The week (June 23rd): Nobody asked me, but…

With full credit to famed New York newspaperman Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

THE CASE FOR AL GORE as the Democratic presidential nominee for 2008 is made quite cogently by New Republic publisher Martin Peretz, largely on the grounds that political moderates and liberals can be “intellectually sure and psychologically fervent” about Gore and that he can win (“He won once. He can win again.”)

Is it possible for a presidential loser to rebound two elections later? Yes, as Richard M. Nixon proved when he shrugged off the dual defeats of 1960 (as the GOP presidential nominee) AND 1962 (a loss to Pat Brown in the California gubernatorial race) to take the prize in 1968.

The difference? Nixon wanted the presidency with every fiber of his body. I don't know that Gore has the same deep-seated hunger. Without resorting to arm-chair psychoanalysis, there's always been an unanswered question about Al Gore: did he pursue a political career, instead of journalism or education, because he wanted to, or to please his father?

My guess? Gore doesn't need the presidency for self-validation in the way that a Bill Clinton or a Richard Nixon did…and he will not run. (Others disagree. The New York Post's Deborah Orin believes that Gore's refusal to endorse his former running mate, Joe Lieberman, in the Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut is a signal that Gore is courting favor with the anti-war party faithful.)

Could he win the nomination? The Democratic Left sees Senator Hillary Clinton, the early front-runner, as choosing opportunism over principle on the Iraq war (vide, Robert Scheer's "Hillary's Hypocrisy" on The Nation.com), and would welcome Gore's candidacy. And Democratic primary voters skew left…

FILE UNDER: "GREED IS GOOD": European corporate executives are now seeking American-style pay packages, and governing boards there are apparently ignoring the research showing little connection between out-sized compensation and better performance. One irony, noted by Geraldine Fabrikant of the New York Times: greater disclosure of corporate pay in Europe is actually fueling the trend: "as compensation scoreboards become more common across the globe, they create the metrics that let executives claim they are worth more."

IF YOU CAN'T SCORE GOALS, you can't win soccer games, as the U.S. national team demonstrated in its quick exit from the World Cup (scoring only one bona fide goal in its three games).

American coach Bruce Arena can be second-guessed for not picking Taylor Twellman (the leading scorer in Major League Soccer), and the mercurial Clint Mathis (who scored a brilliant goal against Korea in the 2002 World Cup) for the national side; for playing Brian McBride as a lone striker for most of the three games; for relying on midfielder Landon Donovan, who has yet to prove he can play intensely enough; and for not starting Clint Dempsey, the future of American soccer, until Game 2.

Speaking of Clint Mathis, the "good-ole-boy" striker from Georgia never impressed Arena with his work ethic; and yet, Mathis scores goals. There is a marvelous story about Mathis playing for Hannover 96 in Germany, where he entered as a late substitute, scored an immediate goal, and than ran by the coach, Ewald Lienen, tapping an imaginary watch as if to say: "Why did you wait to play me?" Mathis did not see much playing time after that. (He is now on the Colorado Rapids MLS team).

AN INTRIGUING STORY by the Boston Globe's Beth Daley explores the growing shortage of honeybees, crucial for pollinating crops. According to the story, hives must now be trucked around the U.S. to "keep up with the blooming seasons for various crops."

Daley writes:

…the honeybee is locked in a two-decade battle with a parasite that has sliced the nation's commercial hives by one-third and appears to have wiped out much of the wild honeybee population. Now, frustrated with the parasites' ability to develop widespread resistance to the chemicals designed to kill them, the US Department of Agriculture, scientists, and beekeepers are racing to develop new weapons.

Her story traces how bees pollinating cranberries on Nantucket had started in Louisiana and made stops in California, New Jersey, and Maine. One startling fact: Australian bees were imported to pollinate California's almond crop.

ALESSANDRA STANLEY of the New York Times managed to lavish praise on Angelina Jolie while trashing CNN's Cooper Anderson for his interview with the latest Hollywood political activist ("Jolie's Extravagant Philanthropy Is Hard to Fault"). The article will certainly not make its way into Cooper's own publicity kit ("When journalists act like movie stars, movie stars act like journalists.")

THINK THE NATIONAL REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL COMMITTEE is nervous about the Virginia race between incumbent George Allen and Democrat James Webb, the former Reagan Secretary of the Navy? Allen only leads 51%-41% in the latest Rasmussen Reports poll. Webb has enjoyed a positive bounce since his June 13 primary win; the previous poll had Allen with a 50% to 30% lead.

Don't be surprised if Webb closes to within 5 percentage points of Allen by early October.


Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders

All rights reserved

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