By Jefferson Flanders

With a tip of the fedora to Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…
WILL THE “72-HOUR CAMPAIGN,” the Republican’s much-heralded get-out-the-vote (GOTV) drive, save this 2006 mid-term election for the GOP? George Mason University professor Michael McDonald argues in the Washington Post that it won’t: “Republican get-out-the-vote efforts could make a difference in close elections if Democrats simply sat on the sidelines. But this year Democrats have vowed to match the GOP mobilization voter for voter.”

I think McDonald is wrong—the Republicans have been at it longer, have spent more time and money on the process, and understand how social networks, especially in “Edge City,” work. So look for the GOP GOTV to keep the upcoming election from being a total disaster for the party currently in power: enough of the conservative base will show up to allow the Republicans to keep control of the Senate.

THE SURPRISING RACE IN FLORIDA’S 13TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT shows the trouble facing Congressional Republicans. Polls show Democrat Christine Jennings with a slight lead over Republican Vern Buchanan in a West Coast district most recently represented by Katherine Harris and traditionally considered “safe” for the GOP. Buchanan has spent more than $5 million of his own money on the race, and Vice President Dick Cheney, President Bush and Laura Bush have campaigned for the Sarasota businessman, all in an effort to retain the Congressional seat for the Republicans.

IF THE HEISMAN TROPHY GOES TO the college football player who matters most to his team’s gridiron success, then Notre Dame’s quarterback Brady Quinn should win. Although Troy Smith of Ohio State, another top-notch QB and the Heisman frontrunner, may be a better player, he can afford an off day and the Buckeyes will still win. Not so with Notre Dame: if Quinn has a so-so day (as he did against Michigan), the Fighting Irish are in trouble. Quinn’s recent performances, against UCLA and Navy, have been crucial for Notre Dame.

BILL O’REILLY SEEMED RELAXED AND CONFIDENT, AND DAVID LETTERMAN came off as testy and overmatched during O’Reilly’s Friday appearance on the “Late Show.” That’s because Fox News Channel talk show host O’Reilly handles direct hostility well; Letterman doesn’t have the depth, or the ironic wit, of a Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, and had to resort to insults (calling O’Reilly a “bonehead”) instead of countering O’Reilly with humor.

HOW PHONY DO THE PRO FORMA APOLOGIES sound when a government official speaks his or her mind and then retracts under pressure? The latest example: American diplomat Alberto Fernandez, who apologized for saying that the U.S. had displayed stupidity and arrogance in Iraq, claiming that he “seriously misspoke.” Fernandez, who speaks fluent Arabic and is often a guest on Al Jazeera, backtracked to save his job, but who can deny the role of post-war American stupidity and arrogance in creating the current mess?

ACTOR ALEC BALDWIN apparently fantasizes about becoming governor of New York. Baldwin, a liberal Democrat, told the Sunday New York Times: “I’m Tocqueville compared to Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Baldwin might want to try anger management classes first before any run for office, if this New York Post story about his temper is accurate.

WHAT IS GOING ON AT THE LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY? You would think that security would have been tightened after the Wen Ho Lee incident, but you would be wrong. The Albuquerque Tribune notes: “What appear to be computer devices containing classified information have been discovered outside the secure fence near Los Alamos National Laboratory. This time they were in a mobile home, where police also discovered illegal drugs.” The Tribune editorialized: “No more excuses for Los Alamos security.” Hear, hear, as the Brits say.

MURRAY WEISS of the New York Post reported this week that the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor honored the late Rev. John M. Corridan by naming its first police vessel after the Jesuit priest, who became famous for his stand against organized crime and corruption. Corridan, who died in 1984, was the inspiration for “On the Waterfront,” Elia Kazan’s award-winning 1954 movie.

DID THE CARDINALS WIN THE 2006 WORLD SERIES, or did the Tigers hand it to the Redbirds? Considering Detroit’s sloppy play in the field, the five-game series victory by St. Louis seemed, well, anti-climactic.

THE IRISH WRITER BRENDAN BEHAN once compared critics to eunuchs in a harem: “They know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.

Reprinted from Neither Red nor Blue

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders

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