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Rohrabacher Snubs Dornan’s Cue, Calls His Own Shot

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“Y ou’re an incredible flake.” --Legendary pool shark Fast Eddie Felson talking to protege Vince Lauria in “The Color of Money.”

The first time Fast Eddie actually saw young Vince was when he heard him. The kid was playing 9-ball and the sound of the break jarred Eddie from a conversation across the room. “The kid’s got a sledgehammer break,” Fast Eddie said.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Dec. 25, 1991 DANA PARSONS
Los Angeles Times Wednesday December 25, 1991 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 8 Column 6 Metro Desk 2 inches; 42 words Type of Material: Column; Correction
CHRISTMAS COAL DEPT: Let me correct at least two absent-minded errors of recent days. First, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is 44 and not 41, as I wrote. And, guess what, Leisure World is in Laguna Hills and not El Toro. Trust me, I knew that but apparently am suffering some kind of creeping brain-cell deficiency.

From then on, Vince’s talent with the cue stick got Fast Eddie remembering how it used to be when he was the new kid in town. The kid has possibilities , Eddie thought. The only problem was, his lack of discipline got under Eddie’s skin. He didn’t like to take Fast Eddie’s advice. The kid didn’t seem to understand this pool-hustling business was just that--business. When the kid made a tough shot and then did that annoying thing of twirling his stick around like he was some kind of Ninja warrior, Eddie could only shudder.

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They haven’t made a movie yet of the impending primary election fight between Orange County Republican Congressmen Bob Dornan and Dana Rohrabacher in the newly formed 45th District, but they will. Rest assured it will be rated R for language and, possibly, excessive violence.

Dornan is 58, Rohrabacher 41. Dornan is of Korean War vintage; Rohrabacher prides himself on being a rock ‘n’ roll Republican who’s written some screenplays and likes heavy metal music. Like Fast Eddie and Vince, B-1 Bob and Disco Dana come from two different worlds.

Once upon a time, there had to be a lot in Rohrabacher that Dornan liked. Outspoken, aggressively conservative, tough in-fighter--those were all Rohrabacher traits that Dornan created the gene pool for. A former speech writer in the Reagan White House, Rohrabacher has said that Reagan influenced his life more than anyone except his own father. Ollie North came to Orange County to campaign for him. Rohrabacher proudly noted that he illegally entered Myanmar (formerly Burma) to talk with freedom fighters; now, that’s an act even Dornan hadn’t thought of.

But when Rohrabacher preempted Dornan and said he would run in the new 45th District, Dornan said, “Now wait just a dad-blamed minute,” or words to that effect. Dornan announced that he wanted to run in that district and would Rohrabacher kindly change his mind.

Rohrabacher said he kindly would not.

The two took a meeting Tuesday, during which seven-termer Dornan presumably explained a few things to the young two-termer, such as how he will disembowel him politically unless he packs up his cute little rock ‘n’ roll Republican show and takes it on the road, say, up north to the 36th District.

There’s a right way to do things and a wrong way, Dornan probably said.

That sounds an awful lot like Fast Eddie talking to Vince. Fast Eddie explains to his protege that you have to think long term if you want to get anywhere. You just can’t charge into a pool hall and whip everybody, Fast Eddie says. It’s not good strategy.

“Sometimes if you lose, you win,” Fast Eddie explains.

According to Vince’s view of the world, that kind of logic stinks. Why throw a game when you’ve got what it takes to win every time out? Life’s too much of a carousel, old chum, to think about going into the tank. And even if you lose, what the hey, you gave it a shot.

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In the days ahead, we will see how much of Vince Lauria is in Dana Rohrabacher. Will he tell Dornan and the other Orange County Republican Establishment pols that he’s carrying the big stick and that there’s a new game in town?

If he does, he’d best man the battle stations. If Rohrabacher thinks liberals have been hard on him, wait till he gets a load of Dornan trying to protect the thing most dear to politicians: their incumbency. This is the Dornan who has referred to various Democrats as “a draft-dodging wimp,” a “slick, pompous little ass” and a “sneaky little dirtbag.”

So far, the most tuned-in observers say Dornan would beat Rohrabacher. Let me put a couple bucks right here and now on Rohrabacher. I think if he stands his ground, he’s got a good shot at knocking off the old man.

In the movie, Vince and Eddie eventually play. In a plot twist that doesn’t apply here, Fast Eddie wins, but Vince tells him later that he threw the game.

Fast Eddie, fighting for pride and principle, demands that Vince “give me your best game.”

“You want my game?” Vince yells back. “You couldn’t deal with my game! You’re outmanned!”

“Let’s find out,” Fast Eddie says.

Let’s find out, indeed. As Michael Buffer, the ring announcer at the big prizefights, says, “Let’s get ready to ru-m-m-m-ble!”

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