- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

BATTER UP

“The two things a politician fears hearing the most are, ‘Agent Jones from the FBI is here to see you,’ and ‘We’d like you to throw out the first ball on opening day.’ … Why do we fear throwing out the first ball? Perhaps it’s an honor, but most politicians can do without it because, like a meeting with the FBI, it almost never turns out well,” notes former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, who now pens a weekly Philadelphia Daily News sports column.

When the baseball season commences Thursday, President Obama will not be throwing out any ceremonial pitches at the Nationals’ opener. Incidentally, President William Howard Taft threw out the very first, uh, first ball on April 13, 1910, for a game between the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics; the Senators won 3-0.

BIG BREW

The prospect of a possible government shutdown April 8 is either good, bad, ugly or a strategically useful tool, depending on which lawmaker is doing the talking. As they banter, another faction is unshakably on message. The Tea Party Patriots return with familiar ferocity at high noon Thursday for a “Continuing Revolution” rally near the U.S. Capitol. Joining them will be Republican Reps. Mike Pence of Indiana, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Steve King of Iowa, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Tom Graves of Georgia, plus Institute for Liberty President Andrew Langer, Let Freedom Ring founder Colin Hanna and commentator Dick Morris.

Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, will join the Tea Party Patriots' "Continuing Revolution" rally near the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.
Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, will join the Tea Party Patriots’ “Continuing ... more >

Budget discussions may have devolved into a game of chicken as Republicans and Democrats wait for one another to blink. Or compromise. One thing’s for sure. The Patriots’ co-founder, Mark Meckler, blames the potential federal disruption on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama after Democrats rejected a Republican push to cut $100 billion in discretionary spending.

“$100 billion in cuts represents less than three cents out of every dollar budgeted to be spent by the U.S. government,” Mr. Meckler tells Inside the Beltway. “I asked my daughter what would happen if I took three cents out of every dollar in lunch money I give her. She laughed and told me it’s not enough to even notice. Eleven-year-old children understand this, but grown men and women in Congress seem unable to.”

UH, UH, UH

Are Republican presidential hopefuls dithering? Is that campaign trail just too daunting, complicated and expensive? Well, maybe. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation has canceled its official debate between the 2012 contenders, originally scheduled to take place at the Reagan Library in a mere 32 days, in a partnership with NBC News and Politico. The new date is Sept. 14.

“Although there will be a long and impressive list of Republican candidates who eventually take the field, too few have made the commitment thus far for a debate to be worthwhile in early May,” says executive director John Heubusch.

Some still have a taste for springtime debate, though. Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party are raring to go with their own version May 5, showcasing whoever shows up.

OPERATION PANTSUIT

“With a 66 percent favorable rating from Americans, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is more popular than the president, more popular than the vice president, and more popular than she, herself, has been for much of her time in the national spotlight since 1993,” observes Gallup Poll analyst Lydia Saad.

A Gallup survey released Wednesday finds Mrs. Clinton even garnered a 40 percent favorability among Republicans.

“Secretary Clinton recently ruled out serving another term as secretary of state in a possible Obama second term and has squelched speculation that she might replace Biden as vice president. This has only fueled speculation about what her presidential ambitions might be for 2016,” Ms. Saad says.

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