- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2010

SAVE THE DATE

And that would be Jan. 6, the second day that the bustling new Congress will be in session in the new year. Republicans plan to read the entire U.S. Constitution on the House floor, this according to a draft edition of the incoming majority’s rules package. Is this marathon fare? Not necessarily. The Constitution has 4,543 words, including the signatures, and “takes about half an hour to read,” according to U.S. Archives guidelines.

TRUE GRIT

Handwringing pollsters relish asking Americans if they think the U.S is “in decline,” or that perennial old favorite, whether “our best days are behind us.” But wait. The impression that the nation is foundering is coming from the White House, some say.

“With President Obama, there appears to be no great moral cause which drives his foreign policy, no overarching strategy for enhancing American global power, no concept of a global war against Islamist militants, and no desire to strengthen America’s defenses. In fact, Obama’s approach to international affairs is the exact opposite of Ronald Reagan‘s. It is based upon a naive belief that America’s enemies can be won over through ‘engagement’ rather than confronted with maximum strength,”observes Daily Telegraph columnist Nile Gardiner.

“Unlike Reagan, Obama does not even believe in American exceptionalism, and is not driven by a sense of American greatness and destiny as the leader of the free world. Nor does he appreciate the importance of preserving and building America’s alliances,” Mr. Gardiner continues.

The public is very attuned to destiny, though. A Gallup Poll released Wednesday finds that eight out of 10 Americans say the U.S. “has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world”; 37 percent are under the impression that Mr. Obama does not agree with them.

“Ultimately, Ronald Reagan possessed true grit as president, and displayed the kind of forceful, principled leadership that Barack Obama can only dream of. Under Reagan, the U.S. was revered by its allies, feared by its enemies, and looked upon with awe by hundreds of millions who lived under the boot of tyranny in Eastern Europe. … In contrast, the Obama presidency is fostering U.S. weakness in the face of its enemies, and giving every impression of presiding over a superpower in decline, without direction, self-belief or clear sense of purpose,” Mr. Gardiner concludes.

REPUBLICAN DREAM

So. Is America really in decline? One pollster at least added some context to the question. A Clarus Poll of 1,000 registered voters finds that 85 percent of the respondents agree that “in many ways America is in decline and we need strong, competent leadership to get us back on track.” Eighty-two percent of Democrats and 93 percent of Republicans agree.

The Grand Old Party may have a dream presidential candidate. The poll found that 65 percent of Republicans want someone with management experience as a governor; 15 percent favored legislative experience in Congress. Sixty-one percent want a “moderate, pragmatic conservative with a good chance to beat President Obama,” rather than a “staunch, outspoken conservative who has only a fair chance of beating Obama” favored by 29 percent.

Meanwhile, 53 percent said the candidate should have experience in private business; 28 percent said experience in government was a given. Republicans favored someone who was “intelligent and competent” (49 percent) over someone who is known for “clear and consistent philosophical principles” (37 percent).

HISTORY CORNER

A busy political week? You betcha. But politics and its attendant hubbub never sleeps; it was always thus. Thursday also marks the anniversary of the day in 1776 when Thomas Paine wrote the words, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” George Washington resigned as the commander in chief of the Continental Army on this day in 1783; he retired to Mount Vernon. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law 97 years ago today, creating the, uh, Federal Reserve. It’s also the birthday of former presidential hopeful Wesley Clark - born in 1944 - and conservative guru William Kristol, born in 1952.

THAT’S LIFE

Advice to Republican National Committee chairman candidates: Don’t forget the pro-life credentials. The Susan B. Anthony List plans to mobilize a half-million socially conservative activists to lobby the voting committee to elect a clearly pro-life chairman. Time is getting short; the big debate between incumbent chairman Michael S. Steele and myriad challengers at the National Press Club is Jan. 3 - essentially, only days away.

“It is critical that the next RNC chairman not only be pro-life, but be prepared to use his or her position to advance pro-life values,” says the group’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser.

Questions already have been submitted to the candidates online (www.rncdebate.org) by keenly interested observers. They include: “What is your position on restoring the Right to Life to unborn children?”; “Are you committed to defunding Planned Parenthood?”; “Do you believe traditional marriage should be preserved at all costs?”

POLL DU JOUR

- 80 percent of Americans say the U.S. “has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world.”

- 91 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Democrats agree.

- 66 percent overall say the U.S. has a “special responsibility” to lead in world affairs.

- 73 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats agree.

- 62 percent fear the U.S. is “currently at risk of losing its unique character.”

- 58 percent say President Obama believes in U.S. exceptionalism.

- 83 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of Republicans say the president believes it.

Source: A USA Today/Gallup Poll of 1,019 adults conducted Dec. 10-12.

- Comments, fa-la-la-la-la’s to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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