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JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS

And soon, exclusives for the Home Shopping Network and the Cartoon Channel? The White House may be loath to stage formal prime-time, question-and-answer, pad-and-pencil press conferences with the journalists credentialed to cover the big issues. But cable?

Oh yeah.

Coming Tuesday evening to TNT, President Obama’s “exclusive interview” with play-by-play announcer Marv Albert, in which the president shares his “thoughts with Albert on his history and love of basketball, the future of LeBron James and the Phoenix Suns stand against the immigration law in Arizona.”

Sports and policy, just before TNTs coverage of game four of the Western Conference Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers at 9 p.m. But Mr. Albert is happy.

“It is clearly one of the highlights of my broadcasting career, and a great honor and privilege for me personally, to interview the president of the United States at the White House and talk NBA basketball with him,” the announcer said.

STRATEGIC BACKBONE

The solution is going to take more than a Senate flyover of the Gulf and official handwringing. The entrenched attitude that the nation is essentially helpless in the face of disasters like the BP oil spill is shared by policymakers — which could help explain the dithering among emergency management agencies and the White House, even as the leak continues.

“If we assume that disasters are unforeseeable or unavoidable, it is hard to generate the political will to act in advance to avoid or to mitigate their effects,” says University of Southern California sociologist Andrew Lakoff, editor of the new book “Disaster and the Politics of Intervention.”

He adds, “The lesson that comes from looking at different types of disasters is not a single policy prescription that will work across all of them, but a recognition of the importance of developing political interventions that are sustainable over the long term and that are achievable in the current political context.”

STEELE BEAM

The daily path of Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele is somewhere between minefield and hospital ward these days. Mr. Steele picks his way past incendiary devices, disarms questions about Rand Paul’s take on civil rights and still tends the malaise of party members who, uh, dropped too many dollars on fan dancers and athletic equipment.

Mr. Steele’s daily path may also include a corral. He’s deft at harnessing the positive and resetting the main message — like framing Charles Djou’s win as an “incredible victory” in Hawaiis 1st Congressional District.

“His success and this victory came in Barack Obama’s hometown, a district the president carried by a margin of 70-28 percent in 2008,” Mr. Steele says, in full reminder mode. “Charles’ victory is evidence his conservative message of lowering the tax burden, job creation and government accountability knows no party lines. It’s a message Americans want to hear from candidates across the country.”

GRAND OLD PARTY

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About the Author
Jennifer Harper INSIDE THE BELTWAY

Jennifer Harper INSIDE THE BELTWAY

A graduate of Syracuse University, Jennifer Harper writes the daily Inside the Beltway column and provides additional coverage of breaking national news, plus long-term trends in politics, media issues, public opinion, popular culture, Hollywood foibles and “eureka” moments in health and science.

She has been a frequent broadcast commentator on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Voice of America, Citadel Broadcasting, ...

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