Inside the Capitol

Friday, November 23, 2007

WED, 11-28-07

SANTA FE - I'm not sure how most columnists keep track of what they want to write about. But I imagine, like me, they jot down ideas in a notebook or on a legal pad and then look them over when they get ready to write.
Even during the 15 years when I was writing six columns a week instead of the three I am now, I always ended up using less than half the "great ideas" I intended to write about. Friends ask how I ever come up with enough ideas for that many columns. My answer always is that the problem is having too many ideas.
The reason some of the ideas get rejected is that they just don't develop into an entire column, even though they were thoughts I really wanted to talk about. Thus it was that toward the end of a recent trans-Atlantic cruise, I looked over my pad of notes at all these great ideas I was about to waste and decided maybe I could present them in the form of questions people might like to think about.
So I listed them and called them "Great Thoughts" or some such thing. It was satisfying to get them all out there in print. But I wondered how such disjointed thoughts would be received.
And sure enough, it was just as I might have expected. One reader said he had taped the column on his bathroom mirror so he could think about a different question each morning as he was shaving. And another reader confided that he thought it was the worst column I ever had written. It was disjointed and he didn't learn a thing. It was a waste of his time to read it, he said.
Other responses fell somewhere in between. And some of my questions actually were answered.
A letter to the editor of the Santa Fe New Mexican explained that the California wildfires really do stop at the border with Mexico. He said Fox News interviewed a wildfire expert who explained that despite warnings, California residents landscape their property with plantings that provide fuel for the fires, while Mexican residents don't.
I listen to all news channels since I detect a point of view in all of them and like to hear all their views before making up my mind where reality exists somewhere in the middle. But I never had heard an explanation of why wildfires aren't reported south of the border. I had surmised that news directors either were oblivious to the unusual situation or that they didn't care that Mexico also was burning.
I'd even wondered if it was our border fence that wasn't keeping out immigrants but was great at stopping fires. I'm pleased that Fox was on the ball and got me straightened out.
I also had wondered about Bill Richardson political director Amanda Cooper operating the hiring hall for her stepfather Tom Udall's senatorial campaign. What could the two candidates be thinking to have that close a tie-in?
A source, who wishes to remain unnamed, e-mails suggesting this may be a golden parachute for Cooper if Richardson doesn't make it past Feb. 5, the first Super Tuesday" primary.
The source also suggests that it can be seen as a way to keep Richardson staffers from jumping ship by suggesting that they will have jobs with the Udall campaign if they play their cards right.
The intimation, from someone in the know, is that Feb. 5 will be the limit of Richardson's ability to hang onto his presidential hopes. After that, he will have to return to being just the lame duck governor of New Mexico, with no need for continuing his political committees.
It is difficult to imagine Bill Richardson in that situation, although he still will spend time working for the presumed Democratic presidential nominee with the hope of getting a nod for vice president or some other high office.

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