by Joseph P. Tartaro
If you think the continuing uncertainty about the presidential election of 2000 is not only historic but strange, consider some other possibly historic bits of surrealism.
Several weeks ago in this column, I suggested a nightmare political scenario that might disturb the sleep of many Americans. In that column I suggested that it might be possible, after Bill Clinton moves from the White House to the new residence in Chappaqua, NY, that he might run for governor of New York in 2002, since hed then be the states most famousor infamousDemocrat.
To many readers that might have seemed a bit far fetched, even though many political junkies are already talking about the possibility of HillaryNew Yorks junior senator electas a Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2004. Of course, she has already told reporters that she intended to serve out her six-year Senate term and would not be a presidential aspirant at the next opportunity.
Of course, almost everyone knows that if the experts parsed her answer, they would not be able to guarantee that what she was saying was that she definitely would not be a presidential candidate. Thats the way with politicians, and New Yorks current governor, Republican George Pataki, is a case in point. While denying that he was interested in being a candidate for president or vice president, he was grabbing every headline he could with his anti-gun legislative package. And he was traveling to speak in other states and bobbing onto political talk shows at every opportunity.
The rule is: never attempt to take what any politician says to the bank.
Bill the Mayor?
I was reminded of my earlier column in early December, when I read the following article that a Boston Globe reporter filed from New York City. It was headlined: New York City? Lets keep it in the family.
Heres what it said:
Now that Hillary Clinton has been elected as New York States new US senator, how about this for an even more dazzling follow-up: Bill Clinton as the next mayor of New York City?
The rumor is that Clinton, once his presidential term expires, will run in the citys November 2001 mayoral election.
On Tuesday, it appeared as the main item in Neal Travis political gossip column in the New York Post.
When a White House spokesman, Jake Seward, was asked about the piece he replied: He already has the second-toughest job in America, so why would he want the first?
Mrs. Clinton, appearing on television to promote her new book about the White House, laughed off the notion.
Thats not going to happen, she said. My husband is looking forward to a change of pace and a different kind of life.
Nevertheless, the idea of both Clintons serving New York is irresistible to many people.
Even Peter Vallone, speaker of the city council, who has announced his own intention of running for mayor, said: They would be New Yorks ultimate power couple. I hope he runs for mayor of Boston instead.
Mrs. Clinton won three-quarters of the citys vote in (Novembers) Senate election. Her husband is even more popular. If he did run for mayor, I dont think theres much doubt he would win, Richard Emery, a lawyer active in city politics, said.
There are no prominent Republicans in New York City, though the media mogul Michael Bloomberg is publicly contemplating running for the party.
Ed Koch, the former mayor, had a warning for Mr. Clinton. Being president is easy compared to being mayor. The presidents got an army between him and the public. As mayor, youre totally exposed to the publics contempt.
All this is probably just fantasy, The Globe commented, before adding the caution that, Hillary Clintons run for the Senate began in a similar manner.
In November 1998, just after the gossip mill began churning over the possibilities, and eight months before she began her campaign, a New York Times columnist, Bob Herbert, wrote: I have found nothing to substantiate the rumor that Hillary Rodham Clinton is interested in running for (Daniel) Moynihans seat. But the idea of a Senate race between Mrs. Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani is such a splendid one that it must be kept alive at all costs.
There are several dynastic political families in the USsome with the same name, such as the Kennedys, Rockefellers, Daleys and Chafees. But there also are dynasties built on marriages as well; Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of FDR, was related to Teddy Roosevelt, and Barbara Bush, George W.s mother and wife of former President George Herbert Walker, is also a descendant of a presidential family. Of course, there are other recent political intermarriages: Eisenhower and Nixon, Johnson and Robb, etc.
Now it appears that the Clintons of Arkansas (Illinois and New York) might be building their own political dynasty. The White House, the Senate, the governors or mayors mansion. And its not just Bill and Hillary. Chelsea will soon be of age to run herself or help a husband.
But the personalities of politics are not the only bits of surrealism as the year 2000 draws to a close.
On the last Sunday in November, The New York Times Magazine carried a strange article that linked to a continuing theme in the battle for firearms civil rights. The article by Bruce Porter was headlined, The Big, Bad, Fun Gun.
It was presumably a close-up look at the people and the guns that shoot the big .50BMG cartridge, and included the hands-on experience of the reporter. But it proved to be another example of the fact that the mindset of some journalists and editors never changes. That doesnt mean that gunowners shouldnt invite media types to the range to learn about guns and ammunition first hand. It is merely a warning that if your hopes for conversion are high, you may well be disappointed.
When all is said and done, the Porter article wasnt intended to explain .50-caliber shooting to a non-shooting readership, but to further justify support for the kind of legislation proposed by Rep. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) and his fellow anti-gunners. The Illinois congressman wants to ban the .50 BMG sniper rifles as he calls them.
Porters article explains what the guns are physically like, what the ammo can do, and the kind of long range shooting that their owners pursue in remote desert wastelands.
Then Porter reports on some of his own shooting, and brings the article to a conclusion.
Through the 17-power scope I could see the lava rock wavering slightly in the oncoming desert heat. I cranked up the dot so it settled about two-thirds up the rock. Im hot, I announced, and then fired. Again that tremendous report, and a huge flame shot out horizontally from the gas brake. I began counting . . . thousand six, thousand seven, my eye to the scope. Therea little puff on the rock face itself. Score! Cheers went up from the guys watching through their spotting scopes. Even though theyd set me up for it, I felt a surge of triumph at actually hitting the thing. I mean, two miles!
Whatever fun they have in the desert, the .50-cal crowd feels a little beleaguered when they return to civilization.
Despite what he says, its hard to spend time with Talbot and imagine him hurting anyone. And standing there in his gun shed, I found myself thinking that sniping at rocks in the desert or decimating cars in Maine is a pretty harmless form of recreation, nothing other than a highly organized and thoroughly regimented hobby. But then I considered all the firepower under his roof, enough to arm a small band of rebels with some very destructive weaponry. And no matter how soccer mom-ish it might seem, I think Id just as soon the FBI or the Secret Service knew a little more than they know today about who it is exactly who has possession of all this stuff, Porter concluded.
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