- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2011

STILL A MEMORIAL

Rest assured. The nation has not yet allowed Memorial Day to devolve into yet another showcase for retail sales and hot weather revelry: 60 percent of the nation plans “something special” to honor the sacrifices of the U.S. military Monday, says a Rasmussen Reports survey - up six points in a year. Ninety-one percent say our troops are doing a “good or excellent” job.

Yes, President Obama has at long last returned to the White House, and for a few hours, talk of his “bin Laden bounce,” pesky Republicans and trillion-dollar anything will fade to a dull roar as decorum descends. With first lady Michelle Obama, the president will host a breakfast for Gold Star Families in the State Dining Room, present a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery and attend a Memorial Day service at the nearby amphitheater.

Meanwhile, the press labored to turn Sarah Palin’s somewhat mercurial appearance at Rolling Thunder on Sunday into a bash opportunity; the journalists ultimately failed to prove the former Alaska governor politicized the bikers’ traditional event. Mrs. Palin already has embarked on her “I haven’t decided yet” presidential bus tour, bound for historic spots to the north.

What was not lost in the commotion is “Friends of the Forgotten” and “I ride for those who can’t speak for themselves” - two Rolling Thunder mottos that reflect their take on the care of veterans and wounded warriors, and the fate of those unaccounted for, either missing in action or as prisoners of war.

“We have to press to this government. They haven’t done a damn thing for those left behind, and they know it,” says Artie Muller, director of the nonprofit, which held its first rally in 1988.

“I couldn’t be anywhere else but with these guys, and that’s all there is to it. I’m there for them,” Nancy Sinatra, the iconic chanteuse of Vietnam-era America, tells Inside the Beltway. “And I will keep supporting them, and keep returning to their rallies as long as I’m able to get around. That’s how much I believe in them.”

THE WEINERGATE PRESS

Rep. Anthony Weiner says his Twitter account was hacked by an unknown prankster who posted a lewd image of a male torso, instantly sent to the married New York Democrat’s 45,000 followers. Implications that Mr. Weiner had sent the image to a female admirer followed in myriad news and blogger accounts, popularly deemed “weinergate” or “weiner roast.”

A legitimate story? Guess so. Among those gleefully covering the unfolding mystery: The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Daily Mail, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, New York Post, New York Daily News, Big Government, the American Spectator, Politico, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Gawker, NBC, Pajamas Media, Daily Caller, Red State and Mediaite. Oh, and The Washington Times.

JULY FOURTH MONEY

Independence Day is but 35 days away. Meanwhile, scores of towns and cities have found their budgets won’t cover much of a star-spangled public celebration, the unexpected fallout from a lousy economy.

Of note. Liberty Mutual Insurance is offering a “Bring Back the Fourth” contest for cash-strapped jurisdictions: $10,000 grants, 10 of them, to support official Fourth of July parades, fireworks or civic ceremonies. The competition - locals simply have to take an online history quiz to “vote” for their town - is open until Flag Day, June 14, with the grants be awarded the week of June 20.

“Hometown July 4th traditions are an essential thread in the fabric that links us together, as community members and Americans,” says Paul Alexander, spokesman for the insurer, which has details here: www.bringbackthe4th.com

TODAY’S TIMING

“I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.” (the official White House proclamation.)

POLL DU JOUR

• 23 percent of Republicans most concerned with social issues/moral values support former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a 2012 Republican presidential candidate. Eighteen percent support former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 11 percent support Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and 5 percent support former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 4 percent support businessman Herman Cain and 1 percent former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

• 18 percent of Republicans most concerned most with national security/foreign policy support Mr. Romney. Eighteen percent support Mrs. Palin, 10 percent Mr. Cain, 8 percent Mr. Gingrich, 6 percent Mr. Paul and 6 percent Mr. Pawlenty.

• 17 percent of Republicans concerned most with government spending/power support Mr. Romney. Thirteen percent support Mr. Cain, 12 percent Mr. Gingrich, 11 percent Mrs. Palin, 10 percent Mr. Paul and 9 percent Mr. Pawlenty.

• 16 percent of Republicans concerned most with business/the economy support Mr. Romney. Fourteen percent support Mrs. Palin, 11 percent support Mr. Paul, 10 percent Mr. Gingrich, 5 percent Mr. Pawlenty and 4 percent Mr. Cain.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 971 Republicans conducted May 20-24.

Proclamations, protests, press releases to jharper@washington times.com