This and That

One of the perils of turning on your car radio during midmorning is accidentally tuning in the Barry Young talk show on KFYI-AM.

This happened to me the other day. Young's guest at the time was none other than Charlie Keating's former best pal, Senator John McCain.

McCain, speaking by telephone from Washington, D.C., was once again alibiing himself out of harm's way. He had been tangentially connected to the degenerate sexual assaults on women by drunken naval aviators at their annual Tailhook Association convention.

McCain, as a former naval aviator, is a member of the association. Newsweek magazine reported he had attended several of the conventions, and knew about the third floor where the assaults on women had occurred.

Barry Young, the mental dwarf with the silken voice, was, as usual, playing the role of sycophant to the mighty.

At this point, Claire Sargent, Democratic candidate for McCain's Senate seat, called in to question McCain about his role in the Tailhook matter. McCain is at his absolute best when producing alibis. Together, McCain and Young belittled and ridiculed Sargent for her apparent lack of insider knowledge about how Washington works. Together, they made it sound as though Sargent was the one who was at fault. They roughed her up pretty good. It was a typical old-boy routine. Why was she bringing up something so inconsequential, they asked, as assaults on women aviators at a convention where men were simply blowing off steam and having fun?

These aviators are, after all, our best and brightest. McCain pointed out there were many more important things that should be discussed as part of the upcoming Senate campaign.

The important things were obviously things that only McCain and Barry Young were learned enough to know about.

After Sargent got off the telephone, McCain pointed out something significant. Sargent knew so little about being a senator, he said, that he didn't even know whether he could bring himself to debate her. Young agreed. Both men seemed so pleased with themselves that I wish I had been close enough to douse them with a bucket of ice water.

The next call was from Bob Mohan, another of the station's talk-show hosts.

Mohan was positively chortling over Sargent's call and her lack of political know-how.

Mohan said he was sitting around drinking coffee at a local airfield with a group of fly-boy buddies. And all of them were having a grand laugh over Sargent's naiveté.

Poor Claire Sargent. She actually thinks it's disturbing that a large number of our naval pilots regularly behave like insensitive pigs during their annual conventions.

McCain concluded in the next day's Arizona Republic that Sargent's remarks "set a new political low mark for our state."

He gives Sargent too much credit.

The all-time political low marks for this state are still held by McCain, Dennis DeConcini and Charlie Keating. Those are marks not likely to be challenged by Claire Sargent or anyone else in the foreseeable future.

Certainly not by Claire Sargent, who doesn't even know her way around Washington politics.

Before, we could only imagine what went on inside Ross Perot's quixotic campaign for the presidency.

But now some of the key people who were behind the curtains with Perot have come forth to reveal their experiences. We can see it was an unhappy, frustrating place to be.

Ed Rollins, the political professional Perot brought on board to lend expertise to the amateur campaign, is disillusioned.

Rollins says that Perot had grown euphoric during the early days of his campaign when the crowds were still cheering and his numbers kept rising in the polls.

Rollins was a veteran of political wars. He had worked for Nixon and Ford. He had run Ronald Reagan's 1984 landslide victory. Rollins knew the price that must be paid.

When he looked around inside Perot's Dallas operation, he became appalled. It was Rollins' contention that Perot could not win unless he was willing to run a multimillion-dollar media campaign.

For Perot this was a problem. He had amassed a huge fortune in business without ever spending money on advertising. He could not be convinced it was necessary to begin spending money like that now.

Rollins hired the television group that created the winning advertising campaign for Ronald Reagan. They did a series of ads. They presented a bill that ran about $100,000 for each day's work.

Perot took a look at the bills and refused to approve them.
Perot told Rollins that he remembers he used to get only good publicity before Rollins was hired on to give his professional help.

"When he said this," Rollins says, "he wasn't kidding."

Rollins recalls how Perot grew increasingly disenchanted over the constant negative news stories. He asked Rollins, "Is this thing ever gonna get to be fun again?"

Rollins said to Perot: "Even if you win the White House, the next thing that will be fun for you will be the day they dedicate your presidential library."

I was all wrong about sending the Dream Team to the Olympics. I never thought that 12 players with those skills would be able to play the game with only one ball. In short, I didn't believe they'd behave like the pros they are with such consummate skill.

Charles Barkley demonstrated star quality. We already knew about Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. But the true magic about it all is that nobody tried to hog the spotlight.

I said before it began that I didn't want to watch because it would be boring. Now I will be one of the first in line to buy the video.

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Tom Fitzpatrick