- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day by day

Some forces are still bigger than everybody.

Lofty observers are now applying the same historic standard to the two opposing circumstances of President Obama and former President George W. Bush:

“Only time will tell.”

Will Mr. Bush have a positive legacy? Will Mr. Obama succeed in his endeavors?

Only time will tell, the wise men sayeth.

“Time will tell if he lives up to the hype,” says historian and author Richard Brookhiser, of Mr. Obama.

“Hype, which trickles down from ideologues and publicists, is a less honest phenomenon, but it, too, has a long pedigree in this country. Journalists as a class crank it out whenever they see a politician who, they imagine, resembles themselves,” Mr. Brookhiser adds.

The time factor also ticks for Mr. Bush, but for a different reason.

“It will matter 40 years down the road when it’s clear whether the Middle East did stabilize. Then historians will be asking if President George W. Bush was the man who broke all those eggs to make that omelet,” said Bruce Buchanan, a presidential historian with the University of Texas at Austin.

Press on

Oh, joy. Someone has finally figured out what a “good reporter” is worth. Media analyst Mitch Ratcliffe reasons that a properly paid reporter could turn out to be a more ethical reporter, what with all the political bias out there these days.

Well, maybe.

“The fully loaded cost of a great reporter doing great work, then, falls somewhere in the $180,000 range,” Mr. Ratcliffe says.

His total includes $130,000 salary and benefits, $4,800 a year in subscriptions and other information sources, $2,500 a month in travel, $1,250 a month in legal and insurance coverage — which equals $179,800, and that’s before the cost of “IT, telecom and office space,” he notes.

Yes. Uh-huh. Well, maybe.

The median reporter’s salary in America is currently $36,689, at least according to CNNMoney.com.

Frame by frame

Over three-fourths of the newspapers around the country — including The Washington Times — printed special inauguration editions for readers who want a commemorative souvenir of Mr. Obama’s proverbial “moment.”

What to do with that special edition now?

Michaels, the nation’s largest custom framer, says it will help people preserve those keepsake newspapers with a $99.99 custom framing special for newspaper front pages. The offer is good through the end of the month.

The deal includes Artcare mats and mount boards that protect from “air pollution, acids and deterioration and are used by museums to preserve historic documents,” the craft store says — along with TruVue Conversation glass that shields from damaging UV rays.

Double and triple mats are also available for a few more dollars. For information, consult www.michaels.com

Quotes of note

(All the titles of cover stories from new Obama-themed magazines.)

“What now?” — Esquire

“Don’t Look Down” — Mother Jones

“The End of White America?” — The Atlantic

“A New Circus Comes to Town” — The Weekly Standard.

Days of yore

We’ve long honored our own. On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress authorized the first national memorial in honor of Brig. Gen. Richard Montgomery, killed during an assault on Quebec a few weeks earlier.

Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev got all cuddly with the U.S. on this day in 1956, meanwhile, announcing during a lengthy press interview that America and the USSR “should have disarmament and we should think how to avoid a new war.” He also praised the sincerity of President Eisenhower. A reality check followed: Soviet troops invaded Hungary later that year.

More than 50 Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days arrived in the United States and were reunited with their families on this day 28 years ago.

And on Jan. 25, 1993, a gunman shot and killed two and wounded three CIA employees outside the agency’s gates; Pakistani national Mir Aimal Kansi fled the country but was apprehended four years later by FBI agents. He was later convicted of the shootings and died of lethal injection in 2002.

By the numbers

39 percent of Americans say it is too easy to get an abortion in the U.S.

18 percent think it’s too hard to get an abortion.

25 percent think the “level of difficulty” is about right; 18 percent are not sure.

74 percent say they have known someone who has been pregnant as a teenager.

49 percent think people should wait until they get married before they have sex.

38 percent disagree, 13 percent are undecided.

35 percent say it’s too easy for teenagers to get condoms; 16 percent say it’s too difficult.

That figure is 51 percent among Republicans, 30 percent among Democrats.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Jan. 12 and 13.

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

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