January 29, 2004

Leading political analyst to speak on campus Feb. 9

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- One of the nation's leading political analysts will offer his views on the Iowa caucuses and the upcoming presidential race at Southern Illinois University Carbondale next month.

David Yepsen, a political columnist for the Des Moines Register, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, in the SIUC law school auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Yepsen will deliver this year's John White Fellowship Lecture, sponsored by the Public Policy Institute. He will also visit classes during the day, although the schedule is still to be determined.

Yepsen's appearance in Carbondale -- just three weeks removed from the Iowa caucuses and while the Democratic primary election season is in full swing -- is a coup, said Mike Lawrence, interim director of the Public Policy Institute.

"David is the foremost expert on the Iowa caucuses. We couldn't have anybody better than David come in and talk to us about what happened in Iowa and what it means," said Lawrence. "He is the premier political journalist in the state of Iowa."

Yepsen is "the one that the national media go to when they want insight on the Iowa caucuses ... " said Lawrence.

"This presidential race has been unfolding, and even if we all know who the Democratic presidential nominee will be by the time David gets here, David is going to give us excellent insight into how that person got the nomination, and also insights into the individual who has won the nomination," Lawrence said.

Yepsen has been a political reporter for 26 years, covering campaigns and elections in Iowa, along with the Iowa General Assembly. His column appears three times a week in the Des Moines Register, and he is a regular panelist providing political analysis on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program and WOI Public Radio in Ames, Iowa.

Yepsen's highly visible and important role as a political observer doesn't go to his head. In chronicling his 1988 presidential bid in his book, "Winners and Losers," Public Policy Institute founder and director Paul Simon lauded Yepsen's objectivity.

"Every four years the chief political reporter for the 'Des Moines Register' becomes the most important reporter in the nation," Simon wrote. "It is a position that could cause vanity and abuse. To his credit, David Yepsen handled this position with sensitivity and balance. And he worked hard."

In his column two days after Simon died on Dec. 9, Yepsen suggested the best tribute to Simon is to read Simon's just-published book, "Our Culture of Pandering," which Yepsen states is "a good indictment of what's wrong with America today."

"In fact, the best way fellow politicians and others could honor his memory is to read that book and think about what he had to say," Yepsen wrote. "Too many leaders in politics, religion, the media and academia are telling people what they want to hear and not standing up for what's morally right. He exuded that sort of integrity."

Two friends of the Public Policy Institute established the John White Fellowship Lecture to honor outstanding citizens. It is named in honor of John White, former president of Midland Manufacturing, former president of the Better Government Association of Chicago, and an active participant in civic and political life.

For more information, contact Matt Baughman, director of development at the Public Policy Institute at 618/453-4001.