Inside the Beltway

FUN WITH NUMBERS

And lots of them. Americans are not the only ones keenly interested in the words “money” and “dollars” this week. President Obama’s reported $1 billion re-election campaign is roaring to life, even as the White House carefully spins a delicate message of budget-minded prudence and bipartisanship for public consumption.

The “Obama Victory Fund 2012 Kick-Off with the President” blitz gets under way in about 72 hours, beginning Thursday at the Grand Ballroom of the Navy Pier in Chicago, followed by the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco on April 20 and the big finale at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles the following night.

Mr. Obama’s campaign - based from new headquarters in Chicago - likely will make just as big a footprint as the fundraisers.

“Obama’s 2008 headquarters expanded to 33,000 square feet of office space, occupying the entire 11th floor of a Michigan Avenue high-rise,” observes Bloomberg Business Week analyst John McCormick. “This time, the headquarters eventually will cover about 50,000 square feet inside One Prudential Plaza, a 41-story building that is a few blocks from Grant Park, where Obama delivered his victory speech.”

CIVIL BEHAVIOR

Note to politicians wondering how to best approach the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War on Tuesday: There are no easy answers, and the situation has grown more sensitive.

“The public expresses a less-positive view of politicians praising Confederate leaders than it did a decade ago,” says the Pew Research Center, which found that the number of respondents favoring such praise dropped from 50 percent to 40 percent in the past 10 years.

“In the new survey, more think that politicians’ statements praising Confederate leaders are inappropriate rather than appropriate, by 49 percent to 36 percent,” the group says. “Whites who consider themselves Southerners are the only group in which substantially more view public officials’ praise for Confederate leaders as appropriate rather than inappropriate (52 percent to 32 percent). A plurality of all whites (49 percent) - and a clear majority of African Americans (60 percent) - say it is inappropriate for public officials to praise Confederate leaders.”

LESS IS MORE

Yeah, well. While Republicans and Democrats try to claim rights as heroic victors in the government shutdown standoff, the Libertarian Party has an entirely different take on things. The party is not buying what it calls the “dog-and-pony media show” staged by elected officials. And it insists a “permanent” shutdown is the best panacea.

“Just think how a permanent government shutdown would allow so many Americans to regain the blessings of liberty,” says executive director Wes Benedict, who faulted “one-size-fits-all centralized mandates” in education; military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya; welfare and, of course, taxes.

“Most importantly, Americans would once again be free of unjust and unconstitutional violations of their unalienable rights,” Mr. Benedict added. “We’re not talking about eliminating the federal government. We want to end all federal activities that are not authorized by the Constitution, and we want to cut everything else as much as we can. In 2000, the federal government spent $1.8 trillion. This year, it’s expected to spend $3.8 trillion. Things are going the wrong way - fast.”

LIKE OLD TIMES

The question, “Miss me yet?”, accompanied by a jaunty photo of former President George W. Bush has lingered on the public radar - not to mention billboards, bumper stickers and posters - for more than a year. Fans of “43” don’t need to pine for him too much, though. Mr. Bush, apparently, never went away.

“The Obama administration’s anti-terror architecture: Too much like Bush. Obama has embraced national security policies of the previous administration that he once criticized. … Obama supporters who expected him to dismantle the worst parts of the Bush administration’s anti-terror architecture have the right to be disappointed. Every president discovers that positions glibly pitched on the campaign trail look different when viewed from the Oval Office, and many presidents must deal sooner or later with an assertive Congress.”

(From a Los Angeles Times editorial published Sunday.)

KNOWING TRUMP

Americans may have mixed feelings about Donald Trump, but they know him, and that counts for something. Currently, 43 percent favor him and 47 percent don’t, a new Gallup poll says.

“At this point, no one except perhaps Trump himself knows how serious he is about running for president. Although Trump has a more positive image among Republicans than among independents or, in particular, among Democrats, his 52 percent favorable rating among Republicans is relatively modest,” Gallup Poll director Frank Newport says.

“Trump does enjoy what many candidates strive hard to develop - 90 percent name recognition among all Americans and among Republicans. This generally makes him one of the most-recognized potential GOP candidates that Gallup tracks, in the same general territory as Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Whether Trump could parlay that familiarity into voter support in primaries and caucuses is an open question,” Mr. Newport adds.

POLL DU JOUR

• 77 percent of Americans say gas prices are “extremely/very important.”

• 71 percent have cut back on other expenses because of rising gas prices.

• 67 percent expect the price of gas to cause personal and family-related financial hardships.

• 64 percent say the price of gas has caused them to drive less.

• 63 percent disapprove of the way President Obama is handling the rise in gas prices.

• 53 percent have changed vacation plans to stay closer to home.

• $2.44, the median price Americans say would be “fair” for a gallon of gas.

Source: An Associated Press/GFK Poll of 1,001 adults conducted March 24 to 28 and released Friday.

Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes .com.

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