- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Your team win?

Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, makes a good point in proposing that the presidential nominating process be turned over to the National Football League.

This way, candidates like Democrat Joe Lieberman who didn’t fare well in the earliest stages of the primary season still would have a chance to win the political equivalent of the Super Bowl. Take the analogy of the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

“On September 12, in the season’s first game, the Buffalo Bills trounced the Patriots 31 to 0,” Mr. Alexander points out. “If this had been the first-in-the-nation presidential nominating caucus, the Patriots would have been toast. You know the pundits’ rule: Only three tickets out of Iowa.

“The Patriots certainly didn’t look like one of the three best professional football teams,” he says. “Then, the Washington Redskins defeated the Patriots, as unlikely as it would have been for Dennis Kucinich to upend Senator [John] Kerry in New Hampshire. But in the National Football League, upsets don’t end the season. The Patriots played 14 more games. They won them all.”

The NFL schedules 20 weeks of contests over five months to determine the champion, yet as the senator reminds us, the presidential nominating process uses the equivalent of “two preseason games” — in Iowa and New Hampshire — to narrow the field and, more often than not, pick the winner.

“All but half are effectively eliminated after two contests,” he says. “If professional football were presidential politics [we] would pick the Super Bowl teams after three or four preseason games.”

So, Mr. Alexander is suggesting that instead of cramming 28 primaries into five weeks after New Hampshire, the contests be spread out and held every two weeks.

“Iowa and New Hampshire could still come first,” he says, “but they would become off-Broadway warm-ups and not the whole show.”

Barney and kids

Does Rep. Barney Frank exert a bad influence on congressional interns?

“I think that it is totally unjustified,” the openly homosexual congressman tells Roll Call in an interview. “I’ve had 200 interns in my office over the years, and nothing has ever happened. I really resent the assertion that I am a bad influence on my interns.”

The Massachusetts Democrat, the newspaper reports, is accusing the nation’s largest internship placement organization of misleading him over the firing of a program supervisor allegedly dismissed for assigning a student from an antihomosexual conservative college to his Capitol Hill office.

“Frank is particularly angered that a decade-old scandal involving him and a male prostitute has been dragged into the fracas, something the congressman says has no bearing on the matter at hand,” Roll Call reports.

After he was fired last year, David Halpern, a supervisor at the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, filed a lawsuit against his former employer. He charges he was fired for trying to place an intern from Calvin College, a conservative Christian institution in Michigan, in Mr. Frank’s office.

The handbook of Calvin College clearly states homosexuality is wrong.

Phil deHaan, a spokesman for the school, told the newspaper that the student’s professor found Mr. Frank’s past relationship with a live-in male prostitute — first reported by The Washington Times more than a decade ago — of particular concern.

The internship center says the dismissal was for unrelated reasons.

New lobby

The Federalist Group and Berman Enterprises are merging to create one of the 10 largest federal lobbying firms in Washington — and the largest Republican-only firm.

“This merger will bring together two of the top Republican firms in Washington to create the largest single party lobbying shop,” says Stewart Hall, founder and president of the Federalist Group.

The merger will be completed March 1, under the new name the Federalist Group, LLC.

Damage control

“She had something to get off her chest

And decided to make a clean breast:

We assure you that Janet

Did not mean it or plan it

And just happened to wind up undressed.”

F.R. Duplantier

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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