The presidential campaign pool report is now clearly the bathroom wall of the journalistic world. We fully expect tomorrow's pool reports to be accompanied by Teresa H-K's cellphone number and "FOR A GOOD TIME." Maybe even some doodles of Clinton's unit.
Following: a flashback to earlier this morning, in which the KE04 campaign pool reporter attempts to get access to what would later be known as The Great Duck Hunt in Ohio. Hmm... Hey! Isn't there an election in a week or two? Isn't Ohio one of those... what do you call them... "swing states"?
October 21, 2004
Eight minutes from the heart of downtown Boardman, Ohio
Pool gathered and was swept at downtown Boardman Holiday Inn at 5:45. After waiting better part of 45 minutes, we moved out at 6:25. We bivouacked at Molnar Farm eight minutes later at 6:37. Four minutes later, the sun officially rose at 6:41, according to the Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory. It was misting so we were left to figure it was overcast, giving birds a few more minutes of shut-eye past sunrise - no hard feelings.
As we waited in the vans and on the short ride out into the wilderness, the realization settled over us that the heart of this would be nothing more than a grand photo op of Mr. Kerry walking out of the woods with a duck, or possibly without a duck, or possibly one that one of his staffers shot but he then swam out and retrieved and resuscitated.
Anyway, we realized we weren't going to see any bloodshed. Patsy flipped open her phone, dialed up Loftus and valiantly expressed the communal outrage. Rapid response went into full swing. He said we weren't included in actual hunt because the AP would object to it for some reason. Not true, said Nedra, who sat beside her. Precedent, he said. Patsy reeled off the stats from every presidential campaign hunt since Reagan. "I mean, he's going out into the woods with men who have guns. We should have someone there," she reasoned. He split hairs. Patsy explained to Loftus that your pooler very much wanted to go hunting with the next leader of the free world. But for some reason, the thought of a reporter from The Washington Times observing Mr. Kerry revealing who he really is did not sway the campaign. So, as Mr. Kerry trundled out into the wilds under a rising sun to hunt ducks eight minutes outside Boardman, we were left with nothing to do but hunt canards.
In lieu of actual information, we put our heads together and came up with some details for this pool report. The primary area of wager was whether Mr. Kerry would return with game at all.
HE WOULD NOT: Fearing a backlash from soccer moms and PETA freaks, he decides to return empty-handed with that age-old phrase employed by failed hunters: I don't do it to kill things; I just like being outdoors. But, that could undermine the manliness that he has so carefully cultivated since launching his campaign.
HE WOULD, DEAD: Be bold. Kill something. Come back holding limp ducks by their wrung necks in your bloody fingers. Win back those security moms. This would have been the strategy advised by Bill Clinton, whom Mr. Kerry talks to by phone very often.
HE WOULD, DEAD, CLEANED, DRESSED FROM FOOD LION: Return with several fattened (thought not for their livers as that would come perilously close to something French), beautifully yellowed birds that were purchased from the local supermarket last night. This would allow him to appear bold, willing to hunt down and kill the enemy, but wouldn't be too scarily unfamiliar to people who don't hunt. "You should always come dressed for dinner," he would explain.
HE WOULD, BUT IT ISN'T A DUCK: This theory developed into the most desirous. He returns victorious, but with Osama bin Laden, who had been hiding out in the backside of the farm. Turns out that immediately after President Bush outsourced the capturing of him in Tora Bora to the Afghan warlords, Mr. Bin Laden climbed into a container of poppy gum and arrived through a port in Newark. The container, of course, went uninspected. With so few police officers on the street, Mr. Bin Laden had no problem wandering America unmolested.
Ultimately, we'll just have to wait to find out. But one thing is clear: we'll never know for certain if Mr. Kerry can shoot a bird in flight. Walking from the vans into the cozy little farmhouse where a mini-file has been set up, we asked Wade and Loftus for any details. They, inexplicably, were whispering. Kerry apparently marched out with Rep. Ted Strickland and a security detail to hunt from a blind set up on the edge of a marshy area beside a harvested cornfield. It is set up some 500 yards from here. Locals say the geese and ducks swarm the fields after harvest. He is wearing a camo jacket that was purchased in Boardman. They are hunting with a yellow lab named Woody.
But, again, all of this is second-hand information. There has been some speculation - based on similarly-unconfirmed reports - that this is actually a golf course and that Mr. Kerry is currently crouched in the sand pit behind the third hole. The geese are much easier to hit that way and no one would be offended if you killed them.
Will report back if details emerge.