- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2011

WHEN CLINTON TURNED 50

Will President Obama party like it’s 1996? Indeed, his big 50th-birthday bash in Chicago on Wednesday is lavish, crawling with celebrities and fawned over by a prattling press. And when former President Bill Clinton turned the big 5-0 just 15 years ago, his birthday bash also was lavish, crawling with celebrities and fawned over by a prattling press. Maybe even moreso. Let us compare the Democratic partyers.

With the distinct odor of the debt-ceiling standoff still lingering in the air, Mr. Obama will party at the $40,000-per-night Aragon Ballroom in the Windy City, serenaded by fabulous chanteuse Jennifer Hudson, jazz great Herbie Hancock and indie band OK GO. Tickets range from $50 to $38,500, to benefit the Obama Victory Fund 2012. The Democratic National Committee also has organized scores of local “house parties” for the occasion.

And Mr. Clinton? From Washington Times records, his 50th birthday — celebrated on Aug. 19, 1996 — was staged at Radio City Music Hall and included a 300-pound American-flag-shaped birthday cake and satellite TV hookup for fans around the nation. Whoopi Goldberg served as emcee, with entertainment from Tony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Carly Simon, Kenny Rogers and Jennifer Holliday.

The birthday fete also raised $10 million for the Democratic Party. In total, there were 20,000 participants, “in the largest political fundraiser ever staged,” noted Democratic spokesman Andy Solomon at the time. Incidentally, Mr. Clinton — aka the “first baby boomer president” — is turning 65. Will he party like it’s 1996?

THE BRAT FACTOR

“In general, do you think the elected officials in Washington who have dealt with the debt ceiling in the past few days have behaved mostly like responsible adults or mostly like spoiled children?” asked a CNN poll conducted Monday.

The answer: 77 percent of Americans said they are just a bunch of brats. Eighty percent of both Democrats and liberals, 73 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of conservatives and 73 percent of tea party supporters agreed.

TEA-MOTIONS

The tea party seems to prompt big emotions. Everywhere. Indignant tea partyers and conservatives are waiting for both Vice President Joseph R. Biden and MSNBC host Chris Matthews to apologize for framing the grass-roots activists as “terrorists” this week. Such language is part of an unsavory tradition, though. Assorted pundits, activist groups, politicians and news organizations have called the tea party “an angry mob,” “irrelevant,” “racist,” “brown shirts” and “extreme right wing” since it emerged in 2009.

But there’s some drama within the ranks in a post-debt-debate world.

“Now is not the time for recriminations against tea-party-backed members of Congress who voted in the end for the debt deal,” says Richard A. Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com. “This is not the time to start fighting amongst ourselves. Nothing could make the Left happier than to see a splintering of the tea party movement.”

Mr. Viguerie adds, “President Obama used his bully pulpit to argue that the tea party was leading the nation to Armageddon, and the compliant media acted as a thousand megaphones for that line. … Let’s leave the recriminations to the liberals and stay united.”

AND IN ACADEMIA

“Adam & Eve and AdamAndEve.com, America’s most trusted source for adult products, are pleased to announce their involvement in helping fund the Joycelyn Elders Chair in Sexual Health Education at the University of Minnesota Medical School,” reports Chad Davis, spokesman for the North Carolina company.

“This chair, the first of its kind in the nation, will be named in five years by the Program in Human Sexuality.”

The aforementioned Mrs. Elders — 77 and a pediatric endocrinologist — served as surgeon general of the U.S. for 18 months during the Clinton administration; she was fired in 1994 for condoning masturbation during a speech before a United Nations conference on AIDS.

SAME OLD SPENDING

Citizens Against Government Waste continues to comb through congressional spending bills in search of earmarks. Though they may heed a call for federal frugality, lawmakers are getting sneakier, the watchdog group says.

“While earmark spending has dropped in the House and Senate appropriations bills, transparency has declined as well. Since 2007, legislators have been required to attach their names to the projects they requested, but earmarks have once again become completely anonymous,” say analysts Courtney Frink and Luke Gelber.

“Much of the progress made in earmark reform is being washed away. Legislators have begun to incorporate earmarks into the language of bills, which obscures the recipient as well as the requester of the earmark and makes the specifics of the spending item extremely difficult to identify,” the pair note.

They add,”While taxpayers may owe less for politically motivated pet projects this year, the pork-barrel spending has gone underground, making it difficult to track or predict.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 82 percent of likely U.S. voters believe members of Congress should take a 25 percent pay cut until the federal budget is balanced.

• 14 percent disagree.

• 59 percent say lawmakers should not receive government pensions when they leave office.

• 25 percent disagree; 16 percent are unsure.

• 52 percent say President Obama should not receive a $200,000 annual pension when he leaves office.

• 39 percent say Mr. Obama deserves the amount.

• 48 percent say the president should take a 50 percent pay cut until the budget is balanced.

• 41 percent disagree.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted July 28-29.

Weeping, gnashing of teeth, carefree commentary to jharper@washingtontimes.com