- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

SEA TO SHINING SEA

And now, an unabashed star-spangled moment for those who fret that the U.S. is fading, broken, lost, aimless, etc. - a notion that has been bandied about in the global press in recent days, with a side order of schadenfreude. But claims that war, recession and partisan divides have dampened American spirit are premature.

“Americans are just as proud to be an American citizen now” as they were immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, says a Harris poll released Tuesday, with numbers to prove it.

The survey found that 95 percent of the respondents are indeed proud to be Americans and nine-out-of-10 are proud when they hear “The Star-Spangled Banner” - findings that are virtually unchanged since 2002.

“So what? One of the questions often asked after the events of September 11th was if the wave of patriotism would last over time. While there have probably been ups and downs, it is still clear that patriotism exists in the country as a whole,” Harris says.

So, not to worry. Let’s not overthink our traditional national identity. We’ve still got it, at least according to the 2,984 adults whom the pollster surveyed Aug. 10-18.

OBAMAPALOOZA

Is he basking in confidence - or in a panic? President Obama will appear on Sunday morning political talk shows this weekend, covering ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Univision. No Fox News, though. And one ascerbic late-night host must be all aglow as well. Mr. Obama will be the “sole guest” on the “Late Show With David Letterman” on Monday.

“The cliched thing to say is that the president is ‘doing the full Ginsburg.’ Remember when Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer William Ginsburg did the whole circuit in ‘98? Unlike a prime-time address, which is free airtime that he can script to his liking, these are newsmaker shows that are supposed to be tough interviews. Any of these shows would be biased not to accept his offer to appear,” the Media Research Center’s Tim Graham tells Inside the Beltway.

“Political analysts must be divided into two camps. One, that Obama’s speechifying wins every battle, and five Sunday interviews makes a political juggernaut. Or two, Obama is clearly desperate about how badly he’s losing, and the five interviews suggest panic. If they really believed these appearances help, why hasn’t all his ubiquitousness helped already?”

BAIL TO THE CHIEF

The financial meltdown of a year ago has distinct political villains, according to Joseph Tibman, author of the soon-to-be-released “The Murder of Lehman Brothers.” He toiled at Lehman’s for two decades and is using a pen name - remaining undercover out of concern for his own security.

“When my firm collapsed I felt betrayed by a top management team I believed in. I also felt angry at a lot of people outside Lehman - Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Congress, Henry Paulson, Alan Greenspan and so many others. They had created conditions for the bankruptcy of a firm we now know was indeed ‘too big to fail.’ They had enabled the excessive risk-taking — essentially insane judgment — that brought down Lehman,” Mr. Tibman tells Inside the Beltway.

“Of course, Paulsons judgment in allowing the failure was also tragically flawed. It troubled me deeply that my second home for 20 years was the lynchpin that detonated a global meltdown. I anticipated there would be a slew of tabloid books that would over-simplify. So I decided to write a truthful account, one that lets no one off the hook, but also tells the world in plain English what really went down and what we need to fix.”

TIRE TRACKS

Oh dear. The Chinese are in a fit of pique over new tire tariffs. But hey, that’s, uh, what they do, apparently.

“The Chinese always respond that way. You can expect it. The president showed courage. The president did the right thing. The Chinese are always going to complain,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, aboard Air Force One on Tuesday.

The Ohio Democrat was en route to the Buckeye State, where Mr. Obama was speaking to General Motors employees. And while Mr. Brown may perceive dismay as the prevailing official sentiment in China, things are cozy elsewhere. Consider that the upcoming World Expo 2010 in Shanghai is expecting 70 million visitors.

And on a more petite scale, the China Happy Hour will take place at Johnny Utah’s in midtown Manhattan on Monday, where participants should expect “the most upscale networking,” according to the organizers at Golden Networking, a New York specialty events group. But why stop at China? The company also has organized a Peru Happy Hour, a Poland Happy Hour and a Russia Happy Hour on the immediate calendar as well.

POLL DU JOUR

*35 percent of Americans say that 51 cents or more out of every federal tax dollar is “wasted.”

*35 percent say 26-50 cents per dollar is wasted; 21 percent say less than 26 cents is wasted.

*Republicans say 54 cents per dollar goes to waste; Democrats say it’s 41 cents.

*Americans overall say state governments waste 42 cents per dollar, local governments 37 cents.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,026 adults conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 2.

*Murmurs, speculation, big news to jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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