- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2011

THE WAR BEGINS

Angry mob, delusional addicts, racists, terrorists, brown shirts. Those are the actual descriptions for the tea party from assorted pundits, partisan activists and even politicians in recent days, dutifully showcased in the mainstream media. But blaming the plainspoken tea party and its lawmakers for debt woes and downgrades is a mighty hard sell. Now it’s tea partyers’ turn to speak.

“As tea party members warned, Standard & Poor’s said that unless $4 trillion was cut from the budget, the U.S. would face a downgrade,” says Matt Kibbe, president of the fiscally conservative grass-roots group FreedomWorks. “And now that S&P has kept its promise, the tea party has only one thing to say to President Obama: We told you so.”

He adds, “If the Obama administration refuses to take any responsibility, then it’s up to the tea party to lead the nation out of fiscal disaster. It is the Obama administration, not the tea party, which has added $4.3 trillion to the national debt. … If the president won’t lead, then it’s time to get out of the tea party’s way.”

THE SHORT TAKE

“AA+ is still good. Right??? Obamageddon. Barackalypse Now. Downgrade Obama in 2012.” (New t-shirt mottos from Zazzle.com)

PERRYLISCIOUS

Is he getting ready to toss his Stetson into the ring? While the rest of the 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls bump into one another during Ames Straw Poll festivities on Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is revealing his rogue side, journeying to South Carolina, then New Hampshire for some handshaking and speechifying. And announcing, maybe.

One insider speculates there’s about a “70 percent chance” that Mr. Perry will reveal — or at least clarify — news that he plans a White House run, most likely to be revealed during his 1:30 p.m. appearance at the Redstate Gathering in Charleston. Organizer Erick Erickson is noncommittal, however

“I know nothing,” he says, adding that if Mr. Perry chooses the conference for the big reveal, “Then that’s just cool and fine with me.”

COUNTERING KERRY

There are strong words to a certain Democratic senator from Massachusetts, from a media watchdog in Virginia:

“John Kerry is on a crusade to destroy the tea party. To blame the tea party for the S&P downgrade is like blaming the Betty Ford Clinic for alcoholism,” says Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center. “The entire existence of the tea party movement has been based on an attempt to stop the runaway spending of Washington — by the likes of John Kerry.”

He adds, “This is a well-coordinated effort by the left wing to deflect bad news — very bad news — away from their very left-wing President Obama.”

PAPA SANTORUM

“President Obama’s leadership has been a continued failure, and last week’s credit-rating downgrade for America proves it. Obama has left America home alone — no adult on the premises, no leader in the White House,” says presidential hopeful Rick Santorum.

“America has a president that refuses to lead during a time when leadership is critical to our country’s future and the future of all of our families. As a father of seven, I know that juggling responsibilities and setting priorities can be trying, but it is a trait we must have in our president.”

ARNOLD-A-VISION

“I survived Maria.”

That is the motto on a t-shirt worn by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger while he was out biking in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday.

Yeah, well. The public didn’t care for it. In an instant online poll of 60,000 respondents conducted by the gossip site TMZ.com, 79 percent said it was “disrespectful” to his soon-to-be ex-wife Maria Shriver, while 21 percent deemed it “innocent.”

GORE-A-VISION

More evidence that Al Gore is ramping up Current TV to be a major presence during the 2012 presidential bout. He wants clout. The former vice president founded the progressive cable news channel five years ago as a kind of hybrid enclave for moody news and hipster prattle. Two months ago, at considerable expense, he hired former MSNBC heavyweight mouth Keith Olbermann as a prime-time host and “chief news officer.”

Now Mr. Gore has raided CNN, hiring veteran David Bohrman as Current’s new president. Among many things, Mr. Bohrman served as CNN’s senior vice president of programming and Washington bureau chief.

Though Mr. Gore got indecorous over global-warming skeptics and uttered “b-[expletive]” multiple times during a recent speech at the Aspen Institute, he got lofty about his network. So look out, now. Mr. Gore now insists that Current’s mission is “to shine a light on important issues, to spark debate and to speak truth to power.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 60 percent of Americans say the economy is in a downturn and “continues to worsen.”

• 82 percent of tea partyers, 71 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of conservatives, 44 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of liberals agree.

• 50 percent overall disapprove of the recent debt-ceiling agreement between Congress and President Obama.

• 74 percent of tea partyers, 62 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of conservatives, 29 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of liberals also disapprove.

• 38 percent of Americans overall say their “confidence is shaken” in the U.S. economy.

• 46 percent of tea partyers, 44 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of conservatives, 29 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of liberals agree.

• 31 percent overall say an economic recovery has not started but conditions have stabilized

• 16 percent of tea partyers, 24 percent of Republicans, 22 percent of conservatives, 41 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A CNN/Opinion Research Center poll of 1,008 adults conducted Aug. 5 to 7.

Calm observations and mighty pronouncements to jharper@washingtontimes.com.