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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

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Ah, making holiday plans for downtown Des Moines

Holidays are supposed to be a time for families and home. But this current who-the-heck-can-figure-out-the-'08-primary schedule mess confronting the country now is changing all that. According to current plans, the Iowa caucuses will be Jan. 3, which means an awful lot of prairie politicking around Christmas and New Year's.

Not that anyone will break out too many violins for the politicians doing the politicking; they chose to make these races. Or for the hundreds of journalists who must traipse around after them, recording their every word and seeking newsy nuances in the nose-tingling air.

So what, our clever blogging colleague Howard Mortman asked a band of political journalists, will you be doing on New Year's Day in Iowa?  Mike Allen of Politico.com said, "After spending five New Years in a row in Waco, while the president was at his ranch, Cedar Rapids seems like Times Square."

Craig Crawford of Congressional Quarterly said he intended to have an Irish coffee in the Hotel Fort Des Moines bar "wondering why I'm there." Major Garrett of the Fox News Channel hopes the last campaign day of 2007 ends in Davenport, so he can gaze across the Mississippi River at his mother's hometown of Moline and, at precisely midnight, call his oldest daughter on the cellphone to wish her a happy 13th birthday. "Kind of a generational, geographical presidential thing, don't ya know."

And what about the seasoned Times crew? Veteran Mark Z. Barabak already has an 8 p.m. dinner reservation at his favorite restaurant, Lucca, in Des Moines' East Village, where he's invited several reporter friends and will save other seats for late arrivals. Michael Finnegan figures he'll be out covering some campaign or, if not, might sneak a quick trip home.

Scott Martelle has a favorite blues joint near downtown Des Moines. "I'm not sure what Iowa blues would sound like on New Year's Day," he says. And as for Robin Abcarian, "I would station myself at a window to see if I could catch a glimpse of Mark Z. Barabak reading the newspaper while running outside in the freezing snow (I am not kidding, he really reads the paper while running)."

As for Don and I, we'll be right here blogging away. It's not that far away.

-- Andrew Malcolm

 

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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