Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Questions About Planting

Considering the regular agriculture-related content of this blog, you might think by reading the headline of this post that it's going to discuss questions farmers may have about planting corn or beans.

But of course this isn't about that.

As regular readers of this blog know, I had the honor of welcoming a presidential candidate to my community last week. You can read all about it here. And as I've said before, I'd be happy to show off my beautiful community with any other presidential candidates who'd like to pay us a visit. I think it's fun and it's good for Albia to get the attention it deserves.

I did in fact visit with some reporters that day, and lo and behold, I was quoted in a story that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times today. Unfortunately, the story is sorta screwy.

No offense is intended to Ms. S. Jennifer Hunter, the author of the article, who I must say was genuinely affable and professional that day. And she was also quite cordial on Saturday, when I ran into her again at the Iowa Farmers Union event in Des Moines.

But the point of her article...well, it's way off the mark. Ms. Hunter attempted to use my comments to prove a point that is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

Basically, Ms. Hunter says, a camera-ready moment created by the Obama campaign in picturesque Albia is no different from Hillary Clinton's campaign planting questions at public forums.

This assertion is as amazing as it is illogical.

Was the Obama stop in Albia pre-arranged? Sorta. They called my brother Joe beforehand and asked him to meet Sen. Obama on the square in Albia and give him a brief tour if they had enough time between scheduled events. Joe is the Monroe County Democratic Party chair, and an Obama precinct captain.

I was asked to tag along, and I thought it would be fun.

From my experience on political campaigns, a certain amount of planning must be done for every little moment. And we know how things have to be checked out and cleared in advance with the Secret Service. Reporters at the Chicago Sun-Times ought to know that, too. Campaigns have to plan ahead for things like this.

I don't know all of the details about what kind of planning went into the Obama stop in Albia. I was just asked to go meet him on the square in Albia. But I do know the stop was not part of their official schedule, and it was only going to happen if they had enough time. And, just an hour before the stop was supposed to happen, they told Joe that it could be called off at any minute if they were running late.

I think they just wanted to stop in Albia so they could cross Albia off the list of places they needed to hit before the end of the campaign. No problem here. I think all presidential candidates should come to Albia, and only a few of them actually have made it here so far.

Anyway, the Obama stop in Albia was certainly a well-orchestrated campaign moment. But that's all it was.

As far as I know, my brother and I were the only people in town who knew about it in advance. And it was totally obvious to everyone there that day -- we knew Obama was coming. We were standing there on the street in Albia waiting for him to arrive.

Here's my point: In this instance, the Obama campaign wasn't trying to trick anybody.

Is this kind of photo-op moment the same as getting someone at a public forum to ask a pre-arranged question all while pretending like it's an impromptu question?

Nope. It's not.

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