One sees this in the debates each party is having. While the Democrats are focusing on Iraq and health care, the GOP is stuck on abortion and, incredibly, evolution. To paraphrase Washington Post syndicated columnist Marie Cocco, the Democrats want to build a bridge to the 21st century; the Republicans want to construct one to the 19th.

To be fair, the candidates didn’t raise the issue of evolution themselves; it arose at last week’s debate in response to a question from the moderator. Still, one doesn’t have to be a liberal Democrat to realize that when the GOP finds itself discussing the relevance of Charles Darwin, it doesn’t bode well for the party’s chances of success in the election.

Perhaps this ideological litmus testing is the result of an arrogance of power. More likely, though, it’s because conservative voters, like all Americans, now listen primarily to their own media — i.e., radio talk-show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and conservative blogs. At one time these sources of information were somewhat closer to the mainstream. But today, most are way out in right field and they’ve moved the GOP with them, much to the party’s detriment.

After all, in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, many voters would like to see the rights of gun owners balanced against public safety. (For the 50,000th time, no one hunts with a handgun or an assault weapon!) And most Americans do not believe that overturning Roe v. Wade would be “the greatest day in the country’s history,” as Tom Tancredo said at the GOP debate this past week. (Better than VE Day or the end of slavery? I don’t think so. But no other candidate corrected him during the debate.) Though deeply conflicted about abortion, most voters don’t favor Roe’s demise, if only on grounds of precedent (something conservatives used to respect).

That’s why a Fred Thompson candidacy is a blessing for Democrats. Almost despite themselves, the Republicans have found two candidates who can win in 2008. Fred Thompson may also be in that category, but given his record and the people who are supporting him, it’s terribly unlikely.

Speaking of Thompson, someone better ask him what he thinks of Darwin. Not to mention Sir Isaac Newton, Copernicus, and Galileo.

When I grow up, I wanna be . . .
Recently the Associated Press asked most of the presidential candidates which jobs they would want were they not presidential candidates. Unfortunately, everyone knows these answers are crafted for political purposes. In response, the crack Tote Board investigative team got to work and unearthed the real answers to the question, in italics.

DEMOCRATS
Joe Biden
Architect
Model for a shampoo company

Hillary Rodham Clinton
“Continue to work for causes and issues I care about, in a setting like a university or foundation.”
Roman empress

John Edwards
Mill supervisor
Barber (they make $400 an hour!)

Barack Obama
Architect
Regular at Les Deux Magots in Paris with other French existentialists

Bill Richardson
New York Yankees center fielder
Maitre d’ at an all-you-can-eat restaurant

Dennis Kucinich
Astronaut
Weight lifter

Chris Dodd
Teacher
Bank teller

REPUBLICANS
Sam Brownback
Farmer
Medieval scientist who believes the sun revolves around the earth

Rudy Giuliani
Sports announcer
Henry VIII (Six wives, not three!)

Mike Huckabee
Bass-guitar player for a touring rock band
Huckabee is the only honest candidate: he knows the bass players get all the groupies!

John McCain
Foreign service
Mayor of NY during 9/11

Mitt Romney
Auto-company executive
Governor of Massachusetts (It’s a great job; you don’t even have to spend time in the state!)

Duncan Hunter
Outdoor writer
Arms dealer

Tom Tancredo
President
President of Mexico

THE FIELD
REPUBLICANS
RUDY GIULIANI Odds: even
JOHN MCCAIN Odds: 2-1
MITT ROMNEY Odds: 6-1
MIKE HUCKABEE Odds: 100-1
SAM BROWNBACK Odds: 250-1
TOMMY THOMPSON Odds: 500-1
DUNCAN HUNTER Odds: 10,000-1
TOM TANCREDO Odds: 10,000-1
RON PAUL Odds: 10,000-1
JAMES GILMORE Odds: 10,000-1

DEMOCRATS
BARACK OBAMA Odds: 5-4
HILLARY CLINTON Odds: 5-3
JOHN EDWARDS Odds: 5-1
JOE BIDEN Odds: 75-1
CHRIS DODD Odds: 85-1
BILL RICHARDSON Odds: 85-1
DENNIS KUCINICH Odds: 25,000-1
MIKE GRAVEL Odds: 1 million to 1

On the Web
The Presidential Tote Board blog: http://www.thephoenix.com/toteboard

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