Candidates Concession Calls On Election Night Required Pain

One of the best reads in the Sunday newspaper was a look back at what has to be the hardest thing to do in politics.  Call up the person who defeated you  in the race and concede on Election Night.  Tell the person who you campaigned against, and swore about for months, “Congratulations”.  Tell the winner that he/she will be in your thoughts and prayers, and wish the family all the best.  All the while trying not to strangle yourself with the phone cord.  I know, I know…..but the caller must wish they had an old-fashioned phone with a cord to end the misery.  Damn the cell phone!

After all the news stories about last minute poll results, and final weekend strategizing by candidates this story was refreshingly honest.

And for half of the candidates come Tuesday night the last act of the election will be the dreaded phone call.

I didn’t do a phone call, I just sent him a telegram,” said George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic nominee who was recalling the election night bloodletting President Richard M. Nixon inflicted on him 38 Novembers ago. His place in the pantheon of political losers assured, Mr. McGovern could not bring himself to make the customary call to congratulate the freshly re-elected (and about-to-be disgraced) president. “I was somewhat wiped out by the extent of the landslide,” said Mr. McGovern, now 88, speaking on a cellphone from Montana, where he was visiting his daughter. “So I figured that would be the easier way to do it.”

Mr. Nixon sent a telegram back a few hours later. Both missives were perfunctory — winner and loser wishing each other well, best to your wife, that kind of thing. And the protocol was dispensed with for another election night.


As a general rule, the election night phone call is something of a social prop, a symbolic end point — or in some cases a physical spectacle. Mr. Harris recalls the night of the California recall election in 2003 in which Democratic governor Gray Davis was ousted from office and the Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was picked to replace him. Mr. Schwarzenegger was entertaining a celebrity-laden gathering at the Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles when he was told Mr. Davis was about to call to concede. “I remember everyone suddenly gathered in a circle just staring at the phone waiting for it to ring,” recalled Mr. Harris, adding that the phone-watchers included Rob Lowe, Jay Leno, the film director Ivan Reitman, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver, and in-laws Sargent and Eunice Shriver.

People on both sides of the Bush-Kerry call remember a brief, gracious exchange, which is generally the norm in these things, especially at the highest stations.

“The American people, by a great plurality, have conferred upon you the highest honor in their gift,” Theodore Roosevelt wrote to Woodrow Wilson in 1912. “I congratulate you thereon.”

“The people have made their choice and I congratulate you,” Adlai Stevenson wrote to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. “That you may be the servant and guardian of peace and make the vale of trouble a door of hope is my earnest prayer. Best Wishes, Adlai Stevenson.”

In remarks that accompanied his final concession to Mr. Bush, Mr. Gore invoked the words that Senator Stephen A. Douglas told Abraham Lincoln after Mr. Lincoln defeated him: “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.”

Immigrant Bashers Take Note: Immigrants Create More Jobs

Creating fear is one route to political power.  Too often we have seen gay people, immigrants, and lately followers of Islam targeted with totally inaccurate statements in order to stir the pot and create tensions.  With those tensions there are politicians who hope to reap the benefits.

One of the persistent statements that gets ginned around is the notion that immigrants ars somehow taking another person’s job.  Over and over that has been debunked, and still it finds more oxygen to keep on going. 

Today some economists weigh in on the issue.  In spite of those predisposed to not wanting the facts, I post the results of the latest research all the same.

Over all, it turns out that the continuing arrival of immigrants to American shores is encouraging business activity here, thereby producing more jobs, according to a new study. Its authors argue that the easier it is to find cheap immigrant labor at home, the less likely that production will relocate offshore.

The study, “Immigration, Offshoring and American Jobs,” was written by two economics professors — Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano of Bocconi University in Italy and Giovanni Peri of the University of California, Davis — along with Greg C. Wright, a Ph.D. candidate at Davis.

The study notes that when companies move production offshore, they pull away not only low-wage jobs but also many related jobs, which can include high-skilled managers, tech repairmen and others. But hiring immigrants even for low-wage jobs helps keep many kinds of jobs in the United States, the authors say. In fact, when immigration is rising as a share of employment in an economic sector, offshoring tends to be falling, and vice versa, the study found.

In other words, immigrants may be competing more with offshored workers than with other laborers in America.

As a nation, we spend far too much time and energy worrying about foreigners. We also end up with more combative international relations with our economic partners, like Mexico and China, than reason can justify. In turn, they are more economically suspicious of us than they ought to be, which cements a negative dynamic into place.

The current skepticism has deadlocked prospects for immigration reform, even though no one is particularly happy with the status quo. Against that trend, we should be looking to immigration as a creative force in our economic favor. Allowing in more immigrants, skilled and unskilled, wouldn’t just create jobs. It could increase tax revenue, help finance Social Security, bring new home buyers and improve the business environment.

Theodore Sorensen, 82, Kennedy Counselor, Dies

A name that so many identify with a kinder, more reasoned part of our political past has died.

I always enjoyed those times over the decades on television when Theodore C. Sorensen would offer views and perspectives on the issues of the day.  Intelligent and fair.  Not a bad way to be remembered.

Theodore C. Sorensen, who was a close adviser and counselor to John F. Kennedy for 11 years, writing words and giving voice to ideas that shaped the president’s image and legacy, died Sunday in New York. He was 82 and lived in Manhattan.

Mr. Sorensen said he suspected the headline on his obituary would read: “Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy Speechwriter,” misspelling his name and misjudging his work. “I was never just a speechwriter,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 2007.

True, he was best known for working with Mr. Kennedy on passages of soaring rhetoric, including the 1961 inaugural address proclaiming that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans” and challenging citizens: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Mr. Sorensen drew on the Bible, the Gettysburg Address and the words of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill as he helped hone and polish that speech.

But Mr. Sorensen was more than Mr. Kennedy’s ghost-writer. “You need a mind like Sorensen’s around you that’s clicking and clicking all the time,” President Kennedy’s archrival, Richard M. Nixon, said in 1962. He said Mr. Sorensen had “a rare gift:” the knack of finding phrases that penetrated the American psyche.

First hired as a researcher by Mr. Kennedy, a newly elected senator from Massachusetts who took office in 1953, Mr. Sorensen became a political strategist and a trusted adviser on everything from election tactics to foreign policy. He collaborated closely — more closely than most knew — on “Profiles in Courage,” the 1956 book that won Mr. Kennedy a Pulitzer Prize and a national audience.

After the president’s assassination, Mr. Sorensen practiced law and politics. But in the public mind his name was forever joined to the man he had served; his first task after leaving the White House was to recount the abridged administration’s story in a 783-page best-seller simply titled “Kennedy.”

He held the title of special counsel, but Washington reporters of the era labeled him the president’s “intellectual alter ago” and “a lobe of Kennedy’s mind.” Mr. Sorensen called these exaggerations, but they were rooted in some truth.

President Kennedy had plenty of yes-men. He needed a no-man from time to time. The president trusted Mr. Sorensen to play that role in crises foreign and domestic, and he played it well, in the judgment of Robert F. Kennedy, his brother’s attorney general. “If it was difficult,” Mr. Kennedy said, “Ted Sorensen was brought in.”

Mr. Sorensen was proudest of a work written in haste, under crushing pressure. In October 1962, when he was 34 years old, he drafted a letter from President Kennedy to the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, which helped end the Cuban missile crisis. After the Kennedy administration’s failed coup against Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs, the Soviets had sent nuclear weapons to Cuba. They were capable of striking most American cities, including New York and Washington.

“Time was short,” Mr. Sorensen remembered in his interview with The Times, videotaped to accompany this obituary. “The hawks were rising. Kennedy could keep control of his own government, but one never knew whether the advocates of bombing and invasion might somehow gain the upper hand.”

Mr. Sorensen said, “I knew that any mistakes in my letter — anything that angered or soured Khrushchev — could result in the end of America, maybe the end of the world.”

The letter pressed for a peaceful solution. The Soviets withdrew the missiles. The world went on.


Ron Johnson “Simply Didn’t Deliver The Goods”

The Wisconsin State Journal writes in an editorial today what we all have known for months.

Johnson’s strongest argument against keeping Feingold is that the incumbent has been in office for 18 years, during which time America’s problems have only grown worse.

With this in mind, the State Journal editorial board was eager to hear Johnson’s pitch for better leadership during an hour-long meeting at our newspaper offices. Though likeable and impressive on business issues, Johnson was sketchy on most everything else.

He simply didn’t deliver the goods.

GOP Gives Up On Tea Party Nominee Joe Miller In Alaska

Aww…Miller was so fun to watch implode. 

ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports: A high-level GOP source tells me that party leaders have essentially given up on Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller and are now banking on a victory by write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski as the best bet for Republicans to keep the Alaska Senate seat. 

Murkowski defied party leaders by running a write-in campaign after she lost the Republican primary last month.   But with Miller’s campaign faltering, the source tells me that Republican leaders are now worried that Democrat Scott McAdams has a shot of winning and that Murkowski may be the only way to stop him.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for Murkowski.  She was punished by party leaders last month — unceremoniously stripped of her post in the Senate leadership — when she refused to bow out of the Senate race and endorse Miller.  But she has consistently said she is still a Republican and will caucus with the Republican party if she wins.

Sunday Echoes: Election Night Coverage With Chet Huntley And David Brinkley

Loved My Time With Carol Gruba While Podcasting Rally For Sanity

I spent part of my Saturday with Carol Gruba on a podcast (a first for me) during the Rally For Sanity.  Carol had her studio-like setting at the High Noon Saloon in Madison.  Since I am a political blogger she had asked me this past week to be one of her guests, and with that she made my day.  We chatted for 30 minutes this morning live over the internet, and it was a delight to get to expound on the themes of this election season, and the topics that make up this blog.  The whole thing reminded me of my time in radio, and as such I have been traveling back with memories all day.

I later discovered how Carol promoted me, and was really touched.

The most eloquent AND prolific blogger of Caffeinated Politics. He writes about rescued ducklings, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Midterms – perhaps all in the same day.

Thanks for a fun event, Carol.

New Method Of Reporting Election Results Starts With 2010 Mid-Terms

If you are like I am the most asked question every election night  is “how many precincts have reported”.   It was somewhat of a gauge to determine what was still left to be counted.  If it could be known what cities or parts of a state were not tallied there could be bets placed on what the final outcome might be.   For guys like me with bifocals who sit too far away to read the smaller print on the TV screen we need to ask someone else in the room the eternal question.  Well, that is all about to change come Tuesday night when the 2010 mid-term elections take center stage.

Precinct reporting is being removed.

For as long as anyone can remember, television networks and the Associated Press have reported votes on election night by saying, “With x percent of precincts reporting …” But, this method of reporting election results is about to go the way of the VCR.

Starting Tuesday night, the results of statewide races will be reported by giving the percentage of “expected vote.” The votes reported at the state level at any given time will be divided by the estimate of the total votes that will be cast in the state to come up with the percentage of expected votes.

“Percentage of precincts reporting” is no longer accurate because the increase in early and absentee voting can provide a skewed picture of how much of the vote has actually been counted. Some counties, for example, dump all their absentee votes and call it one precinct even though these votes may be half of the county’s total. Others report partial precinct results and keep adding to the total. And because absentee votes are often counted more slowly than votes cast on Election Day, the percentage of the vote reported even on Wednesday morning may be far short of 100 percent. In 2004, only 54 percent of the final vote in Washington State was counted by mid-day Wednesday.