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A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
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Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
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May 8, 2008
Tuesday’s split decision—Barack Obama wins North Carolina easily, Hillary Clinton squeezes out a very narrow victory in Indiana—had one group of journalistic commentators taking this look down the road facing Obama:
Mark Halperin of Time Magazine said Obama seems to be “stumbling, tripping across the finish line” in winning his Democratic presidential nomination battle with Clinton. Halperin pointed out that the Tuesday election results offered fresh evidence that Obama is “still having trouble attracting (Clinton’s) voters” to support him in a November showdown with McCain.
(A polling-place-exit sample of voters’ opinions Tuesday indicated that 70% of Obama’s voters would support Clinton in the November balloting but a significantly smaller percentage—59%--of Clinton voters indicated they would support Obama against McCain.)
Speaking on the Charlie Rose late-night talk show, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, a black, said Obama still faces “a huge issue” in explaining his 20-year relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, from whom Obama is trying hard to distance himself after earlier describing him as his friend and pastor and spiritual advisor for 20 years. Wright has been making national news recently, of course, with statements like, “God damn America” and suggesting that the United States government may have developed the AIDS virus as a means of reducing the numbers of black Americans.
“The race issue could be a killer in November,” Herbert said.
Herbert also said that Obama has to move from generalities to specifics, such as coming up with an economic program that deals with job creation.
Al Hunt, former Wall Street Journal columnist, now Washington managing editor for Bloomberg News said the split between Obama and Clinton is getting worse as the Democratic presidential primary campaign drags on. Hunt also said: “Obama needs to address where (he) wants to take the economy, what you’re going to do about jobs…Obama hasn’t done that.”
Since Clinton is lagging and needed a strong two-state showing in Tuesday’s balloting, the North Carolina/Indiana results can, of course, be regarded as a victory for Obama.
But the commentators’ appraisals quoted above brought to my mind a famous quote from Pyrrhus, King of Epirus after a third century B.C. battle in which he had won a costly victory over a Roman army. Pyrrhus is reputed to have said:
“One more such victory and I am lost.”
Whether Obama’s victories in primaries, caucuses and among super delegates will turn out to have been “Pyrrhic,” only time will tell. But there surely is a strong hint of potential trouble ahead in the most recent Gallup poll which showed that among those polled, McCain clearly leads Obama among voters with high school educations and is tied with Obama among the college-educated.
* * *
A welcome headline: “New cars will have to use less gas.”
The subhead read: “The government will mandate average fuel efficiency of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.”
As I wrote recently, increased fuel efficiency has great importance as a means of both reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing air pollution which results from automotive exhaust fumes.
Now let’s get on with building more nuclear-fueled electricity-generating plants and expanding the capacity of existing plants.
If France, for a prime example, can safely use nuclear power to generate more than 80% of its electricity needs, there is no reason to let a relative handful of anti-nuclear activists dictate this country’s policy in regard to nuclear energy.
* * *
With the first pitch at 2:35 p.m. Saturday, April 12, my roommate grasped again her version of a holy grail—a record of having seen a game in every current major league baseball park.
We had waited 90 minutes for rain to let up enough to allow play to proceed in the new Washington National Stadium in downtown Washington. Marian’s attendance at the game between the Washington Nationals and the visiting Atlanta Braves meant that she was again current in her record of having attended a game in each of the current major league ballparks.
There are 30 such ballparks now. But since major league franchises have been added in four cities since Marian began her quest, and since a number of new stadiums have been built to replace older ballparks, Marian has had to visit a total of 49 major league parks in order to continue her record—first achieved in 1991 in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia—of having seen a game in each of the ballparks currently in play.
We cheered for the home team, but in vain. The Washington Nationals were down, 4-0, before they came to bat in the bottom of the first inning. They ultimately lost, 10-2.
Attending a game with Marian—sometimes good-naturedly referred to as “The Sports Babe” by admiring male friends—is like a class in Baseball 101. Her first-inning comments about three of the Washington National players:
“They got him from the Mets.”
“He won the first game this season with a homerun in the bottom of the 9th.”
And in regard to a third Washington National player: “He played for the Yankees. He’s 6’4” and weighs 240 pounds.”
We reminisced a bit about some of the ballparks we had visited together, including the since-replaced stadium in Cleveland. Marian’s description: “It was huge. It was the one that WPA built.”
We agreed that Washington National Stadium is a very attractive venue, including an essential requirement for any ballpark these days—an attractive concessions concourse.
To me one of the highlights of the day at the ballpark was the fact that the National Anthem was sung, strongly and with no gasping for breath, by a baritone. None of those western country or rock band females who think they have to change the tune and tempo to show the screeching power of their voices and haven’t learned breath control so that the microphone doesn’t pick up a gasp for air after every high note.
* * *
Just after reading of Governor Heineman’s veto of a state gasoline tax increase of 1.2 cents a gallon, I started on my way to the office over a stretch of street which had as many potholes as a World War I battlefield.
I recalled that a portion of the state gasoline tax is earmarked for use on city streets and county roads. This didn’t, of course, help lower my level of disapproval (I was about to say “indignation”) of the governor’s veto.
The story ended reasonably happily. The Legislature overrode Heineman’s veto of the miniscule increase in the price of gasoline. And the potholes were filled before someone drowned in one or had to call a tow truck.
* * *
Considering Tiger Woods’ less-than-impressive performance in the recent Masters tournament, can we at least temporarily set aside consideration of whether we should simply rename the game from “golf” to “Tiger”?
I’m only about half-kidding. Story after story and telecast after telecast have concentrated not on a total golf tournament but on whether Tiger is winning or, if he is losing, how many strokes he is behind.
The buildup to the recent Masters tournament and the coverage of that tournament provide prime examples of what I’m talking about. The pre-Masters issue of Golf Digest magazine, for one example, had a cover which showed Tiger, clad in black, hands on hips, legs apart as if he were some colossus astride the golf world.
Inside the magazine were 10 pages with text and pictures as to how Tiger plays his irons. (If there had been discussion of how Tiger plays his woods, might we have seen his explanation of the fact that on too frequent occasions, it appears Tiger hasn’t the slightest idea where his drives are going?)
In its major advance story on the Masters tournament, The Wall Street Journal had a full page of text and pictures offering readers a chance to “test your knowledge of the Masters and a certain well-known golfer’s achievements there.”
During the tournament itself, the Sunday New York Times sports section had a page-wide color picture of Tiger hitting an iron. The picture carried this caption: “Woods Refuses to Fade Away.” Tiger was six strokes behind the leader when that headline was written.
There was a much smaller half-column-wide picture of Trevor Immelman of South Africa going into Sunday’s final round with that six-stroke lead on Tiger. Immelman ultimately won by three strokes, shooting a 75 Sunday while Tiger stayed at five under with a mediocre even-par round.
To its credit, The Washington Post Sunday edition featured a large color picture of Immelman under a headline which read: “Immelman Hangs In There,” which he did in Sunday’s final round.
Bottom line: Perhaps we can at least temporarily continue to call the game “golf” instead of “Tiger.”
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