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5:40 PM


Upstate, Downstate — It's All the Same in Iowa

George Pataki opened a campaign office in Iowa yesterday; the AP story added that the governor likes Iowans because they remind him of his upstate base. (Offices in New Hampshire and South Carolina are in the works.)

It makes perfect sense coming from a guy who's spent so much time playing the ersatz Midwesterner he's convinced himself he's the real thing. Pataki is the opposite of the farm boy hungry for a glimpse of the bright lights. Kids grow up in the Midwest, hear the Ramones, and dream of the Lower East Side. Pataki grew up in Peekskill, heard Paul Harvey, and longed for Council Bluffs.

But instead of following his imagination's wandering boot heels, he stayed home to punish the locals with his bitter fantasy of flat-soled Babbittry, like the town hipster who doesn't have the guts to try out the big city — Pataki vetoed a minimum-wage hike in 2004 and appealed a court order to increase city school funding. Finally, he's taking his first man steps into the promised land, but he does it weighed down with the ideological baggage a "moderate" accrues while governing a non-rectangular state. Pataki hopes to follow the trail of previous caucus winners like George W. Bush and Bob Dole, or even those who made a significant showing like Steve Forbes and Pat Buchanan. But Republican though he is, the pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-gun Pataki may appear to be something else entirely to the people of Iowa: a New Yorker.