- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

Yesterday's man
"If you had muted your television this campaign season and watched only the images, it would have looked as if 2002 was a fantasy match-up between George W. Bush and Bill Clinton," David Frum writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"There was Bush standing beside some unfamiliar Republican face; here was Bill Clinton with some Dem you'd never heard of. This may seem hard to remember (or believe), but Clinton was once a very popular politician yet Bush-backed candidates everywhere stomped Clinton's picks as if the Clintonites were the second coming of Walter Mondale. (The literal second coming of Walter Mondale did not do so well, either.)
"Instead of making Americans nostalgic for the prosperity of the 1990s, the sight of Clinton's face seems to have reminded Americans of the irresponsibility that left the country unsafe and unprepared against terror."

Windy stupidity
"More embarrassment for the New York Times," Andrew Sullivan writes at his Web site (www.andrewsullivan.com).
"The Johnny Apple piece of 'news analysis' [yesterday] morning is a classic of windy stupidity. The real news from [Tuesday] will surely be the historic achievement of a Republican president seeing his own party gain seats in both the House and Senate. But for Mr. Apple, it was all just depressing, listless, uninspired, boring."
Here, in part, is what Mr. Apple told his readers:
"Two years after the most bizarre presidential election in American history was decided by the Supreme Court, 14 months after the unspeakable horror of terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the nation voted yesterday in a mood of disenchantment and curious disconnection from the political system.
"The American public may be faced with a series of potentially life-altering issues, including the prospect of war with Iraq, the possibility of further assaults on national security at home, the reality of a prolonged slump in the stock market and the uncertainty of the economic outlook. But the campaign that led up to the balloting was notably lifeless and cheerless, with pep rallies devoid of pep and stump speeches that stirred few voters."
Said Mr. Sullivan: "Just how can you be this out of touch? This follows the Times' complete botch of their own poll, which predicted a clear Republican drift in the last days of the campaign. The Times buried their scoop, killing the news, in favor of their own partisan pabulum. If this is what the Democrats read in that political cocoon of theirs, no wonder they didn't see what was coming. I'm beginning to think that [editor] Howell Raines is secretly part of Karl Rove's masterplan."

Windy stupidity II
The New York Times, in the first paragraph of its lead front-page story yesterday, described Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's near-landslide victory this way: "Gov. Jeb Bush survived the fallout from his brother's disputed election in 2000 to win a second term in Florida, drawing an early-evening congratulatory call from the Oval Office."
The newspaper's odd spin did not stop there. A few paragraphs later, reporter Adam Nagourney said that Frank R. Lautenberg "reappeared on the political stage last month after Sen. Robert G. Torricelli of New Jersey was forced aside by an ethics investigation."
Forced aside? As Mr. Torricelli himself said, he quit the race because he was going to lose. And all the investigations of Mr. Torricelli had ended with a rebuke in the summer by the Senate ethics committee.

Left 'Wing'
Must every conservative on NBC's "The West Wing" be stupid?
TV critic Ken Tucker raises that question in the Nov. 8 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Mr. Tucker offers suggestions to help the drama series starring real-life liberal Martin Sheen as fictional liberal President Josiah Bartlet recover its ratings, which are down more than 20 percent this season.
"The conservatives shouldn't all be dimwits," Mr. Tucker writes, citing the show's fictional Florida Republican Gov. Robert Ritchie. Where Mr. Sheen's character is erudite and sophisticated, the Republican (played by James Brolin) is a tongue-tied dummy, provoking one Bartlet administration aide to scoff at his "Greco-Roman wrestling matches with the language."
Mr. Tucker asks: "Isn't that a standard line among George W. Bush critics?" And "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin answers: "I won't pretend I don't know who Bush is, but I was interested in writing about a demonization of intellect. Which didn't start with Al Gore it didn't even start with Eisenhower-Stevenson." (Mr. Sorkin then went into a rant derivative of 1950s social theorists Theodor Adorno and Richard Hofstadter.)
Still, Mr. Tucker concludes that "if Sorkin wants to prove he's not 'here to sling spitballs at President Bush,' why not give Bartlet a foe unique for television: an articulate conservative who's not a lunkhead or a right-wing nut."

Long time coming
Among all the Republican victories Tuesday, one should not be overlooked: Linda Lingle's historic triumph in the Hawaii governor's race.
Miss Lingle defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, 52 percent to 48 percent, to become the first Republican to hold the state's highest office since 1962, three years after statehood.
"We are up to the challenge, and there's nothing we can't do if we work together," Miss Lingle told supporters.

Return of Reagan
As Republicans nationwide made strong showings in Tuesday's elections, Ron Reagan scored an overwhelming victory.
"Name recognition is important," said Mr. Reagan, who is not related to the former president.
But did the name get him any votes for his election to a state House seat from Bradenton, in west-central Florida?
"To be honest with you, I don't think so," said Mr. Reagan, who is in the real estate business. "If anything, those strong Democrats that saw the name probably voted for my opponent."
He got 80 percent of the vote over his only opponent, Libertarian Ron Stringfield.

Hart's hopes
Gary Hart says he may seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.
The 65-year-old former Colorado senator, whose 1988 presidential bid sank when he was caught cavorting with a young woman who was not his wife, told the Denver Post: "If you love the country and are motivated by public service, as I am, it's very hard to sit on the sidelines."
When asked about the sex scandal that doomed his last try for the presidency, Mr. Hart said: "That was an issue between me and the press, not me and the American people."
He added, "The American public never had a chance to weigh in. I said at the time I thought that we would return to some sanity and normality, and we have after a very difficult 15 years."

Turnout up slightly
Tight races in several states apparently attracted more voters to the polls this year than in the last midterm election, but not by much.
Curtis Gans, director of the independent Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, estimated Tuesday's turnout at 77 million, more than 39 percent of voting-age citizens, the Associated Press reports.
In the 1998 elections, the figure was 37.6 percent the lowest midterm turnout since 1942.
Twenty-eight states had higher turnouts this year, and 22 states and the District of Columbia had lower turnouts.
Mr. Gans attributed the higher turnout to the tight races and the parties' mobilization efforts.

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