- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 28, 2011

WHITE HOUSE WEATHER

Was there some opportunistic political posturing during Hurricane Irene? The White House and FEMA issued multiple press releases about the “federal family” response to Irene, coining an appealing new term that might play well in overwrought press coverage. The “family” consisted of several federal agencies, a Defense Department presence and of course, noble input from the White House.

American politicians have reacted with “characteristic poor taste” to Irene, observes Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Stanley. “In a country where everything is exploited for votes, even a hurricane can get 15 minutes on ‘Meet the Press.’ “

Mr. Stanley continued, “It is indicative of how big the federal government has become materially and psychologically that it is expected to do something about anything that happens in the USA. Gone are the days when a hurricane would be treated as what it actually is: a terrible act of God. Now it’s a photo opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Powerline.com contributor John Hinderaker calls the Irene-themed political theater “a charade” and “a corollary of the Hurricane Katrina fiasco, in which America’s mass media committed group malpractice, somehow managing to blame the inevitable consequences of a severe weather event, magnified by incompetent local authorities in New Orleans, on the Bush administration. President Obama is setting the stage to receive praise, rather than blame, no matter what actually happens.”

A date to go scuba diving with former NASA astronaut and famed moon walker Buzz Aldrin is up for bid in an online auction organized by astronauts to raise money for student science scholarships. (Astronaut Scholarship Foundation)
A date to go scuba diving with former NASA astronaut and famed ... more >

ADVENTURES WITH ASTRONAUTS

There’s scuba diving with a moon walker, a pencil that’s been in space, space shuttle items, a hat, lots of autographed photos. They are among “space artifacts” and adventures now up for grabs in the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s online auction to raise money for science scholarships. The organization was founded by six Mercury astronauts and now has the support of 80 more.

Bidders can vie for one-on-one time with NASA astronauts, including scuba diving with Buzz Aldrin, a Bahamas cruise with Scott Carpenter and a Mars Rover launch viewing with Robert Crippen.

Bidders must register at www.AstronautScholarship.org/auction. It concludes Sept. 3; winning bids are considered a charitable donation.

HUNTSMAN‘S REBRANDING

And speaking of political brands, Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr.is out to overhaul his image as an out-of-touch elite with ties to the Obama administration. Mr. Huntsman goes all he-man with a touch of down home during a six-day tour of New Hampshire. On Wednesday, he arrives at the Gilcrest Metal Fabricating plant in Hudson to unveil a major jobs plan calling for a “new industrial revolution” — warning the dithering press that they must wear safety glasses in the working facility, and huddle in designated areas.

Along with two town halls and three meet-and-greets, Mr. Huntsman will also attend the Concord Gun Show and boost his man-of-the-people tour by marching in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Labor Day Parade in Milford, later joining up with the Salem-Derry Elks Lodge for a picnic with local Republicans.

Mr. Huntsman is stealing some thunder, however. He’s announcing his jobs plan a week before both President Obama and rival Mitt Romney reveal their own employment strategies; both are expected to unveil their ideas on, yes, Labor Day.

PERRYFIED

Rick Perry’s candidacy has attracted strong support from Republicans who identify themselves as supporters of the tea party movement. The Texas governor leads the closest contenders in this group, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann, by 21 percentage points, says Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones.

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