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Inside the Beltway
Read it and snort. Consider $3.4 million for termite research in Louisiana, $1 million for Hawaiin seafood research, $1 million for a Rhode Island bike path, $800,000 for a nice little city park in Oregon; $520,000 for blueberry breeding in New Jersey. They are among thousands of earmarks that bulked up the kabillion dollar spending bill from Democrats who were almost certain their behemouth was destined to lumber through Congress and menace the federal budget unchallenged.
Ah, Porkasaurus, we hardly new ye. The $1.2 trillion bill was defeated by the jab of fiscal sanity and some unity among practical Republicans, not to mention Sen. Mitch McConnell’s one-page continuing resolution to keep the U.S. government in business until Feb. 18. The Kentucky Republican is ready to move on, though. Other concerns loom: there are major bills to vote on before lawmakers race for their home turf and the respite of Christmas. Lessons have been learned and resolve strengthened on both sides; when the Republican-dominated Congress returns, there are bound to be some new monsters - and maybe a few leviathans - to rise up and start roaring.
”This earmark bill was another clear example of why we cannot simply reject the Left; we must replace the Left,” observes Newt Gingrich.
“For this lame duck Congress, excessive spending is comparable to morphine addiction. Every sensible person contends it is wrong. But the user cannot bring himself to stop. This country must go cold turkey with fiscal sunset provisions,” advises Herb London, president of the Hudson Institute.
WHO MATTERED MORE
Forget Time magazine’s hoity-toity assessment of significant newsmakers and events. The “Person of the Year” for 2010 is Sarah Palin, and the “Person of the Decade” is former President George W. Bush, this according to Zogby International, which plumbed the year-end sentiments of close to 2,000 Americans. President Obama came in second in both categories. Fox News host Glenn Beck was deemed the “most influential” media figure of the decade, while the appearance of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert to testify on Capitol Hill was judged the “most ridiculous story of 2010.” The emergence of the “tea party” was the top political story of the year.
The old partisan divide is still at work, though: 53 percent of Republicans say the midterm elections are the most significant news story of the year, while 60 percent of Democrats choose the BP oil spill. Meanwhile, 91 percent of Republicans say the 9/11 terrorist attacks was the story of the decade, compared to 57 percent of Democrats.
JUST SO YOU KNOW
There’s a poll for everything. The holiday tune Americans get sick of the quickest is “Jingle Bells,” followed by “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and then a tie between “White Christmas” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” The list rounds out with “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and a tie between “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” by Alvin and the Chipmunks. Thank you, Harris Polls.
But gee. It’s must be a global thing. A survey of 28,000 Bulgarians finds that they named Wham’s “Last Christmas” the “most annoying Christmas song ever,” followed by Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.”
THE GLIB FACTOR
So much for wonky policy prowess. It’s plain-spoken optimism that matters in a presidential race - traits that place Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee and incoming Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as the most likely Republican hopefuls to defeat President Obama in 2012, says new research.
“Most pundits analyze a general election by looking at the same old measurements, such as unemployment data, consumer confidence and early polling,” says Brad Phillips, a former ABC News and CNN correspondent. “But they always miss a reliable predictor: the more-gifted media spokesperson has won every presidential election since the beginning of the 24/7 media age in 1980.”
Mr. Philips, now a media trainer, tracked the traits of all winning presidential candidates of the last two decades. He found that those with the clearest, most optimistic message has “always” won. The charismatic, easy-going candidate has always won; those who use the most plain-spoken language have “almost always” won.
“Nonstop media exposure to candidates gives us a good sense of who they are,” Mr. Phillips says. “That’s important, because many voters - especially the crucial independents - base their votes on their personal comfort level with a candidate, not specific policy positions.”
Uh-oh. Sounds like the Democrats need comic relief. And money. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee director J.B. Poersch is urging all good blue voters to buy a poetry magnet fundraising kit that contains such words as hate, destruction, nuts, birthers, equal, crazy, destroy and other descriptive terms so they can compose partisan haikus, or something like that.
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