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Inside Politics Weekend: Missing volunteers

- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2008

POST-OBAMA DEPRESSION

What has become of all the grass-roots volunteers who worked so tirelessly to get Barack Obama elected president? No one knows at the moment, apparently.

The priceless bank of 13 million e-mail addresses and information on thousands of field organizers and neighborhood coordinators now lies fallow - vexing Marshall Ganz, a public policy expert at Harvard University.

Momentum is waning, he warns.

"Is this really what 'building on the movement to elect Barack Obama' is going to look like? I can't believe this was put out by the same people who trained organizers in how to do house meetings in the campaign over the past two years," Mr. Ganz told the Los Angeles Times.

Some claim disenfranchised Obama volunteers are now depressed and have nothing to do.

"This is the problem with a huge fake grass-roots campaign based on the extraordinary qualities of an individual and not a cause or ideology," observes the Gawker.com.

"Unless Obama does decide to actually become a dictator or cult leader, it will be more or less impossible to harness the energy of all these millions of kids for any purpose, because none of them agree on what needs to be done beyond electing Obama."

But Obama strategist David Plouffe disagrees. He has already organized a series of "Change is coming" house parties for lapsed volunteers.

"This grass-roots organization has always been about more than an election," he said in a mass e-mail to the troops. "We've only just begun."

MAD MOMENT

It is truly a cultural moment when Time names Mad as one of the Top-10 magazine covers of the year -- right up there with the hoity-toity New Yorker and the Economist.

The September issue of Mad magazine, which morphs President-elect Barack Obama and fictional Mad mascot Alfred E. Neuman, is "cultural commentary," says Time art director Arthur Hochstein.

"Hear me out on this one. First of all, can you be stupid and smart at the same time? Corny and truly funny? Yes, I believe, to both," he explains.

And note to Michael Beschloss, Doris Kearns Goodwin: Mr. Neuman now marches in the historic cavalcade of America.

"He has had a far longer run than Martha Stewart or Oprah as the face of a magazine, and I bet he'll still be grinning at us long after they depart the scene," Mr. Hochstein insists.

QUOTES OF NOTE

"Dennis Kucinich is a biter." - Advice from ABC's George Stephanopoulos to NBC's David Gregory, new moderator of "Meet the Press."

"Gregory is another journalist to rise through the ranks by bad-mouthing Republicans and defending the Democrats." - Brent Baker of the Media Research Center, on the aforementioned newsman.

"Why do we have no lefties in this Cabinet?" - MSNBC host Chris Matthews, on the incoming administration.

HUNT FOR IT

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made moose hunting and the Great Outdoors chic. In that vein, we present (heavens, cover Junior's eyes) the Camo Tank Nightgown for women drawn to life in the forest, or words to that effect.

From Eders, this "silky polyester" camouflage-patterned nightie features the "Mossy Oak's BreakUp Camo Pattern" and is priced at $24. Contact the company, which sells hunting and archery gear, at www.eders.com or 516/656-0808. Incidentally, Eders sells a woman's T-shirt emblazoned with the motto "As a matter of fact, I do hunt." There's also a camouflage shower curtain.

For the nightgown and other items for the ladies, visit www.eders.com/ pages.php?pageid=6.

BY THE NUMBERS

• 74 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats say the Obama administration will be "too liberal for me."

• 3 percent of Republicans and 3 percent of Democrats say the administration will be "too conservative."

• 9 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats say it will be neither too liberal or too conservative.

• 54 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats say there will be "less gridlock" in the Obama administration.

• 54 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of Democrats say it's a "good thing" for America to have a president and a majority in Congress from different political parties.

• 66 percent of Republicans favor an all-GOP White House and Congress.

• 82 percent of Democrats favor an all-Dem White House and Congress.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,126 adults conducted Nov. 10-17.

DAYS OF YORE

George Washington died on this day in 1799 from a respiratory illness at the age of 67, though some historical accounts say his health was compromised by bloodletting. His last words were "Tis well."

Today is also the birthday of Margaret Chase Smith, born in 1897. A Republican, she was the first woman to be elected to both the U.S. House and Senate, serving from 1940 to 1973.

Mrs. Smith's 1950 "Declaration of Conscious" questioning tactics used by the House Un-American Activities Committee prompted Sen. Joseph McCarthy to refer to her as "Moscow Maggie." Fourteen years later, Mrs. Smith was a presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention, the first woman to have her name placed on the rarified roster by a major political party.

Today also marks more feminine leadership: On Dec. 14, 1985, Wilma Mankiller became the first woman to lead an American Indian tribe when she was elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Oh, and Feliz Navidad: Cuban President Fidel Castro declared Christmas an official holiday for the nation on this day in 1997 just prior to Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@ washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.