- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2008

Paging PEBO

Journalists have already gotten weary of saying “President-elect Barack Obama,” and now have invented their own little lexicon of monickers for the nation’s 44th president.

Insiders have long used the term “POTUS” to designate that traditional mouthful, “President of the United States.”

Add to that PEOTUS (President-elect of the United States), PEBO (President-elect Barack Obama) and the oh-so-attractive term FLEOTUS (First lady-elect of the United States) - or the more succinct FLEMO (First lady-elect Michelle Obama).

The list is from the Chicago Tribune, which did not provide an explanation as to when the wife of the president became an elected office.

Hubba-hubba Bubba

“Republicans need to find their Clinton.” So says Donald Beachler, an associate professor of politics at Ithaca College.

“The question for a defeated party is, ‘What, if anything, should we change?’ Usually the first time a party loses, it often makes the wrong choice. The Democrats might say, ‘We weren’t liberal enough.’ And the conservatives say, ‘We were not conservative enough.’ So it often takes two or three elections for a party to figure out a new strategy,” he advises.

“Most elections are won in the middle. So the question for the Republican Party is, who will be their Clinton? Clinton made the Democratic Party more acceptable to middle America. He took such issues as crime and welfare off the Republican agenda. You will notice there was no talk of welfare or crime in this presidential campaign. None of the candidates that we saw in this primary - Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin - are center-right candidates. So who do the Republicans have that can make them sell in the middle?” Mr. Beachler demands.

By the numbers

Sixty-nine percent of Americans prefer to say “Merry Christmas.”

The number is 88 percent among Republicans and 57 percent among Democrats.

Nineteen percent overall say “Happy Holidays,” while 11 percent are “not sure” what to say.

Seventy-one percent overall are not offended by such greetings as “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.”

Twenty-three percent take offense.

Thirty-seven percent would boycott a store that did not recognize the phrase “Merry Christmas.” Fifty-two percent would not boycott that store.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Dec. 10-11.

News sense

So. Do you know the ideology of Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. or which party holds the majority in the House of Representatives? The Pew Research Center has developed a News IQ Quiz to gauge public awareness of all sorts of things - based on these facts, and more.

“Are you more news-savvy than the average American?” asks the esteemed research group, which quietly notes that the average national score is, uh, only around 50.

Take the quiz online and find out your own news prowess at http://pewresearch.org/newsiq/

Quotes of note

“Best Buy and Circuit City do not represent what Christmas is all about.” - Rev. Chris Seay of Houston’s Ecclesia Church, to Collide magazine.

“I politicized the Beatles.” - Paul McCartney, to Prospect magazine.

“Colin Powell’s not a Republican. McCain’s not a Republican. These guys are not even mavericks. They are Washingtonians.” - Rush Limbaugh.

Days of yore

And we think our commute is bad: On this day in 1620, the Mayflower and its passengers - 102 Pilgrims from England - landed at Plymouth Rock, Mass.

Today also marks a cultural moment. On Dec. 21, 1970, Elvis Presley showed up at the White House gates in a purple velvet jumpsuit to volunteer to help President Nixon fight the nation’s drug problems, among other things. He gave Mr. Nixon a World War II-era, chrome-plated Colt .45, and the president responded by handing Elvis a Narcotics Bureau badge. Elvis also hugged Mr. Nixon.

The president wrote a thank-you note to the singer for the visit but never enlisted his services.

To see all the photos taken on that day - plus the correspondence between the two gentlemen - visit George Washington University’s National Security archives: www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/elvis/elnix.html

Jane Fonda marks her 71st birthday today. She was born in New York City in 1937 and made her infamous visit to North Vietnam in 1972. Miss Fonda apologized for her “thoughtless” act 16 years later - but in 2005, she told CBS that she was proud of her peace activism and regretted only that her photos had been used as Communist propaganda.

Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie coined the term “Jane Fonda Democrat” during the 2004 presidential election, however, after spotting an old photo of then-presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry and Miss Fonda at the same 1970 anti-war rally.

Presidential primer

However many parties unfold with unprecedented, glittering hoopla and bombastic media coverage on Inauguration Day, it is still a traditional historic moment that warrants some quiet thoughtfulness.

A simple way to do this?

Here is a 128-page collection of inaugural addresses that could lend perspective on the big day. And in tight times, this little book fills the bill. “28 Great Inaugural Addresses: From Washington to Reagan” is just $3 from our imaginative and frugal friends at Dover Books.

For information, visit www.dover publications.com or write Dover Publications, Customer Care, 31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, N.Y., 11501-3852

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washington times.com or 202/636-3085. And Merry Christmas to you and yours.