Rivals' fake flattery ahead of prez debate

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a fundraiser U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a fundraiser event at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. (Sept. 28, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and ...

It's the Weekend of Insincere Flattery.

Barack Obama is "a uniquely gifted speaker," gushed Mitt Romney adviser Beth Myers -- "one of the most talented political communicators in modern history."

But if Myers is giving any thought to a last-minute candidate swap, she'd better watch out for a head-on collision with Jim Messina. You heard how the Obama campaign manager was touting Romney in advance of Wednesday's big debate?

"He's quick, polished and ready with a punchy attack against the president."

No, they don't believe it.

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Yes, they're playing the old raise-the-other-guy's-expectations game.

And yes, the practice probably ought to be extended just to show how ridiculous it is. I'll start.

"Thank you for all the fine work, you substitute NFL officials. You got to the games on time, and you sure looked snappy in your striped shirts."

See how dumb that sounds?

DON'T PANIC

1. The polls might all be skewed.

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2. The debates could change everything.

3. The election's not 'til November.

4. George W could be the GOP's October Surprise.

5. Todd Akin could still drop out.

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ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Helicopters are too noisy? Seaplanes are too noisy? So when does glider commuting to the East End begin? . . . A harasser AND an idiot? Did Hempstead Town Clerk Mark Bonilla, target of a sexual harassment complaint by a female employee, really expect $10,000 would make his chief accuser "go away," as the Nassau DA alleges? Oh, and how much longer does this bonehead get to keep his job?. . . Do the problems at Dowling College go deeper than any one president? Soon-to-be-ex prez Jeremy Brown is the fourth (and counting) in six years . . . If North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman gets the big LIPA gig, how will the utility novice learn his amperes from his kilowatt hours? His pals point out: Kevin Law didn't know electricity when he got started . . . Who knew bamboo was such a public enemy? Can anyone top Councilwoman Susan Berland as Huntington's premier anti-bamboo crusader? . . . Who will save the Holtsville Wildlife & Ecology Center? Does Brookhaven's Mark Lesko have any rich friends who can cover the town supervisor's proposed budget whack? . . . DA for life? Sheriff for life? Clerk for life? Why should Tom Spota, Vincent DeMarco and Judith Pascale settle for mere 12-year runs now that State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Gazzillo has declared the Suffolk term limits unconstitutional? . . . Shouldn't the name have been a tip off? The manager of the Long Island Vengeance baseball team for 10- and 11-year-olds, Robert Sanfilippo, is charged with text-stalking a rival coach. THE NEWS IN SONG:"He's, oh, so healthy": "A Well Respected Man," The Kinks, tinyurl.com/wellresp

LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: PAUL SIMON

He could easily have spent the past quarter-century hanging at his home in Montauk and living off the fat of his song royalties. Instead, with pediatrician Irwin Redlener, Paul Simon co-founded the Children's Health Fund, making sure that 300,000 indigent and homeless children got much needed medical care via mobile-medical units. No, that's not the usual second act for music superstars. Simon deserves real credit for taking on such a challenging cause and sticking with it. Now he's gathered a few friends -- Sting and Trudie Tyler, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Tina Fey, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson -- for a 25th-anniversary benefit Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall, a concert and a mission definitely worthy of support. Tix at childrenshealthfund.org.

Email ellis@henican.com

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