presidential cycle (excuse the pun), although so far Babbitt is the only one to have gone the distance. This year, John Edwards spent a day in the saddle, hanging with Lance Armstrong, and Joe Biden deputized his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and his niece, Missy Owens, to ride on his behalf.

What riding in RAGBRAI actually buys a campaign has never been entirely clear, beyond some free media some six months before the caucuses (a lot more important back in Babbitt's day than in this year's insanely accelerated race). But it's nice to see the tradition hold up, all the same.

Here are links to coverage of the experiences of this year's political RAGBRAI-ers:

John Edwards
Jill Biden


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