- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2011

THE GREAT DIVIDE

“President Barack Obama’s job approval ratings were even more polarized during his second year in office than during his first, when he registered the most polarized ratings for a first-year president. An average of 81 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Republicans approved of the job Obama was doing as president during his second year. That 68-point gap in party ratings is up from 65 points in his first year and is easily the most polarized second year for a president since Dwight Eisenhower,” says Gallup Poll analyst Jeffrey M. Jones.

“Though Americans have always been more approving of presidents from the party they support than of presidents from the party they oppose, the partisan gap in presidential ratings has expanded. As Gallup pointed out last year, none of the presidents prior to Ronald Reagan averaged more than a 40-point gap in approval ratings by party. But from Reagan through Obama, all except George H.W. Bush have averaged more than a 50-point divide in party ratings,” Mr. Jones adds.

“The growing polarization is made clear by the fact that each of the last eight years - spanning the final six years of George W. Bush’s administration and the first two of Obama’s - have ranked in the 10 most polarized years in presidential approval ratings since 1953.”

ON THE RADAR

GOProud, a gay conservative activist group that will participate at the American Conservatives Union’s upcoming CPAC 2011, is also planning its first major fundraiser - to be hosted in the home of longtime Republican strategist and CNN correspondent Mary Matalin.

THE BIG TENT

Political alliances grow mighty intense as presidential races loom. Now it’s the Libertarians’ turn to woo the tea party.

“The Congressional Budget Office just told us that federal spending was expected to be about $3.7 trillion this year. After the Republican cuts, it will still be about $3.7 trillion. The Republican cuts are so tiny, they disappear in the rounding error,” points out Mark Hinkle, chairman of the Libertarian Party. “The tea party supporters have been betrayed. These cuts are so small, you need a microscope to find them.

“Oh, I’m sure we’ll hear Republicans say they’re just getting started, and more cuts are coming - just not yet. But I hope the tea party supporters and other fiscal conservatives wake up and smell the deficits,” Mr. Hinkle adds. “Libertarians would make dramatic cuts in spending, and if angry Republicans and Democrats threatened to shut down the government instead, Libertarians would say ‘Fine.’ “

SIGN OF THE TIMES

“The Sharon K. Pacheco Foundation announces the cancellation of the 2011 Patriots & Warriors Charity Gala, featuring former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, citing safety concerns resulting from an onslaught of negative feedback received by the organization after yesterdays announcement. … The organization deeply respects Sarah Palin, and appreciates her willingness to come and honor our military. The organization plans to host the event at some point in the future, featuring another speaker.”

(A public announcement by the Colorado-based military family/youth assistance charity.)

ON THE AIRWAVES

And that would be Mike Slater, a young talk radio host who debuted on SiriusXM on Sunday, to coincide with Ronald Reagan’s birthday. He describes himself as “a 20-something, Yale-graduated conservative who looks to our past to help formulate his hopes for our future.” The show airs Sundays from 9-11 a.m.

A SQUEEZE, A PAT

From the man who brought America “Ahab the Arab” 49 years ago comes a new tune that might not charm Transportation Security Administration director John Pistole. Grammy-winning recording artist Ray Stevens - who is performing at CPAC 2011 - is not singing about Clyde the Camel this time. It’s pat-downs and X-rated body scans that inspired his new single, “The Skies Just Aint Friendly Anymore,” included in an album released Monday.

“Traveling this great country and around the world is a wonderful freedom. We should not surrender our basic rights and dignity for a little security,” Mr. Stevens says, sharing lyrics inspired by airport security personnel: “He gave me a grope, a squeeze and a pat, and Ill tell you friends when I go to the vet - they treat my old bird dog with more dignity.”

The single can be downloaded on iTunes, Amazon.com and www.raystevens.com.

POLL DU JOUR

- 47 percent of likely U.S. voters describe themselves as “fiscal conservatives”; 7 percent are “liberal on fiscal policy issues.”

- 76 percent of Republicans say they are fiscal conservatives; 52 percent of Democrats say they are “fiscal moderates.”

- 55 percent of men and 40 percent of women say they are fiscal conservatives.

- 42 percent of voters overall say they are “social conservatives”; 26 percent are “liberal on social issues.”

- 69 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Democrats say they are social conservatives.

- 47 percent of men and 37 percent of women are social conservatives.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

- Hurrahs, hisses, hoopla to jharper@washingtontimes.com.