Screen shot 2011-03-08 at 6.49.32 PM

A reader writes:

I think you, Joyner and Avent miss the big picture regarding Vilsack's reply to Klein: Iowa's role in the 2012 presidential election. The new governor of Iowa is Terry Branstad, a former four-term Republican governor of the state.  Iowa is also ground zero for many culture-war issues the Republicans will be detonating in the next election.  Having a former moderate, two-term, Democratic governor remind Iowans that Obama's administration is small-town friendly is smart politics, and an attempt to marginalize the right-wing nuts.  If the Republicans lead with or nominate incendiary politicians, that won't play well in the Midwest.

Klein thinks politics leans rural:

The Senate is overwhelmingly biased toward rural America, and the House is biased as well (by population, Wyoming should have 1/68th as much representation as California, not 1/53rd). That has important affects for public policy, but rather than discuss that openly, we tend to talk wrap the residents of rural America in many layers of rhetorical gauze and justify policy towards them in terms of values. But as someone who chose to move to a city rather than to a rural area, I don’t think rural America’s values are better or superior to urban America’s. Cities breed a tolerance and openness that’s of great importance to our increasingly polyglot nation, just as rural areas inculcate an ethic of service and patriotism that’s deeply valuable in a perennially fractious nation.

(2008 Iowa election results chart: NYT)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.