The Issues Issue 

As the political season winds toward a conclusion, we notice again the pre-eminence of horse-race coverage from the media. In one sense, this is fine with us: In 1960, when both presidential nominees crowded the political center, the main way of distinguishing between candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon may have been the opportunity to see -- and judge -- how they ran their races.

That's still a useful criterion, but it has been good to observe that one issue in particular -- that of health care -- is receiving its fair share of attention in the contests for U.S. senator, governor, and representative. In that last race, all three 9th District candidates have pledged to seek a way of expanding health-insurance coverage at lower cost. But it is in the races for senator and governor that the issue has come into its own. We were gratified to hear Democrat Harold Ford Jr. renounce malpractice caps during an appearance before the downtown Kiwanis Club, and we were happy to hear his Republican opponent ditch the philosophically related idea of privatizing Social Security during the weekend debate between the two.

Best of all, though, have been GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Bryson's continued statements of lament concerning the draconian cuts from the TennCare rolls during Governor Bredesen's first term. Maybe the governor had no choice fiscally, and maybe Bryson's erstwhile proposal to keep the rolls intact was, as Bredesen maintains, fiscally unsound, but we like the fact that this issue is being kept alive.

Hope Springs Eternal ...

We knew that things would be different when peerless running back DeAngelo Williams finally left for the NFL after gallantly honoring his commitment to a senior season last year at the U of M. We just didn't know they'd be this different. A 1-4 start for the Tigers, including further obedience to a script that apparently calls for annual shellackings by UT and UAB, is not what we, and Coach Tommy West, were hoping for.

Things could be worse, though. First of all, for the raft of St. Louis Cardinal supporters in our midst, those Redbirds have landed safely in the National League Championship Series with good prospects for going further. Over in the American League, two Cinderella teams -- the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics -- will vie for a league championship.

That's more than encouraging, especially for perennial never-say-die underdogs (another way of saying Memphis Tiger fans). It was only three years ago that those other Tigers, the ones in the Motor City, lost a near-record 119 games in finishing dead last in their division. And now look at them -- fresh from a three games-to-one slaying of the mighty New York Yankees! As for the A's, they've been eliminated from playoff contention every year for the last dozen, it seems, but now they, too, have a legitimate shot at the glory.

Cinderella is not dead, just sleeping -- though, for U of M fans, it looks like that nap might last into another season down the line.

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