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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2010

KEITHAPALOOZA

It was all about journalistic ethics. Sure. Uh-huh. Some say MSNBC's rapid-fire firing and rehiring of pundit Keith Olbermann was simply a ratings-minded publicity stunt with melodrama right out of "All My Children." There was rebellion, confrontation, bloodletting, punishment, sorrow, drama, chastening, reconciliation, joy, costume changes. Thousands of liberal fans signed the perfunctory instant petition from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee demanding Mr. Olbermann's reinstatement after he was banished "indefinitely" on Friday for contributing campaign funds to three Democrats. The squabble was ramped up on the internet, social media and the network itself. Media critics pointed out what it all meant. Stories multiplied, buzz ensued.

By Sunday, Big Daddy appeared appeased. MSNBC President Phil Griffin determined that his prodigal son had sat on the naughty chair long enough, and all was forgiven. The errant anchor would be back on the air Tuesday night. But of course. The show must go on, and Mr. Olbermann's new book - "Pitchforks and Torches: The Worst of the Worst, From Beck, Bill, and Bush to Palin and Other Posturing Republicans" - needs a little help, perhaps. It now languishes at No. 429 on the Amazon bestseller list.

"A quick, overwhelmed, stunned THANK YOU for support that feels like a global hug & obviously left me tweetless XO," Mr. Olbermann whimpered in a tweet.

"MSNBC sure knows how to discipline its out-of-control anchors. Suspended for one whole weekend. I wonder if Olbermann had to write lines on the chalkboard, too," asks Media Research Center Director Brent Bozell. But a parody headline at the news aggregator Fark.com says much about the network, which struggles in the ratings race behind Fox News and CNN: "MSNBC and Keith Olbermann will find out if their marketing ploy paid off beginning on Tuesday."

A MIGHTY OAK

In a city of ceremonies, here's a ceremony that does it right. Medal of Honor recipient Brian Thacker, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Nicholas Kehoe, president, Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation; National Museum of American History associate curator David Allison and Smithsonian Gardens horticulturist Brett McNish will plant an oak tree on the museum grounds Wednesday to honor the 3,448 recipients of the Medal of Honor. The soil they'll use is from battlefields: Guilford County Courthouse, N.C. (Revolutionary War), Antietam, Md. (Civil War); Manila, Philippines (Spanish-American War); Mexico City (Mexican-American War), France (several locations, World War I), Iwo Jima, Normandy, Tunisia and Luxembourg (World War II); Pusan Perimeter and Incheon Beach (Korea), China Beach and Hanoi (Vietnam), Mogadishu (Somalia), Balad/Camp Anaconda, Baghdad (Iraq war) and Kabul (Afghanistan war).

This was no small task: The soil was collected with assistance from the State Department, the Department of Agriculture, members of the military and Kathleen Stephens, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea.

Former U.S. Army 1st Lt. Thacker received his medal for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" in Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam after he remained alone on a hilltop fire base, armed only with an M-16 rifle, to ensure the safety of withdrawing U.S. and friendly troops. He was wounded, evaded capture for eight days and was eventually rescued.

WHAT'S BREWING

What's next for "Americas most fired-up political insurgency"? Where does the "tea party" go from here? That is the question to be parsed Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation by Michael Franc, vice president of government relations for the organization; Billie Tucker, executive director of Florida's First Coast Tea Party; Hot Air analyst Ed Morrissey and Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner.

"The hope is determine if the movement is a summer storm, or if it has left a sustainable, permanent impression on the political system," Mr. Franc tells Inside the Beltway. "And does the tea party represent a fault line in our political system that neither of the two major parties can absorb? Or are we looking at a rare realignment here?"

See the gentlemen reason and discuss, live and online (www.heritage.org) at 11 a.m. ET.

BUMPER PATROL

"That Obama sticker on your car might as well say 'Yes, I'm stupid!' "

Spotted by Inside the Beltway reader Stan Welli in Aurora, Ill.

BEETNIKS

With funding from the National Institutes of Health, researchers at Wake Forest University for the first time have shown that drinking beet juice can increase blood flow to the brain - a finding with "consistent and encouraging" potential for combating the progression of dementia, they say. It has much to do with the formation of nitrites, which open up blood vessels; the researchers used MRIs on test beet juice drinkers to prove their point. But beet juice? Consider it the next pomegranate juice. Or acai. The university has worked with a commercial concern to create a new and palatable - beet beverage. Stay tuned.

POLL DU JOUR

- 64 percent of Americans overall favor the death penalty for a person convicted of murder.

- 78 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats favor the death penalty.

- 71 percent of men and 58 percent of women favor it.

- 69 percent of whites and 55 percent of nonwhites favor it.

- 58 percent say the death penalty is applied fairly in the U.S., 36 percent say it is applied unfairly.

- 49 percent say it is not applied "often enough," 26 percent say it is applied "about the right amount," 18 percent say "too often."

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,025 adults conducted Oct. 7-10 and released Monday.

- Ballyhoo and belligerence to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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