Inside the Beltway

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What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

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STILL UNDER GOD

Disgraceful, pathetic, scumbags, offensive, outrage, incredible, “let’s boycott.” Those are just a few viewer reactions in the blog- and Twitter-sphere after NBC omitted the words “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance during a video montage aired during U.S. Open golf coverage Sunday, meant “to save time.” The network later apologized. Sort of.

But it’s already a cultural moment, generating news coverage and a Kansas City Star “NBC God Oops” poll, which found that 87 percent of the respondents framed the politically correct omission as “Blasphemy!” while 13 percent deemed it “simple mistake, take a mulligan.”

FRISKY OLD OLBERMANN

Brace for impact. Keith Olbermann returns to the airwaves Monday on Current TV, the cable network founded by Al Gore. Things are already frisky. And bombastic. Mr. Olbermann hopes to wreak vengeance on MSNBC, his former network. He says he won’t be “censored.” He’s still vexed by the George W. Bush administration and not so keen on President Obama’s version. And Mr. Gore, who has ponied up an estimated $45 million to stage and promote the show, appears intent on rocking rivals in the 8 p.m. time slot, including Fox News.

Mr. Olbermann has firepower, though. Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas and filmmaker Michael Moore are regulars. Don’t be surprised if Rep. Anthony Weiner shows up, either before or after the New York Democrat actually exits the U.S. Capitol. Former MSNBC anchor David Shuster, onetime Nixon adviser John Dean, actor Donald Sutherland and legal pundit Jonathan Turley are also poised to appear.

“I have the pleasure of welcoming home so many old friends to this medium’s new primary network for progressive news and am delighted they’ll be helping me defend freedom of television,” observes Mr. Olbermann, himself endowed with the hoity-toity title of “chief news officer.”

ROMNEY AND THE UNBORN

Mitt Romney is getting scrutiny over his abortion policy. The Susan B. Anthony List and its affiliated political action committee -which spent $11 million in the 2012 midterms advancing pro-life candidates - recently asked Republican presidential hopefuls to sign their “Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge”. Mr. Romney, along with Herman Cain and Gary Johnson, refused; Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum have signed it.

Essentially, the pledge ensures that if they’re elected, candidates will nominate pro-life appointees at key federal agencies, end taxpayer supported abortion, advance a “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” and nominate Supreme Court and federal judges not apt to legislate “from the bench.” The pledge can be seen at www.sba-list.org

Mr. Romney explains that the “well-meaning pledge is overly broad and would have unintended consequences,”and could “unduly burden a presidents ability to appoint the most qualified individuals to a broad array of key positions in the federal government.” But he also insists he’ll “cultivate, promote, and support” a pro-life culture.

“Our pledge calls for active leadership, not just checking the box. Five candidates took the pledge, and the pro-life grass roots know where they stand,” says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the organization. “Gov. Romney refused to take the pledge and his explanation raises more questions than answers. In good conscience, we cannot let this rest.”

FIERCE REPUBLICANS

“My party right or wrong?” A Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 77 percent of likely Republican primary voters think that all of their party’s presidential candidates “would do a better job than the current occupant of the White House.” Eighty-three percent say they’ll vote for the Republican even if their favorite does not capture the nomination. And look out. Among tea party members, 92 percent will vote for the Republican, even if it’s not their favorite.

THE MONEY GUYS

A welcomed reality check, perhaps? Six governors remain intensely interested in the nation’s economic revival and job creation. Govs. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Jack Markell of Delaware, Rick Scott of Florida, Terry Branstad of Iowa, Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Scott Walker of Wisconsin will descend on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday to talk up fiscal fitness. The chamber also will release its second annual “Enterprising States” study at the auspicious gathering, says Thomas Donohue, president of the organization.

“The governors will discuss specific examples of policies that make states attractive for businesses to locate, relocate and expand in this uncertain economy,” he says, along with examining unintended consequences of cutting certain items from a state budget plus the range of public and private sector investments that could boost the economy in the future.

POLL DU JOUR

• 58 percent of Americans say it would be best if the U.S.pays “less attention to problems overseas.”

• 55 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Demcrats agree.

• 33 percent overall say it would be best of the U.S. were “active in world affairs.”

• 37 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Demcrats agree.

• 46 percent overall say the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally.”

• 45 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats agree,

• 31 percent overall agree that the “best way to ensure peace is through military strength.”

• 50 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 4,450 adults conducted Feb 22 to March 14 and April 7 to 10, and released Friday.

• Ballyhoo, gibberish and hubbub to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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