Friday, December 21, 2007

Aw Shucks, Edwards Video is Just Too Much

[Commentary] Those of us living in rural Iowa get just as much political mail as everybody else. Endless piles of fliers and pamphlets touting a candidate's strengths or attacking their weaknesses. We get it all, just like they do up in Des Moines.

But rural Iowans can expect something else to arrive in their mailboxes in the coming days from John Edwards, and it's made especially for us. The Edwards campaign has put together a DVD video aimed at making the case that Edwards is the candidate that will cure what ails rural America.

The DVD, titled "John Edwards: For the Country," is narrated by former Georgia congressman Ben "Cooter" Jones, the actor who played Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard."

It also features policy discussion by rural political strategist Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, who wears a Cubs hat as he rails against the corporate powers that he says have destroyed the economies of rural America. He makes a good point, although some may find it all a bit too combative.

Edwards should be commended for his commitment to the issues facing the people who live out here in the country. He has campaigned harder than any of the other candidates (in either party) for the rural vote, and he's probably going to do very well on caucus night because of it.

But the video, with bluegrass music playing over the entirety of its 12 minutes, is about as hokey as a possum wearin' bib overalls. It's the kind of stuff that makes some of us in rural Iowa grumble. Sometimes we get the feeling that a rural rube stereotype is being unfairly perpetuated, and some of us don't like that.

They've gone out of their way to find a log cabin to use as a backdrop for Mudcat, and some kind of shed with cedar shake siding for Cooter. It's all a bit much. It brings to mind that movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and all the while I'm thinking, "Did they film this at Living History Farms?"

There was one line from Edwards that really stuck out as I watched the video. "Rural America is not homogeneous," he says. "There are significant differences from one part of the country to the other and from one community to the other."

I couldn't agree more on that point. I don't know anybody around here who lives in a log cabin.

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