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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Monday, June 14, 2010

POP CONSERVATIVES

Sarah Palin identified the emerging "conservative feminist." Now inquiring minds want to know if "populist conservatism" can exist without, say, causing damage to the entire space/time continuum. The Hudson Institute brings together Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Washington Examiner columnist Michael Barone and "Liberal Fascism" author Jonah Goldberg to parse the possibilities, with Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol as moderator.

"I'm generally squeamish about populism, but I think this might be one of the great exceptions to the rule. Historically, American populism is a stalking horse for the 'government must do something' crowd. And in Europe, populism has been the generic term for socialist and fascist movements," Mr. Goldberg tells Inside the Beltway.

"But this isn't that. This is a movement dedicated to the proposition that the government is doing too much. As long as it stays that kind of populism, I think it's a healthy phenomenon and really not all that new philosophically. It's a bit like the old 'Leave-Me-Alone Coalition' on steroids," he adds.

The big thinkers gather Wednesday at the St. Regis Hotel in the District. The public event, which runs from 9 to 11:30 a.m., is free; RSVP required (call 202/974-2424 or via email Krista@hudson.org.) It can also be seen live online here: www.hudson.org/WatchLive.

TEA TIME

"Tea party" folks are eagerly watching "Gather Your Armies," a startling new campaign video released Monday by Rick Barber, a tea party favorite now running for Congress in Alabama's 2nd District. There's other viewing to consider. The movement gets a personal probe from none other than MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who hosts "Rise of the New Right," a one-hour documentary that airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Though some viewers will take issue with the broad mash-up of tea party tribes - birthers, oath keepers, militia men, mamma grizzlies - there is some valuable narrative here, and historic context - including vintage film footage.

All the ideological icons get their cameo appearances as well, from Fox News host Glenn Beck and Rand Paul to such tea party foes as the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"What will grab the viewers attention, I think, is the use of the Gadsden flag by all the groups - the tea partiers, the members of Congress that were urging them on and even the Michigan Militia," Mr. Matthews tells the Beltway.

"That was the flag that the American Revolutionaries flew in defiance of the British government - then viewed as a hostile power, an occupying force. Have we come to this in viewing our own government? The point of concern here is not that there is a fight between right and left, it's that some people are arguing that even this self-government of ours has become somehow fearful to so many people."

ETHERIDGE ETHER

Despite his instant mea culpa, the reviews of Rep. Bob Etheridge are swirling after his vigorous encounter with a pair of anonymous videographers intent on exacting a statement from the North Carolina Democrat about his support of the Obama administration. A sampling of assorted press reviews and observations:

"Irrationally combative" (Juli Weiner, Vanity Fair), "thuggish behavior" (JonathanCapehart, Washington Post), "From the department of storms in tea cups in Washington" (Richard Adams, The Guardian), "new order: D.C.'s paparazzi culture" (Domenico Montanaro, NBC), "the first rule of political behavior: In public, always behave as if you're on camera. Because you probably are." (Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor).

LUCK PATROL

Republicans hold elephants charms close for luck, Democrats prefer their donkey versions. British soccer fans, however, are practicing every "strange ritual in the book" to bring luck to their nation's team in the 2010 World Cup.

According to a poll by Nivea For Men - the, uh, "official grooming supplier to the World Cup" - one in 10 soccer fans will sport "lucky pants", one in five will watch games with a "lucky" group of friends, and 11 percent will only watch from a lucky armchair. Another 16 percent will kiss the team emblem, 14 percent will sing a soccer chant, and 8 percent will insist on having the same food and drink before each kickoff.

Meanwhile, 14 percent will hold their pint of beer in the same hand for the entire duration of a 90-minute match.

INSTITUTIONAL KNOWLEDGE

The Beltway humbly suggests this might provide the basis for a good film. Two veterans of the Office of Strategic Services - the World War II forerunner of the CIA - continue to work at the agency, still serving after 65 years.

"These men, both of whom prefer to carry on their important work in anonymity, are legends of American intelligence," CIA spokesman George Little tells the Beltway.

"They've served 13 presidents and 19 CIA directors, watched the beginning and end of the Cold War and remain focused on today's national security challenges.Their unwavering commitment is an inspiration to our work force, over half of which has joined the CIA since 9/11. We treasure their insights, experience, and enduring patriotism," Mr. Little adds.

POLL DU JOUR

c 49 percent of Americans say the Democratic Party's views have become "too liberal."

c 12 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of Republicans agree.

c 38 percent say the party's views are "about right."

c 40 percent say the Republican Party's views are "too conservative."

c 41 percent say the party's views are "about right."

c 10 percent say the Democrats are too conservative,15 percent say the Republicans are too liberal.

Source: A USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,049 adults conducted May 24 and 25 and released Monday.

c Twitters, jitters, chitters to jharper@washingtontimes .com

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