- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 13, 2011

A MUDDLE

Despite endless melodramatic media coverage, Americans remain unsure about Egypt’s destiny now that President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down. Yes, they wish the Egyptians well in their quest for national identity. And Yankee observers are reassured that the military showed restraint and decorum in assuming control, and have preserved peaceful relations with Israel for now. Americans are also happy that businesses are open, the normal din of civilization can be heard in the streets and that all the demonstrators are making like tea partyers and cleaning up their own trash.

Yet Gallup reports that American opinion of Egypt has become “sharply more negative”; the nation’s favorability ratings dropped from 58 percent in 2010 to 40 percent earlier this month.

But wait. A National Review online poll suggests that conservatives in particular have no illusions about Egypt. The magazine’s survey of more than 10,000 readers found that only 5 percent said that in a post-Mubarak age, Egypt will become a democracy. The majority - 56 percent - say the nation is to become an “Islamic state” while 18 percent say a “military dictatorship.” Time will tell, perhaps: 21 percent said Egypt would simply be “a muddle.”

ON THE RADAR

And that would be Michael Glassner, now officially known as “Sarah Palin’s chief of staff” the world over. He is not unfamiliar with the territory. Mr. Glassner, 48, served as director of vice-presidential operations for the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008; he was also senior adviser to Bob Dole from 1985-2000, and was the point man when Mr. Dole launched his White House bid 15 years ago.

“Sarah has a rendezvous with destiny,” noted one of hundreds of bloggers parsing the possibility that Mrs. Palin would soon announce her own presidential bid.

TRILLION KABILLION

Always helpful when the kids do the math. The 200,000-member College Republican National Committee is intent on showing the real world equivalent to $5.5 trillion - the interest alone on the national debt, tallied over the next decade. The group essentially does not want that amount “on their tab,” they say, particularly when student-loan programs are on the White House chopping block for fiscal 2012.

So. What will the amount buy? It could pay the annual tuition for 157 million Harvard University students, or alternatively, the annual tuition for 784 million students at a four-year public university. The interest could provide 1.5 billion Pell Grants to needy students and the annual cost of textbooks for 6.1 billion students.

“The fact that each child born in this country will owe over $117,000 to the debt is frightening. How is my generation expected to repay that sum when our economy is becoming increasingly government-centric, and private-sector initiatives have been handcuffed by new burdensome regulations and the fear of new taxes?,” says Zach Howell, chairman of the group.

COUNTERING ARIANNA

Well, you never know. The Washington Times plans to take on liberal media goddess Arianna Huffington in the near future. Some media critics are already fretting that Miss Huffington’s $315 million deal with AOL will allow her to deliver progressive content to unwitting readers through news sites that appear to be harmlessly neutral. The Huffington Post at least was upfront about its left-leaning nature. Her new AOL platforms? Not so much.

Ambitious countermeasures are in the works at The Times, which intends to provide a future forum to 10,000 “informed and engaged” conservative citizen journalists in all 50 states, with representatives in every congressional district, says Times President Thomas P. McDevitt. The idea, he insists, ultimately could work on a global level. He announced the strategy during the CPAC 2011 grand finale - the release of the annual presidential straw poll, now sponsored by The Times.

“The new AOL/Huffington Post coalition needs some competition,” Mr. McDevitt told the enthusiastic crowd on Saturday.

MAIS OUI

“Fight the Left. It’s gauche, it’s sinister.”

A free bumper sticker distributed at CPAC 2011 by attendee Jean-Francois Orsini.

POLL DU JOUR

- 79 percent of Americans do not expect to “go out of town” to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

- 68 percent would more prefer to “dine with someone special” to celebrate the day.

- 57 percent do not expect that to happen; 30 percent have plans for it.

- 50 percent will send at least one Valentine’s card; 11 percent expect to receive one.

- 18 percent plan to send flowers; 11 percent expect to receive some.

- 10 percent would prefer chocolate candy rather than “quality time with dinner.”

- 5 percent would prefer flowers.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Feb. 9 and 10.

- Ballyhoo, noise, whining to jharper@washington times.com.

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