HANOVER, NH -- When the Democratic debate ended last night, there was some doubt about who won: Either Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, or not. ("Where's the lede," was heard more than once in the press filing room.) And there was some doubt about who lost: Either the conventional wisdom, or not.
The debate's first question went to Mitt Romney: "Knowing everything you know right now, was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?"
"Well, the question is kind of a non sequitur … or a null set," he said, because if "Saddam Hussein had open(ed) up his country to (UN weapons) inspections and they'd come in … we wouldn't be in the conflict we're in." The question was also, he said, "hypothetical."
Whatever may have been wrong with the question, it was not a non sequitur, for it did not follow anything, and therefore could not have followed it inappropriately. Considering that the United States actually did invade Iraq, it wasn't a hypothetical either.
At 7 a.m. Sunday, twelve hours before the start of the Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN, the network anchorpersons, with no hint of irony, were calling the programs that would precede the debate "pre-game shows." It was the appropriate description, and not just because of the pep rally-style greetings with which supporters welcomed the eight contenders to the campus of St. Anselm College outside Manchester, New Hampshire, the de facto capital city of the first presidential primary.
The year was 1965. John D. MacArthur wanted his own turnpike exit.
OK, it wasn't personal. It was for access to Palm Beach Gardens, his new 4,000-acre development north of West Palm Beach.
Still, it was a reporter's job to ask him whether there wasn't something audacious about the request. So I did, though MacArthur -- a multi-millionaire insurance executive and a political reactionary, not to mention Helen Hayes's brother-in-law -- could be brusque and intimidating, especially to a 24-year old.