Let the Games Begin!
On the morning John Kerry announced John Edwards would be
his running mate, the venerable New York Post, founded by
Alexander Hamilton and now owned by arch conservative Rupert
Murdoch, boldly proclaimed on its cover that Kerry had chosen
Gephardt, with a photo of the two together.
It had gone to print with what the Post believed was irrefutable
inside information that Dick Gephardt was the choice and the
Post was going to scoop the world.
Well, not since Dewey defeated Truman in 1948 has there been
such a front-page gaff. And, as one can imagine, the local
media had a field day of fun with the Post - as I can imagine
the national media did also. Red faced after being caught
red handed, the Post corrected its mistake the following day
with a droll nod to its blunder. Rumors circulate the mistake
goes all the way up to Rupert.
It was a good, great, deep laugh in a campaign that I don't
think promises a lot of laughs. President Bush has seemed
very cross since the announcement; he has been humorless,
actually - though I have never noticed that he's had much.
And he's been on the attack.
Some Republicans, including former Senator D'Amato, have
gone so far as to suggest Bush drop Cheney and pick someone
a little livelier than our current Vice President; someone,
too, without that heavy Halliburton baggage.
One of the things the choice of Edwards has given Kerry is
a bit of charisma - he actually seems to have learned to smile
a little more since he has joined himself to the perpetually
The 2004 race for the Presidency is on, heatedly, before
the conventions - an unusual feature in itself. Pundits have
pointed out that this has happened rarely in our political
Also what is new, and what is sobering, and not so fun, is
that this is also the first post 9/11 election in the United
It is not the first, however, election since the invasion
of Iraq. We saw what Al Qaida did in Madrid - which toppled
The reality for us is that another attack upon is likely
- and it is possible that something will be attempted during
With the Government announcing there are "credible"
reports of terrorists planning attacks on us during either
the conventions or election campaign we are entering uncharted
territories in electioneering. When the 2000 campaign was
underway, it was inconceivable our national process would
expose the citizenry to physical danger.
It does now.
Interestingly, 62% [CNN] of the population believes Secretary
Ridge's announcement had more to do with politics than with
reality. Ah, America, home of unfettered optimism is also
the land of cynical reactions.
Sitting in one of the cities that will be home to one of
the conventions, I am feeling far more vulnerable this election
than I have in other elections - and I mean physically vulnerable.
In another era the presence of a national political convention
in a city meant serious inconveniences, traffic jams, difficulty
in getting restaurant reservations, and sidewalk crowds of
clueless tourists, unruly demonstrations.
Now it means you are the bright red center of a target -
and we're not thinking shopping at Target. We are talking
dynamite or worse.
My sister was relieved I wasn't in New York on the weekend
of the 4th. I would be relieved if I wasn't in the city when
the Republicans are here but, unfortunately, I will be here,
with the clueless crowds, avoiding restaurants and all of
mid-town, collectively crossing our fingers that nothing goes
We are in for the season of histrionics, back-biting, reputation
ripping, half-truths, character slashing, and financial investigating
while watching profound amounts of money being spent on advertising
campaigns, our television screens splashed ad nauseum with
ads that will become increasingly vitriolic the closer we
get to November.
In this rendition of our quadrennial spectacle we are faced
with the first experience of living through it knowing that
someone out there has a figurative gun pointed at us.
The Games have begun. Let's hope they are not deadly.