To a coastal city-dweller like myself, this Des Moines Register story reads almost like something from the Onion:

Democrat Barack Obama said today he has “always” stood for local control over whether confined-animal feeding operations can be built in neighborhoods, making a subtle dig at Democratic rival John Edwards.

I'll say it's subtle! At least by national-media standards. (He certainly wasn't talking to Tim Russert and Mark Halperin.) I also like the notion that Obama has "always" stood for this principle. Someone dig up his Harvard Law Review hog farm coverage! (I kid, I kid.)

P.S. For what it's worth, this seems to be the Edwards rap sheet, which I sense the reporter implicitly endorsing:

In 2002, Edwards voted against a lower payment limit for [renewable energy and biofuel] subsidies, then supported it in 2003. Also in 2002, he voted against legislation that would have banned meatpackers from owning or controlling their own supplies of hogs.

Within seconds of stepping on stage, Edwards said he would stand up against "these huge corporate operations" and enforce a moratorium both on new construction and expansion of CAFOs.

"Just to be clear about this, I have been fighting these people, these big corporations that are driving you out of business, I have been fighting them my entire life," said Edwards, a former trial lawyer.

Bewildering to yuppie media people? Sure. As likely to stir actual caucus-goers as planted questions or catchy chants? Probably.

[Photo by John Cleary, Herald Bulletin

--Michael Crowley