- The Washington Times - Friday, January 29, 2010

THE MOP UP

The speech? What speech? Oh, yeah. President Obama’s State of the Union address is over, but the reviews continue to multiply in the press petri dish. Before it all begins to coagulate - or smell - here’s a compendium of assorted afterthoughts:

Initial numbers: 48 million people watched the speech on cable and broadcast networks, according to Nielsen.

Most deifying review: “If presidential leadership were only about giving speeches, the jackhammers would already be at work on Mount Rushmore.” (Howard Fineman, Newsweek)

Obama adjectives: “chastened” (Washington Post); “fingerpointing” (Fox News); “feisty” (Time); “humbled” (New York Times).

The illusion-evaporating, fact-checking analyses: Courtesy of the National Taxpayers Union (www.ntu.org) and the Cato Institute (www.cato.org).

Impatient knee-jiggling, agitation factor: Mr. Obama’s speech lasted 70 minutes.

And compared to the running times of first State of the Union speeches from former presidents:

George W. Bush (47 minutes in 2002), Bill Clinton (63 minutes in 1994), George H.W. Bush (35 minutes in 1990), Ronald Reagan (40 minutes in 1982), Jimmy Carter (46 minutes in 1978), Gerald Ford (41 minutes in 1975), Richard Nixon (36 minutes in 1970), Lyndon Johnson (50 minutes in 1966; his speeches in 1964 and 1965 were not measured). Source: University of California, Santa Barbara

Length of Rush Limbaugh’s “State of Obama” speech, broadcast Thursday: 3 minutes.

APRES MCDONNELL

How are things in Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s universe after giving the Republican response to the State of the Union address? It’s serene - but it’s also back to business.

“We feel good about it. The governor enjoyed himself, and especially enjoyed being able to do the speech across the street from his house,” his spokeswoman Stacey Johnson tells Inside the Beltway.

“The highlight was the governor’s twin boys being on ‘SportsCenter,’ that made it all worth it by itself. He went back to the mansion after the remarks and had some family, friends and staff over. Today, he had his first ‘Ask the Governor’ radio show on WRVA in Richmond and has spent significant time in budget briefings and meeting with members of the administration.”

MOTHERLY ADVICE

Super Bowl Sunday could be teeming with cultural moments: Along with the big game, CBS is trying to decide whether to broadcast an ad for Mancrunch.com, a gay male dating site. Yes, the commercial - goofy in tone - shows two guys in football jerseys kissing.

Meanwhile, the network’s decision to air a pro-life advocacy ad continues to provoke argument. Does the subject matter suit a sports event? Is CBS only broadcasting the spot because it needs the money?

And why do women’s rights groups squawk over the decision? Sarah Palin wants to know.

“What a ridiculous situation they’re getting themselves into,” she says on her Facebook page. “Messages like this empower women. This speaks to the strength and commitment and nurturing spirit within women. The message says everything positive and nothing negative about the power of women - and life. Evidently, some women’s rights groups like the National Organization for Women (NOW) do not like that message.”

She continues, “NOW is looking at the pro-life issue backwards. Women should be reminded that they are strong enough and smart enough to make decisions that allow for career and educational opportunities while still giving their babies a chance at life. … NOW could gain ground and credibility with everyday Americans, thus allowing their pro-women message to be heard by more than just their ardent supporters, if they made wiser decisions regarding which battles to pick.”

HONOLULU BOOHOO

Let’s hope at least a few Republican National Committee members get out on the beach and/or polish off a banana daiquiri as they stage an identity crisis out there in Hawaii. Warning flags flap over their annual meeting, however.

Richard Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, is “pleased” state chairmen voted unanimously against “litmus tests” for candidates that would deny them funding if they did not toe the company line.

“Bad leadership and conservative acquiescence to bad leadership” troubles the party more, Mr. Viguerie says.

“The problem the GOP faces is not so much with ‘Republicans in name only’ as it is with the current leadership, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and the leading architect of Republican endorsed socialist-statism, former Bush White House political adviser Karl Rove,” he says.

Uh-oh.

“These leaders have consistently abandoned constitutional principles of limited government in favor of socialist-statist programs, all in the name of winning elections,” Mr. Viguerie continues, citing the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act, among other things.

Do away with litmus tests, he advises, urging conservatives to “get involved in the 2010 primaries so that new Republican leaders can replace those now in power.”

SMARTY PARTY

“Republicans are more knowledgeable on many issues,” says the Pew Research Center, which regularly plumbs the depths of public knowledge about pertinent political facts. Some results are featured in today’s “poll du Jour.” But what fun is it unless one can chime in? There’s another study still going.

Chime in, and take the test here: pewresearch.org/ politicalquiz.

POLL DU JOUR

• 48 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats know that Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, is the Senate majority leader.

• 67 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats know that the U.S. imports two thirds of the oil it uses.

• 68 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats know that China holds the most U.S. debt.

• 38 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of Democrats know that not one Republican voted for heath care reform.

• 37 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of Democrats know that Michael Steele chairs the Republican National Committee.

• 44 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of Democrats know the Dow is currently around 10,000 points.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 1,003 adults conducted Jan. 14 to 17.

Chimes, rhymes and maybe even mimes to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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