Dave Barry: It’s the Iowa Pork Congress! (Next up: caucuses)

Why do we care about the Iowa caucuses?

To answer that question, let’s look back exactly four years, to a time when a man named Rick Santorum was a semi-obscure former senator from Pennsylvania who was given little chance to become president. Then, out of the blue, he won the Iowa Republican caucus, and today he. …

OK, to be honest, I don’t know what Rick is doing today. For all I know he’s an Amway representative. Let’s pick another example: Exactly eight years ago, Mike Huckabee was. …

OK, never mind. No need to get all technical about why we care about the Iowa caucuses. We just DO. And that is why the eyeballs of the world will be focused on the voters of Iowa Monday night as they go into their caucus places and, after thoroughly discussing the candidates and the issues with their fellow Iowans, sacrifice a live owl.

No, they don’t do that, probably. We don’t actually know what they do in there. All we know is that eventually, somehow, they will, as a state, give their blessing to a pair of presidential hopefuls who will both, based on past caucus outcomes, have a solid chance of not being elected president.

Some critics say it’s unfair for Iowa to play such a big role in our political process; they charge that Iowa is not demographically representative of the rest of the nation. This charge is based on some unfortunate myths about the state, so let’s clear those up right now:

MYTH: Iowa lacks diversity.

FACT: According to the 2010 Census, only 143 percent of Iowa’s nearly 8,000 residents are white, down from 156 percent in 2000.

MYTH: Iowa is an agricultural state whose economy is based almost entirely on raising pigs and corn.

FACT: The biggest industry in Iowa is actually, believe it or not, manufacturing. Iowans manufacture a wide variety of products, ranging all the way from bacon to sausage to numerous other forms of pork. On the more “high tech” side, they also manufacture ethanol, which is a kind of fuel that is made from corn, then mixed with gasoline to create jobs. Iowans are currently working on an experimental manufacturing process that, if successful, will turn the ethanol back into corn, thus creating even MORE jobs.

MYTH: Iowa is a rural state lacking in sophistication.

FACT: Iowa has a number of cities boasting world-class urban amenities such as Starbucks and fully paved roads. The largest city is Des Moines, which has tall buildings and expressways. It reminds me very much of my city, Miami, except that it’s 50 degrees colder here and the drivers do not deliberately try to kill you.

Des Moines — its name is French for “These Moines” — is rightly proud that it has shed its image as a dull, sleepy, squaresville burg; it is now a “happening” place throbbing with activity and nightlife. Even as I type these words the Iowa Pork Congress is going on here at the Iowa Events Center, with a “Manure Applicator Training Session” scheduled Thursday. If you can’t be there in person, you can follow the action on the official Pork Congress podcast service, which is called, and I am not making this up, SwineCast.

Of course the real action here, speaking of manure, is presidential politics. Right now most of the excitement is on the Republican side, which, after months of name-calling and petty squabbling, is finally focusing on the most important issue facing the nation, if not the world, today: Megyn Kelly. Donald Trump is in a feud with her, as evidenced by this actual tweet he posted on Wednesday: “I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!”

(You have to admit that’s a classy move, refusing to call her a bimbo.)

Because Kelly is a moderator for the next debate, Trump says he’s going to boycott it, which means the viewership will drop from a projected 15 million to nine. I don’t mean nine million; I mean a total of nine people, because let’s be honest, we’re not tuning into these debates to watch John Kasich tell us about his comprehensive plan to balance the budget.

Anyway, I’ll be here for the next few days, reporting to you and following the news wherever it takes me. Unless it tries to take me outdoors.


Join Dave & Carl

What: Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry and award-winning columnist Carl Hiaasen will discuss the 2016 presidential election campaign. They’ll discuss other topics, too — such as why is Florida so weird — and attempt to answer audience questions, provided they don’t involve math.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 1

Where: Miracle Theater, Coral Gables

Tickets: $25

Register online: davecarlelection2016.bpt.me