- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

USING THE H-WORD

“This is going to be tough. But I just want to remind all of you that you didn’t decide to support Barack Hussein Obama because it was going to be easy.”

(President Obama, at a campaign event Tuesday)

POST-POTUS

“Midas Mouth, Obama U., Chairman of the Board, Bill Clinton 2.0, Obama 2016, Chief Justice Obama, Bestselling Scribe, Stay-at-Home Dad.”

(Eight suggestions for President Obama’s “post-Potus career” suggested by Daily Beast political contributors Nick Summers and McKay Coppins, who suggest Mr. Obama “would make a pretty damn good ex-president” and that his re-election is “down to a coin toss.”

BOTTOM DWELLERS

Alas, members of Congress dangle at the very bottom of the honesty and ethics food chain - behind car salesman, telemarketers, lawyers and even those pushy journalists. So says Gallup, which asked Americans to reveal who has the most sterling character in a spate of professions. In first place were nurses, followed by pharmacists, doctors, high school teachers, clergy, funeral directors and accountants. In very last place were our lawmakers.

“This year’s ratings of members of Congress are the worst for them on record, with 7 percent rating them as high and 64 percent as low,” observes Gallup analyst Jeffrey M. Jones. “That is consistent with Americans’ poor views of Congress in general, as both its job approval rating and broader trust in the institution are also at record lows.”

VIC AND TRENT

The K Street universe is a crowded place indeed. This year, 12,792 professionals lobbied for influence in the nation’s capital, according to First Street Research Group in an analysis that tracks those who finesse their way along hushed corners and hallowed hallways. And there are those who do it better than everyone else: The top 30 lobbyists each average 50 clients who shell out an average of $144,737 each for lobbying services. Former members of Congress or ex-Hill staffers are particularly deft.

“Being an ex-member of Congress pays, and pays big: The average amount received by ex-members of Congress per client topped $178,000 in 2011, while ex-staffers received $147,526, and professional lobbyists brought in $108,076,” the analysis reveals. “Ex-members are selective about whom they represent, and their clients pay accordingly.”

Uber-lobbyists include former Democratic Sen. Victor H. Fazio, now a senior adviser at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, proprietor of Breaux Lott Leadership Group, the report says.

“Lott left the Senate in December 2007 and opened his lobbying firm a month later with a former like-minded colleague and fellow ‘First Street 30’ member - Louisiana Democrat John Breaux. It has become one of Capitol Hill’s powerhouse shops, pulling in nearly $8 million in just its first year.”

See the First Street 30 report here: firststreetresearch.cqpress.com.

DIALING FOR TEA PARTYERS

“Tired of the media trying to force you to choose a particular candidate? Do you believe that your voice needs a way to be heard?” asks the Tea Party Patriots.

The group of 15 million members stages its own hybrid presidential “teleforum and straw poll’ Sunday, minus fancy dais and splashy coverage. Rep. Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich will take direct questions on fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets, as suggested by tea partyers themselves.

“This is a chance for candidates to make their case to the tea party,” says Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the group.

Local tea party coordinators will screen the questions; results of the straw poll will be announced within 24 hours. Interested tea partyers can sign up for the event here: teapartypatriots.org/forum.

REPUBLICAN WRANGLERS

Who’s posing the questions and ruffling the feathers of the seven Republican presidential hopefuls in their debate in Sioux City, Iowa, at 9 p.m. Thursday? Fox News supplies the bristling panel of moderators who have been broadcasting from the city’s convention center site since Tuesday: veteran anchors Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Neil Cavuto.

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, appears to be the local favorite this time around, winning the endorsement of the Sioux City Journal, which appears eager to transfer the proverbial Reagan mantle from Newt Gingrich to his archrival.

“Like the popular Ronald Reagan, Romney combines a pragmatic conservatism with confidence (not arrogance) and an easy, comfortable style and manner, even charm,” the newspaper counsels.

“If as a Republican your No. 1 priority is the defeat of Obama, consider this: Romney is the candidate within this field who is best-positioned to win general election votes from not simply Republican voters, but from the all-important Independents in the middle, as well as from moderate Democrats on the left.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 80 percent of Americans say Congress is “bickering and opposing one another” more than usual.

• 6 percent say lawmakers have worked together.

• 76 percent say it’s time “to give new people a chance;” 9 percent say most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected.

• 51 percent say Congress has accomplished less this year than in previous sessions.

• 60 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of both Democrats and independents agree.

• 34 percent say Congress accomplished “about the same” this year; 7 percent said it accomplished “more” than usual.

• 49 percent say their own member of Congress should be replaced.

• 31 percent say their lawmaker should be re-elected.

Source: A United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll of 1,008 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 8-11.

Bickering, opposition, polite chitchat to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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