- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 18, 2011

OH-H-H-H

Uh-oh. “O: A Presidential Novel,” written by Anonymous and published by Simon & Schuster — otherwise known as Simon & Sh-h-h-h — has journalists chafing to speculate on who or what is behind the cheeky fiction centered on the upcoming 2012 presidential election. The Democrat-blue-hued cover features a golden O and a pair of sky blue ears; the publisher already has confabulated reader polls that plumb opinion of President Obama and the political affiliation of the mysterious scribe, who could easily be, oh, White House adviser David Plouffe. Also included: a waggish list of those who did not write the 368-page book, like Bill O’Reilly, Ovid, George Orwell or Olive Oyl.

“The author is someone who has been in the room with Barack Obama and knows this world intimately. The author wishes to remain anonymous to avoid being pigeonholed or ignored or scorned on the basis of associations, views or background,” explains publisher Jonathan Karp.

“By choosing anonymity, our author is following the tradition of Jane Austen, the Brontes, the Federalist Papers, The Story of O, and, of course, Lemony Snicket,” adds Mr. Karp, who e-mailed hoity-toity members of the press and asked them not reveal the author’s identity so the book — to be released Jan. 25 — can stand on its own literary merits.

Mr. Karp also insists the novel has no partisan bias, is neither a publicity stunt, nor an imitation of “Primary Colors,” the 1996 Clinton campaign chronicle written by another Anonymous, aka Joe Klein, a Time magazine columnist who denies he wrote “O”. Meanwhile, the publisher describes the work as irreverent, wise and tended by 10 editors who had no direct contact with the perhaps hermetically sealed author. And the take-away message? Big events hinge on tiny details.

“Despite having written two books of his own and dominated the national media for several years, Barack Obama is still something of an enigma. Our hope is that fiction will offer some resonant truths about what President Obama is really thinking,” Mr. Karp adds.

Like we said, uh-oh.

CROSS HAIRS

Hunters want to hunt on Sundays, and many aim at reforming laws in 11 states that ban or restrict hunting that day, specifically in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Prohibition on Sunday hunting dates to Puritan blue laws designed to boost church attendance, says the Sunday Hunting Coalition, which will announce plans to overhaul “antiquated” legislation at a press conference Wednesday.

The huntpersons in question: The National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Archery Trade Association, Boone and Crockett Club, Cabela’s, Delta Waterfowl, Mule Deer Foundation, National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and the Wildlife Management Institute.

IT’S CATCHING

The civility syndrome, that is. The 230 members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors plan to sign a “civility accord” at their three-day annual meeting, which begins Wednesday in Washington. Mayors Robert Walkup of Tucson, Ariz.; Elizabeth Kautz of Burnsville, Minn.; Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles and Michael Nutter of Philadelphia will introduce the measure; among many others, the group will hear from HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a host of Democratic lawmakers and Caroline Kennedy.

BUSY SIGNAL

“We will not stand by and allow Republicans to undo our progress. Call John Boehner now at 202/225-6205. Tell him we’re counting on the new Congress to do the right thing by their constituents — and that’s not repealing health reform. Then please let us know what you heard.”

(Message to Democrats from Yohannes Abraham, political director, Organizing for America)

THE GREAT BEYOND

Stephen Bassett, founder of the Extraterrestrial Political Action Committee and director of the Paradigm Research Group, calls attention to an upcoming business event. The fifth annual Global Competitiveness Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, “under the patronage of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz,” includes a forum called “Contact: Learning from Outer Space,” which plumbs UFOs, extraterrestial life and other matters.

“Political leaders and political journalists in the U.S. might want to ask themselves how it is a subject the U.S. government claims has no validity is being addressed under royal patronage at a conference in the capital of the planet’s greatest oil exporter,” Mr. Bassett observes. “They might also note Saudi Arabia is a nation which will be hugely impacted by the inevitable end of the now 64-year-old UFO/extraterrestial truth embargo and likely subsequent introduction of extraterrestrial-derived technologies.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 54 percent of voters favor repeal of the health care reform bill; 94 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

• 54 percent overall say the bill will not be repealed; 43 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Democrats agree.

• 52 percent overall say Republican plans to repeal the bill is a “gimmick to satisfy bill’s opponents.”

•19 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Democrats agree.

• 38 percent overall say the Republican repeal is a “serious effort to improve the system.”

• 69 percent of Republicans and 9 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Zogby Interactive poll of 2,067 likely voters conducted Jan. 7-10.

Telegrams, passenger pigeons to jharper@washingtontimes.com