Alan Baron, who was a wise and witty man of politics, used to tell this true story to remind those who worked in politics like he did that in some election years, the outcome is determined by events and forces completely beyond any candidate's or her campaign's control.
As a 21-year-old, Baron was managing in his heavily Republican hometown of ...Read more
After Election Day in 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson won a landslide victory over Republican Barry Goldwater and Democrats procured a 68-32 majority in the Senate, the Democratic Caucus of the U.S. Senate met in private. Rightly confident -- they now had the numbers needed to pass Medicare, Medicaid and the Voting Rights Act -- euphoric Senate ...Read more
We have serious shortages of jobs, dollars in the federal treasury and registered nurses. But when it comes to polls, there is not only no shortage; there is a glut. Every cable news show, weekly Neighborhood Shopper, AM radio station and news website seems to have its very own public opinion poll. Humorist Bob Orben once asked: "Did you ever ...Read more
On Sept. 26, 1960, when Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy and his Republican opponent, Richard Nixon, met in the first ever nationally televised presidential debate -- watched or listened to live by some 60 percent of adult Americans -- there were no overnight polls or sophisticated voter focus groups to tell the press or the public who had won...Read more
In Marine Corps jargon, a "duty station" is the military base or camp where a Marine is assigned to live. Reflecting our national inclination both to romanticize what is past and to criticize what is current, Marines will regularly gripe that there is no duty station better than the one they just left and none worse than the one they're ...Read more
West Virginia -- which, between 2015 and 2016, was the only state to see both more deaths than births and more citizens move out than move in -- could understandably be expected to be somewhat unwelcoming to the recent arrival who seeks public office. The Mountain State's last surviving Democrat in its congressional delegation, Sen. Joe Manchin,...Read more
With news that Sen. John McCain's last book, "The Restless Wave" -- the seventh he has written with his friend and former speechwriter Mark Salter -- is about to come out, I thought of the man I covered and traveled with and grew to both like and respect enormously.
On election night 1986, when he won the Arizona U.S. Senate seat long held by ...Read more
It's an established American tradition to call people what they wish to be called. That's why after he converted religions, nearly everyone -- except a few die-hard bigots -- called the heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali instead of Cassius Clay. Marion Morrison chose to become John Wayne. Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov would later become Dame ...Read more
She was born into comfort in Manhattan and raised in Rye, a leafy, exclusive suburb in New York's Westchester County. She would leave college before graduating to marry. She never had a career beyond wife, mother and citizen. But her death, in her 10th decade, evoked an almost spontaneous national yearning for what she and her husband had ...Read more
Shortly after Hawaii and Alaska joined the Union and I was still a semi-young wiseguy, smugly sure that a celebrity candidate whose prospective campaign had sparked public interest would become a serious White House challenger, a grizzled political reporter brought me up short with this practical advice: "If a candidate gets measurably louder ...Read more
The election night words of the long-shot Republican candidate after his upset victory remain with me to this day: "I learned long ago that serving only oneself is a petty and unsatisfying ambition. But serve a cause greater than self-interest and you will know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of fame and fortune."
Successful politicians, those who have won election and re-election to office, almost always have an extra olfactory nerve that somehow endows them with the ability to smell which way the political winds will blow in a given election year -- and whether a gale-force blast is forming that might sweep them out of office in November. That could ...Read more