- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 9, 2008

By the numbers

“What will happen under President Obama?” asks Paddy Power, the largest bookmaker in Ireland. Here are its odds on a number of scenarios:

2-5: Full troop withdrawal from Iraq

6-1: Capture/death of Osama bin Laden

7-1: Full recognition of same-sex marriage

10-1: President Obama to become a father again while in office

12-1: Full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

12-1: Legalization of marijuana

20-1: Total ban of capital punishment

50-1: First moonwalk confirmed to be a fake by President Obama

100-1: Complete ban on privately owned guns

500-1: Discovery of aliens on Mars

1,000-1: Elvis found in the White House basement

The Reagan factor

Speculations about President-elect Barack Obama and the dynamics of his future administration are burgeoning. Journalists are finally getting used to writing out “President-elect” rather than “Senator.”

Exhausted by the horse race, the press, perhaps, should turn to the dog derby, scrutinizing the possible identity and breed of the new first puppy. Shih Tzu, standard poodle, vizsla, Labrador? The chances are probably good that the Obama family canine will not be a Scottish terrier.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Hart — a speechwriter for former President Ronald Reagan — has soothing words for Republicans addled by Mr. Obama’s victory.

“During the primaries, Barack Obama said Ronald Reagan had set politics on a new trajectory, and that Bill Clinton, for example, had not. He was right, but was severely criticized by Democrats for saying something positive about Reagan,” Mr. Hart says.

“In fact, the two men have a great deal in common. Temperament, to be sure. And like Reagan, Obama will be a transformative president. And like Reagan, Obama is a Great Communicator, his oratory energizing people for change.”

“In person, Reagan was a great deal like Obama, in his self-confidence and his equanimity under pressure. … Reagan’s sense of humor disarmed even people who disagreed with him. At a press conference he was asked by a reporter, “Governor, have you seen all those anti-war pickets marching around the capitol?” Reagan asked, “Do you mean the ones carrying signs that say ‘Make love not war?’ ‘Yes, governor.’ Reagan: ‘Well, since you ask me, I don’t think they could do much of either,’” Mr. Hart recalled in an essay in the Daily Beast.


Happily, not everything is subject to “change.” The old Etch A Sketch is still very much a part of our culture, political and otherwise. “Famed” Etch A Sketch artist Tim George has rendered President-elect Barack Obama on his trusty device — it’s now displayed with 43 other presidential Etch A Sketch masterpieces at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus until December.

Only in America, folks.

The display also includes Mr. George’s Etch-a-drawings of the White House, U.S. Capitol Building, Mount Rushmore, Lady Liberty, Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial.

Presence of presents

There are only 46 shopping days left until Christmas and 43 for Hanukkah. (Quick. Everybody panic.)

Happily, there are some ideas for those who favor the cachet of former administrations or enduring icons of the nation for their giftees. The Patriot Post Shop offers an online enclave of goodies purveyed from sections that include “Reagan Collection,” “So Help Me God” and “Founding Documents.”

There’s a desert camouflage bandanna imprinted with Psalm 91 (the “Soldier’s Prayer”), military field Bibles, a parchment Bill of Rights, a snappy book for children titled “How to Draw the Life and Times of Ronald Reagan” and patriotic ornaments. And just for old times’ sake, there’s always “Annoy a Liberal” t-shirts and “Tee Off a Liberal” golf balls.

Check out the fare at http://patriotshop.us.

Days of yore

It was on this day in 1906 that an American president first officially traveled abroad. Intent on seeing the new canal for himself, Theodore Roosevelt embarked for Panama aboard the battleship Louisiana.

Today would have been the 90th birthday of a man who could use the phrase “pusillanimous pussyfooters” with impunity: Spiro T. Agnew, the 39th vice president and the 55th governor of Maryland.

Agnew’s detection of media elitism was ahead of it time: He called the press a “tiny and closed fraternity of privileged men, elected by no one” — in 1969.

Moving right along, the compelling bronze statue “Three Servicemen” by Frederick Hart was unveiled at the site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington on this day in 1984.

It’s also one of those Gipper glory days: On Nov. 9, 1989, East Germany opened the Berlin Wall, allowing travel from East to West. The moment inspired the locals to tear it down on their own and prompted President George H.W. Bush to cast a keen eye on the fast-fading Cold War.

Incidentally, the Berlin Wall Commemorative Group is offering for sale or lease the last two authorized segments of the wall available in the U.S. For information: 732/643-9400 or take a peak at http://berlin-wall.com/.

Quotes of note

“You guys have been gracious and understanding.” — Sen. Barack Obama, to the press corps.

“The coming Obama-press war. It’s inevitable.” — Jack Shafer, Slate magazine.

“Declaring the demise of Reaganism will be emotionally satisfying for Democrats, but Reaganism only dies if Clintonism does too.” — Rich Lowry, in the National Review.

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

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