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Martin, Barton, And Fish; Wynken, Blinken, And Nod; Rangel, Conyers, And Frank

During his successful and unprecedented run for a third term in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (or his speech writers Robert E. Sherwood and Judge Samuel Rosenman) coined a syncopated neologism that somehow became instant coinage for the isolationist and reactionary Republican party. It certain helped FDR defeat his not so isolationist or reactionary opponent Wendell Wilkie.

A Bay Stater, Joseph Martin served in the House of Representatives for 42 years, four of them as Speaker. He was the vivid crackled face of the GOP, a cheery political Neanderthal. Bruce Barton was also a right-wing conservative who had founded an advertising firm and did his politics as advertising. I suppose you might call him a pioneer.  Hamilton Fish, a congressman from Putnam and Orange Counties, New York, well (how does one say this?), was (yes, I'll take the plunge) a Nazi sympathizer.  He lost his House seat in 1944. He was also a Harvard football star and a member of the Porcellian Club which, if it means nothing to you, is perfectly all right. I used to see him at Harvard commencements which he attended till he was 103, when he died.

"Martin, Barton and Fish!" The crowds loved it, that is, the Democratic crowds. The slogan was chanted to the rhythm of "Wynken, Blinken and Nod."

John McCain is not imaginative enough to turn Rangel, Conyers and Frank into a ditty. "Rangel, Conyers and Frank." It's not bad cadence actually.

But the Republican candidate has been weaving Charles Rangel, John Conyers and Barney Frank, as the Boston Globe's Sasha Issenberg puts it, into a trio of  "lower-profile bogeymen." Frankly, I'm no fan of Rangel, who is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and reminds me of two of his predecessors in that post, Wilbur Mills and Dan Rostenkowski. Conyers is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and we're lucky he's not head of its Senate counterpart. He has never recognized a threat to American security from anywhere.

The third person in McCain's trigger-sight is Barney Frank, who may just be the smartest person in both houses. And certainly the funniest. It's no accident that the executive rescue crowd for the economy has brought Frank into the tiny council of thinkers and planners that holds our future in their hands.

And did anybody notice that the trio is made up of two blacks and a gay man? Could it be an accident?