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Inside Politics Weekend

- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2008

Gray matter

It's no secret that the public pines for more substantial coverage of the presidential election.

A Pew Research Center analysis found that to date, only 20 percent of election stories contained meaningful information about issues and policy. The rest was horse-race stuff and melodrama.

Blame it on reporters and their weird little minds.

"Somewhere inside the brain of the presidential campaign reporter lies a huge lobe devoted to recognizing conflict. From this hyper-developed brain center come stories about the certain demise of some politicians, the inevitable success of others and the extreme probability that hostilities, once started, will never end," writes James Raine of the Los Angeles TImes.

"The - as it's known in my entirely imagined research on discord - can function beautifully, sussing out the combat that really does charge our presidential politics. But it has limits, often firing on the same overheated synapses, even when conflict is waning."

TODAY'S TALKING POINTS

McCain vs. Obama, Part 1.

If Michelle Obama is a "time bomb."

Hillary Clinton's summer vacation.

KNOWN QUANTITY

NUMBER OF TIMES SEN. BARACK OBAMA has visited Iraq: 1

Number of times Sen. John McCain has visited Iraq: 8

"Mr. Obama has dismissed the value of such trips, suggesting they are stage-managed productions designated to obfuscate, not illuminate, the truth. This has become an all-too-common sentiment within the Democratic Party leadership, especially since the surge began to transform conditions on the ground for the better. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has denied that there is any value in visiting the troops in Iraq, and has never done so," notes Pete Hegseth of the Wall Street Journal.

"In fairness, there are a number of Democrats who visit Iraq frequently - namely Sens. Joe Biden, who has made eight Iraq trips, and Jack Reed, with 10 trips. Mr. Obama's absence and cynicism stands in stark contrast to their serious approach. It is especially problematic given his intention to become our next commander in chief."

The blog bog

With 15,000 journalists expected, it's no wonder the Republican National Committee may rein in "independent" bloggers during the big GOP convention later this summer.

The independents are "those not affiliated with an organization covered by the existing press gallery system," organizers say. Still, they require "Special Press" credentials.

Those may be hard to come by.

"How many independent bloggers are ultimately credentialed will be determined by several factors - including interest, space available, the reach and influence of a particular blog, the amount of original content the blog typically generates, and other factors," the RNC advised.

Days of yore

June 8, 1896, found President Grover Cleveland demanding his federal officials to investigate how many "aliens," or foreign nationals, were employed in the federal government. Cleveland was in his second term, leading a Democratic Party that was largely anti-immigrant. He said that the government should "prevent the influx of elements hostile to its internal peace and security even where there is not treaty stipulation on the subject."

June 8, 1949: An FBI report named Tinseltown luminaries "Communist Party members." The list included actorsFrederic March, John Garfield, Paul Muni, Edward G. Robinson, Danny Kaye, Paul Robeson and Dorothy Parker, among others.

June 8, 1998: The National Rifle Association elected Charlton Heston as its president.

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