- The Washington Times - Monday, March 22, 2010

FOUL LINE

In keeping with a tournament-centric nation, Republicans are concentrating on the next eight months rather than the tumult of the next 48 hours. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has confabulated a chipper “2010 Democrat Madness” sheet to help determine which 16 members of that political persuasion — from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland — most deserve to be voted out of office in November. There’s the “Looking for a Promotion” bracket, the “Rubber Stamp” bracket and the “But I’m Supposed To Be Safe” bracket. There’s also one for the “Have No Shame” crowd, too. See it at www.nrsc.org.

“Round 1 will be from March 19-23; Round 2 from March 24-28; Round 3 from March 29-31; Round 4 April 1-4 and the Final on April 5,” committee Chairman Rob Jesmer said. “Just visit the bracket and make your selections in each matchup, then check back, see who won and vote again in the next round.”

THE PLAGUE COMETH

It is the ultimate pundit vehicle: Health care reform likely will be cast as the most noble, stupendous legislation in the known universe by legions of admiring journalists. Yeah, there will be noise from Republican stalwarts about jettisoning everything and starting afresh, and talk in the street about legal challenges. Chicken-hearted Democrats will be labeled as such. But brace for a mawkish press.

“In the media, there will be a wave of gushing coverage. We already saw some — it’s already beginning — about the tenacity and the determination of this president to see his signature initiative through,” said veteran Fox News anchor Brit Hume. “It’ll be said that this was an act of real leadership, and President Obama kept on persisting when all seemed lost, and there’ll be a lot of that. The fact, though, is there’s not much chance, in my view, that the public is going to start liking this measure any time soon, and the political consequences for the Democrats in the fall are likely to be very severe.”

VOIGHT WATCH

Feisty Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight is still standing up for the conservative cause, telling the estimated crowd of 25,000 “tea party” activists protesting health care reform on Saturday, “I’m calling to your inner soul and conscience to realize that President Obama has a compulsion he cannot control. It is a runaway train for him, and he has no way to put on the brakes. It is very clear that he will turn this country into a socialist America.”

He was not done, though. During a Fox News interview, Mr. Voight asked the cameraman to pan over the crowd, thundering, “See? There are the real stars here. Out there. Go talk to them.”

KING OF CNN

No, it’s not Ted Turner but John King who is king of CNN on Monday with the debut of “John King, USA,” an early evening political news show that features Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, as a premiere guest and the assurance from Mr. King that the program will not be yet another insider bloviationfest among wonks and partisan operatives. The show, which airs at 7 p.m., also features an interview with Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, in his broadcast debut, with Redstate.com editor Erick Erickson reporting from Decatur, Ga.

“Even though we’re in Washington, D.C., we will always have people roaming the countryside looking for good stories,” Mr. King said. “You can’t cover national politics just by being in Washington, D.C.”

JEEZ LOUISE

Not the best addition to a political legacy: Citizens Against Government Waste has named Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat, “porker of the month” for suggesting a House rule that could allow Democrats to pass health care legislation without directly voting on it.

“The concoction of the ludicrous ‘Slaughter Rule’ is the latest and most blatant manipulation and twisting of the legislative process to accommodate the self-serving desires of those who cannot succeed under the normal legislative rules,” said the nonprofit group’s president, Tom Schatz. “This trend has driven the economy over a cliff and produced a $12.4 trillion national debt. If the outcome of this farcical process was not so momentous and one-sixth of the economy was not at stake, the entire episode would be laughable.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 50 percent of U.S. voters say states “should have the right” to opt out of President Obama’s health care plan.

• 74 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of unaffiliated voters and 30 percent of Democrats say states should be able to opt out.

• 57 percent say that the cost of health care will go up with the passage of the reform legislation.

• 54 percent overall say cost is “still the biggest problem” with the American health care system.

• 24 percent cite “lack of universal coverage” as the biggest problem.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted March 17.

Gnashing of teeth, rent garments, good pie recipes to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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