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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BECK AND CALL

No, he didn't make the cover of Rolling Stone this week. That was left to President Obama. But Glenn Beck did make the cover of the New York Times Magazine, the focus of "Being Glenn Beck" -- one of those endless Times profiles that showcases the fancy footwork of fancy correspondents. These weighty works typically meander through personal detritus and end with a bittersweet flourish, a mournful note of irony. But, hey, it's serious proof that the Fox News host has done got the Gray Lady all shook up.

"At some point in the past few months, Beck ceased being just the guy who cries a lot on Fox News or a 'rodeo clown' (as he has described himself) or simply a voice of the ultraconservative opposition to President Obama. In record time, Beck has traveled the loop of curiosity to ratings bonanza to self-parody to sage. It is remarkable to think he has been on Fox News only since January 2009," author Mark Leibovich writes.

But where's that mournful note about Mr. Beck? But of course. Here is the final paragraph, a two-hanky edition:

"He is fragile, on the edge. There is no template for him or for where he is headed. 'I have not prepared my whole life to be here,' Beck told me from his plush couch, his face turning bright pink. 'I prepared my whole life to be in a back alley.' I expected him to cry, but he did not."

DUCK AND COVER

Yes, many dread the prospect of a lame-duck Congress that could send liberal issues swimming through the hallowed Senate chamber the moment midterm elections are over. Some dread it more than others, though. Danny Tarkanian, former Republican hopeful for the U.S. Senate in Nevada, is intent on dampening Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's enthusiasm for quickie tax increases, cap-and-trade and other contentious issues. He hopes the lame duck takes a swan dive, in fact.

"Voters will have the opportunity to send Sen. Reid a lame rubber ducky at his Washington, D.C. Ritz-Carlton condo. It is the hope of the Committee that this adorable ducky will serve as a reminder that a lame duck session could turn ugly," he said, advising the curious that the yellow duck - with personal card - will be sent directly to Mr. Reid's fancy digs for a $30 donation. Yes, there's also petition that begins, "For nearly 50 years Harry Reid has lived off of the taxpayer," and lots more at www.retireharryreid.com.

BUMPER PATROL

"Rightwing extremists: Jefferson, Adams, Madison."

- Bumper sticker spotted near Vincennes, Ind.

TRUE GRIT

Not to be overlooked: Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan are "tired "of fighting allied troops and ready to "reintegrate" back into society, say Maj. Gen. Hans-Werner Fritz - commander of Germany's Division Spezielle Operation and the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command North - and his deputy, U.S. Army Col. Sean Mulholland. NATO troops in the rugged region "appear to have the upper hand" and "extremists possibly are conceding defeat" the pair report.

"What I see with the Taliban is that their resources are finite. Our forces, with our partners, are going after a lot of the supply lines, the 'rat' lines that come through Regional Command North," Col. Mulholland said. "I deal with a lot of issues where we talk to the Taliban who don't want to fight anymore."

Gen. Fritz, meanwhile, commands 11,000 troops from 16 nations; they have been in "harsh" combat, according to Defense Department sources.

"It's been tough fighting. The Taliban, they are serious enemies. On the other hand, I must say that our troops are doing very, very well. They are highly motivated. They are a good partner. We are one team ... cooperation between all of us is so close, it couldn't be closer. I can only say I am very, very optimistic that we are on the right track and things are getting better."

NO BREW

Forget the tepid efforts of the "Coffee Party." Prior to the big fat "One Nation" march at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, the Progressive Democrats of America have declared that they are the official "un-tea party" and will be on Capitol Hill at week's end for some serious lobbying to end wars, increase jobs and shore up Social Security, the group says, perhaps from a parallel universe.

"We're the un-tea party in that we are as angry as the tea party, but we are mobilized in the belief that government is capable of doing good work when her citizens are informed and actively participating to push our elected officials to represent us rather than the corporate special interests that fund their campaigns," spokeswoman Laura Bonham tells the Beltway.

"We are grass roots in that there's no 'party,' no billionaires and no corporations, media or otherwise that fund our efforts. And most importantly, we've been doing this kind of organizing for the past six years - doesn't matter who's in office," she adds.

Some object to certain monickers, though.

"As the failure of liberal programs has become more and more manifest, liberals increasingly are running from the 'liberal' label, and calling themselves 'progressives' " observes Beltway reader W.L. Moore.

POLL DU JOUR

- 59 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of Republicans say they trust the news media.

- 54 percent of liberals and 33 percent of conservatives trust the media.

- 43 percent of Americans overall trust the media.

- 48 percent say the news media is "too liberal," 33 percent say the ideology is "just about right."

- 15 percent say the media is "too conservative."

- 11 percent of liberals and 73 percent of conservatives say the media is too liberal.

- 33 percent of liberals and 8 percent of conservatives say the media is "too conservative."

- 51 percent of liberals and 17 percent of conservatives say the press ideology is "just about right."

Source: Gallup poll of 1,019 adults conducted Sept. 13 to 16.

c Rants, raves and polite asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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