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In the Loop

Invented: The Standing Column

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, September 8, 2004; Page A21

Deja vu all over again? Legendary columnist Robert D. Novak penned this post-conventions analysis of the 2000 presidential race:

"Undeniable panic is gripping partisan Republicans," Novak said in a column that appeared four years ago yesterday, "from rank-and-file voters to seasoned political operatives, with two full months left before the presidential election. They are dismayed not so much about the surge by Al Gore but by the loss of confidence in George W. Bush."

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"This mood," he wrote, "may reflect the very nature of the Grand Old Party." Novak quoted a Bush adviser who said, "When Democrats face trouble, they circle the wagons; Republicans head for the tall grass."

"Polling at the conclusion of the Labor Day weekend not only shows that the Democratic base has returned to Gore," he wrote, but also "more troubling are defections of vital independent voters from Bush."

GOPers were complaining that "Bush had permitted himself to be put on the defensive," and that since the GOP convention a month ago, "Bush has looked too much like Bob Dole in 1996."

Novak said the Bush campaign was much better than Dole's or Bush I's, but "still, Republican morale is drooping."

Just substitute John F. Kerry for Bush, and run it again?

Home of the Free and the Stupid

Speaking of Kerry, he's brought on some Clinton operatives apparently to help his faltering campaign. Could be just in the nick of time, judging from an interview Kerry gave in this month's American Legion Magazine.

Asked about a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, Kerry told the magazine: "If I saw somebody burning a flag, personally, I'd probably punch them out and stomp on them."

But Kerry, who doubtless could afford to post bail if arrested for assault, said he nevertheless opposes the constitutional change because he "fought for the right for somebody to be free and stupid."

I. Lewis, You Reporters

Speaking of bail . . . I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, was out for a stroll in Des Moines around 9 Monday night when a boisterous and perhaps unsteady gaggle of reporters approached. They asked Libby which bar he was headed to.

He wasn't, but he pointed to the nearest store and said, "Bail bondsman, actually."

Well, guess a compassionate administration would go out of its way to make sure any stray reporters made it to the plane on time?

FDR and JFK: Ohio Who?

The political pundits always yammer about how no Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio. But, a legal scholar challenged us, has a Democrat won without winning Ohio?

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