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“for now at least appears to be”

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Today’s Boston Globe is unremarkable. One AP story here about Bush addressing the National Guard is the only reference to Rathergate, and from the tone of this story you would thing that nothing of note had happened (keep throwing dirt on that story and hope it will stay buried, I guess). A couple other little things catch my eye:

First, the page 1 story on the campaign in the upper Midwest (which Kerry must win) has this gem of a sentence:

For all the hoopla over Ohio as a political battleground, strategists on both sides of the presidential campaign are increasingly looking northward toward the Great Lakes region, eyeing three states — Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan — as crucial in a race that for now at least appears to be trending toward President Bush.

Yes, for now at least it appears to be trending that way. One wonders how such a story would read if Kerry rather than Bush now led in the polls.

Second, is the insufferable egotism of Thomas Oliphant, whose job today is to state the party line about the presidential debates, which is apparently too much for him as his column lacks any structure or flow. Also it contains multiple references to the author. He ends his column today with this complete mess (emphasis on the most obnoxious portions is mine):

To be bipartisan means being willing to take partisan heat in a larger cause, and ever since 1984, co-chairman Frank Fahrenkopf (Ronald Reagan’s Republican national chairman), co-chairman Paul Kirk (who picked up the Democrats’ pieces after Reagan’s ’84 landslide) and full-time boss Janet Brown (a protege of principled Republicans like Elliot Richardson and Jack Danforth) have been my favorite stand-up people in an increasingly discredited game. They have taken the heat and built the debates the public wants. Bush’s negotiator will not be Karl Rove, it will be James Baker, former secretary of state and the treasury. Kerry’s negotiator is super-lawyer Vernon Jordan. I have known all the players for years and offer the following roadmap for the mess that may lie immediately ahead:

In a hotly contested election, the public’s interest in a full debate schedule will be served if the media, especially TV and newspapers in the four swing-state venues, is vocal.

In this hotly contested atmosphere that resembles 1992 without Ross Perot, Bush will take at least a big risk if he ducks one of those battleground state venues.

Kerry will take a big risk if he undercuts the commission and (dare I say it) flip-flops into connivance with Baker outside its auspices.

After dithering in ’92 and getting hurt (remember Chicken Man?), Bush’s dad did the right thing; after dithering in 2000 and getting hurt (Gore was ahead), Bush Jr. did the right thing. This time, with interest high, it would seem clear that debating is smarter than dithering. It’s also in the public interest.

Love that expression “principled Republicans”.

Also, I’m so glad to know that Tommy-boy is such good chums with all the players. If that muddle is his idea of a “roadmap”, I wouldn’t ask him for directions. He might write stump speeches for Kerry, though. Oliphant reminds me of those kids on the school playground who were such twerps that when bullies beat them up people thought of it as a form of public service.

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  • Harry, I have to wonder what about Oliphant’s piece bothers you so. Insufferable egotism? Can you be more specific? He’s calling for the candidates and the media to give the American public what they deserve this election year, an honest debate on the issues facing the nation. I think it’s high time that both candidates put their plans on the table, and I think it’s high time that the media does their job, which is to ask the tough questions. The voters deserve that much before they go to the polls in November.

    Oliphant reminds me of the playground twerp, too. As is often the case, the twerp went on to become smart and successful. The bullies are probably serving time somewhere.

  • Angel,

    Sorry you didn’t like my comment. I do find Oliphant insufferable. At the same time I have developed an appreciation for other Globe columnists who are clearly loyal Dems, such as Joan Vennochi. But I find Oliphant to be ever pompous — like Cardinal Law with ink stains. Oliphant led the media chorus of disdain for stories like Kerry’s Cambodian Christmas. The public will judge for itself which stories were important on November 2. I fear Ollie thinks his readers are sheep in need of a shepherd, rather than partners in citizenship.

    Yours as A Principled Republican,

    Harry Forbes

  • I didn’t say that I didn’t like your comment, Harry. I didn’t understand it, and asked for some clarification, which you have provided by stating your personal dislike for Oliphant. I thank you for the clarification.

  • I’ve never liked oxymorons like “principled Republicans,” either, and think Oliphant is insufferable, too.