- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2009

Greetings, salutations

Inside the Beltway has a new steward today, and that’s me — the third person in history to write the column. It is an honor, punctuated with noisy salutes to John McCaslin, who had been our Beltway man since 1846. No wait. Maybe it was more like 1992.

Hurray for ye, Johnny. Yee-haw. And thanks. John is now a bona fide radio god, co-hosting this newspaper’s “America’s Morning News” radio show with the very splendid Melanie Morgan.

But it is already time to hit the road.

Beltway Land is complicated territory, with much hubbub along high roads and low roads alike. There are dangerous intersections, potholes, hitchhikers. Expect to rubberneck; sometimes we may have to make a quick getaway. And yes, we can stop if anyone feels queasy.

For all its noble posturing, politics is still subject to the siren calls of power, wealth, ego and, well, sirens. Consider that despite his mea culpas, wags are currently billing a certain South Carolina governor as Sanford (R-Gentine).

The 24/7 press is often all dressed up with nowhere to go, meanwhile. Journalists classify Palin Bashing as sport, but they’re also on Obama Sweat Watch. Will mom jeans or health care reform mar the president’s arctic demeanor? Stay tuned.

There are still heroes out there, I say. Despite partisan caterwaul, our nation retains optimism, courage, patriotism and good cheer that lends a glow to the landscape. And in the end, our collective inner mettle will prevail.

“America will be saved by the American people,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tells me. “That is how it was in the Revolutionary War, the constitutional process and the Civil War. In the end, it is up to the people.”

And with that thought, a new Beltway journey begins.

Combat ready

He-man politicians are alive and well and living in Arizona.

“Send a Warrior to Congress” is the official motto of Jesse Kelly, a Republican hopeful in Tucson endorsed by former presidential hopeful Duncan Hunter, Rep. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia and other Republican lawmakers.

Jesse is not kidding. The now-retired U.S. Marine led a squad of leathernecks during Operation Iraqi Freedom before being honorably discharged in 2004. He is also 6-feet-8-inches, and his sidearm of choice is a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum, he says. With hollow-point bullets.

But that motto.

“It’s simple. People are tired of politicians who won’t fight for them. But I will. My combat skills will help me,” he vows. “You weather the battle, the ups and downs. Going into war, you must know that every day is not going to be a good day. But you have to achieve your objective. That’s what matters.”

Palinosophy

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has about 144 hours left in office before she descends, goddess like, into the pantheon of political hopefuls. Pundits are pondering her plausibility as a significant Republican nominee come 2012. Some are counting on it.

“In the interest of the far left, in the interest of the far right and in the interest of television, I hope she’s very plausible,” notes MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

Mrs. Palin is busy cutting to the chase via Twitter. On Sunday alone, she Tweeted eight times, philosophical fare included.

“No time to waste: teach US youth to avoid idleness,” she wrote. “Avoid time spent tearing down, whining, complaining.” (Yes. Note to Chris, please).

Stuck for words

Forget Elmer’s. Former Georgia lawmaker Zell Miller recently advised White House adviser Rahm Emmanuel to affix a “globe-hopping” President Obama to his chair with Gorilla Glue. This did not sit well with the company’s president, Peter Ragland, who dispatched an immediate letter to the Oval Office, indicating he was not a party to such things.

“While our products are known for being strong and tough, we certainly would not advocate attempting to glue the leader of the Free World to his chair,” Mr. Ragland assures me.

Poll du jour

78 percent of voters say health care reform will lead to higher taxes for the middle class.

62 percent are following the health care debate in Congress closely.

61 percent say cost is the biggest health care problem facing the nation.

50 percent oppose the creation of a government insurance company.

49 percent oppose health care reforms currently before Congress.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted July 16-17.

Tips, murmurs, asides welcome at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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