- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 21, 2010

THE JUAN FACTOR

The difficult national discourse on ethnicity, terrorism and race jolts forward every so often, blasted by dangerous incidents or startling opinions, then ramped up in the hypersensitive press echo chamber. Juan Williams was the catalyst this week. Bounced off NPR News for publicly acknowledging his uneasiness with Muslims during an appearance on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” Mr. Williams himself is now the story, cast as hero or villain, innocent or perpetrator - depending on the coverage. The veteran newsman says he was fired by the “self-reverential” broadcaster for simply telling the truth about his own feelings. And the reality? Poll numbers reveal that many Americans side with him.

Fifty-six percent of Americans still believe that profiling - the use of factors such as race, ethnicity and overall appearance to determine who gets a security check - is “necessary” in today’s society, says a Rasmussen Reports survey released Thursday. Another 32 percent disagree, and deem profiling an “unnecessary violation of civil rights” while 12 percent are undecided. Close to half - 45 percent - think profiling should be used to determine which boarding passengers to search at airports.

Political correctness - long a virtue in the liberal camp - has few suitors these days, according to other research from the pollster: 57 percent of respondents say America has become too politically correct these days and 74 percent categorize it as a “problem” in the nation. Indeed, parsing our proverbial melting pot is no easy task. For anyone. But prissy avoidance of meaningful discussion can ultimately undermine our understanding, compassion and yes, genuine tolerance for one another.

“Did Juan Williams say what everyone is thinking?” asks ABC News analyst Russell Goldman?

BUSH-TOPIA

A bullhorn used at ground zero on Sept. 14, 2001; Saddam Hussein’s personal pistol, doggy water bowls, a bronzed football. (Samples from a 50-item preview exhibit of former President George W. Bush’s archives opening in Dallas on Saturday; the complete collection includes 42,000 artifacts and 70 million pages of paper records.)

WHAT’S BREWING

For those charting the progress of the Tea Party Express “Liberty at the Ballot Box Tour,” it reaches New Mexico and Texas this weekend before swinging north to Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois next week. Meanwhile, the wide-ranging “tea party” movement itself has shed its image as mere political novelty act and taken on historic overtones.

“The tea party will likely have more impact on midterm elections than any other third-party movement in modern American politics, exceeding the influence of movements led by Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, George Wallace and Strom Thurmond,” predicts Charles Dunn, a former President Reagan and President George W. Bush appointee, now a Regent University government studies professor.

“The party has inspired more candidates in local, state, and national races than the other movements. And if Republicans stray from the tea party’s anti-tax and anti-spending agenda, it will suffer at the polls. The tea party is more in tune with voters than the establishment leadership of the Republican Party. The tea party is the tail wagging the dog on these issues,” he adds.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

Scarrots. (1.7-ounce bags of baby carrots from Bolthouse Farms, billed as a “new kind of Halloween treat.”)

RUBY SLIPPERS

“I was just thinking about going as Dorothy. I killed the witch.” (Delaware candidate for U.S. Senate Christine O’Donnell, on her ideal choice of Halloween costume, to ABC News.)

AN OW-EE FOR HOWIE

From the That’s a Shame Desk: “Howard Kurtz as an online-only writer: still a hack.” (A review from the editors of Gawker.com of Mr. Kurtz, who left The Washington Post after 29 years to write about media for the Daily Beast.)

RECOUNTING HISTORY

Forget close polling numbers. Beware instead the specter of that old hanging chad - the icon of an infamous presidential grappling match in Florida a decade ago. Some vigilant Republicans say the battle of the midterms may not stop when the last poll closes.

“We have nine U.S. Senate races where polls show it’s just too close to call. But there’s something else that keeps me up at night beyond tight poll numbers. Recounts,” warns Rob Jesmer, director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“We saw it happen in 2008 in Minnesota, and we can’t let the Democrats try to steal any of these seats. With polls showing so many of these races tight, you know they’re going to try,” Mr. Jesmer continues. “That’s why we have lawyers ready to be dispatched at a moment’s notice on Election Day. The fight could last beyond November 2nd, and we have to be prepared.”

POLL DU JOUR

- 50 percent of likely voters will vote Republican in the midterm elections, 40 percent will vote Democratic.

- 56 percent of Protestants will vote Republican, 35 percent will vote Democratic.

- 52 percent of Catholics will vote Republican, 40 percent will vote Democratic.

- 52 percent of men will vote Republican, 37 percent will vote Democratic.

- 49 percent of women will vote Republican, 43 percent will vote Democratic.

- 10 percent of blacks will vote Republican, 83 percent will vote Democratic.

- 56 percent of whites will vote Republican, 34 percent will vote Democratic.

- 95 percent of Republicans will vote Republican, 1 percent will vote Democratic.

- 8 percent of Democrats will vote Republican, 88 percent will vote Democratic.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 2,251 adults conducted Oct. 13 to 18

- Tip line always open at jharper@washingtontimes .com. Follow her at twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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