Berger’s Burg

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The town of White Hills, whose population is 90 percent white and 10 percent black, is electing a mayor. There are two candidates: one white, one black. The white candidate wins 90 percent of the vote, the black candidate 10 percent. The winner begins his victory speech by praising his white supporters, then deploring the blacks' clannishness.

Ever since former President Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a fourth term in 1944, New York politicians have not been able to become president. Tom Dewey won the Republican nomination in 1948, but lost to Missouri Democrat Harry Truman. Since then, for 60 years no New York politician has won either party's nomination.

Some have tried and failed: Nelson Rockefeller in 1964, John Lindsay in 1972 and Jack Kemp in 1988. Others have thought about running, but backed off: Mario Cuomo in 1992 and George Pataki this year. Robert Kennedy's 1968 effort ended with his assassination.

The only New Yorker to make it to the vice presidency in this time was Rockefeller, appointed by former President Gerald Ford in 1974 and dumped from the ticket in 1976. The nation has slighted New York, the cultural, financial and media center of the world.

Everyone believed that the 2008 election was going to be 1944 all over again. Three New Yorkers — U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alex Berger — tossed their hats into the presidential arena. But alas, Giuliani dropped out, Berger is hanging on by a thread and Clinton's results are not finalized yet.

What if we end up in the general election with a non-New York presidential clash between U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)?

It would be ironic, indeed, if Obama's and Clinton's failure to gain a majority propelled me into the race to break the city jinx. That would be good for New York, the country and Gloria.

A man walked into a booking agent's office. He opens his suitcase and 50 mice in tuxedos jump out and set up musical instruments. The man snaps his fingers and the mice play music like a philharmonic ensemble. He snaps his fingers again and the little mice play a rock 'n' roll arrangement. He snaps his fingers again and the mice play tearful Irish, Italian and Jewish folk songs. Then all the mice jump back in the suitcase. "Well," said the man, "do we get the gig?" "They play fine," said the agent, frowning, "but the drummer looks too Republican."

Secondly, I owe my poor presidential showing to the never-ending series of primary and caucus debates that never included me. I could have solved many of the complicated issues discussed, such as health care, Social Security, Medicaid, national security and budget priorities, in 60 seconds.

At these presidential debates, the voting public would have seen my many splendid virtues and accomplishments — Didn't I once have a brush with greatness when I stood elbow-to-elbow with Dan Rather in the men's room at LaGuardia Airport? — as well as enchanting everyone with my dazzling smile?

Don't fret. There is still time to invite me to the next debate.

Seymour was 7. His babysitter would hold him to her bosom and carried him where he wanted to go. One day, the mother returned home earlier to check on him and saw the babysitter carrying the boy. "He's 7," the mother said. "Why are you still carrying him?" Seymour turned from where his head had been buried in the sitter's bosom and said, "Ma, I'm training to be a Democrat."

Finally, with the days dwindling, my hopes of becoming president are diminishing. But I smile when I think of 1924's brokered convention. Rancorous Democrats gathered in the city and spent 16 days and 103 ballots to finally compromise and nominate John Davis of Virginia, who lost in the general election. If the Democrats cannot decide on a suitable candidate in August, I would make a compromising candidate.

A woman, 80, went to the doctor. "Write me a 'character-changing' prescription," she said. "Please explain," asked the doctor. "I have a 23-year-old granddaughter who lives with me. In every election, she always votes the (gasp) Independent line. Do you have anything I can drop into her breakfast coffee to change her into a regular Democrat, Republican, Liberal or Conservative like a normal person?"

The grand finale, the Democratic National Convention, is in Denver Aug. 28. May the best man, woman or I win.

Contact Alex Berger at

Posted 6:39 pm, October 10, 2011
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