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Inside Politics Weekend

- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saving grace

Thanksgiving is just 96 hours away. And in keeping with the season, some observers are calling for civility in politics as the year lags and the great, glittering, inevitable Inauguration That Ate Chicago and Maybe Washington looms in the distance.

Civility makes sense. Weary Americans could use a little TLC at the moment.

A new Harris survey found that 83 percent of us agreed that "the people in Washington are out of touch with the rest of the country" while another 62 percent said "the people running the country don't really care what happens to you." Another 59 percent feel that "most people with power try to take advantage of people."

There's more: 83 percent feel that "what you think doesn't count very much anymore" while 41 percent felt "left out of things."

Aw-w-w. The survey of 1,010 was conducted Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.

"Given the rhetoric of Barack Obama's campaign, and his emphasis on change, and finding new ways of doing things in Washington, it will be interesting to see if the level of alienation declines next year," the poll said.

Meanwhile, columnist Michael Medved warned conservatives to avoid premature "Obama bashing" because the nation has yet to recover from the endless, negative presidential campaign. Snippy Republicans also neglect to right their own houses when they are in attack mode, he believes.

"It's a much smarter strategy to give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt in his early days as the nation's leader. If we furiously reject any attempts at reconciliation or governing from the center before they're even made, we only encourage the new president to turn sharply to the left — and give him public justification for doing so," Mr. Medved says.

"It's more important right now to focus on the spirit of the upcoming holidays — giving thanks, rejoicing in family, demonstrating our commitment to patriotism, peace and good will, and dropping discussions of Obama's birth certificate and past radical associations. Surely, even the most embittered battler must welcome the idea of giving rock 'em-sock 'em partisan politics a brief rest. It's also a sure thing that the American people will feel profoundly grateful if we do so."

Vox populi

Democrats are brimming with newfound identity. Republicans are not. And they know it. The Grand Old Party is ready for some navel gazing and has established a new Web site to do just that.

"As we regroup after the presidential election, we must reflect on what we have done well and what we can improve upon," said Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. Duncan.

He's calling for all "proud Republicans" to speak out about the future. Chime in at www.republicanforareason.com.

Burning issues

Winter looms no matter what the global warming crowd has to say.

Certainly one's fireplace deserves something emphatic as the wind whistles through the yard like this Olde World Iron Log Holder, which comes with a sumptuous deep red suede carrying case for firewood. The whole thing weighs in at 16 pounds, is priced at $122 and measures 28 inches high and 14 inches wide.

From Fireplace Screens Etc. way up in Green Bay, Wis. For information, consult their Web site (www.fireplacescreensetc.com) or call toll free (877/416-6491).

By the numbers

Things are getting better. No, really. They are. Sort of.

61 percent of Americans overall believe the country is on the wrong track, down from 75 percent in October.

57 percent of Democrats say we're on the wrong track, down from 84 percent last month.

67 percent of Republicans say we're on the wrong track, up from 64 percent.

30 percent overall believe the country is headed in the right direction, up from 18 percent.

8 percent of us approve of the job Congress is doing, down 1 percent in the last month.

25 percent of us approve of President Bush's job performance, up from 21 percent in October.

51 percent of Republicans give Mr. Bush positive ratings, up from 42 percent.

8 percent of Democrats give Mr. Bush positive ratings, up from 5 percent.

Source: Zogby poll of 1,014 likely voters conducted Nov. 13 to 17.

Days of yore

Today is the birthday of Edward Rutledge, the youngest American to sign the Declaration of Independence. He was born in 1749 in Charleston, S.C., and was 26 when he put his, uh, John Hancock on the Declaration.

It's also the birthday of Franklin Pierce, Americas 14th president, born in a proverbial log cabin in Hillsborough, N.H., in 1804.

Happy birthday too to Sen. Charles Schumer. The New York Democrat and Brooklyn native turns 58 today. And everybody compose an ode — or a haiku, maybe — to hanging chads. In a disappointment for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, the Florida Supreme Court refused to order Miami-Dade County to resume counting ballots by hand, eight years ago today.

Quotes of note

"While I acknowledge that liberals can be as loyal and steadfast as cocker spaniels, I have found it is nearly impossible to paper-train them." — Columnist Burt Prelutsky, at Townhall.com.

"Who will cause Obama's first 3 a.m. phone call?" — Editorial, Real Clear Politics.

"She is the most talented public servant I have ever worked with. She is the best politician in our family." — Former President Bill Clinton, speaking of his daughter Chelsea, to Bunte magazine.

"Gun Control is a Tight 5-Shot Group." — Motto on new T-shirt from the patriotshop.com.

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