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Political Mercury

No need for Herky and Cy to go bye-bye

6/17/2015

I guess it’s my job to catch these sorts of things. And I’m sure not on the short list of Joni Ernst boosters or apologists.

The Iowa and Iowa State mascots are great publicity for their schools, and no reasonable person would interpret Cy’s and Herky’s prescence as an edorsement of a partisan viewpoint.

The Iowa and Iowa State mascots are great publicity for their schools, and no reasonable person would interpret Cy’s and Herky’s prescence as an edorsement of a partisan viewpoint.

But it never occurred to me, this questioning of the presence of Cy and Herky, the mascots for Iowa State University and the University of Iowa at the Red Oak Republican senator’s Roast and Ride in Boone County.

Yes, the event served as a Republican rally. Potential presidential candidates appeared, and President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were churning on the rhetorical spit, with the crowd burning for more fire. Tom Cotton would have us think Obama is full-on Manchurian.

So, nothing bipartisan about this affair at all.

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Just before the speeches, as I spoke with former Iowa Republican Party Chairman David Oman of Des Moines and Washington Post writer Dan Balz, Herky approached me and playfully snatched my camera, danced around and feigned taking pictures of me. We all laughed.

I did not pull out my notebook and chronicle Herky’s presence as a violation of university protocol for appearing at a high-charged Republican event. It didn’t seem wrong then, and it doesn’t now.

A few minutes later, I saw Cy posing for photos, lots of them.

More than 1,500 people were at the event, including a raft of national media. Thousands of photos were taken, many with the school mascots in the background. Great publicity for the schools, and I don’t think any reasonable person would interpret Cy and Herky’s presence as an endorsement of a partisan viewpoint.

It’s just super exposure for our foundational institutions.

“My personal view is that entertaining a crowd and showing the colors of ISU and UI is a good thing for the universities and for their sports teams,” Steffen Schmidt, an ISU professor of political science told The Des Moines Register. “They are not endorsing anyone any more than the sheriff or local police who come to these events or the guys who roast the hogs.”

Amen.

For years, I covered former Sen. Tom Harkin’s steak fry. Never saw the mascots there. But would it have been so bad?

The regents’ policy of keeping highly partisan events school mascot free is prudent, hard to challenge in principle.

But standing there in the fields that Saturday east of Boone, it sure didn’t seem out of line. I was thinking as a proud Iowan, someone delighted to see the schools celebrated before an international audience.

It’s a shame we can’t just look the other way from time to time, dispense with political correctness, and go after the common good.

Maybe the parties and schools could cut a deal: the mascots go to the Democrats annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner and Ernst’s Roast & Ride. Both are covered extensively by national media. CV

Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who resides in Carroll. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.

 

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