Not Politics The Way It Used To Be

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As the returns come sloshing in from across America, some lessons can be drawn even before we know the winner. Reality Check - temporarily relocated in grandiose glass-walled CBS election night headquarters high above New York - will be parsing the lessons as they reveal themselves and passing them along to you loyal readers.

In an effort to establish a new tradition for the emerging era of cyberspace political reporting - and to minimize confusion as the evening wears on - we will dub each of these capsules of campaign wisdom a Check Sheet, and number them sequentially as new trends are identified.

Check Sheet #2

1. How Quickly They Forget. Exit polls show that Internet users prefer George W. Bush despite Al Gore's much publicized claim that he invented the Internet.

2. No One Delivers Anymore. For decades, politicians in both parties have held it as an article of faith that a popular governor - or big city mayor - with a good political apparatus (otherwise known as a machine) can deliver his state to the party's presidential nominee. The history of presidential elections rings with the names of bosses who could claim to be president-makers - Rhodes of Ohio, Daley of Chicago, Lawrence of Pennsylvania. Well, two of the most powerful Republican governors in the country, Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and John Engler of Michigan, couldn't carry their states for Bush.

Engler, who also failed to deliver a victory for Bush in the primary against John McCain, is henceforth to be known as John "Two Time Loser" Engler, instead of Secretary Engler, which he might have been headed for.

These failures by big state governors are ironic in that Bush was anointed as the GOP nominee by the party governors, who were convinced he was a winner.

3. Bigotry Suffers Major Setback. Given the Gore-Lieberman ability to pull votes in diverse states in many parts of the country, one of the nation's ugliest pieces of political conventional wisdom has been swept from the board - the idea that a Jew as not electable to one of the top national offices.

Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney also demonstrated, by running classy, adult campaigns, that the vice presidential choice can affect the outcome of the race.

4. A drunk driving conviction from 24 years ago doesn't bother voters any more than heavy sighing into the microphones.

5. No State Is Reliably Anything Anymore. West Virginia went Republican, even after Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd poured all that federal money in there. Arizona, Barry Goldwater's home, appears to be in play. Voters want to know what you've done for them lately.

6. There's No Place Like Home. Politicians used to be ashamed if they could not win their home state. Gore lost Tennessee handily - a state that his family has regarded as its own plantation for two generations. He ought to ask for a refund for his tabill.