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September 09, 2004

Dick Morris, Hotheaded? I Was Shocked, I Tell You

by Ron Hogan

Yesterday afternoon, I got to have lunch on The Week, which I'd never actually read before, but turns out to be a rather blog-like magazine--if its recaps of what's going on in the press had hyperlinks, it'd be perfect. So anyway, a slew of people got together at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse (where the salmon's pretty good, though the iced tea could be a bit sweeter) as editor-at-large Sir Harold Evans gathered together a panel of experts to talk about the upcoming election. Frank Newport, the voice of Gallup, started things off by recounting Bush's lead among likely voters. Then Dick Morris said he thought the lead was bigger than Gallup's numbers suggested, and Mario Cuomo said it probably was, but it didn't matter much since it was all based on post-convention impressions anyway. Former Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, hanging back a bit, suggested the problem with the Kerry campaign was that it only had two gears, "coast" and "fight," and that it needed to stay in the latter if Kerry wants to be the president (as he put it later, "I think he should take a hammer to these guys"). (Morris replied that we should listen to Trippi's advice, because "the only thing I didn't like about the Howard Dean campaign was Howard Dean."

Cuomo tore into the Bush administration for its lack of a solid agenda beyond throwing its military weight around, and when he finally stopped for breath, Evans said, in his Lord Emsworth way, that the former governor was "brilliantly excoriating" and wondered, "Why aren't you on the campaign trail?" (Morris was a little blunter in his baiting on this issue later on, demanding to know why, if Cuomo cared so much about judicial appointments, he didn't accept Clinton's initial overtures towards a Supreme Court nomination.) Eventually, the audience got to participate, which led to a rambling non-question by some guy associated with Nader, a phone call from Russell Simmons, a plug for election monitoring by Holly Hunter, and another phone call from Michael Dukakis, who deplored the latest round of negative campaigning against a Bush opponent. (Notice how I didn't say "by the Bush campaign" or "associated with the Bush campaign" there!) "At least Willie Horton happened," he quipped. Then Monica Crowley stood up and wondered why nobody was talking about the negative campaigning against Bush by George Soros and

...and then things really heated up, as Cuomo suggested that maybe Bush should be a little more forthright about what he was up to during the Vietnam War, prompting Morris to stand up and scream, "It does not become a former governor of New York State to attack the president who saved the Brooklyn Bridge and the Garment District from being bombed because of the Patriot Act." Cuomo tried to interrupt, but Morris raved on, "I'm not finished yet and I haven't talked as long as you." So Cuomo calmly asked him to explain, Morris spun some tale about how the government had allegedly thwarted some plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, and then the ex-governor quipped something along the lines that he thought he'd seen everything, but he'd never before seen a political consultant try to sell the Brooklyn Bridge. Morris shouted that he should try telling that joke to the 10,000 people who would've died, and Cuomo said that if he had real evidence, he should pass it along. Otherwise, "It seems to me that you've had some kind of psychic burst— now that you've released it, I hope it goes away."

I was tucked away in a corner with several other bloggers, including old friends Rachel, who observed that Newport sounded just like the reverend on The Simpsons, and Girly, who got the best quip of the day when Evans told one panelist to stay seated so he wouldn't be taller than the host, "because I don't like being dominated." Girly leaned over to me and said, "What's he doing with Tina Brown, then?"


I like The Week, and I'm always envious of bloggers who get invited to its events. Alas, the day job's location means that a trip to Grand Central for lunch would require either taking a day off work or taking a three-hour lunch--both rather impractical. But still I envy.

Posted by: Michael Dietsch at September 9, 2004 03:17 PM

Good to see you! Actually re the Simpsons, the guy next to me (no blog)was the person with that comment, I just passed it along :)

Posted by: girlynyc at September 9, 2004 04:21 PM
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