Throwback Monday: Jumping through hoops for the caucus circus


Susan J. Demas column, 11/10/07

Ed. Note: This was written before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, so some of it shows its age (although I'm still proud of this observation of Rudy Giuliani: "When Pat Robertson comes out for the thrice-married guy who supports abortion and gay rights, you know there's a full-blown GOP identity crisis.")

Take it from an Iowa girl, or at least one who lived there long enough to know better ... All politics is local in the Hawkeye State and it isn't glamorous.

I've talked to Bill Clinton after he slurped down a milkshake and Dennis Kucinich after he grabbed a veggie burger to go at one of my favorite Iowa City haunts, the Hamburg Inn No. 2. It's a must-stop on the stump where waitresses still invoke the lore of Ronald Reagan (a good tipper) and curse Pat Buchanan (who evidently was not.)

But the Burg isn't unusual, even if its soggy tan booths and wilted laminated menus worked their way into a "West Wing" plot. Any dowdy Maid-Rite diner or chili cook-off in a church basement will draw contenders as quick as $1,000-a-plate dinners. Which is actually the most refreshing part of the circus.

Regular folks do rate.

They have to. Caucusing is a commitment.

The date always changes, but it inevitably falls on the coldest night of the year. That's enshrined in the Iowa constitution. A foot of snow is always a nice touch.

Caucus-goers don't just punch a ballot behind the curtain and go home. It's mayhem at many of the 1,784 precincts starting at 7 p.m.

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