Ran across Jimmy Breslin a couple of times in New York City when I was in the literary criticism racket, working for the Irish Echo there some years ago. There might have been better newspapermen writing at the time, but I never met them. He officially retired last week with a column predicting a Kerry landslide.
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He got it wrong, which is something that happens once in a while to people who have the stones to print what they think rather than let it pass in some idle dinner-table chatter.
A lot of people were wrong about the election. A lot of Republicans and a lot of Democrats. And none of it bodes well for our country.
Ohio, the place of my birth, the place I abandoned more than two decades ago in search of light and opportunity in the east, has let me down again.
I had a feeling it was going to. I'd talked to too many friends, relatives and former colleagues there who felt simply that Kerry was weak. And over in Ohio, they don't have much use for anyone they perceive as weak.
Republicans gloating today about the Bush "mandate" don't seem to grasp the fact that, but for 100,000 votes in the Buckeye State, Bush would be on the receiving end of the same kind of phony defeat he handed Al Gore four years ago. He'd have won the popular vote yet lost in the Electoral College.
And a lot of Democrats now whining about having their hats handed to them on Election Day got what they asked for in Ohio by pandering to the City of Cleveland and neighboring Cuyahoga County while holding the rest of the state in contempt.
Jeff McCabe, a bright, libertarian iconoclast I regularly correspond with, wrote me the day after the election to offer his condolences. "I'll be as happy today as I was yesterday, and you will not," he said.
I wrote back to tell him he was wrong. Sorry to disappoint, I said. Having covered national, state and local elections in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ireland, New York and the Seneca Nation of Indians over the past three decades, I've become, perhaps, a bit cynical. I felt every bit as good when I woke up the day after Bush had won as I had the morning before, when I thought -- like Breslin -- that Kerry would win.
"Well," I said to myself while fixing some coffee, "Gallagher, Hanchette and I won't have to scrape around looking for stuff to write about these next four years."
As far as "happy" goes, I told Jeff I'd given up on that entire concept sometime during the Reagan administration.
Many of my liberal friends are in a blue funk over Kerry's loss.
This, too, shall pass, I tell them.
It does no good. They're still nervous.
What about Roe v. Wade?
What about the rights of gays?
And what about the Brady Bill?
On the lefty Web sites I frequent, they're already spinning conspiratorial yarns about how last week's presidential election was somehow "stolen."
Get over it, I tell them.
The guy won. He won fair and square in what was probably the most closely monitored election in American history.
I don't like President Bush.
And I don't think he's a conservative any more than I thought John Kerry was a liberal.
Pat Buchanan, now there's a conservative.
And Dennis Kucinich -- who served as mayor of Cleveland when I first worked in the newspaper business there and for whom I cast my vote earlier this year in the New York State Democratic presidential primary -- he's a liberal.
By God, he's almost a communist.
As for Bush and Kerry, they're politicians. Liars by nature. Panderers to what they see as their core constituencies.
Bush talks about the sanctity of unborn life, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and the right of each and every American to own a Kalashnikov assault rifle. While he has no intention whatsoever of implementing any of these things, he needed to talk about them in order to sucker in the 70 million or so Americans who still refuse to accept evolution as scientific fact.
Kerry, meanwhile, lacked the starch to vote against the Iraq war or to speak out about the lying "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" advertisements, and he was hamstrung by a 20-year senatorial record that had him on all sides of any number of issues.
When you talk about people who have the courage of their convictions, these two Yale graduates probably wouldn't come to mind.
Jimmy Breslin would, though, and I don't know if he even graduated high school.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||Nov. 9 2004|