THE POST-BECK WORLD
Political correctness got some plainspoken comeuppance during the "Restoring Honor" rally on Saturday. Organizer Glenn Beck stood up in his shirtsleeves and uttered "God" and "Jesus Christ" right there in public. Judeo-Christian values were mentioned and a Boy Scout led the Pledge of Allegiance. Thousands sang the lilting old hymn "Amazing Grace" and were reminded that, yes, the proverbial Big Man Upstairs is considered the real Founding Father of America by a huge majority of citizens - a belief consistently reflected in public opinion polls.
Tough job - but somebody had to jolt the national discourse and provide a refreshing moment of reckoning. The job fell to a Fox News host rather than a politician; indeed, Mr. Beck told his network on Sunday that he had no interest in running for office.
It was a "tea party" reckoning as well. On talk-radio shows, on C-SPAN, some viewers noted that the thousands of rally folks were, in fact, just folks - not viral carriers of a Republican "destructive agenda," as Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, suggested. While the language and tone of Mr. Beck's rally took the high road, his critics remained steeped in querulous argument.
Bob Fertik, president of Democrats.com, is calling for all good party members to boycott Fox News advertisers, noting, "Glenn Beck doesn't just poison the airwaves with hatred. His hatred actually incites violence and murder."
"Oh no, tea baggers," proclaimed Arshad Hasan, director of Democracy for America, a grass-roots campaign group. Meanwhile, Code Pink peace activist Medea Benjamin led an Iraq war "teach-in" in Washington on Sunday, asking, "Is it still possible to hold accountable those who dragged us into the war or committed crimes such as torture?"
Perhaps the nation is growing weary of vulgar "tea-bagger" talk and hackneyed strategy - like blaming the George W. Bush administration for our travails. Americans are warming to the clear-eyed optimism of those in touch with their inner patriot, who showed up en masse and without pretense on Saturday - and who toted out their own trash from the national Mall. Democrats who claim the tea party is pushing Republicans to extreme agendas may be in for a surprise.
"Democrats, keep it up. Continue associating the Republican Party with the movement that is by far more powerful than anything else on the current political scene. Actually, if I have any reservation about the tea party movement it is its nonpartisan nature and consequent potential to work inadvertent electoral mischief," quips Powerline's John Hinderaker. "It's good to see the Democrats helping to solve that problem by reminding people that if they want to reverse the disastrous course this nation is on, they need to vote Republican."
IN THE BREW
The fourth weekly tea party poll of 1,000 likely voters from PJTV has revealed that 52 percent favor a tea party-supported congressional candidate. The survey revealed that 54 percent support the movement and one in three respondents "strongly support" their activities.
"The tea party's strength was demonstrated during last week's elections, as many of the movement's candidates prevailed over those who were more traditional Republicans," says polling director Vik Rubenfeld. "Our data suggests that independents, who have historically been the 'swing voters,' share the tea party's concerns regarding public expenditures, as more than eight in 10 worry the consequences of spending and debt will jeopardize the American dream."
The tea party message resonates? Apparently so. Members of DC Vote, in Colonial costumes, attended the "Restoring Honor" rally for their own reasons.
"The dream has yet to be achieved in D.C. The 600,000 residents of Washington are treated like second-class citizens, paying the highest per-capita taxes in the nation while still subjected to the taxation without representation that inspired our Founding Fathers," explains Ilir Zherka, executive director of the group.
"We have been engaging in an on-going 'tea party' here since the District was established. Tea party members advocate 'founding principles' and strong local government, so we hope they will support the District of Columbia's struggle for full democracy and local autonomy."
SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES
After days of vacation news, the press races gratefully back into traditional adulation form on Tuesday for President Obama's prime-time address from the Oval Office. All broadcast and cable networks are pre-empting scheduled programming for hours of live coverage and analysis. Sample hoopla from one leading contender:
"CNN anchors Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper will lead live, global coverage of President Barack Obamas address on Iraq at 8 p.m.," the network advises. "Anchors Candy Crowley, John King and Fareed Zakaria will discuss and analyze the political and national security implications of the presidents speech and his decision for Iraq. In addition, CNN correspondents will be part of the conversation from around the world, including Ed Henry from the White House, Arwa Damon and Chris Lawrence from Iraq, and chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta from Pakistan."
POLL DU JOUR
- 44 percent of Americans say President Obama is a "political liberal."
- 36 percent say he is "a practical problem solver."
- 42 percent say Mr. Obama is Christian, 24 percent say he is Muslim, 24 percent are unsure of his religion.
- 30 percent say he "favors Muslim Americans," 60 percent say Mr. Obama is "generally even-handed."
- 59 percent of Republicans say he favors Muslim Americans, 34 percent say he is even-handed.
- 9 percent of Democrats say he favors Muslim Americans, 82 percent say he is even-handed.
Source: A Newsweek poll of 1,029 adults conducted Aug. 25 and 26.
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