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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 16, 2011

VINEYARD COUNTDOWN

Forget the bus tour. In 24 hours, it's White House vacation time, punctuated by the outcry of those who say a presidential respite at this juncture is ill-timed and clueless. Meanwhile, angst is brewing in Martha's Vineyard, now gearing up for President Obama's arrival on Thursday, marking his third visit to the rose-strewn island, not to mention Blue Heron Farm, the 28-acre luxury retreat that will host the president for 10 days.

Anticipating the incoming onslaught of pushy press and travel restrictions, some locals wish Mr. Obama would take a "staycation" in the nation's capital. But Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican, refused to reveal his feelings about the Obama vacation, telling a Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce forum on Monday, "I'd refer that to the president. Obviously, we have work to do. If we get called back, I'm happy to go back."

But one former resident had plenty to say, now that she can't afford a visit to her home turf.

"I, too, had hopes of a trip back to the place I called home for almost 30 years. Unfortunately, I'm retired now, on a fixed income and have lost more money than I care to think about in investments that were for my golden years. Gone now, because of the inability or unwillingness of our elected officials to do the right thing," says Joanne Philbrick, in a letter to the Martha's Vineyard Times.

"Federal, state, and local officials do not seem to understand the difficult times that many Americans are going through. So, have a good time, Mr. President. Relax, enjoy, have a glass of wine and a nice dinner. Get a good night's sleep. I certainly won't," she advises.

CONGRESSIONAL STAYCATION

It's not a good time for Congress to be on vacation, either.

Rep. Allen West, declares, "This is DEFCON 1, and all leaves and passes must be canceled. We must return to Washington and start session immediately. Anything less is a failure in leadership."

The public apparently agrees with the Florida Republican.

"Americans' evaluation of the job Congress is doing is the worst Gallup has ever measured, with 13 percent approving, tying the all-time low measured in December 2010. Disapproval of Congress is at 84 percent, a percentage point higher than last December's previous high rating," says Gallup poll analyst Jeffrey Jones, on new favorability findings released Tuesday.

THE PERRY FUTURE

"Let the Perry hatred begin," observes National Review editor Rich Lowry. "Texas governor Rick Perry is about to stride purposefully through every cultural tripwire in the country."

Mr. Lowry continues, "He may not become as despised as Sarah Palin, but that's because he'll never be a pro-life woman — the accelerant for the conflagration of Palin-hatred. The disdain for Perry won't burn as hot, but it'll burn just as true. He'll become a byword for Red State simple mindedness in the New York Times and an object of derision for self-appointed cultural sophisticates everywhere."

FROM THE GREAT BEYOND

Well, why not? Election secrets are now guarded by media figures, and one chef. The Amazing Kreskin — "the worlds foremost mentalist" — has looked into the great beyond and recorded his predictions of who will secure the Republican nomination for president and who will ultimately win the White House next year.

"I spent a total of 28 hours preparing my prediction for the 2012 presidential election," says Mr. Kreskin, who correctly predicted the Canadian elections in 2004 and President Obama's win in 2008. "I am very certain that I am correct and stand by this prediction. Theres no turning back now."

But no revealing yet, either. Mr. Kreskin locked his predictions into diminutive boxes, then gave them to NBC late-night host Jimmy Fallon; New Jersey talk-radio hosts Jessie Frees and Julie Briggs; Las Vegas celebrity guru Robin Leach; and Sal Scognamillo, executive chef of Patsys Italian Restaurant in Manhattan. In true cliffhanger fashion, Mr. Kreskin will reveal the secret of the little boxes on Nov. 7, 2012 — the day after the election.

HUFFINGTON'S COMEUPPANCE

Can Arianna Huffington count on future freebies from creative types? Maybe the cachet of appearing in the $315 million Huffington Post just won't cut it anymore. The publication has long relied on bloggers to supply free content; with that in mind, perhaps, editors recently asked readers to offer a "cool idea for a logo that screams 'awesome politics coverage.' " For free, of course.

But AntiSpec, a grass-roots group that frowns on big media shops taking advantage of designers through gratis "speculation" projects, took the HuffPost to task, launching an immediate social-media campaign against the something-for-nothing logo contest. After sympathetic Tweeters and bloggers were done, the instant campaign got results in 24 hours.

"The Huffington Post was forced to make a statement, and they closed the spec competition," says organizer Mark Collins. "Power to the little people."

POLL DU JOUR

• 77 percent of likely Republican primary voters have a favorable view of Mitt Romney.

• 71 percent have a favorable view of Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota; 69 percent favor Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

• 70 percent agree that "any one of the Republican candidates" would make a better president than President Obama.

• 29 percent would vote for Mr. Perry if the 2012 election "was held today."

• 18 percent would vote for Mr. Romney, 13 percent would vote for Mrs. Bachmann.

• 9 percent would vote for Rep. Ron Paul of Texas; 6 percent for Herman Cain; 5 percent for Newt Gingrich; 1 percent for Jon Huntsman Jr.; and 1 percent for Rick Santorum.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely Republican primary voters conducted Aug. 15.

News, views, assorted whoop-dee-doos to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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