Reading about Christine O'Donnell's inability to get her 30-minute television ad on the air, The Scrapbook was reminded of one of the great political tricks of the television era. Its victim, the late Malcolm Forbes, told the story on himself in his "Fact and Comment" column in 1984:
'Twas 27 years ago that, as Republican candidate for New Jersey Governor, I was nosed out in a landslide by incumbent Democrat Bob Meyner. There was a reminder in the mail the other day that at least a tiny percentage of blame for the debacle was not my own, but was attributable to the smart thinking of Bob Meyner's campaign director, Robert Burkhardt. At the time, Burkhardt was -- as was the custom then in New Jersey -- Secretary of State in Governor Meyner's cabinet.
For a campaign climax, we had earmarked funds for a half-hour rebuttal on the only New Jersey TV station, which was to follow the Meyner campaign's telethon spectacular. But, for the last five minutes of their time, it was Burkhardt's inspired thought to play repeatedly the national anthem with a waving American flag on the screen. This, of course, was the way TV stations then indicated that their day was completed and they were going off the air.
Recalling the episode, Mr. Burkhardt writes, "I hope you have forgiven me by now."
Bob, forgive?! Rather, a belated thank you for your wee contribution to that defeat.
Had we been successful then, I might have ended up in a subsequent Republican national administration -- and perhaps have been among those who went from there to the clink.