The carpetbagger curse?

Could the fortunes of the storied New York Yankees be tied to the tenure of Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) in one of New York’s Senate seats?

Could the fortunes of the storied New York Yankees be tied to the tenure of Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) in one of New York’s Senate seats?

Here are the facts: Clinton, elected in 2000, took office in January 2001. The Bronx Bombers last won a championship in 2000 and have endured a five-year dry spell since, despite making the playoffs every year. Most recently, they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels.

Coincidence? Some think not. As James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal’s GOP-leaning OpinionJournal blog put it last week, “This is known as the ‘Carpetbagger Curse’ — though at least it’s not as bad as Boston’s ‘Curse of the Bambino,’” which allegedly deprived the Red Sox of a title for 86 years.

For further perspective, we turn to Kevin Madden, spokesman for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and one of the Hill’s notable Yankees fans, to say nothing of his status as a rare Republican from the New York metro area.

“A theory that sturdy has GOTTA be true,” Madden wrote us. “We have the bats, we have the pitching and we have the best manager in baseball. But having a Chicago Cubs fan who is also a Democrat serving as one of New York’s senators is like tying a brick to a cinder block. We need to defeat her in 2006 and get back to winning championships and getting real leadership in the Senate.”

To be fair, however, Clinton has long said that growing up, the Yankees were her American League team of choice.

Yet, however strong or weak the theory, some quick research reveals that this isn’t the first episode of “carpetbagging” that’s coincided with a turn in Yankee fortunes.

From 1960 to 1964, the Yankees made the postseason every year, winning championships in 1961 and 1962. In fact, they missed the playoffs only nine times in the 30 years ending in 1964.

Back then, however, Massachusetts’s own Robert F. Kennedy stepped down as President Kennedy’s attorney general to run for Senate — from New York. He was elected in November 1964 and took office the following January.

The result? No more Yankee postseason trips until 1976.

When asked for comment on the matter, Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines, the Sultan of Saltiness himself, asked how many Pulitzers The Hill has won since I joined in 2002.


Best Buddies Ball: Roy Blunt in Camelot

Even when conspicuously outnumbered by Democrats, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) still isn’t afraid to show off his moves on the dance floor.

The new House majority leader was one of a host of VIPs on hand Saturday night at the palatial Potomac mansion of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver for the annual Best Buddies Ball.

During the evening’s program, emcee Anthony Kennedy Shriver, who started the charity for the mentally disabled 17 years ago, announced that he wanted to ask Blunt a question.

“There are 600 people here, and I want to know how it feels to be the only Republican in the room,” he joked.

Undaunted by the extra attention, Blunt made a beeline for the dance floor after dinner to groove to the sounds of the one, the only, the inimitable Cyndi Lauper. Not until after her third song of the evening was the still-beaming Blunt seen exiting the dancing throng.

Blunt told The Hill that he got involved in the charity as a result of his unique friendship with Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Before marrying, she once occupied the Georgetown town house Blunt and his wife live in. In fact, she lived there with her brother, President John F. Kennedy, for a time while he served in the House of Representatives. She’s even given Blunt some signed JFK memorabilia.

Anthony Shriver’s characterization of the crowd’s political leanings wasn’t far off. One of the items in the pre-dinner silent auction was a VIP tour for 10 of the Reagan Presidential Library in California, including lunch and 10 books signed by Nancy Reagan. Approximate value: $3,750. Starting bid: $500. Number of bids: Zero.

The crowd was far more interested in signed tomes by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sargent Shriver and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) even got in on the silent-auction action, offering a painting by his own hand, customized for the buyer. “Do you know that Sen. Kennedy was an artist?” asked the description of the item. “Painting is one of his favorite pastimes.”

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and his wife, Maria Shriver, did not make an appearance under the enormous backyard tent, as they have in the past, but their images appear all over the house, which also serves as something of a shrine to the Kennedy-Shriver legacy. The couple were also listed as “legends”-level donors, which means they kicked in between $100,000 to $199,999 for the cause.


 Accusers plan Clinton library visit

Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey Schwicker, two of the women who claim to have been sexually assaulted by President Clinton, are set to tour the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., next Wednesday.

Broaddrick says Clinton raped her when he was governor in Little Rock during a 1978 conference. Willey alleges that he groped her in the White House after her husband died in 1993.

The pair will appear with author Candice Jackson, whose book Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine was released earlier this year by World Ahead Publishing.

A World Ahead release says the visit is designed to see how the museum portrays Clinton’s treatment of women. Color us cynical, but we think it’s more about cheap publicity.

But they’re not the first ones to seize on the idea. This summer, Paula Jones, whose sexual-harassment lawsuit plagued Clinton’s White House tenure, said this summer she’d tour the library donning a T-shirt bearing the logo of the highest bidder.

“Those jerks stole my idea,” her publicist, David Hans Schmidt, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


 Ditka: Bears, brats, beer but no Bean

Despite eschewing a run for office himself, former Chicago Bears coach and Windy City legend Mike Ditka hasn’t turned his back on politics entirely.

Da Coach last week endorsed David McSweeney, who is running in the suburban 8th District against freshman Rep. Melissa Bean (D), who unseated longtime Rep. Phil Crane (R) last year.

Ditka will also headline a December fundraiser for McSweeney.

“David McSweeney’s motivation fits my definition of the right kind of motivation,” Ditka said in a statement. “We have too many politicians who just like politics but don’t like the work it requires to get the job done. I am confident that McSweeney will focus on the fundamentals and he will go there, get the job done, and be the right kind of example for our party and our children.”

For his part, McSweeney responded: “I am honored to have an individual like Coach Ditka express confidence in me.”


 Ex-aide publishes Wellstone’s secrets

A former top aide to the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) has published a training manual for liberal candidates and activists to wage successful campaigns.

Jeff Blodgett, who ran Wellstone’s Minnesota office for six years and managed each of his three Senate campaigns, says Politics the Wellstone Way is an outgrowth of the Camp Wellstone training programs founded by Blodgett and Wellstone’s two surviving sons, David and Mark.

They’ve held 55 of the three-day camps since 2003, graduating 8,500 people in 28 states.

Wellstone was “an outspoken progressive who won hard-fought elections in a swing state in a time when the conservative movement was on the rise,” said Blodgett.

To that end, said Blodgett, Wellstone made a mark on campaigning though his innovating techniques for messaging, harnessing the energy of large groups of supporters and fundraising — all represented by chapters in the book.

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