It's a high-energy scene in the interior department's John Muir Room on the second Wednesday in June. Rangers from the National Park Service dispense information while their bosses dispense Bluebonnet ice cream. Guests from the Forest Service exchange gossip with their Interior counterparts, while other visitors pause to examine the displays set up around the room.
Most energetic of all is the event's host Derrick Crandall, the 50-year-old president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC). The coalition is perhaps Washington's least-known powerhouse. But with cabinet officers and members of Congress paying court, ARC's clout has been apparent the week of the ice-cream event, which is also the coalition's seventh annual "Great Outdoors Week."
"I am the Democrat who can beat Rick Santorum," says Bob Rovner in his introduction to hotel-lobby chatter at a Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee meeting. The hotel is not even in Harrisburg, the Democrats having forsaken downtown. It's off a bypass of the interstate east of Harrisburg. "I'm the best Democrat. I'm a fresh face, and I can raise big money," Rovner continues. The lawyer from suburban Philadelphia explains that he was the youngest state senator in the history of the commonwealth and that he already has $1.1 million to spend on his campaign.
NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE--Political lore says that George Bush (père) lost the 1980 primary when he sat grinning dumbly as Ronald Reagan proclaimed that he had "paid for this microphone" during a debate here.
Of course, that this is not true (the debate merely helped turn a loss into a rout) matters less than its being part of the political culture in the state where Ed Muskie cried (or perhaps didn't) in the snow, George Romney said he was brainwashed, Eugene McCarthy's antiwar students stunned Lyndon Johnson, and a minor candidate named Ned Coll held up a rubber rat during a nationally televised debate.
The upper chamber of Congress should be up for grabs.
But in too many Senate races, Democrats have issues but not candidates.
Or they have national issues but not local ones.
Or they have candidates but not money.
Can they win anyway?
Pick up the newspaper or tune in to a Sunday morning TV gabfest
and you're likely to read or hear about the sizable majority of Americans who
approve of voucher plans--school choice, as proponents put it. These assertions
are sustained by the holy writ of the public opinion poll, rooted in random
sample, buffered by margin of error, presented as mathematic (and, therefore,
objective) truth. Who could say them nay?