- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MCPOLICE

The Left Coast food police could get their comeuppance. Those who revere free enterprise - and maybe french fries - are taking the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to task for banning McDonald’s Happy Meals because they pair toys with edibles. Oh, the hazard, the humanity. Even Mayor Gavin Newsom doesn’t see the point. Neither does the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is asking the nation’s parents to take their kids to any McDonald’s on Saturday while they “still have the right” to live so dangerously. The danger in question? Happy meals, which have been around for 31 years, consist of a hamburger or chicken nuggets, plus low-fat milk or apple juice, french fries or fresh apple slices. The wee diners also receive a Disney toy.

William Saroyan wrote that in San Francisco, ‘every block is a short story, every hill a novel.’ And now, it seems, every meal is a political dispute,” the public policy group explains. “This measure is a clear example of government overreaching its power. Moderation when it comes to food is important, but these decisions are best made by parents, not politicians.”

ROYAL FATIGUE

Though the news is scarcely 24 hours old, several Beltway readers say they’re already tired of hearing about Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton - a pleasant, bright news item instantly amped up to a million unpleasant watts by the press. ABC News rushed out a special edition of “Nightline: A Very British Wedding.” Morning news shows fired up the “royal music” while British officials predicted the wedding will be a tourist boom and draw the biggest TV audience in history.

“I dread the coverage because it’s not just about somebody’s wedding. It’s about politics and money, or how irrelevant the Royal Family is,” says one annoyed Beltway reader. “It will be bigger than Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and drag on and on. Give it a rest, people.”

Yes, well. There is no rest for the press. And the U.S. has its royal moments. ABC will also air “A Barbara Walters Special: A Thanksgiving Visit With President and Mrs. Obama” the day after Thanksgiving, which will include “a discussion of how the whole family reacted to the President’s political reversal,” the network says. Miss Walters admits she wants to know how the first lady feels “about her husband being shellacked.”

A LONESTAR MOMENT

“This may be the only shovel-ready project in America.”

Former vice president Dick Cheney, at the groundbreaking of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas on Tuesday, attended by its namesake and his spouse, along with Condoleezza Rice, former Bush staffers Ari Fleischer, Josh Bolten,Karen Hughes and Dan Bartlett; the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club of Fort Hood, with music by the Southern Methodist University Belle Tones and Southern Gentlemen.

STOP TO START

So the New START treaty likely will not rocket through the lame-duck Congress as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. hoped it would. Not a bad idea. Implications of the U.S.-Russia missile agreement deserve slow, close scrutiny.

“Pushing the reset button, from Russia’s point of view, means one thing: getting a free hand to pursue policies that are in many respects fundamentally driven by anti-Americanism and its own sense of Great Power entitlement,” says Stephen Blank, a national security affairs professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College and contributor to World Affairs Journal.

“Any reset in relations should come from a coldblooded calculation of our interests, not sentimentality or illusion - and certainly not with a trusting (and unreciprocated) acceptance of Moscow’s self-serving definition of its bottom line or its ‘sphere of influence.’ Getting real about Russia does not mean taking Moscow lightly or rejecting cooperation when it is desirable, but it does mean advancing our own goals as seriously as Russia is advancing its own.”

AMERICAN INNARDS

Econo-centric fears are gripping the very guts of the nation. More than 70 percent of 1,200 midterm voters polled in a post-election survey said it is “very important” that Congress reduce the national debt. An additional 24 percent said it is “somewhat important,” according to new data released by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The sentiments apply across large majorities of men and women, across all political affiliations, all races, all regions of the country and all income levels.

“It is rare to see such broad agreement among the American people for legislative action that’s bound to gore many an ox,” says John Palmer, a Syracuse University public affairs professor who led the nonpartisan research on behalf of the National Research Council and National Academy of Public Administration.

POLL DU JOUR

- 70 percent of the general U.S. population and 67 percent of “Washington, D.C., elites” say the political system in Washington is “broken.”

- 49 percent of the population and 63 percent of the elites say the media are “largely to blame” for incivility in politics.

- 40 percent of the population would vote for “the Republican candidate” and 37 percent for President Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

- 29 percent of the elites would vote for the Republican, 58 percent for Mr. Obama.

- 40 percent of the population and 49 percent of the elites say Mr. Obama “understands the message that was sent Nov. 2.”

- 26 percent of the population and 49 percent of the elites expect him to be re-elected in 2012.

Source: A Politico survey of 1,000 adults - including 225 “Washington, D.C. elites” - conducted Nov. 8-11. “Elites” are defined as those who live within the D.C. metro area, earn more than $75,000 per year, have at least a college degree and are involved in the political process or work on key political issues or policy decisions.

c Treaties, wedding news to jharper@washington times.com