- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2011

IGNORING REPUBLICANS

Oh, those dastardly Republicans. Why, they’re behind all this debt ceiling nonsense, right? Powerful broadcasters would have it so, and have dutifully cast the Grand Old Party as the villain of the debt debate, and one deemed unworthy of meaningful coverage.

“The media coverage of the battle has often portrayed President Obama as the grown-up, the compromiser — despite his unwavering insistence that tax increases be in any sort of agreement. The GOP has been painted as the ‘party of no’ ,” says Julia Seymour, an analyst with the Business & Media Institute.

ABC, CBS and NBC “treated the GOP plan as a waste of time by barely mentioning it in their reports,” she says, revealing that out of 112 recent network accounts on the debt ceiling, less than 10 percent even mentioned the proposal by name.

“The GOP’s ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ was mostly just cut by the media,” Ms. Seymour observes.

FROM THE GREAT BEYOND

“I predict that the U.S. will not default. This is all fun-and-games politics taking place right now. President Obama has painted himself into a corner. Only by going to the very edge will he be made to blink,” notes Blair Robertson, an Arizona-based psychic who has shared his impressions with Inside the Beltway on occasion.

“It’s scary stuff. And, yes, the credit rating will be downgraded,” Mr. Robertson adds. “A crisis will be averted. And as I said when he was elected, Mr. Obama will be a one-term president.”

THE HUMBLE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Yes, there’s endless, bombastic political theater on Capitol Hill. But in case anyone’s wondering, it’s humble business as usual for presidential hopefuls Jon Huntsman Jr. and Newt Gingrich. They’ve got to be lovingly local. Mr. Huntsman will spend all next week on an eight-town tour of New Hampshire, the star of house parties on country lanes and Chamber of Commerce meetings.

Mr. Gingrich is headed for Iowa. The former House speaker journeys to Decorah — population 8,000 — for the “Take a Liking to a Viking” Nordic Fest. He’ll attend an all-you-can eat pancake breakfast at a firehouse, then march with the Winneshiek County GOP in the festival parade before visiting the Mitchell County Fair as a guest of Iowa State Rep. Josh Byrnes.

And that’s just Saturday.

THE CONNIVING PRESS

“In the wake of a British media scandal involving illegal phone hacking, high percentages of likely U.S. voters believe reporters in the United States sometimes use illegal methods to learn personal information,” says Corry Schiermeyer, an analyst for IBOPE Zogby International.

Uh-oh. How much? The pollsters plumbed public opinion on the phenomenon to find 80 percent of the respondents say the American press can get shady in their zeal for a scoop. We’re talking phone hacking here. Just 8 percent say such practices are limited to Great Britain, Zogby found.

BUMPER PATROL

“FRAUD: The No. 1 cause of global warming.”

- Bumper sticker spotted in Charlotte, N.C.

TWEET REALITY

For better or worse, White House pranksters fiddle with official communications at times. Take the case of one David Wiggs, who complained in a tweet that White House press briefings are not “nearly as entertaining” as they used to be. To his surprise, Mr. Wiggs received an immediate comment from the official White House Twitter account.

“Sorry to hear that. Fiscal policy is important, but can be dry sometimes. Here’s something more fun,” the tweet read, connecting him to a YouTube video of Rick Astley’s 1980s anthem “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

Aw. Clever. But it should be a teachable moment for Republican strategists. The waggish White House tech team drew buzz from this social media moment; it is also deft in currying favor with the coveted, elusive under-30 voting bloc. But the White House also has a teachable moment for its 2.3 million Twitter followers, prominently displayed:

“Official WH twitter account. Comments & messages received through official WH pages are subject to the PRA and may be archived.” Of course, “PRA” refers to the Presidential Records Act, which signals that even the most inane tweet could end up stowed within the National Archives.

HOLA, VIRGINIA

A debatir en espanol? One local race could go language-centric. Tito Munoz, founder of the Conservative Hispanic Coalition and candidate for the Republican nomination for the Virginia Senate in the 36th District, wants to debate his primary opponent entirely in Spanish.

Mr. Munoz seeks an encounter with opponent Jeff Frederick; Mr. Munoz was born in Colombia, immigrated to the U.S. in the mid-1970s and became a naturalized citizen three years ago. Mr. Frederick’s mother was born in Colombia, he in Fairfax County.

“Since we have two Hispanic candidates for the Republican nomination, what better opportunity is there to reach out to our growing population?” Mr. Munoz asks. “I hope Jeff agrees that our Hispanic brothers and sisters might like to be spoken to in their native language.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 50 percent of Americans bring their laptop computer with them on summer vacation.

• 46 percent overall will attend to work-related projects while they’re taking it easy.

• 54 percent of men and 37 percent of women plan to work on vacation.

• 35 percent overall will monitor their work emails.

• 22 percent will check their voicemail, 22 percent will return work-related phone calls.

• 35 percent say they will do no work-related activities when they’re vacationing.

• 19 percent say they “were not or will not be employed” at the time of their vacation.

Source: An Adweek/Harris Poll of 3,304 adults July 13-15 and released Thursday.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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