- The Washington Times - Monday, February 21, 2011

UNWAVERING WALKER

He doesn’t flinch. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker stands fast by his message of fiscal prudence in his state, even as the din of union rallies continue. Journalists are in love: Many frame the events as the all-American populist outcry of wronged citizens, with protesters cast as the “tea party of the Left.” Much coverage skims over the fact that some rally placards depict Mr. Walker with a, uh, Hitler moustache or as “Scott Stalin,” with hammer and sickle. Meanwhile, broadcast networks have soft-pedaled President Obama’s union sympathies, says Media Research Center analyst Brent Baker.

Sympathy grows, on both sides. Alan Franklin, director of Progress Now Colorado, plans a Tuesday rally on the State Capitol steps in Denver against “the extremist takeover,” telling his charges, “Gov. Walker is manipulating his state’s budget to attack his own workers.”

Americans for Prosperity, meanwhile, has staged a “Stand With Scott Walker” rally in Madison, complete with a petition — already signed by more than 55,000 — supporting his “common-sense reforms that have made the union bosses desperate to disrupt Wisconsin government and overturn an election.”

But wait. A new Rasmussen Reports survey says nearly half — 48 percent — of likely voters side with the new Republican governor in his dispute with public union workers over collective bargaining; 38 percent agree with the employees, 14 percent are undecided. See all the numbers in today’s “Poll du Jour.”

BUMPER PATROL

“Fight Back Wisconsin: A New American Tea Party.” (New bumper sticker now offered by zazzle.com)

RAHMARAMA

If it’s Tuesday, it must be election time in Chicago. Yes, it’s the big moment for Rahm Emanuel, destined to be declared “Mayor Emanuel” by evening’s end, if prognosticators are right. He’s got the money: The former White House chief of staff raised $10 million in a “massive fundraising advantage he built up late in 2010” says the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. His nearest rival Gery Chico brought in under $6 million, with former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun in third place with $705,500.

Mr. Emanuel has the polling numbers, too, drawing favorable interest of up to 58 percent of local voters; he only needs 50 percent to win the mayoral prize and avoid a rematch with a single opponent on April 5. But Chicago is not always predictable. During a personal appearance at a local chicken and waffle shop, Mr. Emanuel was greeted by chants of “Carol, Carol, Carol” and the realization that both Jesse Jackson and Rep. Bobby L. Rush, Illinois Democrat, were among the diners.

FANCY FOOTWORK

“Just got the official ‘ask’ from ‘Dancing With The Stars’!! Although I am utterly flattered, my initial thought was to decline, as 2-year-old nephew has more rhythm than me, and my two left feet!! What do you think?”

Former Senate hopeful Christine O’Donnell, in a Facebook message to her 26,000 followers; judging from their comments, most were torn between the allure of the ABC prime-time venue and the chance that Miss O’Donnell, 41 and single, would be mocked as a conservative or “used” by the network.

“You don’t need them. They need you,” advised one fan.

WHAT’S BREWING

While some dither and whine over the state of things, the tea party continues to roll forward like a very large, very reliable Mack truck. The movement itself has just celebrated its second anniversary on Feb. 19, marking the moment in 2009 when CNBC’s Rick Santelli delivered his proverbial “rant heard ‘round the world” at the Chicago Commodities Exchange, protesting the Democratic proposals for big bailouts and vowing to throw a “Chicago tea party.”

Time marches on. Quickly.

Under way in 72 hours: the Tea Party Patriot’s burgeoning “American Policy Summit” in Phoenix. The umbrella group — which claims 15 million supporters — will parse out fair taxes, government waste, unfriendly media, gun rights, American culture and a dozen other topics. There’s an impressive phalanx of speakers, including Reps. Ron Paul and Louie Gohmert, Texas Republicans; Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Andrew Breitbart, to name a few. Yes, there will be a presidential straw poll. See it all here: www.summit11.org.

“Tea Party Patriots values won the day in November, and we are now taking steps to make sure that these values are reflected in public policy,” says Mark Meckler, the group’s national coordinator.

POLL DU JOUR

• 50 percent of likely U.S. voters favor reducing their state’s government payroll 1 percent a year by reducing the number of state employees or cutting their pay.

• 28 percent oppose the idea, 23 percent are unsure.

• 49 percent say teachers, firemen and policemen should not be allowed to strike; 62 percent of Republicans agree.

• 38 percent of voters overall say the workers should be able to strike; 54 percent of Democrats agree.

• 48 percent of voters overall side with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his dispute with unionized public employees in his state.

• 68 percent of Republicans side with Mr. Walker.

• 38 percent overall agree with the workers’ viewpoints.

• 68 percent of Democrats side with the workers.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Feb. 18 and 19.

Hoots, hollers, the pitter-patter of applause to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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