Inside the Beltway

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

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GIPPERTOPIA

There are fabricated “bipartisan” moments. Then there are the real ones. Two hours of floor time have been reserved in the Senate Thursday to commemorate the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, organized by Democratic Sens. Jim Webb of Virginia and Dianne Feinstein of California, plus Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican. The lawmakers are all members of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission, established by Congress in 2009.

“More than 20 years ago, President Reagan inspired this nation after a period of extraordinary turmoil and self-doubt. It is fitting that we reexamine his legacy today as our nation faces serious challenges at home and abroad,” the trio wrote in a letter to their peers.

Yes, but will there be cake? Uh, no. A spokesman tells Inside the Beltway that those 120 minutes will serve as a forum for Gipperian moments as told by the lawmakers — including Mr. Webb, who served as assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs and secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration.

RUPERT‘S RHAPSODY

Is it “righty?” That is the blunt question from media analysts trying to fathom the Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s new digital newspaper confabulated for the Apple iPad. Mr. Murdoch is downright rhapsodic about his baby, which daily features 100 pages whirling on a “carousel” application, audio and video, social-media feeds, “touch interactivity” for a 99-cent weekly subscription price and a $500,000-per-week operating cost.

“New times demand new journalism. So we built ‘The Daily’ completely from scratch,” says Mr. Murdoch, the chief executive of News Corp., parent company to Fox News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, among many holdings.

“The magic of great newspapers — and great blogs — lies in their serendipity and surprise, and the touch of a good editor. We’re going to bring that magic to ‘The Daily’ — to inform people, to make them think, to help them engage in the great issues of the day. And as we continue to improve and evolve, we are going to use the best in new technology to push the boundaries of reporting.”

Hints of ideological underpinnings are nowhere to be found. Yet.

“Nice layout with good photos and integration of video. But the reporting itself is fairly routine and rather like Time Magazine, circa 1970. In other words, sprightly but very conventional,” says Roger L. Simon, who created the forward-thinking Pajamas Media online news site in 2005.

“One problem is that ‘The Daily’ may be trying to be all things to all people. The Wall Street Journal tilts right, at least on its editorial page. The New York Times tilts left, all over. Is there room for something in the middle — or does that ultimately mean dull?” Mr. Simon asks.

HERMAN’S SIGN-OFF

He must be getting very close to his big “declare” moment. That would be presidential hopeful Herman Cain, who has resigned from his nightly Atlanta-based talk-radio show, where he’s chatted about issues for three years. His replacement of note is Redstate.com founder and CNN contributor Erick Erickson, who takes over the mic Thursday.

AL’S GLITCH

Ka-boom. Al Gore’s insistence in an online missive to Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that “man-made global warming” is behind the Blizzard o’ 2011 won him a link on the Drudge Report, much buzz and technical difficulties.

“Mr. Gore’s website was crashed by Matt Drudge’s website on Tuesday. Gore’s site was down from approximately 4:30 p.m. until about 6 p.m. Eastern time,” says Marc Morano of the ClimateDepot.com, a watchdog site that tracks the claims of global-warming alarmists

“Gore’s website crashed almost immediately following Drudge’s link. The irony for Gore is that he has touted his role of ‘creating’ the Internet,” Mr. Morano continues, recalling that infamous moment in 1999 when the former vice president told CNN he “took the initiative in creating the Internet” during his time in Congress.

“It now appears the creator of the Internet’s website is not able to handle traffic from the DrudgeReport.com,” Mr. Morano concludes.

QUICK ADVICE

“The U.S. government has a vital role helping Middle Eastern states transit from tyranny to political participation without Islamists hijacking the process. George W. Bush had the right idea in 2003 in calling for democracy, but he ruined this effort by demanding instant results. Barack Obama initially reverted to the failed old policy of making nice with tyrants; now he is myopically siding with the Islamists against Mubarak,” observes Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and a National Review contributor.

“He should emulate Bush but do a better job, understanding that democratization is a decades-long process that requires the inculcation of counter-intuitive ideas about elections, freedom of speech, and the rule of law.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 58 percent of Americans are satisfied with the influence of organized religion on the nation today.

• 39 percent say the influence should stay at the current level.

• 29 percent say religion should have more influence, 29 percent say it should have less influence.

• 47 percent of conservatives and 11 percent of liberals say religion should have more influence.

• 46 percent of weekly churchgoers, 39 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats agree.

• 38 percent of Protestants, 27 percent of Catholics, 9 percent of atheists and 7 percent of “non-Christian religion” members say religion should have more influence.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,018 adults conducted Jan. 7 to 9 and released Wednesday.

Hue and cry, gnashing of teeth, onomatopoeias to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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