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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2010

THE COONS FACTOR

A double standard in Delaware: Why does Republican Senate hopeful Christine O'Donnell get such excruciating press scrutiny about a dalliance with witchcraft while her Democratic rival, Chris Coons, gets only a few passing mentions of his youthful admiration of Marxism? As a 21-year-old Amherst College student, Mr. Coons once wrote "The Making of a Bearded Marxist," detailing his metamorphosis from young Republican to restless questioner following a trip to Kenya. Journalists, for the most part, have not parsed his serious-minded oeuvre they way they did Mrs. O'Donnell's blithe reference to the occult on an 11-year-old MTV video segment.

And the back story. The American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord says this pivotal trip to Africa ultimately prompted Mr. Coons to emerge "as a committed leftist after volunteering for an organization supporting Black Liberation Theology." He faults both The Washington Post and the New York Times for soft-pedaling this aspect of the candidate's political pedigree.

"The liberal media - alarmed at O'Donnell's success and busily running all manner of stories designed to portray her as a right-wing crazy - has suddenly gone missing on Coons. Silent on a stunning revelation that could prove uniquely fatal to Chris Coons' Senate candidacy in the year of 'tea party' rebellion against the Obama administration's agenda of wealth redistribution," Mr. Lord says.

SAME OLD SAME OLD

The town-hall meeting that wasn't a town-hall meeting: President Obama's manufactured encounter with "real people" on Monday was too slick, too glib. CNBC cameras rolled, and lights were bright; citizen questioners offered seamless platforms to support seamless answers to a painful economy. There were no squawks, no bumps, no evidence that the national discourse clunked forward a notch. Which is a shame.

"Once again, President Obama trotted out the same old worn-out reassurances on the economy. But Americans are still waiting for the promised recovery that never arrived," says Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele with a sigh.

"Unfortunately, there are no poll-tested lines or high-profile speeches that can ensure struggling families will get the jobs they need or pay the bills that are now past due. Just as they did with the Gulf oil spill, this administration continues to put a higher priority on communicating around their failed economic policies than actually solving the country's economic problems," Mr. Steele says.

HUNGRY, HUNGRY

Two cheesesteaks with Cheez Whiz, sweet peppers and mushrooms; four fresh apples; one mint chocolate chip ice cream cone.

(Some edibles President Obama bought for himself from vendors at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia on Monday before attending a fundraiser for Senate candidate Joe Sestak.

SAVAGE THUNDER

Just in time for the midterm elections: "Trickle Up Poverty: Stopping Obama's Attacks on Our Borders, Economy and Security; What You Can Do to Fight Back," a new book by talk-radio host Michael Savage to be released on Oct. 5. Interest is keen. The author tells Inside the Beltway that 150,000 pre-orders already have turned up on Amazon alone.

GRUMBLING THUNDER

Americans hate Congress right now; this is a given at this late date. We might as well carve that motto into some tree trunk somewhere. The disapproval rate of our lawmakers has reached 77 percent, according to a Gallup Poll released Monday. But some Americans are more vexed than others.

A rancorous 88 percent of "very" conservative respondents say they disapprove of Congress, up 11 points in the past year. The figure is 86 percent among conservatives and 71 percent among moderates. Even the die-hards are flagging: 62 percent of liberals and 56 percent of the "very" liberal also disapprove. In 2009, the number for the latter group was at 35 percent.

"Americans show no signs of relenting in their broad disapproval of the job Congress is doing as the midterm elections draw near, setting the stage for major seat losses for the Democratic majority. It is not only Republicans and independents who are driving this, but rank-and-file Democrats," observes Gallup analyst Lydia Saad.

WEAR WITH ALL

From the folks who brought you the Obama Bumper Sticker Removal Kit and the "Please Don't Tell Obama What Comes After a Trillion" T-shirt, a jump on sartorial needs for the 2012 presidential election. American Tees already is offering football-style cotton jerseys at $20 each, featuring the top 10 Republican candidates, including Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and even "Anyone But Obama."

The Nashville company also is offering a straw poll of sorts - logging a vote for a candidate each time someone selects and purchases his or her T-shirt, with results updated online.

"People are anxious to vote for a new leader. Why make them wait?" asks spokesman Tim Sutton.

See it all here: https://americantees.com/ election_central

POLL DU JOUR

- 52 percent of U.S. voters say their "own views" are closer to Sarah Palin's than President Obama's.

- 40 percent say their views are closer to Mr. Obama's.

- 84 percent of Republicans say their views are like Mrs. Palin's.

- 81 percent of Democrats say their views are like the president's.

- 48 percent overall have a favorable impression of Mrs. Palin, 49 percent an unfavorable impression.

- 40 percent overall say Mrs. Palin is "good" for the Republican Party.

- 63 percent of Republicans agree, 60 percent of Democrats disagree.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Sept. 18 and 19.

Squawks, squeaks, sneaks to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.

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