- 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.”

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.

This makes the fifth major poll that Mr. Perry has dominated in a week, anointing him as the proverbial tea party darling, at least until Sarah Palin  enters the 2012 race with a patriotic speech, and possibly minus her signature red Naughty Monkey brand high heels. Mrs. Palin’s big announcement could likely occur during an appearance in Iowa on Sept. 3.

Meanwhile, Gallup reveals that Mr. Perry garners 35 percent of the overall tea party vote; Mr. Romney and Rep. Bachmann each draw a mere 14 percent. They’re followed by Rep. Ron Paul with 12 percentage points, Herman Cain (6 points), Newt Gingrich (5), Rick Santorum (3) and Jon Huntsman Jr. (1).

Mr. Perry also leads the pack in winning voter confidence for issues of keen interest to teapartyers. He was deemed the best to handle business and the economy, rampant government spending, social issues and public concern over moral values.

CONSERVATIVE SCORECARD

Who are the standard bearers for conservatism these days? Heritage Action for America is now keeping a legislative scorecard revealing that no single lawmaker achieved a perfect score, says Mike Needham, CEO of the grassroots group which has won accolades from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for the project..

“We are tough graders and we don’t apologize for it. After all, we are conservatives, not tenured university professors,” Mr. Needham says, noting that three senators and 27 representatives received scores above 85 percent.

See it all here: http://heritageactionscorecard.com

POLL DU JOUR

• 84 percent of Americans say they pay “at least somewhat close attention” to what they eat to ensure a balanced diet.

• 14 percent do not monitor their eating habits closely, 1 percent pay “no attention at all” to what they eat.

• 57 percent say they are at the proper weight.

• 35 percent believe they are overweight.

• 38 percent of women and 31 percent of men say they are overweight.

• 53 percent overall say they have dieted to lose weight.

• 61 percent of women and 44 percent of men say they have dieted.

• 45 percent overall say they have never been on a diet.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Aug. 22 and 23.

Complaints, proclamations, diet hints to jharper@washingtontimes.com. Follow the column at twitter.com/harperbulletin.