Iowa Needs to Get Over Itself

Well, it seems that Michele Bachmann has added another flub to her long list of flubs.  What did she do, you ask, that so irked Iowa voters?  Did she say that gay persons were dropped on their heads as babies?  Did she admit that President Obama is a Christian?  Did she cast aspersions on Jonnie Marbles’s aim?

No, she did something far more egregious: Michele Bachmann ate breakfast at the wrong diner!

Joe Kimball reports at MinnPost that Bachmann spurned a long-standing tradition tradition when, instead of breaking her fast at the Hamburg Inn, she chose to eat at the Bluebird Diner in Iowa City.

Shocking, I know!

You see, every presidential candidate eats at the Hamburg — that’s just how it goes. Reagan did, Clinton did, and dozens of others have as well.

The Bluebird Diner in Iowa City (MinnPost photo by Joe Kmball)

To add to Iowans’ horror, the Hamburg Inn is an old-school, wood-paneled greasy spoon that serves up good ol’ eggs and hasbrowns — I presume it gets its foodstuffs from the back of a Sysco truck.  Whereas the Bluebird Diner is, wait for it, a hipster joint that advertises it’s locally-sourced food.

Kimball reports,

Some of the Saturday morning regulars who did manage to get inside weren’t happy with all the fuss. It is, after all, a fairly liberal university town, and the Bluebird’s normal flock seems to skew, well, blue.

“As Michele was leaving, she walked around shaking hands with everyone, and one of my regular customers said, ‘Why did she try to shake my hand? Why did you have her here?’” [waitress Susanna] Rodriguez said.

[Henceforth in this post, drop sarcastic tone.]

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of Iowa right now.  The fact that they’ve turned presidential politics into a cottage industry is fine — and it’s smart, since feeding all of those journalists and staffers pumps non-Iowa money into their state.

But, as has been pointed out repeatedly by pundits in the past (politicians wouldn’t dare say this out loud for fear of reprisals), Iowa is not representative of the United States.  Iowa is really white — whiter, in fact, than the Episcopal Church:


And, as pundits repeatedly remind us, Iowa’s Republicans are primarily conservative Christians — presumably why Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are skipping the Iowa straw poll and caucus, and why Bachmann and T-Paw are trying so hard there.

There are a lot of things broken about our politics and our government, and this is one of them: politicians pandering to religious conservatives in order to raise money and get their party’s nomination leads, inexorably, to the ideological demagoguery that we have witnessed this month both in my state (shutdown by intractability) and in Washington.

Iowa, you’re part of the problem.  Get over yourself.

  • jbonewald

    The state is actually quite divided religiously (and is splits along geographic lines.) The west is very conservative religiously (dutch reform influence) while the east is generally more liberal (lutheran/catholic.)

    Those of us in the Eastern part of our state shake our heads at the west especially when they produce loonies like Rep. Steve King and Bob VanderPlatts (he’s the one who drove the whole vote out the justices who approved gay marriage in the last election)

    I would also say that you have forgotten that while we are primarily a white state, the democrats here gave Obama his first early victory. I highly doubt he’d have had much traction if he hadn’t won the first caucus in a lily white state. It may be an overstatement, but I don’t think by much, to say without that Iowa win he would not be President today.

    I’ve never been to either the Hamburg or the Bluebird. But if I had my druthers it would certainly be the bluebird (they are literally around the block from one another.)

  • Dan Hauge

    True. On a more basic level, I think the problem is an electoral process that allows (any) one or two states to have so much say in determing the narrative and narrowing the choices available for the rest of the country (with a huge assist from the media, who regularly pounds in to our collective skulls the ‘fact’ that Iowa and New Hampshire determine the game.) I suppose it’s probably unconstituional, but I would love a more regulated primary schedule–even if it wouldn’t work to have all 50 have their primaries at the same time, maybe just have 4 Super Tuesdays, with more representative samplings of states.

    Of course, it would be even better if we and the media could just ignore what happens in Iowa and NH–or just give it passing interest–and go about voting for whoever we want. But we appear psychologically incapable of that (see Tony Jones, ‘Why We Don’t Have Freedom to Do Pretty Much Anything Important’, forthcoming :)

  • James Monroe

    Ron Paul is my candidate, and I am troubled by the thought of any other candidate running against Obama. Romney, Bachmann, Pawlenty – none of them stand a chance against Obama; not to mention that they are all phony baloney people.

    Ron Paul is the only choice in the Republican field.

  • TS

    Tony, Ron Paul is not skipping the Iowa Straw Poll or Caucus. In fact his polling quite well.

  • Aaron McVay

    Journalists need to get over themselves. Who the hell in Iowa makes a big deal? Journalists/Political people are the one that make it such a big deal. This article just reinforces that, although with a miss by telling Iowa to get over itself. Also, sorry a state can’t magically make itself more multiracial. Although, I think it’s funny that it was even brought up. Great article…

  • Jason Barr

    Tony, here’s another one for your “irony in advertising” file: an ad for Michelle Bachmann for president on this post. Predictable, I suppose, but still ridiculous. Of course, being ridiculous doesn’t necessarily make something ironic, but I’ll take what I can get. ;-)

  • Jason Hagle

    Ron Paul isn’t skipping that strong poll, he’s actually putting a lot of money into it. He is a Christian too so I don’t quite follow you anyway. Although he’s not notable as a candidate that spends most of his efforts pandering to the conservative Christian crowd, and instead he focuses on real issues, so I can actually see why you would highlight that Ron Paul’s campaign is dissimilar to some others like Bachmann’s and Pawlenty’s on this particular issue. Still, he’s actually gone and done a lot of campaigning in Iowa and even has ads running there. He’s also bought the most expensive piece of real estate within the straw poll itself. You may see fit to revise that part of your piece here.

  • Jon Trouten

    Most of us Iowans don’t care where Bachmann eats. That story is old news.

    I will admit to being impressed that she spent much of her meal at Bluebird Diner discussing the threat of zombies. (

    Frankly, I’m tired of presidential campaigns moving into Iowa within months of each preceding presidential campaign. What makes it worse is that our home is a two-party home, so we get calls from every campaign and every exploratory group who wants to chat up the voters.

    As for Iowa being “white”, that might be true. But it’s not true here in Johnson County (or Polk County or Linn County or Story County or most of our urban centers). Your graph also doesn’t break-down Hispanic people and there are many throughout the state. As for it mattering? I’m not sure. What does that mean? Is a “white state” more or less likely to lean one way or another? I mean, Huckabee won in Iowa, but so did Obama on the Democratic side (closely 2nd by Clinton, if I might add). So what’s your point?

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