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 Cruciverb.com, 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…