Outside Wrigley Field, fans follow the game and react to the Cubs' Saturday night pennant win. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)
Nobody asked me, but ... I sense that all Americans, except those in Cleveland, feel a sense of obligation to root for the Chicago Cubs to win the National League pennant and, assuming that happens, the World Series. (By the time you read this, the Cubs will have either clinched the pennant or be preparing for Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.) Personally, I like Cleveland. But you know the story: The Cubs have not won a pennant since the year before Donald Trump was born (1945). They have not won a World Series since J. Barry Mahool was mayor of Baltimore. (That's kind of a historical non-sequitur, but I never miss an opportunity to say or write "J. Barry Mahool.")
Nobody asked me, but ... I don't think Americans should feel obligated to root for the Cubs. I realize they have been in the underdog doghouse for more than a century, and their fans are long-suffering, yadda yadda yadda. But look what happened to the Red Sox when their world championship drought ended in 2004, after 86 years. The team started selling "citizenship" in Red Sox Nation, and many of their fans became insufferable. (Ask any Orioles fan who attended a Boston-Baltimore game at Camden Yards and survived a Red Sox Nation invasion between 2005 and 2012.) So no, I don't feel obligated to root for the Cubs just because they haven't won the World Series since J. Barry Mahool wore spats to City Hall. I like Cleveland. Good pierogies.
Nobody asked me, but ... I've about had it with polls and people trying to explain Trump's rise, why so many Americans still plan to vote for the guy, and who those Americans are. Economic anxiety was one explanation. Hatred of Hillary another. The other day a "news release" from a consumer research group informed me that Trump voters are more likely to use coupons and promo codes when they shop than are Clinton supporters. Give us a break.
I think antipathy toward the nation's first black president and deep-seated consternation about changes in population demographics drive Trump support more than anything else. I base that on what I hear and read, and on the angry, sometimes profane letters that land in my email box.
Nobody, including Larry Hogan, asked me, but ... the Republican Maryland governor looks not only principled but downright prescient in his decision to stay away from Trump. Among all the recent polls showing Trump losing ground, a recent survey specific to residents of Hogan's home county, Anne Arundel, gave Clinton a six-point edge over her Republican opponent. (Phil Davis of the Capital Gazette reports that no Democrat has won Anne Arundel since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.)
Though he had to be pressed to say he would not vote for Trump, Hogan certainly showed more nerve than Maryland's only Republican congressman, Rep. Andy Harris. Even with his re-election all but assured, Harris sticks with Trump, as if supporting the New York billionaire somehow affirms the congressman's conservative bona fides. I just think it shows lack of sound judgment.
Nobody asked me, but ... it will be interesting to see how many counties across the nation end up as "landslide counties" in November's election. Authors of "The Big Sort," an important book on demographics and politics, pointed out a few years ago that the country had become more politically segregated than ever: Americans now generally live among the like-minded — Republicans among Republicans, Democrats among Democrats. Attitudes, migrations and congressional redistricting made this possible. The so-called "landslide county" is a measure of that change. In 1976, for example, only about a quarter of American voters lived in a county where a presidential candidate won by a landslide. By 2008, nearly half of us lived in such counties. Last year, I would not have bet against that trend. But in 2016, with Trump in the picture, all bets are off.
Nobody asked me, but ... Kellyanne Conway, the Trump campaign manager and chief apologist, must be making a ton of money to serve as the Republican presidential candidate's morning-after explainer and spin-ster. What a grimy job, trying to make sense and civility out of the boss's utterances. If it were me — like that would ever happen — I'd insist on being paid up front, in $100 bills, and I'd have the Secret Service check all the watermarks.
Nobody asked me, but ... the Sheila Dixon thing reminds me of the Trump thing: the suggestion that Baltimore's Democratic mayoral primary, with Dixon losing a close contest to Cathy Pugh in April, was somehow not legitimate, robbing Dixon of a chance to be mayor again. She's conducting a write-in campaign against Pugh in the general election, wondering openly, "Did I really lose?" This is akin to Trump saying he might not accept the results of the presidential election, suggesting the process is rigged. Not good.