Seven Weeks

September 19, 2012 - 7:02 AM
Yesterday marked the seven weeks to go mark before the MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN MY LIFETIME.

I have been voting since 1968 . . .

SIDEBAR

The 26th Amendment to the Constitution, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 in America for all elections (local, state and federal), was not adopted until 1971. By that time I was old enough to vote with or without the 26th Amendment.

END SIDEBAR

. . . meaning this will be my 11th Presidential election.

I do believe that in each and every one of those elections I have been told that it was THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN MY LIFETIME.

I can't prove it, but I suspect that with just about seven weeks to go in each of those 11 elections, there was an outcry that one side or the other was the victim of malpractice by a senior advisor.

The other day, Politico.com published a long piece about how senior advisor Stuart Stevens has single-handedly screwed up the campaign of Governor Mitt Romney.

Stevens, who used to be the advertising guru for Gov. George W. Bush among many other campaigns and titles, is the senior-ist of senior advisors to Romney.

He is known as being a "gunslinger" in the best meaning of the term. In 2000 George W. was supposed to run the table in the early primaries and win easily.

Came New Hampshire and Sen. John McCain crushed Bush by over 43,000 votes 115,490 to 72,262.

I was writing for a dot-com in those days called "Speakout.com." Stevens strolled into the filing center and announced, "Well, that was an old-fashioned ass-kicking" which I'm pretty sure was not what in the official talking points memo.

Many moons ago, long time Democratic strategist Bob Shrum - with whom I had been sparring on TV for some time - was similarly accused of messing up whatever campaign he was senior- advising at the time.

I called Shrum's office and told a young man to tell Mr. Shrum that if it was helpful for me to write something good about him I would do that; or, if it were more helpful for me to write something awful about him I would oblige.

A few days later the same young man called back and said, "Mr. Shrum asked me to thank you and tell you that he would be fine, but also that you were the only person in Washington who called to help."

That, I've always thought, was hyperbole, but it has made for a good story over the years.

Over the past 24 hours there have been at least four new polls released. The Gallup five-day tracking poll and the Associated Press both have the race back to one point: 47 for Barack Obama and 46 for Romney. The third, the NBC/Wall Street Journal has it Obama 50, Romney 45; and the Rasmussen tracking poll has the race 47-45 with Romney leading.

Pick the one you like and ride it, but my point is even after one of the worst months in the modern history of Presidential politics, Romney and Obama are still essentially tied in the national polls.

Starting with Hurricane Isaac, which missed Tampa but caused the Romney convention to alter its calendar to the release of a four-month-old video of Romney at a Florida fund-raiser it has been one stumble after another.

Stuart Stevens didn't pick Tampa as the site of the GOP convention and he certainly wasn't whispering in Romney's ear at that fund-raiser, but in spite of it all, Obama has not been able to put Romney away.

A reporter called yesterday and asked me if I thought it was time for the Romney campaign to panic. I said that if the polls continued to show that the Obama convention bounce was dissipating, there should be panic in Chicago, not in Boston.

It might well turn out that the Convention bounce that helped Obama's numbers was actually attributable to President Bill Clinton not the current President. No matter how much he would wish it otherwise, Clinton's name will not be on the ballot when Americans go to the polls on November 6; Obama and Romney both will.

I still don't know who is going to win this election, but I do know that calling it with this much time left is like trying to decide which team will win a baseball game that has a team one run ahead in the seventh.

"It's not over," as Yogi Berra is famously reported to have said, "until it's over."

This one is not over. There are still seven weeks to go.

On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the 26th Amendment, to the Political article on Stuart Stevens, and to a great collection of Yogi Berra-isms. Also a Mullfoto from Romney's fund raiser in Dallas last night.