- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 19, 2010

THINKING AHEAD

The discussion has begun. Former President Jimmy Carter says that the U.S. is ready for a gay president in the “near future,” telling BigThink.com that “we have realized that this issue of homosexuality has the same adverse and progressive elements as when we dealt with the race issue 50 years ago.” Mr. Carter has jump-started a larger discussion on the matter, even as the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation looms large on the public radar.

“Can you imagine how much a gay president would have to overcompensate to please the macho ninnies who control our national debate?” HBO host Bill Maher tells New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. “He’d have to nuke something the first week.”

Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, also advises Miss Dowd, “It’s one thing to have a gay person in the abstract. It’s another to see that person as part of a living, breathing couple. How would a gay presidential candidate have a celebratory kiss with his partner after winning the New Hampshire primary? The sight of two women kissing has not been as distressful to people as the sight of two men kissing.”


Mr. Frank adds, “It’s not clear that a gay president could use federal funds to buy his husband dinner. Would his partner have to pay rent in the White House? There would be no Secret Service protection for the paramour.”

GOP BULWARKS

We are not necessarily a tidy, middle-of-the-road nation. Forty percent of Americans identify themselves as conservatives, while 35 percent say they are moderates - a percentage that has declined to a new low, says Gallup research. Twenty-one percent are liberals. The findings are based on responses from more than 26,000 Americans in surveys conducted in 2010, plus historic records.

“Fewer people in all three party groups call themselves moderate today than did so in 2002, but the decline is particularly steep among Republicans,” says Gallup analyst Lydia Saad. “The percentage of Republicans calling themselves moderate fell from 31 percent in 2002 to 27 percent by 2006, and now stands at 23 percent. There has been a commensurate increase in the percentage of Republicans calling themselves conservative, now at a record-high 72 percent.”

The percentage of Democrats who identified themselves as “liberal” climbed from 29 percent in 2000 to a record-high 40 percent today, Gallup found.

“While the changes are not large, they are unmistakable. Moderates are growing fewer in number, while the percentages of conservatives and liberals have expanded. Conservatism has gained ground among Republicans and independents, while the growth in liberalism is strictly among Democrats,” Ms. Saad says.

MELE KALIKIMAKA

The beachfront house on the windward side of Kailua is bustling. First lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, dog Bo and a hefty support cast are now ensconced in the splendid property for the Christmas holiday; President Obama will likely join them on Wednesday after lame-duck wrangling in Congress wanes to a few stray quacks.

Ah, but things are never simple. First time visitor Bo is in Hawaii under the auspices of the state’s Department of Agriculture. Spokeswoman Janelle Saneishi says the Obamas paid a $224 entrance fee and met assorted health criteria by preparing for Bo’s visit “earlier this year.”

He was vaccinated twice, implanted with an electronic microchip, treated with anti-tick preparations and completed a blood test to ensure that he was rabies free. The Portuguese waterdog was also given a complete physical and examined for stray ticks by an Air Force veterinarian upon his arrival, and to “make sure all the paperwork is in order.” No word on his passport or American Kennel Club pedigree, though.

The entire Obama family will return to Washington on New Year’s Day.

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