Robert Novak

How Tom Eagleton screwed up George McGovern's chances of getting elected president not once, but twice.

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Unlike Isaac Chotiner, I rarely watched Robert Novak (or any of the other instant experts) on television, but I read his and Rowland Evans' column since at least the early 1970s. Let me put in a word here for Novak the columnist rather than the media "prince of darkness." Novak came into column-writing as a journalist, and his columns were almost always based on reporting as well as opinion, so you could learn something from reading him whatever you thought of his political opinions.

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The Washington Post and other news outlets are reporting that the journalist and political commentator Robert Novak has died at the age of 78. Novak is probably best known for his role in the Valerie Plame case, but prior to that scandal he was a constant presence on CNN and a prolific writer. He not only co-starred in the debate show Crossfire, but he was a frequent panelist on other programs like The Capital Gang. Novak had a reputation around Washington as a grumpy and dyspeptic personality, and his television co-hosts would always mock his "prince of darkness" image.

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Robert Novak thinks it's likely: His tenuous 13-year relationship with the Republican Party, following his retirement from the Army, has ended. The national security adviser for Ronald Reagan left the present administration bitter about being ushered out of the State Department a year earlier than he wanted. As an African American, friends say, Powell is sensitive to racial attacks on Obama and especially on Obama's wife, Michelle.

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Romney's Dilemma

Robert Novak reports that Romney is getting closer to addressing the elephant in the room: Disagreement remains within the Romney camp, but the consensus is that he must address the Mormon question with a speech deploring bias. Campaign sources say a speech has been written, though 90 percent of it could still be changed. It's not yet determined exactly what he will say or when he'll deliver a speech that could determine the political outcome of 2008. [snip] Romney will have but one shot to get it right.

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Doledrums

Elizabeth Dole looks small and tidy tucked into a corner of the CupaCupa coffee shop, situated on the ground floor of the Watergatecomplex where she lives with husband Bob Dole. (Yes, even she callshim by both names.) The North Carolina senator is, as always,perfectly coiffed and perfectly outfitted in a smart black pantsuitwith a white collarless blouse and just the right amount of gold jewelry sprinkled about. Before I even settle into my seat, Dole asks if I'd like anything to drink and offers up a bottle of springwater already on the table.

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GOPtopia

Surry Hill. So reads a plaque at the end of the long, winding private road that leads to the crown jewel of McLean, Virginia: the 18,000-square-foot mansion that Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers and his wife Edwina call home. To get there from Washington, you drive across the Potomac River and along a parkway that, in the summer, is canopied by lush green trees. Shortly before the guarded entrance to the CIA, you turn off McLean's main road and then down a private lane, passing through brick gate posts adorned with black lanterns and into a grand cul-de-sac. A massive brick Colonial with majestic

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Mad About You

I hate President George W. Bush. There, I said it. I think his policies rank him among the worst presidents in U.S. history. And, while I'm tempted to leave it at that, the truth is that I hate him for less substantive reasons, too. I hate the inequitable way he has come to his economic and political achievements and his utter lack of humility (disguised behind transparently false modesty) at having done so.

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Less Than Zero

It's not every day that first-rate economists such as Paul Krugman and Berkeley Professor Brad DeLong offer the same economic advice as a knee- jerk Wall Street booster like Robert Novak. But that's pretty much what happened earlier this month, when all three men criticized Alan Greenspan for failing to lower interest rates amid mounting deflationary pressure.

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Notebook

MAIL FRAUD: If you pay income taxes, sometime in the next few weeks you'll receive a letter touting the recently passed tax cut: "We are pleased to inform you that the United States Congress passed--and President George W. Bush signed into law--the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001." The letter will further inform you that, thanks to this law, a rebate check (up to $300 for individuals, $600 for couples) is in the mail. ("You will be receiving a check," the letter states. "You need to take no additional steps.") Agitprop paid for by the Republican National Committee?

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