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Inside the Beltway

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THE 'R' WORD

Once, much of the left-leaning press wallowed in unkind mockery or criticism of President Reagan. Now, opportunistic and canny journalists can't wait to say "Reaganesque." Like, uh, all of a sudden. And no wonder. Americans appreciate Mr. Reagan's attributes — he was optimistic, strong in principle and civil in bearing. Therefore, the urge to strategically liken President Obama to the 40th president and his positive associations has never been greater, particularly as the Reagan centennial looms, with all its attendant buzz.

CBS, NBC and ABC, for example, compared the tone of Mr. Obama's State of the Union Address to past Reagan speeches, says Media Research analyst Brent Baker. Journalists mine Mr. Obama's public appearances for "Reagan moments," they pepper their prose with references to a "can-do spirit" and other evocative descriptors of the Reagan era.

The public will wonder about this phenomenon, tire of it, and resume their search for substantial news coverage of real issues, real threats, real solutions. Pollsters already have revealed that the weary public craves meaningful coverage of politics and policy from their media, rather than petty details from the campaign horse race, endless analysis or manufactured moments.

So. Let Mr. Reagan be Mr. Reagan, let Mr. Obama be Mr. Obama. And message to the press: It's time to work on defining "Obama-esque" moments. The real ones.

ON THE FLY

Traveling, lots of traveling. President Obama is often out of town. And in the past two years, so was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. According Freedom of Information Act documents from the Defense Department and the Air Force obtained by Judicial Watch, the California lawmaker traveled on military aircraft 90 times between April 1, 2009, and Jan. 1, 2010, and in a previous two-year period, her excursions cost the Air Force more than $2.1 million.

The watchdog group also revealed items from Mrs. Pelosi's airborne larder — like potables purchased by the Air Force for a 2008 Pelosi-led congressional delegation to Israel and Iraq: "Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E & J brandy, Bailey's Irish Cream, Maker's Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewar's scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniel's whiskey, Corona beer, assorted wines."

But wait. An internal Air Force memo sent March 25, 2010, revealed: "The speaker's office is requesting egg-salad sandwiches on wheat toast with fruit (watermelon, etc) for dessert. It's the speaker's B-Day tomorrow, so we're also asking for something like chocolate-covered strawberries (dark chocolate preferred)."

Says Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, "We are pleased that Speaker John Boehner will not follow Mrs. Pelosi's corrupt example and will instead fly commercial."

BUMPER PATROL

"Don't act stupid. We have politicians for that."

Bumper sticker spotted in Harrisburg, Pa.

JUST SO YOU KNOW

"The worlds Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35 percent in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to new population projections by the Pew Research Centers Forum on Religion & Public Life."

"Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades - an average annual growth rate of 1.5 percent for Muslims, compared with 0.7 percent for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4 percent of the worlds total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4 percent of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion."

From the executive summary of the aforementioned report, in its gargantuan entirety here: http://pewforum.org

AUTHORIZING

The guessing game continues. But publisher Simon & Schuster — aka Simon & S-h-h-h — still refuses to confirm or deny the identity of "Anonymous," mysterious author of "O: A Presidential Novel," the cheeky fictional account of President Obama's upcoming re-election campaign.

With much ado, Time magazine has declared the author to be Mark Salter, an aide and speechwriter to Sen. John McCain. He joins a list of possible scribes that now includes White House advisers David Plouffe and David Axelrod, outgoing press secretary Robert Gibbs and State Department diplomat-turned-novelist James Bruno — a name suggested by Jack Cashill, part of the Simon & Sh-h-h-h stable himself, and author of the upcoming book, "Deconstructing Obama."

Lots of hubbub. The book itself now lingers at No. 414 on Amazon.

"We're not commenting on the identity of Anonymous," Simon & Schuster spokesman Brian Ulicky tells Beltway.

POLL DU JOUR

• 49 percent of Americans say a Southern accent sounds "nice," 38 percent say it sounds "uneducated" and 34 percent say it sounds "honest," 6 percent say it's "sophisticated" and 6 percent say it sounds "rude."

• 40 percent say a Midwestern accent sounds nice, 10 percent say it's uneducated, 39 percent say it's honest, 8 percent sophisticated and 4 percent rude.

• 19 percent say a British accent sounds nice, 2 percent say it's uneducated, 13 percent honest, 47 percent sophisticated and 11 percent rude.

• 18 percent say a New England accent sounds nice, 4 percent say it's uneducated, 16 percent honest, 20 percent sophisticated and 14 percent rude.

• 7 percent say a New York accent sounds nice, 14 percent say uneducated, 7 percent honest, 13 percent sophisticated and 51 percent rude.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,331 adults conducted Dec. 6-13 and released Thursday.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com. Follow the column at twitter.com/harperbulletin

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