Mike Barnicle, New York Daily News columnist, "Imus in the Morning" contributor and all-around Beltway pundit was the guest speaker at tonight’s Arthur Page Society dinner. And, I absolutely loved what he had to say.
The Boston-based Barnicle shared some great Tip O’Neill stories, who he called the Yogi Berra of national politics (i.e. Barnicle and the late Speaker of the House were golfing the day before Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank was to hold a press conference to announce his Gay lifestyle. O’Neill pulled Barnicle aside and said, "Barney’s through in politics, Mike. He’s announcing tomorrow that he’s coming out of the room.").
As funny as the Tip tales were, though, O’Neill couldn’t out-Yogi Yogi. Barnicle told a story about the time he interviewed Yogi and Whitey Ford on ESPN. Yogi said Whitey was his favorite roommate. In fact, he said that, in 40-plus years of baseball, no one else came close to Whitey in terms of being the ideal roomie. Barnicle was impressed and asked Whitey if he felt the same way about Yogi. "Hell, no," said Whitey. "My favorite roommate was Angie Dickinson."
Barnicle also waxed poetic about the current political scene. He called John McCain "…..a great guy up until about eight weeks ago." Barnicle says that McCain’s changed dramatically in the last few months and ascribed it to the White House "…..warping people who get close to winning it." He said McCain is clearly willing to say or do anything now to get into the Oval Office.
Obama’s biggest challenge in the race is race, said Barnicle. "People in the three key swing states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania still have grave doubts about Obama as to whether or not he’s one of us. And, keep in mind that Pennsylvania is Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other and Alabama in the middle."
Bloggers bug Barnicle. He sees them as a nuisance, and says they tend to write almost exclusively about themselves. "And, who gives a shit about me?" Barnicle asked. "Reporting should be about the man in the street and what’s keeping him up at night, not what’s pissing off some blogger who sits in his cellar typing away on a laptop," said Barnicle. He said most bloggers don’t think before they type. And most don’t go out and gather news. They just write.
Speaking of just right, Barnicle was just right for what has been a great industry conference. I belong to several organizations, but none come close to Page when it comes to putting on first-class events like the one on Cape Cod.
Where else can you listen to Jeff Immelt talk about the market meltdown on a Sunday night, Larry Foster question the moral compass of Millenials on a Monday morning, hear from Elliot Spitzer’s "deer in the headlights" communications chief on a Monday afternoon and cap it all off with one rollicking Beltway insider story after another from Mike Barnicle on Monday night?
As Beavis and Butthead, two other notable pundits, might say: "The Arthur Page Society rules."