Monday, October 22, 2012

OCTOBER 22, 2012

    One of the lines George McGovern always used in speeches when he was the Democratic candidate for president in 1972 was, "Come home, America!"  He was protesting the war in Vietnam.  If you'd covered that war, if you'd seen all those dead young faces, you knew what he meant.  He knew; he'd been a bomber pilot in World War II.
     The campaign failed, of course.  His was one of the great landslide losses ever--McGovern carried just one state--Massachusetts, not his native South Dakota.  The winner, Richard Nixon, as president, withdrew the American troops from Vietnam.

     Big defeat for McGovern and the Democrats?  Yes, but it also helped change the party toward anti-poverty and civil rights programs along with opposing the war.  An influence?  Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton worked on the campaign.  So did Gary Hart and a host of others who continue in politics today.

     Food was a major issue for him.  He thought up the idea of Food for Peace and was, under President Kennedy, its first director.  He spent twelve years in the Senate and mostly worked in good causes.  


     His wife Eleanor, asked about the sometimes silly nicknames--prairie populist,  McGoo and the like--just laughed.

     Why not?



Thursday, October 18, 2012

OCTOBER 17, 2012

They woke the president up for the second debate.  It made a big difference--real arguments, rhetoric that sometimes verged on anger.  It was good debate--fun, unlike the first one, in which the president seemed very passive.

And it showed, of course, that there are real differences between the parties. Democrats think the government should help its most disadvantaged citizens in areas like health and education.  Republicans think voters can and should help themselves in these areas with perhaps the aid of a tax cut.

People I know who watched the first debate mostly thought Romney won it. I haven't seen any numbers for this one, but I wouldn't be surprised if Obama won
the second.  


And there's one more to come.  Of course none of them matters.  What does  is Election Day, in about three weeks.

I'm sure Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles are charming, but I think these old American street brawls are more fun




Editor's note:  Mr. Morton's lazy editor is totally at fault for this column's late posting.

Monday, October 15, 2012

OCTOBER 15, 2012

      Did the first Romney-Obama debate change anything?  There's been a lot of talk about how Romney won it, but a story in today's Washington Post may make you wonder.

     The headline says "GOP's zeal for Romney grows," but the poll numbers haven't changed much, suggesting that he needs not more zealous voters but simply more voters.  The new Washington Post-ABC News poll, the story says, shows 49% for Obama, 46% for Romney, adding that's "basically unmoved from...before the two candidates met in...their first debate."  The story doesn't say what the poll's margin of error is;  they are often around three percent.

     Other poll puzzles:  "…the survey portrays an electorate...deeply divided along partisan lines and locked in its views."  Two more debates are scheduled.  "Nearly two-thirds say they do not need any more information before Election Day and barely one in eight is undecided.  Even as voters overwhelmingly perceive that Romney won the first debate, the vast majority say their view of the president did not shift as a result."

    Okay.  We had a debate.  One candidate won but it didn't matter, so we're going to have two more.  I hope that makes everything perfectly clear.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

OCTOBER 13, 2012

      It ain't over, Yogi Berra is supposed to have said, until it's over. Well, everyone, it's over.  Or maybe, for the Nationals, it isn't.

      Still, this Washington team can tell some good stories in the off season.  They won their division.  They won the most games, I think, of anyone in their league.  They got, I quoted one of their players as saying yesterday, to play one more day.  They just didn't win.  They're an expansion team--only been at it ten years or so. They just haven't won yet.  They have time, bags of it.

     The team I grew up rooting for, the helpless, hapless Chicago Cubs--last won the pennant in 1945, the World Series more than a century ago in 1906.

     The Nationals can spend the off-season practicing a phrase the Cubs have forfeited the right to use:   Wait 'til next year.


     Good luck, Nats.  You deserve it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

OCTOBER 11, 2012

     The vice-presidential campaign this time is not between turkeys, but between two men with serious Washington credentials.

     Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney'
s running- mate, has seven terms in Congress and hasn't just been hanging out in the halls.  He is chairman of the House Budget Committee and a leader of the party in crafting the right-wing Republicans' budget:  replace Medicare with a voucher system and all that.

      Joe Biden is the sitting VP of course, and h
as a reputation for offering tough advice, whether it's been asked for or not, in his forty years on Capitol Hill.

     He has long had a reputation for gaffes. I remember sitting at a Senate hearing once--subject long-forgotten, of course.  Senators often take turns questioning a witness--twenty minutes apiece, say. Biden was maybe half way through his twenty when he suddenly announced, "Of course, I have no idea what I'm taking about."  The room, including Biden, burst out laughing.  Then he started in again, and did have an idea after all.

     Gaffes are his past anyway.  He seems not to do them so much anymore.  When they do come they seem less like written and rehearsed "zingers" and more like just ad-libbing Joe.

     Anyway, you might tune in tonight.  Two interesting men worth hearing.   



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

OCTOBER 10, 2012

   The polls seem to have shifted toward Mitt Romney, but polls are notoriously volatile creatures.  There's plenty of time for them to shift again,  maybe more than once. This week's poll followed last week's debate.  Two more of those are planned, plus one between the vice presidential candidates this Thursday.

     Romney's criticisms have centered on foreign policy, but I'm not sure the country agrees with him. This week's Pew poll shows Romney ahead 49--45% among likely voters, though tied at 46% among all registered voters,

     Romney talked a lot about Iran but did not really propose a different solution from Obama's, which is sanctions and rhetoric saying a nuclear Iran is unacceptable.  Romney said this week that he would take a hard course on Iran.  He didn't say he'd invade it.  I suspect that most Americans would urge him not to.

     Obama had people behind him in getting out of iraq.  I suspect that most of us would have a simple solution for Afghanistan as well.
 Out now.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

OCTOBER 7, 2012

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Ann Hawthorne" <>
Date: Oct 7, 2012 3:11 PM
Subject: OCTOBER 7, 2012
To: "Wittenberg, Holly" <>



     Are numbers joining the presidential race?   Well, maybe.

     You'll recall that in their debate this week Republican chall
enger Mitt Romney repeatedly said that Democratic President Barack Obama had lost control of the economy, allowing unemployment to soar to 8--gasp, shudder--8%.  Very high, very bad, and true enough as he spoke.  But as some wise cynic once said, "There are three kinds of lies--lies, damned lies, and statistics."

    We woke
Saturday morning to discover that 8--a tricky number--was some kind of lie.  It had transformed itself into 7.8, a four-year low.  Romney can still say that's bad, but Obama can now say:  see, it's getting better and will keep getting better if you give me four more years.


     Is he telling the truth, or one of those kinds of lies?  How about Romney--a lie, a  damned lie or just a statistic?

     You decide.
 It's why we have these things.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

OCTOBER 4, 2012 #2

    If you're for Romney, you probably think he won the debate--a hit for Mitt, maybe.  If you're for Obama, you'd probably call it a draw.

     Romney, who's spent much of the campaign trying to get his foot out of his mouth, didn't have to do that this time.  Sentences were unmangled, voice clear, etc.  Obama was calm and clear too, of course, but we're used to that from him.  For the challenger, it was a good showing,

     It was, by agreement, all about economics.  I don't how often viewers could hear about interest rates and budget deficits before boredom set in.  The real political test, I suppose, will come when the first flurry of post-debate polls comes out, sometime in the next few days.  Romney needs a rally;  Obama doesn't.

      If you liked it, there are two more--one centered on foreign policy.  There's also one bewteen the the VP nominees.  That might be fun because Representative Paul Ryan, the GOP candidate, is a forceful advocate of economic reform--medicare vouchers, etc.  He might go further than his boss did in arguing that case.

Beats soap operas anyway.  And the baseball playoffs are starting. More good news 



OCTOBER 4, 2012


     The  Washington Nationals have clinched something, but baseball has
gotten so quirky, I'm not sure what.  When I was a kid, there were eight teams in each league.  Every fall the two leaders, who we said had won the pennant in their leagues, as we used to say, played a best-of-seven World Series.  The winner was the lord of baseball creation.

      Now, there are three leaguelets in each league.  Some have five teams, some six.  Four teams in each league qualify for the playoffs--the three actual winners and the non-winner with the best record--the wild card team.  How they play off is something of a mystery to me.  One day I read that the Washington Nationals, who haven't ever won anything, had made the playoffs, another day that they'd won something else--good grooming, maybe.  I have no idea.

     Winning anything is good news here.
 The Nats, a young expansion team, have never won.  The previous Washington team, the Senators, had a slogan they'd earned:  Washington, first in war, first in peace, last in the American League.

     So go, Nats.  Win all you can.  We'll worry about what to call it later on.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

OCTOBER 2, 2012

      It's the day before the big show and the question--well, one of them, anyway--is how many Mitt Romneys will show up.

     As Eugene Robinson points out in today's Washington Post, Romney's been pro and anti-abortion, pro and anti-gun control, pro and anti-healthcare.  Now he has to deal with that plaguey 47% of us.  We are the people, he said, he could "never convince…to take personal responsibility or care for" our lives.  He thinks we want the government to do it.  I suppose the government did control my life years ago when I was an Army draftee, but it was not an experience I wanted to prolong.  Polls say the remark hurt Romney; tomorrow he'll have a chance to heal.  I'd like to know whether he talked that way because he thought he was in a closed meeting and it wouldn't leak. Naive, if true.

     Say what you like about them, the debates are democracy at work. Or democracy and television, all mixed up.