- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2011

SO FILE, ALREADY

“Believe in America.” And with that phrase and a modest video, Mitt Romney launched his 2012 presidential on Monday, joining Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain, who have also declared their White House intent. But dithering Republican hopefuls, beware. The first official presidential debate is only 23 days away, to be staged by Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party on May 5. So don’t dilly-dally. There’s red tape to attend - and the clock is ticking.

“Every potential debate candidate must meet all six steps of the following criteria no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, April 29th ,in order to be eligible for participation in the debate,” warns Michael Clemente, senior vice president of news at ever-canny Fox, which nabbed exclusive rights to the “first debate” title after the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library canceled a much-ballyhooed May 1 debate owing to lack of interest - from potential candidates.

Debate participants have work to do. They must register a presidential exploratory committee or have announced a formal presidential campaign. They must file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and South Carolina Republicans. They must pay federal and South Carolina filing fees, and meet all constitutional requirements. The debate participant also must have won at least an “average of 1 percent” in five national favorability polls.

Some have made their own declarations, perhaps.

“I don’t hear them talking about Mr. Pawlenty or anybody else. They’re talking only about Trump. And I can tell you, I’m their worst nightmare,” potential candidate Donald Trump told Fox, regarding his own relationship with the White House.

CIVIL WAR BIAS

Yes, there’s an odd twist to liberal bias in the news where the Civil War is concerned. It’s a convenient way to bash conservatives, at least on one network.

“On the 150th anniversary of start of Civil War on Tuesday, to MSNBC, conservatives are secessionists, slavery sympathizers and unreconstructed rebels,” says Matt Philbin, an analyst for the Culture and Media Institute, who says the network has declared an “uncivil war on the right.”

Among other things, MSNBC host Chris Matthews and others “saw threats of secession in states’ lawsuits against ObamaCare” and “characterized expressions of dissent from Washington, which MSNBC found so patriotic during the Bush administration, as ‘treasonous’ under President Obama.” This is not a new phenomenon; Mr. Philbin examined two years of coverage on the network. See his analysis here: www.mrc.org/cmi.

NOT SHRUGGING ATLAS

House Speaker John Boehner has seen it. There was a screening at CPAC 2011. And now, “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” - billed as America’s “first tea party movie” - arrives in 277 theaters on Friday. Based on the 1957 book by Ayn Rand of the same name, the $10 million independent film was financed by fitness-equipment manufacturer and poker champ John Aglialoro, as a demonstration of “what can happen when individual achievement is undervalued, suppressed and demonized,” say advance press materials. There’s also considerable grass-roots activism at work.

“Not near you yet? Demand ‘Atlas’ in your town,” advise the producers, who reveal that many of the venues showing the movie are concentrated on the East Coast and in proverbial “fly-over country.” For practical - and ideological - information about this project, investigate the film’s website (www. atlasshruggedpart1.com).

“Our political enemies in Hollywood will be watching how well ‘Atlas Shrugged’ does over the weekend. There’s nothing they want more than to have another excuse in another story meeting to shoot down an idea appealing to us based on actual box-office numbers,” observes BigHollywood.com correspondent John Nolte. “But because we’re the tea party and not the Republican establishment, I’m thinking they’re going to be pretty disappointed.”

BUMPER PATROL

“Obama, you’re fired! Trump 2012.”

- New bumper sticker from Cafe Press.com

HAPPY VOTERS

Consider that in a mass email to progressive Democrats sent Monday, Howard Dean urged them to “fight back against this right-wing attack.” Politicians and strategists who constantly frame their cause in aggressive ,warlike terms may want to think twice.

“Contented people are more likely to vote than unhappy ones,” says Baylor University political scientist Patrick Flavin, who also found that unhappy people are no more likely to take part in political protests.

Mr. Flavin and fellow researcher Michael Keane were surprised by their findings, based on responses from 1,300 voters in the American National Election Studies, which parsed out their willingness to vote, volunteer for a political campaign, contributing to candidates or even display a yard sign. The positive relationship between life satisfaction and political participation held even after controlling for income, gender, race, education and other factors, Mr. Flavin says.

“We can say with confidence that people who reported being more satisfied with their lives are more likely to get involved in politics,” he adds.

POLL DU JOUR

• 75 percent of Republicans say the federal government has “too much power”; 34 percent of Democrats agree.

• 70 percent of Republicans say lobbyists have too much power; 68 percent of Democrats agree.

• 69 percent of Republicans say labor unions have too much power; 20 percent of Democrats agree.

• 58 percent of Republicans say banks and financial institutions have too much power; 70 percent of Democrats agree.

• 56 percent of Republicans say major corporations have too much power; 73 percent of Democrats agree.

• 37 percent of Republicans say courts and judges have too much power; 29 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,027 adults conducted March 2 to 27 and released Monday.

Declarations, mumbles, movie scripts to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.