- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2011

PRESI-POTTY

Well, surely it will win the coveted toilet title. Among the 10 finalists chosen for the 2011 America’s Best Restroom Contest is the Presidential Luxury Restroom Trailer, currently situated in Chantilly and the epitome of commode elegance from the porta-potty geniuses at Don’s Johns.

“This regal restroom trailer was actually set up for President Obama during the 2009 inauguration,” notes the official description from Cintas Corp., the industrial supplier conducting the competition.

“It features granite counters and shelves, black marbleized walls, wood panel doors and a hardwood-designed floor. Climate-controlled heat and air conditioning also guarantees to keep guests in maximum comfort during their visit. The dual audio system not only plays soothing music inside, but those waiting outside can keep up with the event on an exterior-mounted flat screen television.”

Well, then. Sounds like a sterling destination. But the luxury toilet trailer has plenty of competition for the title — like a frescoed bathroom in a California winery and a Las Vegas casino that uses graffiti-emblazoned concrete panels from the Berlin Wall for the backsplashes on their urinals. Vote for the winner at www.bestrestroom.com through Sept. 19; results will be announced in the fall.

DEBT SPEAK

“Ridiculous, disgusting, stupid, frustrating, poor, terrible, disappointing, childish, messy, joke, pathetic, confusing, crazy, bad, idiotic, disaster, sucks, sad, bull[expletive], chaotic, disgrace, lousy, political, stinks, outrageous.”

(The top 25 words freely cited by respondents to describe the debt ceiling impasse, from a Pew Research Center/Washington Post poll released Monday)

THE MIGHTY RIGHTIES

“Americans’ political ideology at the midyear point of 2011 looks similar to 2009 and 2010, with 41 percent self-identifying as conservative, 36 percent as moderate and 21 percent as liberal,” says Gallup Poll analyst Lydia Saad, when comparing broad statistics gleaned from 10 polls taken during the first six months of the year.

“If this pattern continues, 2011 will be the third straight year that conservatives significantly outnumber moderates, the next largest ideological bloc,” she says, noting that “hard right” Republicans outnumber “hard left” Democrats.

“A much higher proportion of Republicans call themselves ‘very conservative’ or ‘conservative’ [71 percent] than Democrats call themselves ‘very liberal’ or ‘liberal’ [38 percent]. Democrats are as likely to call themselves moderates as liberals,” Ms. Saad says.

THE GREAT REAGAN DEBATE

It was originally scheduled for May 1 but was canceled because the 2012 Republican presidential field was just too darn skimpy. But look out. The Reagan Centennial GOP Presidential Primary Debate is back on again, and with much ado. The debate will be staged on Sept. 7 at the striking, dramatic and fairly amazing Air Force One Pavilion of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

Broadcast on Fox News, backed up by the Wall Street Journal, of course? Well, er, no. MSNBC has the exclusive honors this time, partnered with Politico.

PULL THE PRESS

Oh, the caterwaul, the noise, the brinkmanship and hissy fits. The debt-ceiling debate has at least given the press something to do during the summer doldrums, a time normally reserved for close examination of the presidential vacation. The media narrative has spun out in three “noteworthy” directions, says Brent H. Baker, vice president of research for the Media Research center.

They are: (a) journalists fretting President Obama has moved too far to the right, (b) journalists claiming the tea party is a band of reckless teenagers or worse, and (c) journalists fretting that they will get labeled as “too liberal” rather than objective.

“The only thing I’d add is that the Washington press corps wants to paint President Obama as a successful leader, saving America from the tea party ‘extremists’ who put ideology ahead of the nation” Mr. Baker tells Inside the Beltway.

BEACH READING

From Eric Dezenhall, the Washington-based crisis management guru who never met a public relations catastrophe he didn’t like or couldn’t defuse: his sixth novel, “The Devil Himself,” a historic thriller that delves into a “long-forgotten, yet crucial alliance between the U.S. Navy and the Mob” to secure the New York waterfront during World War II. The author read Meyer Lansky’s personal diary to uncover a surprising patriotic side to the mobster.

And such is the stuff of an intriguing tale. “The book shows that not every mobster involved in the operation was all bad and not everyone in the government had pure motives,” notes publisher Thomas Dunne. “Based on true events, Dezenhall weaves together historical facts and his knack for storytelling to illustrate the patriotic risks taken by Jewish and Italian gangsters in 1940s New York.”

We can’t wait for the film version, Mr. Dezenhall.

POLL DU JOUR

• 43 percent of likely Republican primary voters say they are not members of the tea party.

• 39 percent say they are members, 17 percent are not sure.

• 22 percent overall say they support Mitt Romney for the 2012 presidential nomination, 18 percent support Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

• 16 percent side with Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

• 10 percent support Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, 9 percent support Herman Cain.

• 6 percent support Newt Gingrich, 3 percent support Tim Pawlenty and 2 percent support Jon Huntsman Jr.

• 28 percent of tea partyers support Mr. Perry, followed by Mrs. Bachmann (22 percent), Mr. Romney (16 percent) and Mr. Cain (13 percent.)

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely Republican primary voters conducted July 28.

Caterwaul, brinksmanship, the polite pitter-patter of applause to jharper@washingtontimes.com.