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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2011

PUTTING ON AYERS

Oh dear. For the second time, friend-of-President Obama and possible "Audacity of Hope" ghost writer William Ayers has been blocked from entering Canada. The former Weatherman Underground founder was on his way to give the keynote speech on "world views" and media this weekend, hosted by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association. But no dice.

In 2009, Mr. Ayers was detained by the Canada Border Services Agency and barred from entering the country, with "no reason given for this exclusion," says Mark Langer, president of the hosting group, who adds that the would-be speaker has since hired lawyers to secure his passage over the border, only to be "stonewalled" by Canadian officials.

"I am disturbed by the apparent inconsistency in the enforcement of Canada's border. In the past, we have admitted Martha Stewart, a convicted felon. Just a few weeks ago, we also let in Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician currently being prosecuted for violations of his country's hate-speech laws," Mr. Langer continues.

"One wonders if Ayers is being kept out of Canada for purely political reasons, something that is unacceptable in a free and democratic society," he adds.

WEINER'S NEXT ACT

So. Will it be "The Anthony Weiner News Hour" or "Dancin' with Anthony?" Now that one gig is over, another begins for the former New York congressman, which could include broadcasting in a post-scandal world. It worked for Eliot Spitzer. But despite his chutzpah and garrulity, Mr. Weiner is "too sleazy even for TV," says Marketwatch media analyst Jon Friedman. Anthony is no Eliot, apparently.

"Weiner is not as charismatic or accomplished as Spitzer. Remember, Spitzer initially received much credit for cleaning up the wrongdoing on Wall Street. Weiner has no such distinction in his resume. At the time of his downfall, Spitzer was so dashing that he was viewed by some as a potential candidate for president," Mr. Friedman observes.

"CNN hired Spitzer, who has failed to dazzle many critics and rack up big ratings. Will any TV news network take the same chance with Weiner? The congressman may be so unpopular that his reputation would outweigh any kind of appeal he might have as a famous bad-boy dude," the analyst concludes.

"Weiner has to show the world that he is, in fact, getting help. Much like drug or alcohol addiction, he has to deal with it and come back showing that he's changed. A comeback is not out of the question. Marion Barry came back. Weiner could," counters Jess Todtfeld of Success In Media, a New York image consultancy.

"He has some real decisions right now. Weiner could easily get work on a reality show or as a TV pundit. But for a guy who seems to like his job in politics, joining 'Dancing With the Stars' would not be the best choice," Mr. Todtfeld adds.

TEA FOR PERRY

There already is talk that potential presidential hopefuls Sarah Palin and Texas Gov. Rick Perry could shift from friends to "frenemies" as the 2012 campaign looms. Could be. A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds that the much coveted tea party voting bloc favors Mr. Perry more than Mrs. Palin — at least for now.

Overall, 36 percent of likely Republican primary voters think it would be "good for Republicans" if the former Alaska governor enters the race. An identical number — 36 percent — also approve of Mr. Perry joining the fray.

But wait. Among tea party members who are likely primary voters, 49 percent say it would be good for the Grand Old Party if Mrs. Palin declares her White House candidacy, while 53 percent of the conservative grass roots clan like the idea of Mr. Perry in the race. The survey of 1,000 likely Republican primary voters was conducted June 14.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

"PARKING FOR REPUBLICANS ONLY. All other will be taxed."

- Red, white and blue driveway sign — with elephant — from the Republican National Committee ($15 at www.gopstore.com).

THE OTHER PALIN FILM

Heidi Fleiss, Kurt Cobain, Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur — and Sarah Palin? They have one thing in common: Nick Broomfield, an independent British filmmaker who has made unorthodox documentaries on each.

Mr. Broomfield is almost finished with his Palin production that will likely prove the antithesis of "The Undefeated," the well-received feature film chronicling Mrs. Palin's political career that gets its first public screening at Americans for Prosperity Foundation's RightOnline conference in Minneapolis this weekend.

The British filmmaker's take on Mrs. Palin will "stir the pot," says Los Angeles Times film writer Steven Zeitchik, who frames the work as a "scathing" look at Mrs. Palin, portraying her as ruthless politician rather than straightforward patriot.

"The film could then play fall film festivals such as Toronto, with a distributor getting the opportunity to release it into the teeth of the 2012 election cycle, in which Palin is expected to be a key player," Mr. Zeitchik says. "It remains to be seen whether Broomfield's Palin film will play to a larger audience, or to a crowd predisposed against her."

POLL DU JOUR

• 77 percent of likely Republican voters say limiting federal government and reducing the national debt play a critical role in swaying their vote in 2012.

• 50 percent say the right to life and "protecting immoral influences on children" also play a critical role in their vote.

• 49 percent of voters overall would vote for President Obama if the election "were held today."

• 43 percent would vote for Mitt Romney, 37 percent for Tim Pawlenty.

• 45 percent will "probably vote" for Mr. Obama in 2012, 40 percent for "the Republican candidate."

• 45 percent of Republican voters are satisfied with the field of Republican presidential candidates.

45 percent are dissatisifed.

10 percent are not sure how they feel.

Source: An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey of 1,000 adults conducted June 9 to 13.

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

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