- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 7, 2011

CLASH OF THE TITANS

The aftermath of the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of America has become melodramatic, bombastic and intensely politicized. Dire claims that America’s exceptionalism is at an end have surfaced, along with partisan vilification. Consider that the words “tea party downgrade” have appeared in nearly 5,000 news accounts in the past 24 hours, according to a Google News count. It’s going to get noisier as global critics join in the America’s-going-down dance. But take a calm breath, please.

“The downgrade is Wall Street’s way of claiming dominance over political jockeying. It would be a mistake for investors to panic,” financial guru Ric Edelman, host of the new PBS show “The Truth About Money,” tells Inside the Beltway.

“What is happening now is merely an example of Wall Street exerting its dominance over Washington in major financial matters affecting the U.S. The worst thing that could happen now would be an overreaction to the downgrade, with massive sell-offs,” Mr. Edelman says. “Knowledgeable, prudent investors must stay the course.”

Yes, good to be prudent, as former President George H.W. Bush has advised. Good to stay in touch with one’s inner Ronald Reagan-style optimism, too, as the ride could get bumpy on both sides of the aisle. Despite claims from this Obama cabinet member to the contrary, Arizona psychic Blair Robertson tells the Beltway: “I predict that Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner will resign as a result of the credit downgrade within 30 days.”

Meanwhile, Standard & Poor’s itself plays judgmental hardball in its official justification for the downgrade: “The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed.”

PRAYERFUL READINESS

“We pray for our nation’s leaders, Lord - for parents, for pastors, for the generals, for governors - that You would inspire them in these difficult times. Father, we pray for our president, that You would impart your wisdom upon him, that You would guard his family. We pray for our military and the families who love them.”

That is Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s prayer, revealed at “The Response,” a faith event that was bashed indecorously in the press but nonetheless drew 30,000 enthusiasts to Houston on Saturday. The Creator, Mr. Perry told the reverent crowd, is “wise enough not to be affiliated with any political party,” and his “agenda” is salvation. Meanwhile, Mr. Perry has sent out fundraising information to “bundlers,” poised to begin an imminent campaign process.

“Perry will announce for the Republican presidential nomination very soon. Sensing that momentum is on his side, Perry’s team wants a quick show of force as soon as he enters the campaign, and raising the first few millions of dollars quickly would allow that to happen,” predicts Austin American-Statesman political analyst Jason Embry.

CANDIDATE TRACKER

Where are the Republican presidential hopefuls Monday as the countdown begins on the mighty Ames Straw Poll, which gets under way in a mere five days?

New Hampshire: Mitt Romney (Concord, Manchester, Nashua); Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter of Minnesota (Concord, Rochester).

Iowa: Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota (Atlantic, Council Bluffs); Herman Cain (Council Bluffs, Denison, Sioux City); Tim Pawlenty (Ames, Clive, Johnston).

Newt Gingrich arrives in Ames on Thursday, while Gary Johnson is avoiding Iowa and the poll altogether.

“We simply cannot and will not buy into an event that has been granted far more status in the nomination process than it should have,” says campaign adviser Ron Nielson.

TAKING AIM

The Second Amendment Foundation and Students for Concealed Carry on Campus get noteworthy C-SPAN airtime Monday. The groups are staging a free public forum at the National Press Club, showcasing a debate between Colin Goddard of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime.” Academic and legal panels are also featured, plus discussions supporting concealed carry on campus with state legislators.

C-SPAN will carry the events live from noon to 4 p.m.

BUILDING IT UP

Not everything in America is being downgraded. The Preservation Directory and This Old House magazine are seeking 64 of the best “old house neighborhoods” in the nation.

“The point of this contest is to familiarize people with outstanding, sometimes overlooked neighborhoods or towns that have exceptional older houses, and residents working hard to both restore and maintain them for future generations,” says Keith Pandolfi, an editor at the popular renovation magazine.

And how to nominate?

Submit the name of the neighborhood, a brief history and description of the architectural style and era of the houses, a clear case for why the neighborhood should be included, and five high-resolution digital photographs of houses and streetscapes. Send directly to Mr. Pandolfi at keith_pandolfi@timeinc.com.

POLL DU JOUR

c 46 percent of Americans disapprove of the federal debt ceiling agreement between President Obama and Congress; 68 percent of tea party members also disapprove.

c 41 percent of Americans overall approve of the way Mr. Obama handled the standoff; 15 percent of tea partyers approve.

c 33 percent overall approve of the way lawmakers affiliated with the tea party movement handled the events; 75 percent of tea partyers approve.

c 29 percent of Americans approve of House Speaker John A. Boehner’s role in the issue; 47 percent of tea partyers approve.

c 27 percent overall approve of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s role; 19 percent of tea partyers approve.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,012 adults conducted Aug. 2

c Cacophony, insistent optimism, pearls of wisdom to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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