- The Washington Times - Monday, April 25, 2011

BARBOUR’S REACH

“Haley Barbour has gone from candidate to kingmaker. Every potential GOP nominee will now be lining up for his endorsement. His name may not be on the ballot in 2012, but his political influence will continue to be felt,” says Lou Zickar, editor of the Ripon Forum, on Mr. Barbour’s decision to drop out of the 2012 presidential race.

A LIBERAL DOSE

Brace for impact. A new MSNBC promotional campaign is now under way, and it has been fomenting since last fall. The brusque outreach expands on the network’s neutral sounding “Lean Forward” motto, pushing phrases such as “enough with the arguments, it’s time to advance the issues.” That in mind, Hollywood director Spike Lee coaxed a series of “unscripted” video spots from hosts Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Schultz, to air in the nation’s theaters, on assorted NBC and MSNBC media platforms, and in major print and digital ads.

But it is liberal and progressive thinking that gets the big boost, though MSNBC wraps the pitches with noble-minded polling data that suggests Americans are “optimistic” about their nation. There is also a sense that the network is intent on reviving some of the old “hope and change” mindset of yore. Ms. Maddow holds forth on “America’s greatness.” Mr. Matthews insists Republicans don’t think President Obama is “as American” as they are, while Mr. Schultz contends that healthcare reform is not liberal enough.

MSNBC rolls out a brusque new advertising campaign that pushes progressive ideology. (Image from MSNBC)
MSNBC rolls out a brusque new advertising campaign that pushes progressive ideology. ... more >

“These ads are unlike anything else. They are mini-documentaries that express the passion of our primetime hosts. You’re able to truly learn what drives them,” explains MSNBC President Phil Griffin.

“Until now, MSNBC’s ‘Lean Forward’ ad campaign had largely avoided wearing the network’s leftward slant as a badge of pride,” counters Ken Shepherd, managing editor of Newsbusters.org. “Sure, there were hints here and there that ‘Lean Forward’ really means ‘left-leaning,’ but the older ads were subtle compared to the latest batch which beat you over the head with their liberal take on major political issues.”

POMPADOURABLE

“Donald Trump dogged by rumors his hair is not from U.S.: So-called ‘Balders’ movement gathers steam.”

(Parody headline from comedian Andy Borowitz).

PENSION DIMENSION

Wisconsin isn’t the only state to provide an ongoing litmus test of public employee pensions. Across the political spectrum, Californians are “overwhelmingly” in favor of overhauling the pension system, says a University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times poll released Monday.

Seventy percent of California voters support capping public employee pensions now and in the future; this includes 66 percent of liberals, 71 percent of moderates and 69 percent of conservatives. Among people in unions or union households, almost two-thirds also support the idea.

“I can’t remember an issue that has exploded on the political landscape with the speed and force of the debate over public employee pensions,” says Dan Schnur, a political scientist at the campus and director of the research.

“If Gov. Jerry Brown decided that he was willing to take on the pension issue and a spending cap in order to attract the Republican votes he needs in the legislature, these results show he’d have very strong public support. Democratic legislators don’t like the pension issue any more than Republican legislators like tax increases, but California voters have clearly decided that they’re more comfortable with compromise than their elected representatives,” Mr. Schnur says.

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