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Inside Politics Weekend

- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 22, 2008

Days of Yore

On this day in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill to provide World War II veterans with money for education, unemployment compensation plus home and business loans. Three years later, vets made up half of the nation's college enrollment, according to the History Channel.

The old Depression-era work ethic was very much intact in those days. Only 20 percent of the funds set aside for unemployment was ever doled out. Meanwhile, 20 million veterans and dependents used the education benefits and 14 million home loans were guaranteed for a total federal investment of $67 billion.

Those who took advantage of the G.I. Bill included former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, former Vice President Al Gore and entertainers Johnny Cash, Ed McMahon, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood.

Today is also the 75th birthday of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat.

Safety first

"The entire presidential election hinges on whether the public perception is that we are a nation at war. If they feel that we are, John McCain stands to win as the safer bet than Barack Obama. If Americans are more concerned with gas prices, I don't see how McCain avoids being stigmatized as the old dude who is obsessed with staying in Iraq," writes Philip Klein in The American Spectator.

Quote-a-rama

"I have to be greeted properly. Fist bump, please." - Michelle Obama, to her five co-hostesses on ABC's "The View."

"I'm all for recycling, but it's better applied to paper and plastic than to the failed policies of the 1970s." Sen. John McCain, speaking about Sen. Barack Obama's energy policies during a campaign stop in Houston.

"Today, seven out of 10 American citizens between the ages of 17 and 24 who are walking the streets of America cannot qualify for entry into our services without some form of a waiver, and that is a national crisis. If somebody has 'a little stain on their shirt' and they want to raise their hand and come serve their country in a time of war - knowing not if, but when they are going to deploy in harm's way - where would you rather them be?" - Army Lt. Gen. David P. Valcourt, chief of staff of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, at the 2008 Joint Warfighting Conference.

"Al Gore is a hypocrite and a fraud when it comes to his commitment to the environment, judging by his home energy consumption." - Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, on his study that found Mr. Gore's home burned 213,210 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, enough to power 232 average American households for a month.

"When they do use power, it's green power." - Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider, telling The Tennessean that the Gores' utility bills have dropped 40 percent since their home was fitted with solar panels and other "green" energy systems.

By the numbers

52 percent of Americans overall say Congress is doing a "poor job."

65 percent of conservative voters and 35 percent of liberal voters say lawmakers are doing a poor job.

73 percent think members of Congress are more interested in furthering their own political careers.

64 percent say Congress has "done nothing" to improve life in the U.S.

41 percent say Congress is "somewhat likely" to address serious problems facing the nation in the next six months.

30 percent say "most" lawmakers are corrupt.

Source: Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted June 15 with a margin of error of three percentage points.

Today's talking points

Security candidates: Domestic arguments exhausted, Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama rattle their swords in fitting fashion.

Bin Laden watch: The gutsy quest to find the man behind 9/11 could prove a popularity boost for either party.

Inside the Cabinet: Names of potential appointees bandied about like major league sports trades by pundits.

Hillary watch: The fund-raiser extraordinaire and maybe maybe her spouse make nice for a former rival.

Michelle and Barack: She gets sweeter, he gets steely and valiant.

Historic hysteria

Remember, we still have almost five months before Election Day dawns which means continuing sturm und drang across the media landscape.

"Whether for reasons of expediency or laziness, the press usually ends up defining Presidential candidates by one or two go-to adjectives. Once established, these adjectives end up framing much of the ensuing debate, often at the expense of more substantive conversation: Can George W. Bush both be compassionate and a conservative? Is John Kerry really a flip-flopper? When shorthand becomes longhand, a lot gets lost in the transcription," writes Justin Peters of the Columbia Journalism Review.

"We very much hope that 'historic' doesn't become the default adjective used to describe Barack Obama and his Presidential campaign. (Or, if you like, his 'crusade.') By prefacing any mention of the Obama campaign with words like these, the press effectively turns Obama into a symbol instead of a candidate. The conversation becomes less about his policies and more about his place in history, the coverage becomes less about events and more about emotions, and, before you know it, everybody's caught up in crusades of hope, faith, and other treacly cliches."

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