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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 2010

POOR PITIFUL POLS

Three Democrats and a Republican need tender loving care and a nice soft Barcalounger. And cookies. Several journalists are casting their sympathy votes to President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele as the politicians who endured the worst turmoil this year.

Aw. Honey baby. Tell mama. Since when did the press create a pity-meter among politicos? Well, no matter. It was inevitable.

"Now, we have been critical of Steele, as have many others. But as the chairman of a party that scored the biggest midterm gains in seven decades, it is hard to see how he can possibly have had the worst 2010 of anyone in Washington," counters Powerline's John Hinderaker. "Moreover, given the events of the past year, doesn't it seem obvious that the winner of that award has to be a Democrat?"

He adds, "It's a small thing, of course. But to me, it is one more reminder that the Democrats' cheering section in the D.C. press is not necessarily doing the party any favors. No wonder the Dems are so often out of touch with what mainstream Americans are thinking."

DADT PART TWO

"The last thing we should be spending our time on is if this man likes men. It's so crazy because gay men and women are in the Army now and getting the job done. So, what changes if we know they're gay? For me, it would be like, 'You're gay? OK. Get back to work.' "

(Army Staff Sgt. Cleveland Carr, an infantry soldier with the 101st Airborne Division, Combat Outpost Terra Nova near Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Stars and Stripes)

MAP QUEST

Little things mean a lot. The new census reapportionment means that President Obama just lost six electoral votes, says Commentary Magazine executive editor Jonathan Tobin. A few stray votes would not have dimmed Mr. Obama's glorious 365-173 margin of victory in 2008. But the "public's repudiation of Obama's policies at the polls this past November shows he will not have as easy a time of it in 2012," Mr. Tobin observes.

"If we tally up the states' new electoral votes based on the 2008 election, it shows that states that voted for Obama lost a net total of six votes, and those that backed John McCain gained the same number. If you look back to the election before that, in which George W. Bush beat John Kerry, although some blue states in 2008 were red in 2004, the new electoral vote totals shows the same difference, a net gain of six for Bush states and a net loss of six for those that went for Kerry," Mr. Tobin figures.

"Big winners" in the reapportionment are Texas with four more seats, and Florida, with two. Washington, Utah, South Carolina, Nevada, Georgia, and Arizona each gained one while New York and Ohio lost two. Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania all lost one seat.

But look out.

"This year's once-in-a-decade scramble to redraw congressional boundaries is likely to be one of the most contentious in history. Given high levels of partisan polarization and the technological ability to identify population distributions far more precisely than ever before, the redistricting cycle will be intense," predicts Fordham University political scientist Costas Panagopoulos.

ATTENTION SPAN

What galvanized the nation? It was not the midterm elections, at least according to the Pew Research Center, which gauged public interest throughout 2010 to reveal that the earthquake in Haiti and the Gulf oil leak were tied in first place as the year's leading stories, "closely followed" by six-out-of-10 Americans.

Health care reform was in third place, followed by the Chilean miners crisis, the midterms, cold winter weather, jobless benefits extension, Arizona immigration law, East Coast snowstorms in February, congressional debate over tax cuts, government response to the Christmas "underwear bomber," the would-be Times Square bomber, Iraq troop withdrawal, and in last place, the election of Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican - followed by 36 percent.

A HELPING HAND

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Coalition to Salute America's Heroes continues to raise funds to provide emergency aid to severely wounded troops and their families - we're talking grocery and rent money, Secret Santa gifts for the kids, a Christmas or New Year's Day meal, mortgage money to avoid foreclosure.

"Many of our troops who have been severely wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq have empty refrigerators," says retired Army Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub, one of a platoon of former military officers and celebrities who believe in a cause that's raised more than $22 million for heroes in need. That celebrated roster, incidentally, includes Arnold Palmer, Joe Theismann, Burt Reynolds, Lynda Carter and Billy Ray Cyrus.

(Corrected text:) See the donation details here: www.saluteheroesproject.org.

POLL DU JOUR

- 40 percent of Americans believe God created humans in their present form somewhere in the last 10,000 years.

- 60 percent of weekly churchgoers, 52 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Democrats agree.

- 38 percent overall believe humans evolved over millions of years with God "guiding" the process.

- 31 percent of weekly churchgoers, 36 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats agree.

- 16 percent overall say humans evolved but God had no part in it.

- 2 percent of weekly churchgoers, 8 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,029 adults conducted Dec. 10 to 12.

- Blubbering, cheering, sullen commentary to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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