- The Washington Times - Monday, March 29, 2010

THE RANGE OF CHANGE

The gutsy leather flight jacket, the round patch that read “Air Force One,” 2,000 cheering troops: President Obama had a John Wayne moment — or was it something reminiscent of former President George W. Bush?

“Crowd boisterous even before POTUS appeared, and burst into loud applause when he entered and began shaking hands. Big burst again when he climbed podium. Seemingly every soldier raised a digital camera above their head to get a photo,” notes the raw White House “pool report” from Wall Street Journal scribe Peter Spiegel, who uses the ever-popular journalist’s acronym for “President of the United States.”

“The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something,” Mr. Obama told the enthusiastic assembly.

Things change? You betcha. The Inside the Beltway “way back” machine recalls this pivotal moment during an Iowa campaign stop on Oct. 3, 2007, when Mr. Obama was asked by a local ABC reporter why he was not wearing an American flag pin.

“I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. Instead I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe what will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism,” Mr. Obama replied.

REALITY SETS IN

The detention facility in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba has picked up a few more fans in the last year. A CNN/Opinion Research survey of 1,030 adults - including 953 registered voters - finds that 60 percent say the U.S. should continue to operate the facility. Thirty-nine percent say the site should be closed and the prisoners transferred elsewhere. The poll was conducted from March 19 to 21.

In a similar CNN poll conducted 14 months ago, 47 percent of the respondents said the facility should stay open, 51 percent said it should be closed.

‘TPX’ ON THE MOVE

The Tea Party Express is rolling. The “Just Vote Them Out” cross-country tour of more than 40 cities and towns is under way after a splendid launch with Sarah Palin and a cast of thousands in Searchlight, Nev., over the weekend. And we do mean thousands.

“It’s an amazing start. We drew about 15-20,000 people, based on a close analysis of aerial photographs. And this was unique. We were literally only a few miles from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s front porch,” spokesman Levi Russell tells Inside the Beltway.

“This is just the beginning. It’s on to Phoenix, Flagstaff, Provo, Salt Lake City, up through Colorado and the Great Lakes region. We’ve got 39 more cities to go until we roll in to Washington on April 15,” he adds.

PICTURE THIS

Rod Blagojevich is not going to be framed or, uh, hung any time soon. The Illinois House has voted 85-23 to prohibit a portrait of a governor who is impeached and removed from office to be funded by the state. The legislation was aimed at Mr. Blagojevich, who was arrested and indicted on federal corruption charges. The measure now moves to the Senate for more debate.

“Why does the state of Illinois pay for any portraits?” asks state representative Bill Mitchell, Forsyth Republican.

Still, every Illinois governor has his portrait hung in the Capitol, including George Ryan, who is now in federal prison. Mr. Blagojevich’s image could still make it if someone coughs up the money. The price? Those regal oil portraits run about $25,000.

IN SUMMARY

“It used to be the ‘Big Business Party.’ Then it got taken over by Jesus. And now they just seem like ‘The Angry White People Party.’ ”

- HBO host Bill Maher’s description of Republicans.

IN SUMMARY, PART 2

“Since this thing passed last weekend, we’ve been seeing the longest wet kiss in political history given to the Obama administration by the liberal media league, and every day it goes by it gets sloppier.”

- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s take on press coverage of health care reform legislation, to ABC News.

POLL DU JOUR

• 52 percent of U.S. voters says the “average member of the tea party movement” has a better understanding of key issues than the “average member of Congress.”

• 30 percent say lawmakers have a better understanding, 18 percent are not sure.

• 47 percent say their own political views are closer to the tea partiers than to Congress.

• 26 percent feel closer to the lawmakers, 27 percent are not sure.

• 46 percent say the average tea party member is “more ethical” than the average member of Congress.

• 27 percent say the lawmakers are more ethical, 27 percent are not sure.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted March 25 and 26.

Changes, suspicions, dot connecting to jharper@ washingtontimes.com

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