Politically speaking, one of the hazards of living in Iowa — the first proving ground on the long road to the White House — is the risk of overexposure to would-be Presidential candidates of all stripes, ad infintuum, ad nauseum, ad delirium. I’m now entering my third election cycle in Iowa, an experience made more severe by having been a working journalist. This required me to follow these self-important windbags around the state to various VFW posts and high school gymnasiums and watch them eat pancakes, shake hands, kiss babies, and tell anyone and everyone within earshot that they’re all for America’s Hard Working Families. Obviously, I’m suffering from burnout. But there’s something else that has bothered me increasingly.

Now I have no problem if someone without a real job like, say, Rudy Guiliani, wants to hang out at the local firehouse describing how wonderful he is and why he’s smarter than anyone else — that’s his affair. And if governors like Bill Richardson and Mitt Romney want to neglect the business of their respective states to talk about themselves incessantly to a bunch of farmers at the neighborhood Ma-and-Pa cafe … well, that’s New Mexico’s and Massachusetts’ problem.

But when I see (and see, and see some more) senators and congressmen spending as much time here in the cornfields as they do in the halls of Congress, that bugs me. I can’t help thinking that perhaps if our elected national representatives spent a little more time and energy addressing the very pressing international and domestic problems facing this country as legislators, and a little less time daydreaming about how they’d do it as the Chief Executive from a seat in the Oval Office, maybe Congress would get something done once in a while.

So, while writing cranky letters to the editor of the local paper is not standard activity for journalists, it seems to me we shouldn’t be precluded from doing it once in a while, either, when the urge strikes. This I did, sending a little missive to both the Des Moines Register (the local daily) and Cityview (the local alternative weekly) where it was published under the title “Senator M.I.A.” (Read the letter here).

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