Crossword News, Crossword Blues

News first: The New York Times has reached dizzying new heights with today’s magnificent crossword puzzle. Sadly, finding a New York Times here in Harrisonburg is rather like finding two identical snowflakes. Hard to do. So I haven’t actually seen the puzzle yet. But I know it is excellent because it was constructed by my cousin Barry. This is his second puzzle for the Times.

Now for the Blues: How badly are things going for the McCain campaign? Even the crossword puzzles are out to get them:

On Jan. 8, 2005, I purposefully and unapologetically became the first person to ever construct a crossword puzzle for The New York Times that featured this five-letter answer:


Earlier this week, Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s senior campaign adviser, lambasted the Times for being “totally, 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate.” The GOP, it seems, is finally catching on to a once-hidden truth:

Crossword puzzles heavily favor Democrats.

According to the puzzle database maintained by, ever since that game-changing day in 2005, OBAMA has appeared regularly as an answer in New York Times crossword puzzles. With its wonderfully convenient alternating series of commonly used vowels and consonants, OBAMA has been the answer to the clues “Senator who wrote ‘Dreams From My Father,’” “Future senator who delivered the 2004 Democratic convention keynote address” and “Presidential candidate born in Hawaii.”

Of course, the explanation for this is not hard to spot:

Contacted by Politico, Diane McNulty, a New York Times spokeswoman, said, “The answer is obvious for anyone who does crosswords. It is because ‘Obama’ is a five-letter name that alternates vowels and consonants. It’s got three vowels out of five letters, starting and ending in vowels. So it is much more crossword-friendly than ‘McCain,’ which is a harder word to put in a crossword. If McCain’s name was Obama, then his name would have been used many more times in crosswords.”

There’s something not quite right about that last sentence…


  1. #1 Becca
    October 1, 2008

    “Sadly, finding a New York Times here in Harrisonburg is rather like finding two identical snowflakes.”
    Has it occured to you that perhaps that is a Sign?

    (sorry, I spent a weekend canvassing the area for Sam Rasoul and it was soul-crushing)

  2. #2 Dave M
    October 1, 2008

    I like that last sentence too. Compare this one: “If ‘red’ meant ‘green,’ then grass would be red.” Discuss. 😎

  3. #3 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 1, 2008

    Becca –

    Yes, I know what you mean. But fear not, you are doing the Lord’s work. 🙂 A canvasser for Rasoul came to my door the other day. The fellow told me he was running for Congress as a Democrat. I said, “Enough said! He’s got my vote.” Alas, I fear Goodlatte will win.

    Dave M –

    Didn’t Shakespeare have a line in one of his sonnets, a parody of an ode to a lover, that said, “If hair be wires, black wires adorn her head.”

  4. #4 Blake Stacey
    October 2, 2008

    It’s “black wires grow on her head”, and that’s Sonnet 130: “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare / As any she belied with false compare.”

  5. #5 heddle
    October 2, 2008


    You should do a post (or have your cousin do a guest post) on the process for producing a world class crossword puzzle.

  6. #6 Kevin
    October 2, 2008

    I will try to do it but today is Thursday and usually the puzzle is too hard to finish. mon, tue wed, no problem.

    thursday I don’t think I’ve ever finished.

    Friday I don’t even try.

  7. #7 Scott
    October 4, 2008

    Hi Jason….I ran across your site…..I would like to debate you. I am a YEC…I have no formal education in science, but I believe I can beat you in a debate over Darwinism/ID….are you up for it?

    One more thing….The only thing I ask is that we have our own heading…and where only you and I debate alone. I believe I can make your “science” of common descent evaporate in one sentence.

    Thanks, Scott.

  8. #8 d3dx9_35.dll
    February 16, 2009

    scott,what’s yec stands for please?

New comments have been disabled.