Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Few Random Sunday Thoughts

The New York City Marathon was run today, but I didn't care.

But you might care, so: Men's winner, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of the African nation of Eritrea (his 1st time winning the race); women's winner, Mary Jepkosgei Keitany of Kenya (her 3rd).

The New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Eagles, and the New York Jets lost to the Miami Dolphins. It's rare that both New York teams play at the same time. And each was playing a major rival, a game that English soccer fans would call a "derby" (pronounced like "darby").

Arsenal played their North London Derby with Tottenham today -- 7 AM, New York time -- and led 1-0 before a dodgy penalty from jackass referee Mark Clattenburg gave Tottenham a 1-1 draw. I'm not happy about that. But it could have been a whole lot worse.

Thank you, Chicago Cubs fans, for, so far, not being the kind of twats in victory that Boston Red Sox fans were in 2004 and New York Ranger fans were in 1994.

Ben Roethlisberger is injured. It is long past time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to move on from him, morally speaking. It may now also be time for them to move on, competitively speakng.

Joe Flacco is injured for the Baltimore Ravens. The native of Audubon, Camden County is already the greatest quarterback ever to come out of New Jersey. Ahead of: Joe Theismann, South River, Middlesex County; Frank Tripucka, from my original hometown of Bloomfield, Essex County; and way ahead of the idiot Neil O'Donnell of Madison, Morris County.


November 6, 1528: Shipwrecked Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca -- "Cabeza de Vaca" means "Head of Cow" -- becomes the 1st known European to set foot in the area that would become Texas.

This will eventually make possible the major league cities of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, and lots of great college football memories. But it will also make the American Civil War possible, and leave America saddled with a lot of right-wing nuts.

And remember: The good guys won at the Alamo. The guys defending it were slaveholders. And illegal immigrants. Literally. The 2 things conservative Texans claim to hate the most: Criminals and illegal immigrants.

November 6, 1650: William II, Prince of Orange and thus ruler of the Netherlands, dies of smallpox at The Hague. He was only 24. His son had been born only 2 days earlier, making him one of the youngest monarchs in European history. A grandson of King Charles I of England through his mother, in 1688 he was invited by the Protestants who overthrew the Catholic King James II to become King William III. He was King of England and Stadtholder of the Netherlands until his death in 1702.

November 6, 1816, 200 years ago: James Monroe is elected President. Secretary of State to outgoing President James Madison, also formerly Secretary of War, Governor of Virginia, U.S. Ambassador to Britain and France, and Colonel in the Continental Army -- he's the young man seen holding the flag in the famous, if erroneous, painting Washington Crossing the Delaware -- the nominee of the Democratic-Republican Party wins 68 percent of the popular vote, and 183 Electoral Votes.

The Federalist Party disintegrated during the War of 1812, due to its having agitated the country into the war, and its feckless peace offerings during it. They had nominated Senator Rufus King of New York, who won just 31 percent of the vote, and 34 Electoral Votes. He turned out to be the last Federalist nominee for President. Soon, the Democratic-Republicans would split into the Democratic Party and the National Republican Party, later to become the Whig Party.

But it is not all good news for the founding generation of American leaders. Gouverneur Morris dies at his mansion in New York, following a bizarre medical procedure that he'd performed on himself. He was 64.

He was a member of the New York Provincial Congress at the time of independence, and then the New York State Assembly, before being elected to the Continental Congress in 1778. Having visited George Washington's troops at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, he was appalled by the conditions. He returned to Philadelphia, and cast the deciding vote that literally saved Washington's job as commander-in-chief. He then persuaded the Congress to give Washington the supplies he needed.

He lost a leg in a carriage accident in 1780, but that didn't stop him. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and, as much as anybody else -- including James Madison, who is called "The Father of the Constitution" -- Morris did the actual composition of the document's text, including the Preamble: "We, the People of the United States... "

He later served as Minister to France, and a U.S. Senator from New York. The Bronx neighborhood that was built around his mansion would bear the mansion's name: Morrisania.

November 6, 1854: John Philip Sousa is born in Washington, D.C. Perhaps the most famous American of Portuguese descent, he conducted the U.S. Marine Band, playing for Presidents, then formed his own band. The Sousa Band toured from 1892 until 1931, and he died the next year.

"The March King" composed and conducted songs that are still remembered today, most notably "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (1897). In 1923, his band played "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the 1st game at Yankee Stadium. 

November 6, 1860: Abraham Lincoln is elected President. He is the 1st nominee of the Republican Party to win the Presidency, making the Republicans the 1st, and to this day only, "third party" to elect a President. Thanks to a split in the Democratic Party and the Whig Party (to which he once belonged) totally dissolving, he wins with 39 percent of the vote, the lowest percentage of any winner in the election's history.

But the former Congressman from Illinois did win a majority of the Electoral Votes: 180. Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky won 72, Senator John Bell of Tennessee won 39, and Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois -- who had beaten Lincoln for that office just 2 years earlier -- won 12. Douglas finished 2nd in the popular vote, with 29 percent, Breckinridge had 18 and Bell 12.

In spite of the fact that Lincoln said, at the time, that he didn't want to abolish slavery entirely, only stop it from spreading to new States and Territories, the Southern States began to secede the next month. Outgoing President James Buchanan, a moral coward who thought the Constitution didn't allow him to do anything to stop it, did nothing to stop it. The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861. It would take Lincoln 4 years to win it.


November 6, 1861: James Naismith (no middle name) is born in Almonte (now part of Mississippi Mills), Ontario, outside the Canadian capital of Ottawa. He graduated from Montreal's McGill University, where he lettered in lacrosse, gymnastics, soccer, rugby, and the Canadian version of gridiron football. He was hired as McGill's athletic director in 1890, but just a year later, he was hired by the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, what is now Springfield, College.

He was asked to invent a game that could be played indoors in the Winter, when baseball and football couldn't be played. He knew he should start with a ball, but a large, soft one, like a soccer ball, not a small, hard one like a baseball, which would be dangerous in the confined space of a gymnasium. He noted that most of the rough action took place around the goal: The goal in soccer, hockey or lacrosse, the end zone in football or rugby, or home plate in baseball. So he thought he could reduce the danger by raising the goal.

He asked the custodian to get him a box, because he had invented boxball. The custodian could only find a peach basket. So Dr. Naismith had invented basketball instead. The date was December 21, 1891.

Through the influence of the YMCA's worldwide organization, the word was spread. Naismith became the head coach at the University of Kansas, which became one of the great college basketball programs. He died in 1939, at the age of 78, at their Lawrence campus. Within the last 4 years of his life, he had seen the debut of sold-out doubleheaders involving national powers at Madison Square Garden, the debut of basketball as an official medal sport at the Olympic Games, and the foundation of the NIT and NCAA Tournament.

November 6, 1865: The last grand match of the season takes place at the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn, before 15‚000. The Atlantics lead all the way to defeat fellow Brooklynites the Eckfords, 27-24‚ and claim the 1865 championship with a record of 17-0.

Henry Chadwick, America's 1st real sportswriter: "Is there another sport attractive enough to draw such attendance under such circumstances? In the summer it is not surprising as the weather is pleasant... but on a cold November day‚ in the busiest time of the year‚ it must be indeed an attractive sport to collect such an assemblage that is present on this occasion." 

Named for a famed hill in Rome, the Capitoline Grounds, a 5,000-seat wooden stadium opened in 1864, was meant to rival and surpass the Union Grounds. The Atlantics made it their home, and, like the Union Grounds, it became a skating rink in the winter.

But it was demolished in 1880. Halsey Street, Marcy Street, Putnam Avenue and Nostrand Avenue, in Bedford-Stuyvesant. A or C train to Nostrand Avenue. While this neighborhood, notorious for crime not that long ago, should be safe during the day, definitely do not visit at night. 

November 6, 1869: What is generally recognized as the 1st college football game is played. Rutgers College plays the College of New Jersey, on Rutgers' campus in New Brunswick.

The game is essentially a very large soccer game, with a round leather ball, and 25 men on a side. The Rutgers men, finding the color inexpensive to obtain, wrap scarlet red cloth around their heads like turbans, so that they can tell each other apart on the field. Thus did they invent school colors and the football helmet.

The men of Old Queens must have had less trouble telling team from team than did the men of Old Nassau, as Rutgers won, 6-4 -- that's 6 goals to 4, or 42-28 under today's scoring system.

The next week, the CNJ men returned the favor in Princeton, and won, 8-0. There was supposed to be a 3rd game, but the college presidents got together and decided that too much emphasis was being placed on athletics, and forbade it.

The field where "the first football game" was played is now the parking lot for Rutgers' College Avenue Gym.

In 1874, Harvard University would accept a challenge from McGill University in Montreal, and discover on their arrival that by "football," McGill meant "rugby," not "soccer." Adjustments were made, Harvard liked the results, and convinced the other "football"-playing schools to join them in this adaptation of "football." In 1906, the forward pass was legalized and hashmarks prevented dangerous scrimmages close to the sideline. "Football" as America knows it now was on its way.

In 1896, the College of New Jersey changed its name to Princeton University, while a nearby school would later be founded as Trenton State College, and change its name to The College of New Jersey. Rutgers College would become, and remains, the centerpiece of the larger system of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

November 6, 1872: General George Meade dies of pneumonia in Philadelphia. The victor of the Battle of Gettysburg was only 56 years old, and still on active duty.

November 6, 1887: Walter Perry Johnson is born in Humbolt, Kansas. He grows up there, but by the time he got to high school, the family had moved to Olinda, Orange County, California. The Big Train pitched 21 years for the Washington Senators, 1907 to 1927, winning an American League record 417 games, including a major league record 113 shutouts, and struck out 3,508 batters, a major league record until 1983.

He finally won a World Series in 1924, pitching the 9th through 12 innings of Game 7, and another Pennant in 1925. In 1936, he was 1 of the 1st 5 players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 1946. In 1999, The Sporting News named him 4th, the highest-ranking pitcher, on their 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and, though he hadn't thrown a pitch in 72 years, fans voted him onto the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. 

November 6, 1888: Benjamin Harrison is elected the 23rd President of the United States. The former U.S. Senator from Indiana, and grandson of 9th President William Henry Harrison, wins 233 Electoral Votes, defeating incumbent President Grover Cleveland, who had 168.

But Cleveland won the popular vote, 48.6 percent to 47.8. Matthew Quay, Republican boss of Pennsylvania, practically came out and admitted that he had the State's 30 Electoral Votes stolen for Harrison. If true (and it probably is), then the vote should have been 203-198 in Harrison's favor. Meaning that, if 1 more State was "stolen," then Cleveland should have been re-elected.

Indeed, 4 years later, after a hard Presidency with recession and labor strife, Harrison lost his bid for re-election, and Cleveland became the only former President ever to regain the office.

Also on this day, John George Taylor Spink is born in St. Louis. Upon his father's death in 1914, he inherited ownership of The Sporting News, already known as "The Bible of Baseball," and made it bigger than ever. When he died in 1962, the Baseball Hall of Fame established an annual award for sportswriters, tantamount to a sportswriter's wing of the Hall of Fame, named it the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, and made him the 1st honoree.

November 6, 1889: Gabriel Hanot is born in Arras, Pas-de-Calais, France. A fullback, he played for a few soccer teams in France in the 1910s, including during World War I, and captained the national team in a 1919 game. He survived a plane crash, but his injuries ended his career.

He turned to journalism, and was editor at what was, then as now, France's leading sports newspaper, L'Equipe. He was the driving force behind French soccer allowing professionalism in 1932, and in establishing the European Cup (the tournament now known as the UEFA Champions League) in 1955. He lived until 1968.

November 6, 1890: Giuseppe Ida is born in Calabria, Italy. Joe Ida was the boss of the Philadelphia Mob from 1946 until 1959, a period which included the founding of the Philadelphia Warriors and their 2 NBA Championships, the 1st 2 NFL Championships won by the Eagles, the end of Connie Mack's reign over the Athletics, the Phillies' Whiz Kids Pennant, and La Salle's National Championship.

He returned to Italy in 1959, handing leadership of the organization over to Angelo Bruno, and the "family" continues to bear the name Bruno to this day, long after Ida and Bruno have died.


November 6, 1900: President William McKinley is re-elected. As in 1896, he defeats Nebraska Congressman William Jennings Bryan, 51.6 percent of the popular vote to 45.5, and 292 Electoral votes to 156.

Garret Hobart, McKinley's 1st Vice President, had died in office in 1899, so he needed a new one. He chose Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York, because his svengali, Ohio Republican boss Mark Hanna, though TR was making too much noise as Governor, thinking he'd be silenced as Vice President. He told McKinley he had to live, to keep "that damned cowboy" out of the White House.

On September 6, 1901, at a World's Fair in Buffalo, McKinley was shot. He died 9 days later, and Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States. In 1904, Hanna died, and TR won a term of his own.

November 6, 1906: James Dougan Norris is born in Chicago. The son of James E. Norris, owner of the Detroit Red Wings, he worked in their front office, and got his name on the Stanley Cup in 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950 and 1952.

After the 1952 Cup, he made a big mistake. He left the Wings to become the operating owner of their arch-rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. A few months later, his father died. Had James D. hung on a little longer, he, not his half-brother Bruce Norris, would have run the Wings, and won the Cup in 1954 and 1955. And he might have run the Wings, who reached 5 more Finals in the next 11 seasons, and they might have won more Cups, before Bruce's idiocy, stubbornness and authoritarianism turned them into "The Dead Things" in the 1970s.

James D. did build the Hawks into a Cup winner in 1961, and they reached 4 more Finals over the next 12 years. But he died in 1966, and they didn't win another Cup until 2010.

He is also responsible for the existence of the St. Louis Blues, arranging for the team to be placed in the St. Louis Arena, which he owned, along with the Olympia Stadium in Detroit and Chicago Stadium. James E., James D. and Bruce are all in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

November 6, 1922: Morgan Bulkeley dies in Hartford, Connecticut at age 84. He had been Governor of Connecticut from 1889 to 1893, and a U.S. Senator from 1905 to 1911. That's forgotten now, and his role in baseball might also be forgotten, if not for the most technical of technicalities.

In 1874, while on the Common Council of Hartford, he formed a professional baseball team, the Hartford Dark Blues. (Dark blue is the color of the State Flag, and is the dominant color of the 2 largest universities in the State, the University of Connecticut and Yale University. In their last years, the NHL's Hartford Whalers also tended to wear dark blue jerseys.) In 1876, he took the team out of the National Association and into the National League. They only lasted 2 more seasons.

The NL was founded by William Hulbert, owner of the Chicago White Stockings, and needed a President. Since Hulbert didn't want it to look like he, or the Western wing of the League, would have too much power, he nominated Bulkeley, an Easterner.

Bulkeley was a strong President, targeting illegal gambling, drinking, and fan rowdiness. But he did not enjoy the job, and left it to Hulbert after 1 season. But this 1 season, with only the briefest of influence, got him elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.

He was also one of the members of the 1905-07 Mills Commission, appointed to determine baseball's origin, and gave credit for the sport's invention to his fellow Civil War hero, Abner Doubleday, who was conveniently dead and unable to tell the truth and deny it.

I'd suggest that serving on this Commission also helped Bulkeley's later election to the Hall, in Cooperstown, New York where the Commission said Doubleday invented the game, except that only 1 of the other 6 members is also in the Hall, George Wright, of the 1869-70 Cincinnati Red Stockings and would be in the Hall on merit as a player if he hadn't gotten in for his pioneering role.

November 6, 1928: Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover is elected, with a whopping 58 percent of the vote, and 444 Electoral Votes. The Democrats had nominated Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York, the 1st Catholic ever nominated by a major party. He won just 40.8 percent, a figure exceeded by all but 2 Democratic nominees since (George McGovern in 1972 and Walter Mondale in 1984), and took just 8 States, worth 87 Electoral Votes.

Had Smith been a Protestant, from a small town rather than the biggest city, with a pleasant voice instead of a Noo Yawk accent, and in favor of keeping Prohibition rather than repealing it, he still would have lost, as Hoover rode the Republican prosperity of the Roaring Twenties. But the anti-Catholic bigotry in America was brutal. Smith won only 7 States, and New York wasn't one of them: Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the 2 most Catholic States in the nation; and 6 Southern States: South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas were willing to break with "the Solid South," put aside their hatred of Abraham Lincoln (the Civil War had ended just 63 years before, and there were still living people who remembered it well), and vote for the Republican nominee. Indeed, Hoover nearly won Alabama, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Despite the Hoover landslide, Franklin D. Roosevelt is narrowly elected to succeed Smith as Governor. Someone asked Smith if FDR, one of his biggest backers, was going to be a rival that would prevent him from getting the Democratic nomination again in 1932. Smith, noting that Roosevelt had polio, said, "No, he will be dead within a year."

Within a year of the 1928 election, the stock market had crashed, and, barring a major scandal, the Democratic nominee was going to win in 1932. Smith tried for it. He lost. To FDR. 

Also on this day, Arnold Rothstein dies, 2 days after being shot in the Park Central Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. (Albert Anastasia, "the Boss of All Bosses," was killed in the same hotel, 29 years later.) The man who fixed the 1919 World Series was 46.

There's conflicting reports as to why he was killed. Most sources say he refused to pay a debt over a poker game he claimed was fixed. Another says that mobster Dutch Schultz killed Rothstein, in retaliation for Rothstein hiring Jack "Legs" Diamond to kill Schultz's friend Joey Noel.

Rothstein lived and remained conscious long enough to identify his killer, but he refused, telling the police, "You stick to your trade, I'll stick to mine." He had famously said, "The odds on everything in life, including life itself, are 6-to-5 against." Billy Martin liked to quote that line.

Also on this day, William Donald Wilson is born in Central City, Nebraska. A center fielder, he was with the Philadelphia Athletics when they moved, hitting the 1st home run in Kansas City Athletics history on April 12, 1955. But that was to be his last season in the major leagues. He is still alive.

November 6, 1929: With the field at the Cycledrome -- a 10,000-seat bicycle racing track with a football field almost fully squeezed into it -- so waterlogged that the referees will not permit play, the Providence Steam Roller, defending NFL Champions, move their scheduled game with the Chicago Cardinals to their former home, Kinsley Park. This 6,000-seat stadium has floodlights, and so, this becomes the 1st night game in NFL history.

The Cardinals win, 16-0, but the gate receipts from the sellout crowd count the same. And, with the stock market having crashed a few days ago, the Steam Roller need all the help they can get. As it turns out, it's not enough: The team gets through the 1930 and '31 NFL seasons, and folds, a victim of the Great Depression.


November 6, 1930: Edward John Murphy is born in Inchinnan, Scotland, and grows up in Chicago. A forward, he played for several Chicago pro soccer teams, closing his career in the old North American Soccer League with the 1968 Chicago Mustangs.

He played for the U.S. national team from 1955 to 1969, including scoring the only goal in an 8-1 loss to England in 1959, and being probably the best player on the teams that came close to qualifying for the 1966 and 1970 World Cups. He was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, and is still alive.

November 6, 1931: Jack Chesbro dies of a heart attack at his poultry farm in Conway, in the Bekrshire Mountain region of western Massachusetts, at age 57. Winner of 198 games, including a 20th Century record 41 in 1904 for the New York Highlanders, he was the 1st great pitcher for the team that became the Yankees, although some people think he's in the Hall of Fame solely for that one season. Let the record show he was also the ace of the Pittsburgh Pirates when they won the Pennant in 1901 and 1902.

Also on this day, Peter John Collins is born in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England. In 1958, he won the British Grand Prix, but a few weeks later was killed in a crash at the German Grand Prix. He was only 26.

November 6, 1932: Ronald Saunders (no middle name) is born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. A striker for Portsmouth and a few other teams, he managed Norfolk club Norwich City to promotion to Division One in 1972. He moved on to Birmingham club Aston Villa, and won them the League cup in 1975 and 1977, before winning the League in 1981 -- Villa's only League title since 1910.

But a contract dispute led him to quit in the middle of the next season, and it was left to Tony Barton to finish the job of leading Villa to win the 1982 European Cup. He then committed what might have been an unpardonable sin: He moved to Villa's crosstown arch-rivals, Birmingham City. They were relegated in 1984, but he got them back up the next year. Then he full into dispute with their board, and left for yet another West idlands side, West Bromwich Albion, got relegated in 1987, was fired, and has never managed again.

Barton died in 1994, and Villa held a testimonial for him. Saunders was invited back to manage the 1981 and '82 Villa players against an all-star team made up of retired players from the other West Midlands clubs. Back in the club's good graces, he is still alive, and a member of the club's hall of fame.

November 6, 1938: Mack F. Jones (I can find no record of what the F. stands for) is born in Atlanta. The outfielder played in the major leagues from 1961 to 1971, including moving with the Braves from Milwaukee to his hometown of Atlanta, and as an original 1969 Montreal Expo. He died in 2004.


November 6, 1940: Michael John Giles is born in Dublin, Ireland. The midfielder helped Manchester United win the 1963 FA Cup, but there wasn't really room for him. Don Revie bought him for Leeds United, and the rest was history: The 1969 and 1974 League titles, the 1968 League Cup, the 1968 and 1971 Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, and the 1972 FA Cup.

When Revie was hired to be the England manager in 1974, Johnny Giles was already so respected, he had been named manager for the national side of the Republic of Ireland while only 32 years old and still playing. Nearly everyone thought he would be named to replace Revie as Leeds manager.

Instead, the job was given to Brian Clough, who had taken Derby County to the 1972 League title, but had called Leeds a dirty team. Clough lasted just 44 days, and Giles' resistance to him was a major reason why. About 40 years later, in an interview, Giles said that if he and Clough could have straightened things out, it might have worked. Instead, Clough was out, and Jimmy Armfield was hired, and Leeds reached the 1975 European Cup Final, controversially losing to Bayern Munich.

In 1978, Giles was player-manager of Dublin club Shamrock Rovers, and won the FAI Cup, Ireland's equivalent to the FA Cup. He also managed West Bromwich Albion and the original version of the Vancouver Whitecaps. In 2004, UEFA named him the Republic of Ireland's greatest player ever. He is now an analyst for Ireland's leading sports network, RTÉ Sport.

November 6, 1946, 70 years ago: Edward John DeBartolo Jr. is born in Youngstown, Ohio. He and his father Edward Sr. developed the Edward J. DeBartolo Group, which, under Eddie's leadership, became the Simon Property Group. It built in 1972, and still maintains, the Brunswick Square Mall in my native East Brunswick, New Jersey.

Also in New Jersey, it runs the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, Newport Centre in Jersey City, The Mills at Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, the Ocean County Mall in Toms River, the Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrence, Jersey Shore Premium Outlets in Tinton Falls and Jackson Premium Oulets near Great Adventure. On Long Island, it runs Roosevelt Field in Garden City, and the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington. In the Hudson Valley, it runs The Westchester in White Plains, The Shops at Nanuet, and Woodbury Common Premium Outlets.

But the DeBartolos are better known for their sports teams. Edward Sr. owned the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, and let his daughter Denise DeBartolo York run them, winning their 1st 2 Stanley Cups. Eddie owned the San Francisco 49ers, seeing them win 5 Super Bowls. A 1998 controversy led him to sell the team to his sister, her husband John York, and their son Jed York. (NFL rules required her to sell the Penguins to become a team owner.)

Despite the troubles he got into, "Mr. D" is still one of the few NFL owners who was truly beloved by his players, and was recently elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

November 6, 1947: Meet the Press debuts on NBC. It is still on the air after 69 years. It is the longest-running program in television history. Athletes do not usually appear on the show, but during his tenure as moderator, from 1991 until his death in 2008, Tim Russert loved to interview them.

November 6, 1956, 60 years ago: President Dwight D. Eisenhower is re-elected. Despite concerns over his health (he'd had a heart attack in September 1955), the fitness for office of Vice President Richard Nixon, and how he'd handled the recent crises in Hungary and Egypt, he wins 57 percent of the popular vote, and 457 Electoral Votes.

Former Governor Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois fares no better in the rematch than he did in 1952, winning just 42 percent, and 73 Electoral Votes. Stevenson won only 7 States: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri. In the other 41 States, he comes close only in Tennessee.


November 6, 1972: Deivi Cruz Garcia is born in Nizao, Dominican Republic. A shortstop, Deivi Cruz played in he major leagues from 1997 to 2005, mostly with the Detroit Tigers.

November 6, 1976, 40 years ago: Patrick Daniel Tillman is born in Fremont, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. A safety at Arizona State, he played in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals from 1998 to 2001. Quarterback Jake "the Snake" Plummer was his teammate in both college and pro ball.

On May 31, 2002, his contract with the Cardinals having run out, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, in response to the previous year's 9/11 attacks. His brother Kevin Tillman, in the Cleveland Indians' minor-league system, also left his sport to enlist that day. Specialist Pat Tillman passed the test to become an Army Ranger, and was deployed to Afghanistan.

On April 22, 2004, he was killed in action in Spera, Afghanistan. At first, the Army said his death was the result of an enemy ambush. It soon got out that his death was a mistake, from his own side: What's known as "friendly fire."

Arizona State retired his Number 42, the Cardinals his Number 40. When a new bridge was built over the Colorado River, connecting Arizona and Nevada, rerouting traffic on U.S. Route 93 to make the Hoover Dam more secure, it was named the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

November 6, 1978: Erik Thomas Cole is born in Oswego, New York, on Lake Ontario. The left wing was a member of the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes. A back injury with the Detroit Red Wings in 2015 has prevented him from playing since, and his career may be over.

November 6, 1979: David Adam LaRoche is born in Anaheim, California, where his father, Dave LaRoche, was then pitching for the California Angels. Dropping his first name, he grew up in Fort Scott, Kansas, and became a 1st baseman, reaching the postseason with the Atlanta Braves in 2004 and '05, and the Washington Nationals in 2012 and '14. His brother Andy LaRoche has also played in the major leagues.

On March 15 of this year, while at spring training with the Chicago White Sox, Adam LaRoche said that he intended to "step away from baseball." The next day, it was revealed that his reason was that the White Sox had placed a restriction on his 14-year-old son Drake entering the team's clubhouse every day. By retiring, LaRoche walked away from a $13 million contract.

Also on this day, Lamar Joseph Odom is born in South Jamaica, Queens, the same neighborhood that produced rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Governor Mario Cuomo, and my grandmother. The forward played in the NBA from 1999 to 2013, beginning and ending with the Los Angeles Clippers. In 2009 and 2010, he won titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, and was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2011.

But he is best known for his drug problems, which, at last check, he was in successful recovery from; and for his on-again, off-again marriage to businesswoman and reality-TV star Khloe Kardashian, which is now off again, as their divorce is final. He has 2 children, plus 1 who died as a baby. Today, he owns Rich Soil Entertainment, a film and music production company.

Also on this day, Bradley Stuart (no middle name) is born in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. The defenseman was a member of the 2008 Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings. After playing last season with the Colorado Avalanche, he is now a free agent.


November 6, 1980: Lionel Smith dies in London at age 60. The Yorkshireman was a left back for Arsenal, playing on their 1950 FA Cup winners, although he didn't play in the Final; and on their 1953 League title winners.

November 6, 1984: President Ronald Reagan is overwhelmingly re-elected, defeating Walter Mondale, who had been Jimmy Carter's Vice President. Reagan nearly pulls off the 50-State sweep, as Mondale wins his home State of Minnesota by 2,996 votes. He also won the mostly-black District of Columbia. Or, as comedian Jay Leno put it, "When I went to bed, I only had 3 more Electoral Votes than Mondale, and I wasn't even running!"

Mondale also got at least 48 percent of the vote in Massachusetts and Rhode Island; 47 percent in Maryland; and 45 percent in Pennsylvania, Iowa, New York and Wisconsin. Had he won those, instead of losing 525 Electoral Votes (Reagan breaks Franklin Roosevelt's 1936 record of 523) to 13, he would have lost 398 to 140, and it wouldn't have looked so bad. But the popular vote was still bad: Reagan won 58.7, Mondale 40.6.

Unemployment was 7.5 percent, higher than the 7.1 percent that it was 4 years earlier when Reagan knocked Carter out of the White House. And there was the Beirut barracks debacle just a year before this election, killing 241 U.S. Marines -- to put it into recent context, 60 "Benghazis" all at once. And, less than 4 months earlier, Reagan had joked about starting World War III: "We begin bombing in 5 minutes." As a 14-year-old boy, let me tell you: That was terrifying. And, especially in the 2nd debate, Reagan looked like he was already affected by Alzheimer's disease.

So how did Reagan win? By lying: By saying that it was "Morning Again In America," by saying that America was stronger than ever thanks to his defense building, by saying that the Communists were in retreat (they weren't), and that he wasn't going to raise taxes but Mondale was (as Mondale pointed out, Reagan had already raised taxes 3 times).

Or, to put it another way...

Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Walter Mondale for Losing 49 States in the 1984 Presidential Election

5. Geraldine Ferraro. I understand the desire for Mondale to choose the 1st female Vice Presidential nominee. But the traditional running-mate role, that of attack dog who says things the Presidential nominee can't, worked against her, especially with her Noo Yawk accent. The fact that her husband was ethically compromised (even if she, herself, was not) didn’t help.

4. The Olympics. Granted, the hockey Gold Medal, including the upset of the vastly more talented Soviet team, at the 1980 Winter Olympics didn't help Carter (or Mondale, who was actually at the game with the Soviets and the Gold Medal game with Finland). But the boycott of the Summer Olympics, in Moscow, sure hurt Carter – even though it did more to expose the Soviets as "an evil empire" than anything Reagan ever did.

When the Soviets and the East Germans boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, it left the American team almost free rein to win as many medals as it wanted. It became 16 days of unbridled, safe patriotism, a call of, "You're all welcome to visit our country, but our country is the greatest!" It was right up Reagan's alley, and right in his Southern California backyard. As the host nation's head of state, he even got to officially declare the Games open.

3. The Curse of Jimmy Carter. Reagan was able to run against "The Carter-Mondale Administration," even though Carter was better at nearly everything than Reagan – including, as it turned out, creating jobs, avoiding tax increases and getting hostages out of Iran. Nearly everything... except explaining why he was.

2. The Cold War. Reagan was able to make Americans so frightened of the Soviet Union that they'd rather have a senile, lying Republican as President than an honest Democrat of sound mind.

1. "Morning In America." It was something that Americans, besieged by a quarter of a century of Cold War, civil rights struggles, race riots, assassinations, war, recession and terrorism desperately wanted to believe. And Reagan and his packagers were able to make them believe it. This was all part of the Actor's show. He never played any part as well as he played "President Reagan."

In short: Ronald Reagan wasn't a great President, but he played one on TV. The truth is, he was a disaster, one after which we are still cleaning up – and, with Donald Trump as his (un)natural successor, there will be new mess.

Also on this day, Ricardo Romero Jr. is born in East Los Angeles, California. Ricky Romero pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2009 to 2013, but injuries have kept him out of the major leagues since. He is still attempting a comeback, in the San Francisco Giants organization. He is married to retired soccer player Kara Lang, who played for Canada in the 2003 and 2007 Women's World Cups.

November 6, 1989: Josmer Volmy Altidore is born at the same hospital I was: St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Essex County, New Jersey -- albeit 20 years later. And Jozy Altidore did not grow up in New Jersey like I did, instead growing up in Boca Raton, Florida.

He's played for several teams, starting with the New York Red Bulls from 2006 to 2008, helping them reach, so far, their one and only MLS Cup Final in 2008. He's played for Hull City and Sunderland in England, Villareal and Xerez in Spain, Burasapor in Turkey and AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands.

He currently plays for Toronto FC, and has represented the U.S. at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.


November 6, 1990: André Horst Schürrle is born in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The soccer winger played enough games for West London club Chelsea in the 2014-15 season to receive medals for winning the Premier League and the League Cup, before being sold in midseason to German club Wolfsburg, whom he helped win the DFB-Pokal (German Cup). So he had what is probably a unique domestic Treble: A League title, a national cup win and a league cup win, but in 2 different countries.

He now plays for Borussia Dortmund, and was a member of the Germany team that won the 2014 World Cup.

November 6, 1995: Art Modell announces that he's moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, where they will become the Ravens. He does so because the City of Cleveland, the County of Cuyahoga and the State of Ohio refused to listen to his pleas to either build him a new stadium, or at least give him a better lease at the existing Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

Modell said he had no choice. He lied. He could have sold the Browns to a local buyer, and bought the rights to one of the 1995 expansion teams, and put that in Baltimore. Instead, he screwed Cleveland over.

November 6, 1999: Bankers Life Fieldhouse opens in Indianapolis, replacing the Market Square Arena. The Indiana Pacers beat the Boston Celtics, 115-108, and go on to win the NBA Eastern Conference title for the 1st time. But they will lose the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.

November 6, 2008: Dick Johnston dies in Boston at age 89. He wrote for The Buffalo News from 1939 to 1984, covered the Buffalo Sabres from their 1970 inception until his retirement, and was given the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, the Hockey Hall of Fame's equivalent for journalists.

November 6, 2009: The Yankees get a ticker-tape parade for winning the World Series. Only 1 other New York team has gotten one since: The Giants in February 2012.


November 6, 2012: President Barack Obama is re-elected, defeating former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Romney had run the most dishonest Presidential campaign of all time -- a record that didn't even survive a full election cycle. But Obama won the popular vote, 51.1 percent to 47.2; and the Electoral Vote, 332 to 206.

Going into Election Day, Republicans were sure that Romney was going to win Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. If he had, it would have been a shift of 67 Electoral Votes, making Romney the winner, 273 to 265. But Obama won Florida by 45,000 votes, and both Ohio and Pennsylvania by 50,000. The "Swingiest of Swing States" did not trust the economy, which Obama had rescued after being crashed 4 years earlier by conservative businessmen, to another conservative businessman.

The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Mitt Romney for Losing the 2012 Presidential Election

Here's some reasons that didn't make the cut: The Best of the Rest.

George W. Bush. He will hang over the GOP like Jacob Marley's ghost for a long time to come -- like Jimmy Carter did over the Democratic Party from 1980 to 1992 (but not afterward, thanks to Bill Clinton, no matter how hard Republicans have since tried), like Herbert Hoover did over the Republican Party from 1932 to 1980, when Ronald Reagan finally liberated them), like Woodrow Wilson did over the Democrats from 1920 to 1932 (when Franklin Roosevelt exorcised the ghost), like the Civil War did over the Democrats from 1864 to 1912 (when Wilson moved them into the 20th Century).

Voters may believe that Obama hasn't done enough to restore the economy, but they know damn well that he didn't cause the crash and the recession. Bush did. Conservative businessmen did. And Romney, as he kept telling us, was a conservative businessman.

Bill Clinton. His Convention speech gave Obama a huge boost, and his campaign appearances in States like Ohio and Florida helped a lot. If Al Gore had swallowed his pride and asked Clinton, then still President, to make one joint appearance with him in Miami in the first week of November 2000, Gore would have won Florida by such a margin that Jeb Bush couldn't have stolen it, and Gore would have been unquestionably victorious overall.

Seal Team Six. Upon Obama's orders, they killed Osama bin Laden. If they had failed, it would have been for Obama what "Desert One," the failed attempt to rescue the hostages from Iran in April 1980, was to Jimmy Carter. It would have made the Carter-Obama comparisons a lot more honest.

Instead, Obama got a victory that, no matter what Romney and his surrogates said about Benghazi, essentially took foreign policy off the table, because they had no chance to beat Obama on the issue.

Hurricane Sandy. True, every State affected by it was going to go for Obama anyway. But Obama's response, a polar opposite from Bush's on Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and his bipartisan work with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, made him look like a man who cared enough to help, was flexible enough to reach across the aisle, and competent enough to get things done.

Is Romney flexible? Certainly. Is he competent enough? Possibly. Does he care enough? Don't make me laugh, and if you think he does, recall "the 47 Percent Video." Obama's response to Sandy didn't turn a single State affected by it -- that was unnecessary -- but it helped him nationally.

The Wives. No, this is not a joke about Romney's religion. His being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints -- the official name for the Mormons -- in the end, did not make him look like a loon. (Mormons have some beliefs that I consider strange, but, heck, they're not Scientologists. And not all Scientologists are as loopy as Tom Cruise or John Travolta.) No, Romney has just one wife, just as his father did. (But not his grandfathers.) Nor did it make evangelical Protestants abandon him for Obama: I guess they'd rather vote for a Mormon than a black liberationist/Muslim/Communist-therefore-atheist. (I wish they'd pick one lie and go with it.)

This is a reference to Michelle Obama and Ann Romney. Ann may have helped "humanize" Mitt with her Convention speech, but thereafter, she acted like a petulant rich chick who thought everyone not rich was beneath her. In contrast, Michelle Obama acted like a fun person who wants you to have fun, too -- and all she asks in return is that you eat right and exercise. She won't force you, as was suggested. Michelle acted like her life would have been complete if Barack loses, or if he'd lost in 2008, or even if he'd never entered politics. Whereas Ann acted like she had to be First Lady.

We want our First Ladies to appear like living in the White House is nice, but they don't need it. Mamie Eisenhower, Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, they all seemed to be regular people. Even Jacqueline Kennedy, who most certainly was not "regular people," didn't act like living in the White House was some divine right of hers.

Nancy Reagan, on the other hand, acted as thought it was her divine right.  Hillary Clinton often came off as someone who thought so; her softening of her own image was a big reason why Bill won in 1996, and why she was elected to the Senate in 2000 and came close to the Democratic nomination in 2008. The far right tried to paint Michelle as an entitled woman, which turned out to be ridiculous. Ann really is like that, and that only fed into Mitt's image as an out-of-touch rich guy.

Before I get down to the Top 5, let me take one potential reason off the table: Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan. True, the Congressman from Wisconsin didn't help bring his home State into the Romney column. But that's because, despite a lot of Republicans' hopes, and a few pundits bold predictions, Wisconsin was never going to vote for Romney. Governor Scott Walker's survival of his recall was more of a backlash against the movement to recall him, for not wanting to wait until the next election in November 2014.

(Face it, the only reason Gray Davis was recalled as Governor of California is because of the celebrity of Arnold Schwarzenegger. If Ahnold had never appeared in a movie, the idea of getting rid of Davis would have had some appeal, but once actual names were put up as potential replacements, he could have survived to serve out his 2nd term.)

Ryan is a far-right extremist. He's a liar. He's a top-level douchebag. But he's not a reason Romney lost. It was suggested that another "finalist" for the slot, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, might have made the difference. No: Romney would still have lost the Electoral Vote if he'd won Ohio. Same with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. In fact, Romney could have won Ohio and Florida, and he still would have lost, in both the popular vote and the Electoral Vote.

And even if you think Ryan did hurt Romney, remember: Romney chose him. He could have chosen someone else. So if you blame Ryan, you should blame Romney, too.

Now, the Top 5 Reasons:

5. It's the Economy, Stupid. James Carville's 1992 line for Bill Clinton still works. As I said, people still blame Bush and other "conservative businessmen" for causing the bad economy, much more than they blame Obama for not getting back to where it was in mid-2007, let alone where it was in 2000 before the tech bubble burst.

And it was getting better, in spite of all the GOP's obstructionism: Unemployment, which Obama did not cause to go to 10 percent, was now down below 8 percent. 750,000 jobs lost per month became job growth for 32 months in a row. The Dow Jones was down to 6,500 after the crash; it was double that, 13,000, on Election Day.

And people got it: "The massive debt" wasn't Obama's fault, not by a long shot. They accepted the truth that it was due to the tax cuts and the wars that Bush didn't pay for; and the debt that Obama did add on was necessary to clean up the mess Bush left. Blaming Obama for the deficit was like blaming the Yankees' pitching for their 2012 Playoff loss: It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't the problem.

4. The Republican Base. They're the ones who pushed Romney into disavowing his greatest (if not, as I've suggested, "only") accomplishment in his only political job. They're the ones who pushed him into abandoning his pro-choice -- or, as Ted Kennedy called it in their 1994 Senate battle, his "multiple-choice" -- stance on abortion. They're the ones who made him sound like Dick Cheney on foreign policy. They're the ones who pushed him to the hard right on immigration and gay rights, when he'd previously been a moderate on the former and at least willing to discuss the latter.

Primary opponents Rick Perry, then Newt Gingrich, and finally Rick Santorum worked so hard to pain Romney as "Massachusetts Moderate Mitt" -- trying to make him sound like John Kerry or, God forbid, Michael Dukakis, and even invoking the State as the only won one in 1972 by the late George McGovern -- that Romney had to come out and not only act like, but actually come out and say he was, someone who was "severely conservative."

"Severely." That one word, more than "I like being able to fire people," or "47 percent," or "Ten thousand bucks?" or even "Let Detroit go bankrupt," may have doomed him. You may not hear any other observer of the election say it. But "severe" has connotations of "bad," "harsh," "harmful." You hear of a man in a hospital being "severely injured," a soldier being "severely wounded."

The lunatics who use religion as a justification for their greed, or as an excuse for bigotry, pushed Romney away from the center-right man he'd been, more or less continuously, from 1994 to 2008. But since it became clear that McCain was not going to win in November 2008, he became "severely conservative" -- until that stopped working, because (as I'll return to later), Obama's campaign machine basically said, "Yeah, he is, and here's what that means."

The last time Romney looked like he had a real chance to win was after the first debate, when Obama looked tentative and underprepared, and Romney sounded like a prepared, reasonable, competent moderate. If he'd been that from the moment he clinched the nomination onward, he would have had a very good chance of winning. But if he'd been that during the Republican Primaries, he wouldn't have gotten out of New Hampshire with his candidacy intact.

Thinking he needed to appease the hard right may also have been a reason why Romney chose Ryan as the Vice Presidential nominee, instead of a more moderate conservative, such as Portman, or Governor Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

3. The So-Called "Liberal Media." In 2000, they let the Bush team paint their man as honest and Gore as a liar. The voices stepping forward to defend Gore and to expose Bush as the real liar, as an intellectual lightweight, as a man monumentally underprepared for the Presidency, were too timid, or courageous enough but without enough power to spread their message.

In 2004, the same thing: The media let Bush lie through his teeth about himself and Kerry, to the point where Kerry (rather than Bush) looked like the elitist who was unfit to command our troops, and Bush looked like an average guy with the strength to lead our nation (both bull).

In 2008, the economic crash made the media's job easier: The facts showed the GOP couldn't be trusted, and McCain's efforts to lie about Obama were halfhearted; he's just not that kind of guy, although the kind of guy he is, isn't someone I could ever vote for.

This time, Romney and his surrogates told lie after lie after lie, and the Obama campaign struck back, saying, "Here's the truth," and showing the truth... and the media told the story.

For half a century, since Nixon blamed the media for his 1962 loss, when a Republican loses, or thinks he's going to lose, he and his supporters blame "the liberal media." Usually for "taking him out of context." Even in 1964, a Barry Goldwater supporter was filmed yelling at a newspaper reporter, "Don't quote what he says, say what he means!" It never occurs to these candidates to not say things that they know are untrue, or represent their true feelings but could be taken out of context. Instead of blaming the media for telling the story, try blaming yourself for making the story available.

Which leads directly to...

2. James Carter IV. For 32 years, the GOP have been painting his grandfather, Jimmy Carter, as a political, military and moral weakling. Yes, Sunday school teacher Jimmy Carter is, in their words, a moral weakling, for letting the excesses of the 1970s be the excesses of the 1970s. Never mind that these things began under Nixon, often as a backlash against his policies, and steamrolled under Gerald Ford. Never mind that Carter could no more control what went on inside the doors at Studio 54 and Plato's Retreat than he could control what went on inside the doors at OPEC meetings.

That's been the line since 1980: Carter is a Democrat, and he's weak, therefore Democrats are weak, they're soft on immorality, soft on crime, soft on drugs, soft on defense, soft on Communism, soft on terrorism. Reagan is a Republican, and he's strong, therefore Republicans are strong. It was easy to compare Walter Mondale to Carter in 1984: He was Carter's Vice President. The Carter years were fresh enough in 1988 to make Michael Dukakis "another Jimmy Carter" and have it work.

But after 8 years of a highly (though hardly completely) successful liberal Democratic President, Bill Clinton, the comparison of Obama to Carter, endlessly repeated in conservative opinion pieces, was stupid. Especially since Carter's attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran failed, while Obama's similar attempt to kill Osama bin Laden succeeded.

If either 2012 candidate was "Ronald Reagan" when it came to defending this nation, it was Obama. (Never mind that Reagan's arms sales made Osama bin Laden's rise possible.) No, Romney was no Reagan: Reagan was likeable, Romney is not. And, as Seinfeld's George Costanza taught us, "It's not a lie if you believe it." Reagan said a lot of bull, but he seemed to believe it; Romney couldn't convince people to believe his lies. So Romney was no Reagan, and Obama was no Carter.

So it was appropriate that James Carter, a freelance filmmaker, was the one who filmed that banquet at which Romney denounced "47 percent of Americans" as moochers who the Republican couldn't reach, and thus didn't have to care about.

It became the Internet equivalent of the late-in-the-campaign banquet in 1884, attended by James G. Blaine, finally winning the Republican nomination on his 3rd try, after being branded as corrupt as hell (which he was). A speaker at that banquet was the Rev. Samuel Burchard, who denounced the Democrats as "the party of rum, Romanism and rebellion." Meaning they would not stand for prohibition, they were led by Catholics, and most of the Confederates in the Civil War were Democrats. That word got out, and it cost Blaine New York, which that State's Governor, Democratic nominee Grover Cleveland, might not have won after a sex scandal had damaged his campaign. It made all the difference, and Cleveland won.

James Carter, standing in for his now 88-year-old grandpa, like Banquo's ghost at Macbeth's royal feast, captured the moment, and spread it, and Romney looked like a different Massachusetts man: Charles Emerson Winchester III (played by David Ogden Stiers on M*A*S*H), who once told an investigator for a McCarthyist Congressman, "Sir, I am so conservative, I make you look like a New Dealer." "Cholls" was rich, elitist, bigoted (he openly detested the Irish and the Italians), and thought the slightest hardship was beneath him. And he had the ego to match.

As the series wore on, he became a bit more human and less of a caricature. (Which was Larry Linville's reason for leaving his role as Winchester's predecessor, Frank Burns: He didn't want to be an unlikeable sanctimonious far-right hypocrite forever. As with Stiers, the other castmembers have said Linville was a great guy offscreen.) Romney isn't a very intelligent man, but he has enough brains to realize he didn't want to sound like Charles -- or like another rich guy to whom he was often compared, Thurston Howell III (played by Jim Backus on Gilligan's Island -- and at least he would occasionally loan nice things to the other castaways and rewrote his will to include them).

It deeply offends Romney when people attack him for having gobs of money, or question whether he got it fairly. But he figured out that he couldn't look like the guy who writes off 47 percent of the country: "I care about 100 percent of Americans." He had to say it. Even though he didn't believe it, and the vast majority of that near-majority didn't believe it.

But if James Carter hadn't been there to film that moment, we never would have known that Romney said it. It would have been as if Nixon's Oval Office tapes had never been revealed until after he completed his 2nd term in January 1977. Instead, the tapes were revealed in July 1973, Nixon was forced to hand them over in August 1974, and he had to resign almost immediately thereafter. And, unlike Nixon, Romney didn't have the option to "burn the tapes." He never had possession, let alone ownership, of the clip. But now, he will have it stuck to him for the rest of his life.

So that's 2 ghosts: George W. Bush, as that of Jacob Marley; and Jimmy Carter, as that of Banquo. You could add a third, that of George Romney, the late former Governor of Michigan, whose 1968 run for President short-circuited, but who really was a moderate Republican -- and released his tax returns in full, unlike his son. We may never find out what Mitt was hiding -- but now, it doesn't matter, because he's lost. Now, it only matters to the historians, if they're curious enough.

Of course, none of the above factors would have made a damn bit of difference if it wasn't for Reason Number 1.

1. Barack Obama. Whatever you think of him, personally or politically, he ran a great campaign. He defined Romney before Romney could define him. He demolished Romney's attempts to define him as socialist, as weak on foreign policy, as someone who "doesn't believe in America," as somehow is "not really one of us."

Moreover, it's very hard to beat an incumbent President, even with an economy that is still growing slowly.  The Rose Garden strategy" didn't work for Ford in 1976, or the elder Bush in 1992; but it did work for Reagan in 1984, Clinton in 1996, and the younger Bush in 2004. It worked for Obama in 2012.

Obama not only campaigned to keep his job, he continued to do his job. Whether it was on keeping the government running, or keeping the auto industry afloat, or passing health care reform, or ending the Iraq War, or killing bin Laden, or biding his time instead of diving right into the Arab Spring, people saw him do what Presidents do. Individual observers didn't have to agree with what he was doing, but they still saw him do it, still saw him "be President."

Romney looked like a President, for sure; but he didn't act like a President. Obama was able to show what Michael Douglas (whose wife I still love) said in The American President, after Richard Dreyfus (a liberal in real life) spent most of the movie playing a stand-in for Bob Dole, and closing every speech with, "My name is Bob Rumson, and I'm running for President!" Near the end of the film, Douglas defended his actions and those of his girlfriend, Sydney Ellen Wade, played by Annette Bening, closing with, "This is a time for serious people, Bob, and your 15 minutes are up. My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I am the President."

If Obama hadn't defended himself, and gone on offense, like Clinton -- if he'd rolled over like Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, Mondale, McGovern and Hubert Humphrey -- he'd have been a one-term President, a footnote, "the first black President," and little more. And the gains of his 2nd term wouldn't have happened.


November 6, 2013: Clarence "Ace" Parker dies in Portsmouth, Virginia, at the age of 101. He had been the oldest living former Major League Baseball player, the oldest living former National Football League player, and, as best as we can determine, the 1st former NFL player to live to see a 100th birthday.

A two-way back, he starred for Duke University and the NFL team named the Brooklyn Dodgers, and was the 1940 NFL Most Valuable Player. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972. He was also a shortstop for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1937 and 1938.

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