Nerves of Steele
He's chairman of GOPAC, a Republican National Committee heavy — and Michael S. Steele is ready to rumble, ready to provide a rallying point for GOPers who meekly peer at the new Obama-world around them.
"We've had a hard, cold reality check. We've had our clocks cleaned, with little to show for it," Mr. Steele told me a few days ago.
The new mantra for the party is "Republican for a reason," he said.
"What now? This I ask Republicans: Are you ready to get your game face on and fight for the principles you believe in?"
I suggested it was a call for the party to "get in touch with their inner American" — and Mr. Steele quickly agreed.
"Oh, yeah. Once, Ronald Reagan made it cool to be a Republican again. And that Reagan 'factor' still matters now, but it matters in a different way, for a different age," Mr. Steele said.
"You have to adapt good ideas of the past because politics is not static. It may be a blood sport, but it sure isn't static. You can't change your basic principles and views, but you can express them differently. That's why we saw President Obama succeed. He's translated Reagan rhetoric for this age."
Since 9/11, global polls from the British Broadcasting Corp. and others claimed the world was annoyed with America for myriad reasons. The Left chafed over the idea, squirming over the "who cares" response of the Bush administration. But now we officially care.
Some say that President Obama's timing was exquisite after he reached out to Arabic news media to assure the Middle East that America had changed. Others are not so sure.
"Barack Obama is playing nice with Tehran, and the best is yet to come," says Abe Greenwald of Commentary.
"Tehran will respond to Obama's 'extended hand from us' with praise for the changed attitude in Washington. This, in turn, will be cited by Democrats as evidence of the success of President Obama's 'new tone.' Sure, we'll be locked into touchy-feely sham diplomacy for the rest of the time it takes the mullahs to attain nukes. But the important thing is that we get the world to like us again, right?"
He adds, "Americans are not looking for Obama to solve problems, but to end problems. And one way to end a problem is by ceasing to classify it as a problem. So: 'Will the United States ever live with a nuclear Iran?' Sure — no problem."
Quotes of note
"Obama Even More Awesome Than Originally Thought: Tops Leprechauns, Unicorns in New Poll" — parody headline from comedian Andy Borowitz.
"Bruce Springsteen's approximately 12 minutes at the Super Bowl will be very expensive ones, presumably too expensive to allow him time to curse the Vietnam War or extol the glory of The Obama." — Riley Hunter in Big Hollywood.
"Impeachment? No way. Rod Blagojevich for president." — Phil Bronstein, executive vice president and editor-at-large, San Francisco Examiner.
By the numbers
What should President Obama's priorities be in 2009?
85 percent of Americans said the economy.
82 percent cited jobs.
76 percent said terrorism.
63 percent said Social Security.
61 percent cited education.
60 percent said energy.
59 percent said health care.
53 percent said deficit reduction.
46 percent said crime.
45 percent said moral decline.
44 percent said improving the military.
43 percent said tax cuts.
41 percent cited the environment.
30 percent cited global warming.
Source: Pew Research Center survey of 1,503 adults conducted Jan. 7-11.
Days of yore
The U.S. Supreme Court convened for the first time in New York City on this day in 1790, with Chief Justice John Jay presiding.
She wrote her dramatic stanzas based on chapter 63 of the Book of Isaiah. Instant hit. "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," by Julia Ward Howe was first published in the "Atlantic Monthly" on this day 147 years ago.
Ever hopeful, Richard M. Nixon announced his candidacy for the presidency on Feb. 1, 1968; he won. And for what it's worth, President Carter legalized home-brewing on this day in 1979.
In black dress and pearls, former White House intern Monica Lewinsky gave a deposition exactly 10 years ago today, detailing her dalliance with President Clinton. The videotaped statement was shown to lawmakers weighing impeachment charges against Mr. Clinton. Miss Lewinsky went on to write a book, found a business and obtain a master's degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics.
Set fire to your closets, folks, it's the '70s all over. Or the '40s, anyway. Three-piece suits are now the uniform of choice for savvy politicos, young and old — that's right, the vested look has returned. But is such swank fare possible in the age of economic decline? Maybe.
From Indochino, these made-to-measure, hand-tailored men's suits range from $319 to $499, are 100 percent wool, fully lined, with two- or three-button "European slim" jackets featuring two vents. The trousers are flat-front and somewhat tapered, the maker says.
"Many of our customers are in their thirties, working in law, politics, or finance. They need to have a few really great suits for their work but they might not have the Hugo Boss budget just yet," says founder Kyle Vucko.
All suits are ordered online, and there's free shipping and alterations. Consult this new sartorial world at http://indochino.com
• Contact Jennifer Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202/636-3085.