October 20, 2000 -- The Battle of the Buzz
While the November 7th election is still more than two weeks away, the outcome of the election will likely be decided over the course of the next five days.
Several contradictory forces are now working both within a volatile electorate, and an uncertain news media. The average of polls out at the end of the week put Bush at roughly three to four points ahead of Gore. However, since the Tuesday debate the trend of news coverage has leaned against Bush. Not overwhelmingly, of course. But the focus of news has squarely been on Bush's Social Security privatization plan, and the direction of that news has been largely negative. The same has been true, to a lesser extent, with regards to Bush's tax plan.
Looking back over the last eight weeks, the race has been evenly enough counterpoised, that the candidate who has been put on the defensive by the content of most news stories has tended to fall...
October 13, 2000 -- The Debate Debate
Yikes. If the pundits are to be believed, George W. Bush came just short of winning the presidency with his sure-footed performance in Wednesday evening's second presidential debate. And Al Gore can basically kiss the Oval Office goodbye because of his own languid performance. The truth is probably more uneventful. Gore stopped the bleeding on the arrogance, exaggeration front; Bush helped himself on the dork front. So it's basically a wash. The only problem for Gore is that the tide was already moving in Bush's favor before the debate. So a tie may count for a Bush win.
October 13, 2000 -- New York Senate Race
Hillary Clinton and company had absolutely no business thinking they could persuade New York voters that Rick Lazio was another mean Republican like Newt Gingrich. Then Lazio hired Mike Murphy as his head consultant and Bill Dal Col as his campaign manager.
I don't see any other explanation. Lazio,...
December 1st, 2000 -- Whither McCain: Is the Straight Talk Express on a Detour?
One of the little reported developments in the national brouhaha over the Florida recount has been the surprising non-involvement of Arizona Senator John McCain -- arguably one of the two or three most important politicians in the United States. A few days after November 7th, McCain made an appearance on Face the Nation and made some vague, not-so-specific, statesmanlike comments. But that was it. He didn't go down to Florida. He didn't even say word one about the whole question of military overseas absentee ballots. And don't you think he would have had a lot more credibility making that argument than Bush's dad's best friend James Baker and George W.'s new best friend Marc Racicot? Yep, so do I.
Since Katherine Harris certified Bush as the winner on Sunday evening, McCain has made a number of public statements -- first in Arizona on Monday and then later on Wednesday on Larry King Live...
December 17, 2000 -- Popular Mandate
According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer Al Gore's lead in the popular vote now stands at 540,435. Think of that. More than a half a million votes.
I don't want to make too big a deal of this. But I think that at half a million votes, Gore's margin pushes past a certain psychological threshold. In the national vote this really wasn't a "virtual tie." Bush lost. Narrowly, yes. But he lost (Historical perspective: Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford by 678,000 votes in 1976).
Make a note of it and have it on hand for future discussions about Bush's mandate.
December 17, 2000 -- Appointment with Infamy
Last week I wrote a column in the New York Post , which set out some ground-rules for George W. Bush's appointments.
The basic gist of it was this: the Democrats would resist the temptation to indulge in a lot of confirmation funny business if Bush would come to grips...
December 21st, 2000 -- Souring on the Citrus Commission
Last month when Jeb Bush recused himself from sitting on the state Elections Canvassing Commission, he tapped Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford, a Democrat, to take his place.
At the time, I was a little surprised that this pick didn't draw a touch more critical attention. Why? Crawford had supported Jeb's gubernatorial candidacy in 1998 and he supported W. for president this year. In my neck of the woods we have a name for Southern Democrats who supported George W. Bush. We call them Republicans .
Now comes word that Crawford is in line for a promotion . He's going to head the Department of Citrus (presumably a job that exists only in Florida.) A commission dominated by Jeb's appointees has tapped Crawford for the job, which pays $237,270 a year. That's about twice what Crawford and all the rest of the state's highest elected officials, including Jeb, currently makes.