Friday, June 26, 2009

Poor Gerald Ford

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.

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