I owe a post from the Dean events last night in East Iowa. I wrote some of this during the Iowa City event, and then couldn't get access to post. By the time I got back to Des Moines from Iowa City, I just couldn't muster the energy to stay up and write. (You'll note that the previous two night I was posting past 3 a.m.) Then, today, the hotel's connection disappeared, so now I'm at a Holiday Inn, using their desk office IBM ThinkPad 385XD that has no external mouse that works. In blog terms, I should be getting hazard pay for this. I'm not even staying at this hotel, either.)
Anyway, I finished this post this morning, and here's what I saw last night and my reactions:
Iowa's longtime senator, and Dean endorser, Tom Harkin was on stage, in full effect. He brought Howard Dean and a special tag-a-long mystery guest: Judy Dean. (The Steinberg is curiously gone.) She did two events with him last night in East Iowa (Davenport and CR, but not the Iowa City event that concluded the day).
"For those who might be wondering, my name is Judy Dean," she said in Cedar Rapids at Jefferson High. "I wanted to come here today to say thank you to the people of Iowa for being so gracious to my husband, Howard Dean."
Judy is clearly not terribly comfortable, reading from a script rather than extemp. "I haven't been here with Howard as much as I would like."
You know, it should not matter what a candidate's family and spouse do for living, or how public or private they are. But it does: Americans expect it, especially with spouses.
Judy introduced her husband, and he hit a lot of the talking points he's been hitting in his regular stump speech. But there were some new, Iowa-specific twists, or at least new sub-themes that perhaps I have missed in televised versions of his stumper:
"Iowa and Vermont are a lot alike," he said, trying to make analogies. "A vast majority of people in both states live in towns of 2,500 or less. Very agricultural. People are well read, and pay attention to politics" But the "biggest export from Iowa is the biggest export from Vermont - our children."
He goes on to talk about how young people move away from these "beautiful" states because the failing economies force them too.
Dean offers other parallels, most to the pre-Great Depression era: For example, he noted that presidents from these two states, Calvin Coolidge (VT) and Herbert Hoover (IA), "let business get a strangehold on the economy."
He then made McKinley and trust-busting reference from a century ago. "And then Franklin Roosevelt came around to give power to ordinary people again," he said, adding that "we are not meant to be the servants of corporations and businesses, the government is supposed to work for us, not the other way around. We are not meant to be cogs in the machine."
The populism is a bit thick. Accurate, but not sure people can put all this together in this venue. And then Dean closes, per usual, with "you don't have to be ashamed" and "you have the power" invocations.
Red meat for the crowd.
An hour or so later, in Iowa City, the event at the University of Iowa was very similar.
By the time I got there, Jeanine Garofalo was winding up. I didn't get to hear her say much, and she didn't seem to be doing much stand-up joking. She did say that she "literally can not think of a better way to be spending my time right now, than supporting Dean." (Guilty admission: I simply adore her. Funny, smart, progressive and cuter than she realizes. I can never listen to "My Charonna" for the rest of my life without imagining her dancing to it in the mini-mart during that scene from "Reality Bites.) Then Joan Jett got up and played "I Love Rock-n-Roll," the only song she sings I or the vast majority of Americans can name. People chanted along, but I still was still thinking about the heavy baseline that leads into "My Charonna.")
So that was Dean in East Iowa last night. Today he is in Ames (the other major college town, home to Iowa State) for an afternoon event. But much of the day is downtime in preparation for media and hotel ballroom event in Des Moines.
This computer is worthless. I have to go find another hotel and sneak in. (And the mouse thing is contagious....my mouse with my laptop is busted all of a sudden, too.)
Dead mice in Des Moines.