John McCaslin

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) makes a good point in proposing that the presidential nominating process be turned over to the National Football League.

This way, candidates like Democrat Joe Lieberman who didn't fare well in the earliest stages of the primary season still would have a chance to win the political equivalent of the Super Bowl. Take the analogy of the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

"On September 12, in the season's first game, the Buffalo Bills trounced the Patriots 31 to 0," Alexander points out. "If this had been the first-in-the-nation presidential nominating caucus, the Patriots would have been toast. You know the pundits' rule: Only three tickets out of Iowa.

"The Patriots certainly didn't look like one of the three best professional football teams," he says. "Then, the Washington Redskins defeated the Patriots, as unlikely as it would have been for Dennis Kucinich to upend Sen. (John) Kerry in New Hampshire. But in the National Football League, upsets don't end the season. The Patriots played 14 more games. They won them all."

The NFL schedules 20 weeks of contests over five months to determine the champion, yet as the senator reminds us, the presidential nominating process uses the equivalent of "two preseason games" - in Iowa and New Hampshire - to narrow the field and, more often than not, pick the winner.

"All but half are effectively eliminated after two contests," he says. "If professional football were presidential politics, (we) would pick the Super Bowl teams after three or four preseason games."

So, Alexander is suggesting that instead of cramming 28 primaries into five weeks after New Hampshire, the contests be spread out and held every two weeks.

"Iowa and New Hampshire could still come first," he says, "but they would become off-Broadway warm-ups and not the whole show."


We've stumbled upon a Democratic straw poll of cocktails being poured at the plush Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.

"Our patriotic duty," says the Four Seasons' Tricia Messerschmitt.

The surviving cocktails, after Tuesday's primaries: "Kerry Catch Up," "Johnny E. Good," "Dean's Scream," "Ku Ku Who," "Irreverent Reverend," and "Wild Wild Wes."

The "Cup o' Joe" (vanilla vodka, Bailey's Irish cream, decaffeinated coffee) wasn't very popular and has been pulled from the shelf.


You didn't read it here first, but John Quincy Adams loved to skinny-dip in the Potomac.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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