It’s not political theater. This is a variety show. The first official debate for Republican presidential hopefuls is exactly eight weeks away at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, to serve as the opening curtain for the 2012 election cycle. The headliners are bustling to get their acts together. Newt Gingrich is in full statesman mode. Mike Huckabee is showing his fangs. Mitt Romney also is showing his fangs, and demonstrating he can wear a pair of jeans and suffer the line in a Wal-Mart just like everybody else. Sarah Palin is journeying to India; serious policy speeches and huge buzz are doubtless in the making.
Meanwhile, one feisty colony is bracing for impact. “It’s March Madness in New Hampshire this month as seven 2012 potential presidential contenders descend on the Granite State,” observes Boston Herald political writer Jessica Fargen.
Mr. Romney is basking in the friendly afterglow of a speech before Carroll County Republicans on Saturday. Tim Pawlenty is due in Manchester on Thursday. Rick Santorum is in Durham on Friday; Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, arrives the following day in Dover. Mr. Gingrich will be in Nashua on March 17, for the annual, uh “Wild Irish Breakfast, with Rudolph W. Giuliani in Manchester the following day. Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, arrives in Dover on March 25, and Mr. Santorum returns for an appearance in Lincoln at month’s end. And this is just March.
Some Muslim interest groups have warned Congress that an upcoming hearing is “fear mongering” and a “cottage industry of hate.” Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, is intent upon “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response”; a full witness list is forthcoming. The New York Republican hopes the public will judge for themselves. The hearing will be webcast live at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday at www.homeland.house.gov.
“We’ll examine al Qaeda’s latest and dangerous tactic of radicalizing members of the American Muslim community and recruiting them to engage in jihadist attacks against innocent Americans. We will also examine the American Muslim community’s response to the growing threat,” Mr. King says.
“Given that two New Jersey men just pled guilty to felony conspiracy charges related to their efforts last year to join a Somali terror group, Americans of all faiths clearly need protection from home-grown terrorism. Americans support the upcoming homeland security hearing,” says Tim Brown, spokesman for Liberty Rocks, one of 28 organizations supporting Mr. King’s effort, under the umbrella group Liberty Alliance.
MUSLIM TOWN HALL
“Based on extensive investigations, research and profiles of the violent extremists we’ve captured or arrested, and who falsely claim to be fighting in the name of Islam, we know that they all share one thing — they all believe that the United States is somehow at war with Islam, and that this justifies violence against Americans. So we are actively and aggressively undermining that ideology. We’re exposing the lie that America and Islam are somehow in conflict. That is why President Obama has stated time and again that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam.”
(Deputy White House National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, to an interfaith “town-hall-style meeting” presented by the Islamic Society of North America on Sunday).
“If Charlie Sheen had an air force, he’d be Moammar Gadhafi.” (Feminista Gloria Steinem, to HBO host Bill Maher).
RUNNING WITH WALKER
Exercising its perceived right of instant gratification, the Wisconsin public is anxious for the standoff between Gov. Scott Walker and unionized workers to end. Now. Mr. Walker must solve a near unsolvable problem as the nation watches: what to cut to balance the budget? It is a test case, but one with personal consequences.