Tuesday Column — Early Presidential Birds

Iowa is famous for its retail politics. And apparently we’re a supercenter that never closes.

For the clinically sane, it’s really, really early to start thinking about the 2012 Iowa caucuses. But like a struggling department store determined to sell you Santa snow globes while you’re still in sandals, some Republicans are jumping the gun, pushing the envelope and testing our sanity.

Ready or not, here they come.

Nevada Sen. John “rising star” Ensign arrived in northwest Iowa on Monday to give a lecture, visit a genetics firm that clones cows and sample some ice cream. The Las Vegas Sun reports that Ensign added a stop at the “Ice Cream Capital of the World” in Le Mars even though he and his staff are in week three of a fat-fighting diet regimen.

Surely he had a very conservative portion.

Former Arkansas Gov.Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 caucuses, is holding an Iowa fundraiser for GOP candidate for governor Bob Vander Plaats. It will be Huckabee’s second visit since last fall’s election.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is slated for an Iowa stop, and his neighbor, Louisiana Gov.Bobby Jindal, dropped by last fall. Former New York Gov. George Pataki has been sighted here.

And I’m pretty sure I saw Mitt Romney browsing the hair care aisle at the Marion Hy-Vee last week. Can’t be completely sure.

None of these guys really is running for president. They chuckle, on cue, at the ridiculous notion. They’re simply giving speeches, helping out friends or selling books.

It’s way too early to start thinking about 2012.

They love Iowa and its people. They’re exploring the heartland. Caucuses? What caucuses?

Sure, you can point out that President Barack Obama has been in office for only six months. And there certainly are quite a few cliffhangers already commanding our undivided attention — two wars, a deep recession, Iran, North Korea, etc. We’d kind of like to see how those plots develop before someone starts trying to change our channel.

But you can’t stop them. The instinct to be out front is primal. And this is, after all, the land of the free, the home of the early bird special.

It’s the same impulse that pushes us to camp out to buy concert tickets or stand in the freezing cold at 3 a.m. just to get our hands on a Black Friday doorbuster. It drives us to search for a day care before conception and to think postsecondary while we’re prenatal. The earlier the better.

Sure, early isn’t always best. George W. Bush swaggered into Iowa just seven months before the 2000 caucuses. But you can’t take any chances.

Someone might get here first and buy up all the snow globes.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Tuesday Column — Early Presidential Birds

  1. Christine Zook

    At least while they’re cruising around like that, they are not causing trouble by doing their “jobs”
    To tell the truth, the thought of any of them as president makes cold chills go down my spine, as they would plunge us further back into the dark ages.

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