Here In Iowa.............

....... politics are, well, what we're doing. Or at least what my house is doing. And talking. And thinking. And watching. Random observations after spending the past month trying to make up my mind who I'll stand for on Thursday night:

1. The media are annoying. They spend all day, every day following candidates around, so, no surprise, they've heard the speech and the questions and they're bored. So they spend the events talking to each other or talking on their phones. If you're unlucky enough to be in the back where they are, lotsa luck trying to hear the candidates. I went to an Obama event Sunday, and mostly what I heard were two cameramen one-upping each other about their equipment.

2. Tim Russert is one of the exceptions to the above. He's so unassuming that he goes almost (but not quite) unnoticed. He leans against a wall and watches the candidate as if he, too, were trying desperately to make up his mind. Doesn't talk; doesn't check his cell or blackberry incessantly. Just watches and listens.

3. Andrea Mitchell doesn't stop talking.

4. The phone calls are maddening beyond words. On Friday, December 28, we got fifteen calls. On Saturday, December 29, we turned off each phone's ringer and turned the volume down on the answering machine. Relief. Should have done it a month ago.

5. The TV talking heads make caucusing sound so......... complicated. It's not. Plus they keep yammering on about how if your candidate isn't viable, one representative from each of the other groups will come and try to persuade you to join their. I'm here to tell you: that doesn't happen. I've gone to every caucus since the first one in 1972. I've never supported a viable candidate, and I've never had someone from another group try to woo me. The assumption is that everyone has a second choice and they'll just wander over to that group on their own. Or, as I often do, the non-viables will sit out the proceedings.

6. The weather sucks and I wish we could do this in February or March.

7. Why why why do we have to do that on a weeknight? Why the HELL can't we do this on Saturday? (Yeah, okay, I know the answer: it's because the candidates want one last weekend in New Hampshire. Where the weather is no doubt just as shitty.)

8. It matters. And it's thrilling. I go to an event and see other ordinary people like myself listening and thinking as if it's the last chance we'll ever get in our lives. People ask great questions and the candidates (mostly) work hard to provide thoughtful answers.

9. We appreciate how hard these candidates work. And it IS hard work. They may appear at four or five events every day. They get up early , stay up late, and travel hundreds of miles each day. And did I mention how crappy the weather is?

10. Listen to the TV or read the paper and it sounds and reads as if only three Democrats are running. There are actually six. Two of whom (Dodd and Biden) deserve a hell of a lot more attention than they're getting. It's a bit heart-breaking to see such smart, dedicated, thoughtful men be so utterly ignored.

11. Don't believe the numbers. According to today's NY Times, 750 people showed up for Clinton event today here in Ames. I was there. There weren't that many people. 400, maybe. 750? No.

12. Bill Clinton could talk someone into believing in the Easter Bunny. He's smartand perhaps the finest public speaker I've ever heard. I suffered Hillary-passion for three days after hearing him. Happily, I'm old and cynical and eventually I came to my senses. (Don't get me wrong. She's also VERY smart and immensely capable and would make a great president. I just don't think she can win in November.)

13. Joe Biden is perhaps the most sincere politician I've ever heard. I get the distinct impression that he's decided that life is too short for bullshit, posturing, and posing.

14. And that's why on January 3rd, I will stand for Biden. He probably won't be viable, but in my heart I think he's the best person for the job. I think ALL the Democrats would do a fine job, even a superb job (okay, maybe that's going a bit far). But Joe Biden has an incredible grasp on how things connect. He gets how soil chemistry, health care, nuclear power, the situation in Pakistan, and university research are all connected to each other. He gets it. He gets me on January 3rd.