- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2011

ALL IS CALM

The Republican presidential hopefuls are essentially taking 72 hours off for Christmas, after months of ceaseless voter wooing, punctuated by big debates, grand gaffes and a shrill press. The campaign goes dormant on Christmas Eve, but not before a few last-minute campaign scurries of the most down-home demeanor.

The modest finales? The esteemed Mitt Romney holds court with the citizenry of the Granite State, breakfasting at the Tilt’n Diner in Tilton, and lunching at Dos Amigos in Concord. Rep. Michele Bachmann is still in Iowa, meeting and greeting at the Lodge Pizza and Steakhouse in Corydon and Uncle Nancy’s Coffee House in Newton, among several stops. Newt Gingrich has a single “Christmas Lunch” and town hall meeting in Columbia, S.C.

And then … nothing.

The phones go silent, volunteers disappear, the public halls are deserted, TV trucks lumber off. Journalists sputter, for want of a quick story. The candidates will allow themselves at least a few nanoseconds of unstructured holiday cheer before the old irresistible political itch sets and their minds race to the campaign trail — to poll numbers, stage combat and the horse race.

There won’t be much noise until Tuesday, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who recently switched his billing from the “fighting conservative” to the “proven conservative” — fires up his big fat campaign bus to complete a dogged, 42-town tour of Iowa. The journey finally comes to an end on New Year’s Eve at the Dutch Oven Bakery in Boone. But never fear. The mere thought that “2012” has finally arrived will recharge every campaign, and whet every political appetite.

PALINTOLOGY

“My family and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! I offer this to all because Christmas is a holiday for all, whether you are a Christian believer or not. The message of Christmas is full of hope, peace, joy, and the fellowship of all mankind; so I find it amazing that every year we hear more accounts of a ramped up ‘war on Christmas.’

“How sad and ironic that a handful of grinches are at war with the annual celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace, whose coming was prophesied centuries earlier and was then gloriously heralded by the angels with a blessing for ‘peace on earth’ and ‘good will toward men.’ Even if one doesnt believe the story, cant one at least recognize the beauty of the message? Or at the very least, let everyone else enjoy the season without throwing a temper tantrum at the sight of a Nativity scene?”

(From Sarah Palin’s Christmas message to Americans)

NOT SPOCK

What’s the biggest “misconception” about President Obama?

“Me being detached, or Spock-like, or very analytical,” he tells ABC interview queen Barbara Walters in a “20/20” interview airing Friday night.

“People who know me know that I am a softy. I mean, stuff can choke me up very easily. The challenge for me is that in this job I think a lot of times the press or how you come off on TV, people want you to be very demonstrative in your emotions. And if you’re not sort of showing it in a very theatrical way, then somehow it doesn’t translate over the screen.”

STOCKING FEAT

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