- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2011

SO-SO SOTU

With the promise of some giddy political theater, broadcast coverage of President Obamas State of the Union address Tuesday night is approaching Hollywood proportions. Will the president emerge as a centrist? Will renegade Republicans and Democrats break tradition, sit together in the name of civility, then hold a smarmy press conference? The running count of participants for this unprecedented congressional “date night” is somewhere around 30; CNN already is homing in on one pair in particular: “two of the most photogenic senators — Republican John Thune of South Dakota and Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.”

Ever canny American voters are intrigued — but they have not lost their grip on reality, either, no matter how much bloviation goes on before, during and after the big oratory. A new Rasmussen Reports poll finds eight out of 10 likely voters say they’re interested in the speech; 44 percent say it sets the nation’s political agenda for the coming year, while 47 percent think it’s all “just for show.” Alas, the White House should not get its hopes up: only 15 percent say presidents “accomplish most of what they promise in their State of the Union speeches.” Sixty-three percent disagree, while 23 percent are not sure what the address accomplishes.

LIFE’S REMINDERS


Some 200,000 people are expected at the annual national March for Life activities on Monday — which include a Mass for Life celebrated by Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl. The rally itself begins at high noon on the National Mall. Events culminate with the annual Rose Dinner at a Capitol Hill hotel; the keynote speaker is Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican. Incidentally, she will offer her own rebuttal to Mr. Obama’s aforementioned speech; see it here in the aftermath: www.teapartyexpress.org.

Meanwhile, other lawmakers have been busy in the pro-life arena. Rep. Mike Pence has introduced a bill that bans federal family-planning grants to groups that also perform abortions; he notes that the Planned Parenthood Federation of America last year received $363 million in government grants and performed 324,008 abortions.

Reps. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, and Daniel Lipinski, Illinois Democrat, have introduced legislation that permanently bars federal taxpayer-funded support for abortion to prevent women who use health care reform insurance subsidies to obtain an abortion through the benefits.

“Abortion is not health care,” Mr. Smith says.

AND THE NUMBERS

Where does the nation stand on abortion at this juncture? A new Fox News poll finds that exactly half of American voters describe themselves as pro-life; by party, that’s 32 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans. Overall, 42 percent of voters are pro-choice; the numbers are 59 percent among Democrats and 26 percent among Republicans.

TAKING A CONSTITUTIONAL

“Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships and promote adoption. And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

(President Obama’s statement on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade)

GRAND TEN GRAND

There are grand and serious words surrounding the upcoming Ronald Reagan Centennial on Feb. 6. There’s also some grand and serious college scholarship money for high school seniors, supported by General Electric, which employed Mr. Reagan as a popular TV host back in the day. The GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program offers $10,000 a year to students who are, well, a little Gipper-esque in their bearing.

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