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Al Eisele Headshot

Georgetown and John Edwards: A Pair of Winners

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OK, sports fans and political junkies, hold on to your seats because I've got a lot to say.

I just watched Georgetown University come from behind to upset North Carolina in overtime to make it to the NCAA Final Four, and then I watched Katie Couric's fascinating interview with former Sen. John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth, and I'm convinced both could go on to win the championship in their respective spheres.

Georgetown, of course, plays Ohio State next weekend for the right to play for the national championship, while Edwards, the North Carolina Democrat who undoubtedly was rooting for his alma mater, is competing with Hlllary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kuchinich and probably Al Gore for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

I hurried home after the 5:30 Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown to catch the end of the Georgetown-UNC game, just in time to see Georgetown tie the game at the end of regulation play, and then demolish cold-shooting UNC in overtime.

Holy Trinity was John F. Kennedy's parish church, where he attended Mass for the last time before his assassination. It's next door to the Georgetown campus and is run by the Jesuits, although the priest who said Mass wasn't a Jesuit. He explained that he was filling in because "all the Jesuits are watching the game."

Just before Mass, I went to a meeting at Holy Trinity about how to plan your funeral. I wasn't keen on going because of the subject matter, but my wife, who was planning to go, wasn't feeling well and insisted I go in her place. It was all about how Christians should acknowledge there's life after death and prepare for the inevitable. At 70, I don't need to be reminded of my mortality, but I went, and found it a useful, if sobering, experience.

All right, pay attention because this gets a bit complicated.

Earlier in the day, I attended a farewell party in suburban Maryland for Marty Sabo, the Minnesota Democrat who retired from Congress last year after 28 years. It was hosted by Doris Matsui, widow of Rep. Bob Matsui of California, and Rep. John Dingell of Michigan and his wife Debbie. Sabo, who is the last member of the Class of 1978, and would have been chairman of the Budget Committee, and his wife Sylvia are returning to Minneapolis as soon as they sell their house in suburban Viginia.

Among the people who turned out to say goodbye to the Sabos were a half-dozen Democrats who now chair House committees, including Dingell (Energy and Commerce) -- and a graduate of Georgetown; Jim Oberstar of Minnesota (Transportation and Infrastructure); Dave Obey of Wisconsin (Appropriations); Henry Waxman of California (Oversight and Government Reform) and Ike Skelton (Armed Services).

Obey took some ribbing for his recent encounter with an anti-war activist who upbraided him in a Capitol hallway about the $124 billion supplemental spending bill he sponsored that requires President Bush to bring troops home from Iraq by next August. Obey, who doesn't suffer fools gladly even on a good day, decried "idiot liberals" who don't understand his legislation. The outburst was videotaped and wound up on YouTube, where it was viewed by countless people and forced Obey to issue a written apology saying he was sorry he yelled at his inquisitors.

But Obey was unapologetic when I asked him about it, saying his constituents were supportive. And he was basking in the praise of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats, who gave him credit for winning the bare mininum votes to win approval of the bill last week.

But much of the talk at Sabo's party was about Elizabeth Edwards, and her husband's decision to continue his campaign despite her setback in her battle with breast cancer. Rep. Oberstar, who lost his wife to breast cancer several years ago, told me he's supporting Edwards, as did Sylvia Sabo, a breast cancer survivor.

Maybe that, and the fact that I'd just come from the session about planning my own funeral, was why I was particularly moved by the Edwards' interview with Katie Couric. Both Edwards and his wife were real people, grappling with a life and death decision, and they came across as people who you cared about and could trust to make the right decision for the right reasons.

I told my wife Edwards should use the interview for his campaign ads, it was that powerful and convincing. I like him, I told her. I could vote for him.

Now, if Georgetown can just beat Ohio State and then the winner of the Florida-UCLA game, I'll believe that John and Elizabeth Edwards can be the next occupants of the White House. And I may even be ready to think about planning my own funeral.