- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 31, 2008

Conventional thinking

Denver is so over.

But that doesn’t mean that Democrats have lapsed into an alpha state. As Republican loyalists arrive in St. Paul in the next few hours, they will be greeted by a sprawling welcome billboard courtesy of the Democratic National Committee. It shows Sen. John McCain and President Bush in convivial embrace.

“Does this look like change to you?” reads the motto below.

“We’re going to spend every day looking for every opportunity to remind voters in the Twin Cities and across the country that a vote for John McCain is a vote for George Bush and his failed policies,” spokesman Damien LaVera told the Associated Press.

Similar posters will adorn nearby bus stops. The canny Democrats also will distribute a multimedia press kit to the press that is loaded with flash drives plus a complete catalog of McCain’s voting record and public statements. A team of two dozen Democratic “fact checkers” will be sending out rapid responses to every GOP speaker who mounts the dais.

And look out. There’s a media center right across the street from the XCel Center — site of the Republican event — where loquacious Democrats will hold daily press briefings to counter the Republican message.

That message may not be as glitzy as what went down in Denver, though. Republicans are staging things a bit differently — a “more intimate, you-are-there feeling. Simple but classy,” said one who knows.

“We’re much more simple this time than we have been in the past,” said David Nash, the convention’s lead producer. “Basically, Senator McCain and his staff feel that to do something real glitzy and Las Vegas-like would be inappropriate.”

Quotes of note

“Joe Biden is an impenetrable thicket of words. I can’t imagine anybody is ready to debate Joe Biden.”- Mitt Romney, to CNN

“If this party has a message it’s done a hell of a job hiding it, I promise you that.” - Democratic strategist James Carville, on CNN.

“I believe in natural gas as a clean, cheap alternative to fossil fuels.” — Geologically challenged energy plan from Senate Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to MSNBC.

“FOR NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING ONLY.” — Message written at the bottom of a $2,300 campaign donation check to Mr. Obama, from Democratic strategist Paul Begala

Days of yore

Journalists bandy about the term “veteran newsman” with abandon these days. Happy birthday to one who is truly a veteran newsman and still weighing in regularly on National Public Radio. Today, Daniel Schorr turns 92, born in the Bronx in 1916. He is “the last of Edward R. Murrow’s legendary CBS team,” according to his official biography.

“Schorr’s muckraking reporting during the Nixon administration earned him a prominent place on Richard Nixon’s so-called ‘enemies list.’ In addition, his subsequent reporting on the ‘Watergate scandal’ garnered him Emmys for outstanding achievement within a regularly scheduled news program in l972, 1973 and 1974,” notes the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Damn the Prius and full speed ahead? The world’s first solar-powered car - the diminutive “Sunmobile” - was demonstrated at the General Motors Powerama in Chicago on this day in 1955 by William G. Cobb, a GM designer. The Sunmobile was powered by a dozen selenium photoelectric cells. Wait a minute. That’s 53 years ago. Surely somebody at GM would have come up with a practical solar vehicle after five decades.

Alphonso Jackson, get out your party hat. Happy anniversary to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, created by an act of Congress in 1965.

By the numbers

65 percent of Americans say the purported national media “love affair” with Sen. Barack Obama is “real.”

78 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats agree.

68 percent of Americans overall say Mr. Obama is receiving favorable national coverage.

80 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats agree.

38 percent favored Mr. Obama for president, 27 percent Mr. McCain, 22 percent favored neither.

19 percent of Republican voters and 23 percent of conservative voters favored neither candidate.

14 percent of Democratic voters and 17 percent of liberal voters favored neither.

45 percent overall said they would consider a “strong third-party candidate.”

Source: Sacred Heart University Polling Institute survey of 800 adults conducted from July 28 to Aug. 7, with a margin of error of three percentage points.

The real soap box

Just in case any presidential hopefuls want to come clean, swanky Caswell-Massey has just introduced the Presidential Soap Collection, featuring three bars of soap scented with a fragrance worn by former presidents George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.

The collection features Washington’s favorite scent, Number Six, the company’s original fragrance first purchased by the future president in 1780, boasting “27 natural aromatics with a clean and refreshing citrus orange top note.”

Eisenhower’s favored soap, Almond Cold Cream, was chosen by Ike and Mamie themselves for the White House. Kennedy, meanwhile, was a devotee of Jockey Club, “a fragrance of soft leather accents with hints of musk underneath a rich mossy green and amber top note,” introduced by Caswell-Massey in 1840.

The set is $24; for information, call 800/326-0500.

Contact Jennifer Harper by passenger pigeon, or alternatively at jharper@ washington times.com or 202/636-3085.

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