Poor Ron Brown thinks he's been treated unfairly

Mike Royko

January 13, 1992|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

WE ALL HAVE feelings. And while I have a thick hide, my feelings can be hurt.

So I was really deeply pained when I got a call from the media spokesperson for Ron Brown, national chairman of the Democratic Party, and she said some of my recent columns have been the "most terribly unfair things" she has ever read.

She was referring to my observation that it was really dumb of Brown and the party to pressure Mario Cuomo to either run in the New Hampshire primary or withdraw as a candidate.

What hurt was not that she said the columns were "terribly unfair."

It was that her remarks made it clear that she and Ron Brown hadn't read many of my columns. My ego was wounded.

Anyone who is familiar with my babblings would know that on my personal 1-to-10 scale of Terrible Unfairness, those were about a 3 or maybe a 4.

Dozens of previous victims could come forward and tell the chairman and his irate spokesperson: "Brown, if you think that little jab was terribly unfair, you should read what that lousy (deleted) wrote about me."

But maybe it's because Brown works out of Washington, where they use such long words and convoluted sentences that it's sometimes hard to tell if you are being treated unfairly or hailed as a saint.

It now appears that Brown has been telling political insiders that he had nothing to do with Cuomo's decision to withdraw.

If that's the case, it's all the more reason for him to find another line of work. As party chairman, he should have dragged Cuomo into New Hampshire. What does a party chairman do? Just sit in a chair?

And a recent poll in New Hampshire should tell him why.

But first, about an earlier poll:

A few days after Cuomo said he wasn't running, a respected New Hampshire pollster asked Democratic voters which of the six remaining candidates they preferred.

There was a tie at 25 percent between Paul Tsongas, the former Massachusetts senator, and Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas. The other four didn't do as well as "undecided."

Then a group of Chicagoans, led by political consultant Phil Krone, formed a Draft Cuomo Committee and said they would start a write-in campaign in New Hampshire.

So last week the pollster went back and asked again. But this time he included Cuomo, as a write-in candidate.

Jaws dropped in New Hampshire. And Washington. And New York.

The second poll had Cuomo leading with 37 percent and Clinton slumping to second place, with only 14 percent. The others got a smidgen each.

So jaws really dropped in the Clinton crowd. And his media hucksters quickly made plans to spend a small fortune to bombard the defenseless New Hampshirites with TV commercials saying what a peerless statesman Clinton is.

Although most politicians and political columnists live by polls, I've never trusted them. That's because Chicagoans don't trust strangers who ask how they vote and have often lied and turned polls upside down.

But maybe New Hampshire folks are more open. If so, even with the usual plus-and-minus error margin, it would indicate that Cuomo could make a good showing in that state without having to clutch hands, spew TV sound bites or munch on homemade cookies for the cameras.

I've also said many times that too much emphasis is placed on the New Hampshire primary. But it's the Democratic leadership, or what passes for it, that has let the party's many factions create this nutty primary system and schedule. And the Washington pundits go along with it. They have a right to choose their favorite chaos.

However, Krone and others have a right to horn in. And that's what they're doing. The draft Cuomo campaign is picking up steam, not only in Chicago, but in other parts of the country. All day Saturday, volunteers and some of the prospective Cuomo delegates gathered at the campaign's offices in Chicago for a combined rally-strategy session.

Some have already said they are planning to go to New Hampshire to drum up write-in votes. As volunteers, they are responsible for their own long underwear.

If Chairman Brown had wanted to stop by at the gathering, he would have been welcomed. Do him good to meet somebody besides Washington pundits.

They would even have given the chairman a chair to sit in, although not in the front row.

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