I've been writing from Omaha this week doing my best Roy Williams Jayhawk sticker impression by cheering on LSU in the finals of the College World Series while wearing a Carolina baseball shirt and a Tiger baseball hat. It did not give me 1/1000th of the joy it will when the Tar Heels finally finish the season with a win here, but I was happy for coach Paul Mainieri and his team.
Here are some of my politics related observations from my week in middle American:
-I went to the birthplace of Gerald Ford on Tuesday, and his bust there was covered in bird poop and had clearly not been cleaned in a long time. In some sense I thought that was symbolic because of his reputation for buffoonery, but a former President deserves better than that. The city of Omaha does almost everything in a first class manner, but this is something they need to work on. There were also horribly faded mementos in a display case at the birth site that had not been preserved as well.
-Another local politician who didn't reach the White House but has a much better tribute to his legacy is Senator Bob Kerrey. The pedestrian bridge over the Missouri River bearing his name is beautiful, a great connection between Iowa and Nebraska, and a definite improvement to the area since I was last here in 2007. It was full of people every time I went by it.
-There aren't a lot of more politically competitive places in American right now than Omaha. Barack Obama won the city's Congressional district 50-49, then in its Mayoral race last month Democrat Jim Suttle held off Republican Hal Daub by a 51-49 margin. Democrats came close to winning its Congressional seat last fall, and now appear to have a stronger potential candidate to challenge Lee Terry in 2010. It's a very interesting city politically.