Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 29, 2012

Let's see now.   Was this going to be the column where I introduce you to a handsome, smiling Republican convention delegate who in turn introduces you to a fellow convention delegate – also smiling – who 's going to be the next President of the United States?


No, this isn't that column and there's a good reason for it.  That delegate does not exist;  that presidential nominee does not exist.  More accurately, they may exist but we don't know whether they do or, if they do, who they are.  Are you following?


The Democrats don't have this problem, of course.  They know that their ticket will be Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Is this an advantage for them?  Probably, but not certainly.


The country is at one of those funny points.  Not awful – let's get rid of Obama – but not excellent – gotta keep him.

The economy is okay but not superlative.  He's gotten us out of one war – though I keep reading about American deaths in Iraq – but certainly not out of both wars.  The bodies come home from Afghanistan at a regular, sad rate.


I suppose we've had these periods before when things weren't absolutely awful but they weren't all that wonderful either.  What you do then, I think, is say to yourself:  This is a brand new race.   Then you take a good hard look at the two candidates. (I don't know, do the Prohibitionists and the Vegetarians and the Nudists still run anyone?)  Anyway, look at the two candidates and say of one of them:   He's my guy.


It makes for an interesting election year for sure – sound argument both for and against the incumbent.

And a still nonexistent challenger.


I do hope you'll enjoy the job ahead of you.  Good luck.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 25, 2012

Reporter:   Morning, boss, who's voting today? 


Editor:         Nobody, you idiot, it's Wednesday.


Reporter:   Who voted yesterday?  Somebody must have.


Editor:        No, I hate to break it to you.  I know it was a Tuesday but the fact is that nobody voted nationwide.


Reporter:  Good grief, boss, how am I supposed to make a living?  New Hampshire was weeks ago.


Editor:        Yeah, but at least you go that one right.   'Course Romney does live next door.  And just lately, good grief, Newt    Gingrich is supposed to have won South Carolina.   Do you suppose the good folk there really think he lives in Georgia?  Washington isn't even close.

Oh, never mind.  You'll never get it.  When do you suppose we can get you back to writing obits?  At least the dead people don't complain.



Well, so much for that…a little excerpt from some newsroom, quite possibly near you.


Who actually is ahead for the GOP nomination?  I have no idea.  Will the 15 who finished last in South Carolina please abandon their campaigns?  The rest of us can leave for Florida.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 19, 2012

There it was, plain as day in the newspaper the other day, 80-something percent of Americans don't like the Congress.  Well, your first reaction probably is -  what's wrong with the other 20%?  There are probably more dysfunctional, inefficient organizations in Washington, but right now I can't think of any.


Another newspaper, another headline:  Americans are very divided over how they feel about President Obama.


That's a little harder to understand.  I wouldn't say he's been exactly Abe Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt but I do think he's been a pretty good president – ending one war out of two.  In baseball batting 500 would be extraordinary.  In peace making, I don't really know. 


The fact is we seem to be in a national "let's blame somebody for this pretty quickly" mood.  Nothing wrong with this.  If I were a social scientist, I'd probably say this is cyclical. 


It's a little odd, to be sure, to see the Republicans beating each other up on a regular basis while Obama relaxes with his team  collecting quotes to use in the general election.  Still, it's very American. 


I take a certain amount of pleasure in primary fights.  I remember applauding Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama four years ago.  And I expect to enjoy Mitt Romney and his pals this time around.  As a field though it is a little troubling.  Every once in a while I think where are the grownups.

That is why we have all these primaries – to separate the men from the boys (sorry, no girls left now).  I'll stay with them if you will.









Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15, 2012


No politics today.  This column is personal.

One of television news' best died Friday - Richard Threlkeld. 


He always signed off "Richard" but in the newsroom he was always "Dick."  The good ones have nicknames--except for Walter, maybe.   And Dick was very, very good.


He won many awards. He made many friends. He deserved them.

If you walked into the newsroom and someone said "It's all right;  Dick's on it," you relaxed because it was.


So many stories. So many places. So much fine stuff.

He goes back, I think, to a time when most of us really cared.


Good night, Dick. God bless. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January 11, 2012

I've been calling Mitt Romney the "so-called" or the "alleged" frontrunner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.  I guess it's time to drop all the alleges and so-calleds.  With 38% of the vote yesterday in New Hampshire – ahead of 23% for Ron Paul, 17% for Jon Huntsman, 9% each to Gingrich and Santorum – he is the frontrunner now. Texas Governor Rick Perry – I kind of like this one – got seven tenths of one percent of the vote.  The eyes of Texas may adore him;  the eyes of New Hampshire clearly did not.
What's a poor conservative to do these days? 
The choices are few and unhappy. He can pretend that Romney is one of the guys, though a fair analysis would seem to be that he is pro-business, which probably says more about his economic views that about his liberal or conservative ones. There are snippets in the paper this morning about conservatives teaming up to dethrone Romney.  They've never been very good at teaming up but, if they were to succeed in upcoming primaries, it would be like the Republican Party eating its young – the best news the Democrats could hear.  
On the other hand, Romney notwithstanding, maybe the GOP conservatives should just soldier on.  There are a lot of conservatives in America.  New Hampshire is not one of their fortresses.  South Carolina, which comes next on the primary calendar, is.  So, conservatives should not give up.  
The rest of us, who simply enjoy a good fight, should smile, lean back in our seats and prepare to smile some more.  It ain't over, thank heavens, 'til it's over.  There is no game like it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 10, 2012

Does the New Hampshire Primary – I can remember when it billed itself "First in the Nation" – tell us who the next president will be?  Certainly not.
Four years ago Hillary Rodham Clinton beat Barack Obama in New Hampshire.  It did not lead her to the White House.  He lives there now;  she has a nice office over at the State Department.  John McCain won the Republican primary that same year and went on to become his party's nominee.  He winters in Arizona now, not on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Does this mean anything?  Probably not.
The glory of the American system is that, sometimes at least, it is mysterious – which is to say it's hard for thumbsuckers like me to pick a winner. The Democrats have nothing to worry about tomorrow.  They have a candidate, President Obama, even though 13 Democrats are on the ballot in New Hampshire, running against him.  Don't bet on them – not even on Vermin Supreme – count on it being Obama.
But what about the Republicans?  Mitt Romney may be the frontrunner, but it's still a wide open field.  Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah,  used to be ambassador to China and is probably better known there than here.  Unlike Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich and Paul, he has yet to enjoy a fleeting moment as the favored "non-Romney."   But polls show him rising in these last hours.  Could his timing be perfect and bring a win tomorrow? Well, we'll see.  Tomorrow we'll explain exactly who won and why – and what it all means. That's tomorrow, mind you, not today. 
Today it's still  the best reality show I know of.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 4, 2012

Well, it as a tie right?

Former Governor Mitt Romney and former Senator Rick Santorum – only
"formers" allowed apparently – fought for first and ended up only
eight votes apart. Representative Ron Paul (R-Tex) came in third in a
state he once hoped to win.

Three candidates perhaps ought to be reconsidering their candidacies:
former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (13%); Texas Governor Rick Perry
(10%), Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann (5%).

Should they quit? Probably. Will they? Let's see.

Michelle Bachmann, who won the summer straw poll in Iowa, finished 6th
and withdrew. Rick Perry finished 5th and announced he was going home
to Texas to think things over. He didn't think too long though. It
seems he's off to South Carolina now to campaign. And fourth place
Newt Gingrich came out swinging at Romney in New Hampshire this

So Iowa did what first states can do – shrink the field, sharpen the divisions.

The Republican Party, like the country as a whole, has different
viewpoints on where we should go next. Moderate Republicans would say
let's trims spending and shrink the size of government. More radical
Republicans – Tea Partiers and the like – would say let's quit
everything and withdraw from the planet.

Sounds preposterous, but who knows? It's been fun to watch so far and
it's only just started.

The Presidential Express keeps moving, of course. New Hampshire, the
next stop, is just six days from now.

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2, 2012

Today is a kind of toy holiday for most Americans.  The real New Year's Day was, of course, yesterday.  The government and a lot of businesses are closed today so employees do get that extra day off.  For a smaller group of us – political junkies – the New Year really starts tomorrow.  That's when Iowans go to those caucuses and declare:  "I'm for Jones;"  "I'm for Smith;"  or "I'm for none of the above."  Actually, you can't do "none of the above" at a caucus but it might be fun if you could.  What if "none" won?


Anyway, it's starting – the whole wonderful, foolish panorama:  Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, etc.


Predictions are common at these things.  I will offer only one:  the man usually labeled the frontrunner, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, won't get it.  Runs in the family, I guess.  His father, George, was once governor of Michigan.  He didn't get it either.


Who will?  I have absolutely no idea.  The woman?  I'd say no.  but she was born in the state, represents neighboring Minnesota in the Congress and you just never know with these things what will happen.

I guess that's their charm.


I plan to stare at the television more than usual, read the newspapers with more than usual interest – in general, behave like the junkie I am and get my fix.


Allow me one more prediction:  I will have something to say about it.  See you Wednesday.