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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NEWTOLOGY

It's boot the Newt time: All those predictions that Republican presidential hopeful and polling darling Newt Gingrich would face a shrill gauntlet of critics before the Iowa primaries are coming true. Critics are crowing over his flagging numbers; a couple of "investigations" trimmed with drama and distractions are sure to follow in the next week. It's getting personal, too.

"Gingrich plummets in polls as voters start remembering who he is," quips comedian Andy Borowitz. And fresh from Harris Polls comes this chilly headline: "Almost half of Americans dislike Newt Gingrich as a person." Well, 46 percent don't like him, anyway, with nearly equal numbers saying they don't care for his political opinion or professional track record either. Things get interesting, though, with the particulars.

Among Republicans, two-thirds like Mr. Gingrich's opinions, 62 percent like his track record and 56 percent like him personally says Harris analyst Regina Corso, who notes that the good feelings drop "surprisingly" among conservatives, a phenomenon that might vex ConservativeHQ.com founder Richard Viguerie, who championed Mr. Gingrich at an insider forum for 60 conservative leaders earlier this month. One insistent group remains Newt-centric, though, no matter what's going on in Iowa.

"Gingrich does best among tea party supporters, where 70 percent like his political opinions, almost two-thirds (64 percent ) like his track record and 58 percent like him as a person," Ms. Corso notes. See the many numbers here: www.harrisinteractive.com

MIGHTY RIGHT

There was much emphatic speech and many rigorous sound bites this year. But there were 50 statements that towered over the rest, at least according to John Hawkins of the Right Wing News, who has just issued the third annual list of the "50 Best Political Quotes for 2011."

It's a rollicking list, indeed, from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's famous "Get the hell off the beach" order during a hurricane at No. 50, to the terse communication from Seal Team 6 after they killed Osama bin Laden at No. 1.

Find the list here: http://rightwingnews.com.

A JOHNSON MOMENT

Hmm. Interesting phrases. One observer wonders if BET founder Robert Johnson should consider joining the Republican presidential lineup after witnessing an exchange the businessman had with financial guru Ric Edelman, host of "The Truth About Money," which airs on some 200 public TV stations.

"I'm a serial entrepreneur and a visionary. I believe, fundamentally, that theres a business solution to every social problem. I've never been a big proponent of government intervention or government lending a hand," Mr. Johnson tells his host in an upcoming episode.

He later adds, "Its the old, you know, give the man a fishing rod instead of a fish. I believe in business solutions to social problems ... give everybody a fair chance. I'll spend my money to aggregate minorities for jobs and for vendor services. Business solutions to social problems. Will I make money? Of course, I'll make money. But at the same time, I will provide an opportunity for people to keep more income in their pockets. Ergo, more wealth, better well-being for their families."

MAKIN' A LIST

"Sometimes it's nice to get out of the house."

White House spokesman Jay Carney's explanation to the press for President Obama's brief Christmas shopping expedition to Best Buy and PetSmart in Alexandria on Wednesday, in the company of uber-patient dog Bo.

What he bought: One jumbo-sized chew toy, one Wii video game called "Just Dance 3," two $50 iTunes gift cards, three large pizzas.

FORGET MAYOR BALDWIN

Why, Alec. We hardly knew ye. Alec Baldwin has cut the role of politician from his life, making it quite clear that he is no longer considering a run for the mayor of New York City.

"I've lost my appetite," the actor announced in his weekly podcast on WNYC radio, comparing the Manhattan mayoral field to a frisky guy on a hot date - and emphasizing he's happy to stay within the warm confines of NBC's "20 Rock," which he stars in.

"Am I doing some edgy, like, finely chiseled social drama? No. Am I doing 'To Kill a Mockingbird'? No," Mr. Baldwin declared. "I give up money and fame and position and success. I give up this wonderful life I have now in exchange for the chance to really change things? I'm not quite sure you can anymore."

HOLLYWOOD'S JOHN CAIN

"None of these middle-aged white guys are game changers."

"So find me a woman."

And so goes the dialogue in "Game Change," an upcoming HBO movie that chronicles the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain and Sarah Palin. That scintillating conversation is between Mr. McCain, played by Ed Harris, and strategist Steve Schmidt, played by Woody Harrelson.

The characters are already walking and talking, though. HBO has released the preview for the film, due out in March, and well-timed should Mrs. Palin decide its time for her to jump into the 2012 presidential race. Then again, critics have long speculated that the film will not be flattering the Republicans. See the preview here: www.hbo.com/movies/game-change

POLL DU JOUR

• 58 percent of Americans say that the way the presidential campaign is being conducted means the electoral process "is not working as it should."

• 39 percent disagree, and believe the system is working.

• 57 percent say that the presidential candidates are talking about issues they "really care about."

• 38 percent disagree.

• 54 percent say the candidates have not come up with "good deals for solving the country's problems.

• 42 percent disagree.

• 48 percent say there is a candidate running who would "make a good president."

• 46 percent disagree.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,019 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 15-18.

Resolute comments, polite applause, game changers to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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