Dave Barry

Classic 96: A postcard from Iowa -- or maybe Omaha


NOTE: This classic column was published Thursday, February 8, 1996, and is about the 1996 presidential election. To read columns from Dave Barry's recent visits to Iowa & New Hampshire, please see http://www.miamiherald.com/dave-barry/

Every four years, vast hordes of news media and presidential contenders flock to Iowa, hoping to find the answer to a question that is fundamental to our democratic political process: Will our rental cars start?

Because it has been very cold here. The ground is covered with animal parts caused by frozen livestock falling over and shattering. You have to be clinically insane to flock here in February, which is why this is the ideal place to start our presidential-selection process.

Don't get me wrong: I love Iowa -- The "You Bet!" State -- and I love Iowans, who are friendly and laid-back to the point where you suspect somebody is dumping Prozac into their water supply. I also like Des Moines, which has central heating and  is one of Iowa's major metropolitan areas (the other one is Omaha).

But the real entertainment out here at the moment is being provided by the estimated 40 leading Republican presidential contenders, all of whom think they can beat Bill Clinton, who is having big problems because of the burgeoning Whitewater Scandal

From Hell, which has burgeoned to the point where only giant university computers understand it.

Much of the attention lately has focused on first lady Hillary Clinton, who has been accused of not being totally forthcoming, especially in light of her statement to investigators that in 1986, when her former law firm was allegedly engaged in certain questionable practices, she, quote, "had not been born yet."

So the Republican contenders are drooling. There is frozen contender drool all over the ground here in Iowa. Because they know that the residents of this state, when they meet to caucus on Monday, will determine who will be the Frontrunner in this race for the entire week leading to the New Hampshire primary.

   Perhaps you are asking: "Why do Iowans deserve to have so much political power? What makes Iowa so special?"

I can answer that question in four words -- four words that I believe sum up the old-fashioned Midwestern values that make this state what it is: "Drive Through Boar Semen."

I have here an article from the Des Moines Register, which was sent to me by many alert readers and which I swear I am not making up, stating that a couple in Oskaloosa, Iowa, is running a business wherein pork farmers in need of boar semen can simply drive up to a window, pick up their order, then drive back to their farms to artificially inseminate their female porks.

   I think this is an inspirational example of American ingenuity, although I hope they don't have one of those super- low-fidelity speakers used by fast-food drive-through operations, because otherwise you could have a really unfortunate situation wherein some poor vacationing family thought they were ordering, say, milkshakes. It's best not to even think about it.

But getting back to the caucuses: I will be in Iowa for the next several days, and you may rest assured that I will be providing you with the most accurate and detailed reports that I can possibly produce without actually leaving the hotel.

Using advanced journalism skills such as reading the newspaper, I plan to find out (1) Who, exactly, is running; and (2) What the Issues are. I'm guessing that the answers will be: (1) Guys in suits; and (2) Leadership. Stay tuned.​