Retired Marine Col. Jack Pozza, a Vietnam veteran who grew up not far from Green Bay, Wis., and now lives in Virginia, has a dilemma: He's a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan, yet he supports President Bush for re-election. Wherein lies the problem.
The Marine knows that there is a 100 percent correlation between the Washington Redskins win-loss record and the outcome of every presidential contest dating back to 1940. If the Redskins win their last home game prior to Election Day, the party in power stays in power. Conversely, if the Skins lose the game, the incumbent party is on the street.
In 2000 - Tennessee Titans 27, Redskins 21: Bush defeats Al Gore.
In 1996 - Redskins 31, Indianapolis Colts 16: Bill Clinton defeats Bob Dole.
In 1992 - New York Giants 24, Redskins 7: Clinton defeats George H.W. Bush.
In 1988 - Redskins 27, New Orleans Saints 24: Bush defeats Michael Dukakis.
Therefore, forget about the Electoral College, voting irregularities in Florida, and missing weapons in Iraq. The fate of the free world, says one observer, rides on the Redskins versus the Packers on Halloween night.
IT'S ANIMALS, STUPID
Harry Truman once said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."
It might behoove John Kerry, if he can rent a pasture, to get a cow.
"An interesting pattern emerged when we researched our book," says Peter Barnes, former Washington bureau chief of Hearst-Argyle Television, and last seen on CNBC. "We noticed that in the majority of cases in presidential contests from 1900 to 2000, the candidate with the most pets won the election."
Barnes, also a Wall Street Journal veteran, and his wife, Cheryl, are accomplished children's book authors (she also illustrated the 2002 White House Children's Christmas Program). In researching their new book, "President Adams' Alligator and Other White House Pets," they discovered that Bush should easily win re-election simply because he has more pets than his opponent.
Bush has three pets: Barney, the irascible Scottish terrier; India, a cat; and Ofelia, a black-spotted longhorn cow that lives at the president's ranch in Texas. Kerry has two pets: a German shepherd named Cym and a yellow parakeet.
Consider that in 1904, Teddy Roosevelt had 34 pets while his opponent, Alton B. Parker, had one, a dog. In 1920, Warren G. Harding had four pets - two dogs and two birds - while his rival, James M. Cox, had one dog, Tom. In 1932, Herbert Hoover had 10 pets, but Franklin D. Roosevelt had 11 and ended up winning the White House.
Roosevelt, in fact, won three additional elections against opponents who had one pet or none at all. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had nine pets, beat Adlai Stevenson, who had one dog, twice. In 1960, John F. Kennedy had 29 pets, Richard Nixon had one; later, Nixon acquired four pets before running against Hubert Humphrey, who had one dog (1968) and George McGovern, who also had one dog (1972). Ronald Reagan had six pets when he beat Jimmy Carter, who had two, in 1980.
"Pet owners are a big voting bloc," Barnes explains. "More than a third of all U.S. households have pets. It's no wonder that many candidates have pets, to show voters that they love animals."
DEMS ARE OPTIMISTS
If you believe the pollsters, the next president will be crowned in a photo finish, while on Capitol Hill it's do or die for Democrats, who need a net gain of two seats to win control of the Senate.
"And make no mistake about it - our candidates need our help," says Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat. A motion seconded by Sen. Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.
"In the Senate, too many races are too close to call," he says.
So close that former President Clinton is back on his feet helping his party.
"It's great to be back," he says. "I have seen a lot of crowds . . . and I've gotten pretty good at sensing which way the momentum is going. And let me tell you, this year, the atmosphere is electric, and the momentum is clearly going in the direction of the Democratic party."
The mood of this divided nation going into Tuesday's presidential election is no better reflected than in this official White House pool report of President Bush's campaign stop in Findlay, Ohio:
"(T)he citizens stood among falling leaves and front-yard pumpkins on South Blanchard Street either cheering or jeering at the president's motorcade as it zoomed past. [We] spotted a giant inflatable rat with a large 'W' with a cross-out red line through it; a person with the rat flipped the motorcade a double-fisted obscene gesture.
"One sign along the way said 'Vote No 4 Bush;' another said 'Go Bush, Our Daughter is Deployed Tomorrow.'''
Chance that a Republican president has not won the popular vote: 1 in 6
- Harper's Index, November 2004
"You'll need 'em for the recount!" writes Craig Brownstein, vice president of Edelman public-relations firm in Washington, sending this columnist - and no doubt other political scribes in Washington who will be toiling late into the night of Nov. 2, and perhaps days and weeks beyond - a bottle of Centrum high-potency vitamins.
T'S TOO SOON?
The GOP Shoppe, one of the official purveyors of Republican Party paraphernalia, certainly is optimistic going into Tuesday's 2004 presidential election.
Not only have buttons already been stamped bragging: "I Partied With the Winners: Bush/Cheney 2004," but The Beltway Belt has received red, white and blue T-shirts touting the "Inauguration of President Bush and Vice President Cheney 2005" from the company's president, Brian Harlin.
Every four years since 1988, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Richard G. Lugar, the longest-serving U.S. senator in Indiana history, writes advice for the next president of the United States - Democrat or Republican.
The original edition of "Letters to the Next President" he wrote in advance of the 1988 presidential election, ultimately won by George H.W. Bush.
In a few months, either President Bush or Sen. John Kerry will be inaugurated into the most powerful office in the world, assuming the task of protecting the United States from catastrophic terrorism while attempting to bridge a bitterly divided electorate and legislative branch.
To help guide them is this latest book of letters, in which the Republican senator warns that the cataclysmic effects of the detonation of a nuclear device would dwarf the tragedy of Sept. 11. So he encourages the next president to make "nonproliferation" a top priority during his tenure.
This vital effort, Lugar adds, should be part of a broad plan that utilizes diplomatic, economic and military resources to quell the spread of violence.
"Dear President Bush and Sen. Kerry," Lugar writes. "More so than in any election in the past two decades, Americans understand that national security is at the heart of their decision. The winner of the election will be called upon to make choices that will determine whether the American people will live in conditions of security and prosperity."
We can't help but note that the major conflicts facing the next president in 1988, as addressed by Lugar in his first book of letters, included Guatemala's transition to democracy and the dismal political situation in South Africa.
A wire dispatch informs us that it was a Montana National Guard unit that took over the fuel-convoy mission in Iraq that 19 South Carolina reservists from the 343rd Quartermaster Company refused to undertake earlier this month, citing safety issues.
According to Maj. Scott Smith, the rugged 630th Quartermaster Company completed the mission by moving supplies from Tallil Air Base near Nasiriyah to Taji, north of Baghdad.
Sen. Conrad Burns, Montana Republican, tells The Beltway Beat of the successful mission: "Montanans are a strong bunch, and our troops have stepped up to the plate on more than one occasion."
Halloween came early for members of the White House press corps traveling with President Bush aboard Air Force One on Wednesday when "Dr. Rove" (Bush's top political aide, Karl Rove) "pranced to the back of the cabin with a cloth surgical mask over his face and digits aimed upward as if ready for meatball surgery," observed James Gordon Meek of the New York Daily News.
"Dr. Rove is here!" he proclaimed giddily, albeit refusing to be baited about a scary shortage of flu vaccine in this country.
"Rove proceeded to massage the scalp of a correspondent," Meek wrote in his White House pool report, and then proceeded, as Rove oddly put it, to "make the circumcision." Finally, Rove declared that he had "replaced the defective mental unit" of the reporter.
FINISH THE ROUNDUP
Enjoying an autumn's drive through the rural Virginia countryside, foliage splashed like an artist's palette in brilliant splendor, Heidi Koontz, owner of the Washington-area marketing and public relations firm Intuitive Fare, came upon a man and his horse.
"At the intersection of Routes 211 and 522, near Flint Hill," she says precisely. "Many cars honked as they passed by, but the horse didn't move, proudly holding up his owner."
Who was this mysterious man on horseback?
His name is Forrest Whorton. His horse's name is Zeke. They hale from Castleton, Va., and together they were out doing their part to support President Bush.
"Zeke is half appaloosa, half thoroughbred, 16 hands tall (one hand is 4 inches). He's 2 years old, going on 3," Whorton, a stonemason, told The Beltway Beat when we tracked him down Wednesday.
"It's not the first time we've been out there," he says, attaching the name of his choice for president to Zeke's horse blanket. "And I always carry the American flag. We will stand in various places where people can see us, like atop hills."
Other days, when not standing perfectly still, Whorton climbs in the saddle and gallops off.
"I'll ride to Warrenton, Culpeper, (Little) Washington in Virginia. I've ridden to Winchester. I do it to draw some attention, not for myself, it's for the candidate and our country," he explains.
"I'm proud to be an American. There's something about carrying the American flag, it makes me feel good inside. Fills me with pride."
And why does the horseman feel Bush deserves four more years?
"We need as a country - as American citizens - to stick together and not have this be like the election in 2000, where the country is split," he says. "I'd love to see everyone vote our president back so he can finish the work he started over in Iraq. I feel like we're making a lot of headway there. So let's give the president four more years, and if there are some changes to be made, then let's look at it in the next election in 2008."
Who says top White House adviser Karl Rove doesn't have a sense of humor?
When Boston Globe White House correspondent Rick Klein reached the foot of the steps to board Air Force One for a presidential campaign flight this week to La Crosse, Wis., Rove attempted to play gatekeeper, informing the reporter that his seat was "already taken."
But, wrote Klein later, "your intrepid correspondent ignored this high-ranking federal government official and walked up the stairs anyway."
TUESDAY WILL TELL
Plenty of mail surrounding our item this week on discrepancies in presidential polling numbers, which to the average American tend to fluctuate with the tides.
"As we say down South, I don't believe for a New York minute that the polls continue to sway back and forth from day to day, as indicated by all punditry, poll takers and news analysts that can be found on any and all 322 cable channels (or however many you have) available to most people today," writes Beltway Beat reader Ron Brock of Newbern, Tenn. "As always, action speaks louder than words."
Pollsters suggest Sen. John Kerry could win the presidential election if impressive scrolls of newly registered voters - numbering in the hundreds of thousands - in several key states show up to vote on Tuesday.
But will they join the civic-minded ranks?
"In battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, we have more support than George Bush among potential voters," agrees Kerry-Edwards campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill. "But (to win) we have to turn those potential voters into actual votes."
The polls open and who comes in?
Mary Poppins and Mickey Finn,
Then Betty Boop
And Alley Oop,
Sherlock Holmes and Gunga Din!
- F.R. Duplantier