Monday, July 28, 2014
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Gadhafi and other riffs

Quick political riffs at week's end

Gadhafi and other riffs

TGIF quickies:

Put your hands together for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who earlier this week at the U.N. delivered a stellar imitation of Alec Baldwin playing Saddam Hussein on Saturday Night Live. Rarely have we ever witnessed a mass murderer walk such a fine line between thuggery and buffoonery. The black hat was a nice touch, but, given the loony nature of his filibuster, his head should have been topped with whirling propellers. It was nice that he wants to solve the Kennedy assassination, but, since we're on the subject of murder conspiracies, let it be said that if Gadhafi had spoken up soon after that Pan Am plane was blown up over Scotland in 1988, he could have saved investigators a lot of time and trouble.

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Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, was smart to bypass Michael Dukakis for the newly-created job of interim Democratic senator. Patrick yesterday tapped former Democratic national chairman Paul Kirk (he'll be sworn in today), reportedly at the urging of the Kennedy family. That makes sense, since Kirk is a Kennedy family loyalist who worked as a top staffer for Ted. But just as importantly, Kirk doesn't have Dukakis' baggage. The aim is to theoretically give the Democrats a 60th Senate vote for health care reform, without any media distractions. If Dukakis had been named, the journalistic plot line would be "The Duke's Comeback," and cable TV, as we speak, would be running (and re-running) that '88 footage of doomed presidential candidate Dukakis looking wonky-nerdy inside a military tank. No Democrat wants to relive that era and step on the party's current message.

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Jeez, that New Jersey gubernatorial race is sure getting personal. The other day, Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine released a TV ad which attacks his challenger for being a fat guy. (U.S. attorney Chris Christie is indeed a fat guy, so at least the attack was accurate.) The narrator says: "If you drove the wrong way down a one-way street, causing an accident and putting the victim in a trauma center, would you get away without a ticket? Chris Christie did. If you were caught speeding in an unregistered car- would you get away without points? Chris Christie did. In both cases, Christie threw his weight around" - and, seconds later, there is a verrrry slowwww motion shot of weight-challenged Christie emerging from a van. Corzine's slam is a tad, um, heavy-handed...but arguably shrewd. Think about it: how often do voters actually elect fat candidates in major races? The last truly rotund president was William Howard Taft, elected 101 years ago. Today, when strategists first meet with their overweight candidates, the first piece of advice is to shed a lot of poundage, because some voters are prone to equate excess weight with a lack of personal discipline. That helps explain why Corzine is running his ad...even though it may well signal that, with just six weeks to election day, the governor is getting desperate.

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There was a lot of advance buzz about a new CBS show entitled The Good Wife, purportedly chronicling the traumas of being married to a politician snared in a sex scandal. Given the usual dearth of political drama shows on broadcast TV, I was curious this week to see the pilot episode. Here's a thumbnail recapitulation: The wife stands by her man during the first two minutes; five minutes later, she has landed an exciting job in a tony criminal defense law firm (yay!); 30 minutes later, she has cracked open a big case and freed an innocent woman (yay!); the big case was, naturally, her very first case (yay!); 20 minutes later, word arrives that her fallen husband might soon be freed from prison - but the wife is strong and independent, with a nice income and impeccable mid-life grooming, so clearly she doesn't need that stinker anymore (yay!). You go, girl; like Mary Tyler Moore, you're gonna make it after all. No wonder so many people sign up for HBO.

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Check out this passage from New Republic magazine: "(There is) a phenomenon which social historians of the future will very likely record with perplexity if not with astonishment: the fanatical hatred of the President...No other word than hatred will do. It is a passion, a fury, that is wholly unreasoning. It permeates, in greater or less degree, (a) whole stratum of American society." Among the examples: people grousing that "we might just as well be living in Russia right now," people lying about the president's genealogy, and a store owner even declaring that he would sell a volume of the president's words "only if bound in that man's skin." Care to guess the identity of this president? Franklin D. Roosevelt. The New Republic passage, quoted above, appeared in print 73 years ago. (The haters also circulated word, which they actually believed, that the president had caught gonorrhea from Eleanor, who had been infected by a black lover.) And no, I'm not implicitly equating Barack Obama with FDR. I'm merely pointing out that, with respect to politics, each and every generation produces its own constituency of morons.

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And speaking of America's dark side, Karl Rove made an interesting remark the other night during a Las Vegas speaking gig. He said that, back in 2003, he wished he had more fiercely opposed the Democrats when they charged that President Bush had lied about Iraq possessing WMDs. In Rove's words, "We should have stood up and taken a two-by-four to them in a polite and respectful fashion." Yep, Rove thinks he was merely wimping out when he and his surrogates slimed the Democrats for lack of patriotism...Elsewhere during his gig, however, Rove was far more rational. He said it's fine for the moment that the congressional Republicans are known primarily for their opposition to Obama's health care reforms, "but by next year, we need to be able to articulate what it is we're for." Gee, ya think? The latest New York Times-CBS News poll, out today, reports that 76 percent of Americans fault Republicans for not explaining how they would change health care; that, by a margin of 52 to 27 percent, Americans say Obama has better reform ideas than the Republicans; and that nearly two-thirds believe the Republicans are opposing Obama's reform push only for political gain. (Which reminds me: Whatever happened to the so-called "Obama tax on tampons"? I kid you not. Fox News floated that one back on Sept. 18, but apparently it didn't fly.)

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The word is out that Ralph Nader, of all people, is putting the finishing touches on a 700-page novel. Apparently, he has concocted fictional episodes in which the world turns out exactly the way he wishes it to be. And since we're talking fiction here, I can only assume he will conclude that he deserves no blame whatsoever for taking Florida votes away from Al Gore and thus putting Bush in the White House.

Dick Polman Inquirer National Political Columnist
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Dick Polman Inquirer National Political Columnist
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