over in the second quarter
Expanded from the Sunday, 1-11-2004, Daily
Sparks, Nev., Tribune
1-15-2004 Comstock Chronicle
Last week's poor job numbers must have Karl Rove and the White House Bushmasters a bit frantic. The dis-election of Bush the First was sealed when the national economy continued its swoon into June of 1992.
In March of that year, the New York Times reported that economic growth (especially takehome income) in the second quarter of a presidential election year had proven a brutally accurate harbinger of the November result.
Only once or twice in the previous 100 years had the economy shrunk in the second quarter and the party in power retained the presidency, the Times stated.
The most cut-and-dried occasion was 1956, when nothing could dislodge the super-popular ex-general Dwight D. Eisenhower. The other remained in dispute because of questionable statistics when Teddy Roosevelt ran in 1904.
Some have said that the second-quarter predictor also failed in 1992, because statistics revised long afterward indicated that the economy had indeed turned around and actually grew slightly. Nonetheless, it didn't help President George Herbert Hoover Bush (a name I hung on him in October of 1988 when I predicted he would become a one-term president.)
Although the right wing has proven masterful at rewriting history, the fact that Poppy barely lost in 1992 should provide cold comfort at best for the Bushwhackers. No matter what the number crunchers say, citizens will vote their pocketbooks. In that context, Bush the Lesser's only chance will be to Wag the Dog. If al Qaeda doesn't cooperate in providing a national red alert for an October surprise, Cheney and Co. will damn well just have to pick a fight somewhere.
After all, "patriotism is for old women and little children. I'm here to protect my stockholders," as one officeholder said back when the 20th Century was young. (Memory from my college days says it was President Woodrow Wilson, but I've not been able to confirm it.)
None of this should give the Demolitioncrats any surcease from sorrow. If a way can be found to blow opportunity, they've proven masterful at doing so.
Howard Dean showed as much last week. NBC's Lisa Myers regurgitated a spoonfed "scoop" tapes of a Canadian talk show upon which Dean was a frequent guest a few years ago.
None of the old comments were of much import, so Myers and the national media focused on Dean's 1998 statement that special interests control the Iowa caucuses, thus bringing out the extremes of both parties.
Dean decided to eat the remark and apologize. Bad idea. All he needed to say was that he was thinking of 1988, when the Rev. Pat Robertson smoked the Republican field with an upset victory. [[CORRECTION: Robertson finished a surprising second to Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kansas.]]
As comedian Mark Russell said afterward, "Vice-President Bush flew in on Air Force Two and left on Air Force Three," a reference to Poppy's third-place finish. Robertson's campaign had imported a lot of followers who lived in Iowa long enough to qualify as residents and register to vote.
Dean's campaign was smeared with a similar but unproven allegation last week. The doctor blew a golden opportunity to heal two wounds at once by explaining the 1998 Canadian TV remark while rebutting the smear. Instead, he committed political malpractice.
So much for the guy who says he's not a scripted candidate. Either Dean's got inept handlers who didn't think of this strategy, or worse they did and decided not to use it because it might tick off religious zealots among Iowa Democrats.
SHORT SHOTS. Word is out that Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, will seek re-election to an unprecedented ninth term.
Should Raggio win, he will nonetheless lose one of his plum positions. Big Bad Bill may either return as majority leader or chairman of the all-powerful finance committee, but not both. The GOP's three concrete blondes, Clark County Sens. Ann O'Connell, Barbara Cegavske and Sandra Tiffany have made sure of it.
In Reno, insiders are betting that City Councilman Pierre Hascheff will retire after three terms, with fellow incumbent David Aiazzi running for Hascheff's at-large seat. Aiazzi's strategy will be dictated by how he polls in his northwest Reno ward, where he ran weakly in 2000. Several potential opponents have already started making noise about running for Aiazzi's current seat.
Down in Gomorrah South, embattled incumbent Clark County Commissioner Mary Kincaid-Chauncey is drawing some heavy opponents, which is understandable. With its rule over the Las Vegas Strip, the Clark County Commission has long been the most powerful political body in the state.
A decade or two back, a certain officeholder went through a brutal divorce. Unfortunately for him, his ex found his little black book.
"I don't know why anyone would ever want to be governor of Nevada," the hardfaced divorcee told me at a cocktail party, "when being a Clark County commissioner is so much more lucrative. If you can't get out of there with at least $400,000 cash in four years, you're not doing it right."
Rumor had it that she got a helluva settlement.
Adjusted for inflation, that four-year term is worth more than a million today if you're smart enough not to solicit bribes over the phone. It can also be worth 10 to 20 as the guest of the state, but the courts will soon enough sort through that latest in a long and distinguished string of corruption scandals. (A)
Northern Nevada government is just not competitive with the south when it comes to betraying the public trust.
Be well. Raise hell.
Copyright © 1982-2004 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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