Thursday, January 3, 2008


I'm a little envious of Iowa.

By the time the Oregon has its primary, it will be so late in the spring everyone will already know who's going to be Prom Queen and King, let alone who the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees for president are.

I wish I could be part of the communal democracy of the Iowa caucus. Thinking of those hardy Midwesterners, neighbor joining with neighbor to debate the merits of each candidate, warms my heart. Especially because I figure a loud, pushy Jew from New York could easily argue them under the table.

After the last presidential election, I did a piece for The Bear Deluxe, a magazine dedicated to "exploring environmental issues through the creative arts." Since recycling is environmental, if not creative, here it is again:


When I was sixteen, I got a job at the local donut store. Weekend mornings the line was so long, it curled back and forth until it curved right out the door. Customers waited twenty, thirty minutes, maybe more, for their turn. But when at last I asked, "What can I get for you?" whoever was next in line usually seemed a little startled.

"Three Boston Creme." A pause, a furrowed brow. "Two of the pink, with the sprinkles." The pause lengthened. The customer frowned. "A couple Dutch Apple . . . Is that a dozen?"

Turning from the donut case, I'd look across the counter, a half-filled donut box flapping open in my hand. "Only seven. Five more to go." Wait a beat. "How about a cruller? Maybe some jelly?"

It always amazed me. In all the time they waited, the patrons hadn't thought about which donuts they wanted. Once it was their turn, they froze over having to choose.

That's what made me doubt democracy. If the average person couldn't pick out a dozen donuts, should she or he really be allowed to select world leaders? Give me oligarchy! And a small box of assorted Munchkins.

I quit the job before I was old enough to vote.

I'm kind of pleased to have the caucus turnout prove me wrong. Iowa's not donutcracy.

Weirdly, it's a much more phallic political feast.

(Thank you, New York Times - all the news that won't fit in your waistband)

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