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Inside the Beltway

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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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MINDFUL OF CAIN

"I would like to extend a special offer that could help clear the air of the stench created by the 'soap opera' involving, at this point, five women, who after 15 years have had a remarkable, vivid recall of their 'experiences' with Herman Cain," says The Amazing Kreskin, a longtime mentalist who contends that the women who recently accused the Republican presidential hopeful of sexual harassment should consider taking a polygraph test, as Mr. Cain has offered to do.

But the mentalist has other ideas as well. Kreskin will make a formal offer Wednesday to meet with the candidate as well as the accusers and/or their "show-business lawyers," he says, to "ask only a couple of questions, and listen to their verbal responses and also their thoughts. After the meeting, I will make a brief public statement — announcing who I believe is lying and who I believe is telling the truth."

BUDGETARY BREW

The supercommittee may be in disarray over the federal budget. Not so the "Tea Party Debt Commission," founded by practical grassroots volunteers five months ago. Yes, they have a plan, which calls for balancing the budget without tax hikes, $9 trillion in spending cuts and a reduction of federal spending to 18 percent of the gross domestic product, among other things, all within the next decade.

Now they get their say: More than 200 tea partyers journey to the Senate on Thursday for a special hearing before Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, plus Reps. Steve King of Iowa, Paul C. Broun of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Michael C. Burgess of Texas and Joe Walsh of Illinois. The tea party "commission" will be accompanied by Dean Clancy, vice president of health care policy and legislative council at FreedomWorks, the fiscal conservative grassroots organization founded by Dick Armey.

"Americans are sick of watching the gridlock between both political parties in Washington. If they can't come up with a solid plan to reduce the deficit and protect our economic future, then we will," says Matt Kibbe, president of the group.

NO MACHO MOJO

President Obama is winning the "branding" war, say marketing experts who insist that the typical Republican presidential campaign logo "has lost its macho mojo ... and gone soft. It's also lost its ideological heft." Gone are the days of an emphatic "W" offered by former president George W. Bush, says Adweek news editor Brian Braiker, who adds that GOPers once dominated the field.

"What's Mitt Romney trying to convey with the drippy 'R' in his logo? What's that schmear of toothpaste across the 'H' in Michele Bachmann's name? Why does Jon Huntsman's logo, perhaps the most sophisticated of the lot, look like it belongs to a hotel chain? These designs evoke nothing much," Mr. Braiker says.

And of Mr. Romney's campaign logo?

"Simple and self-confident, but very much about the man — not so much about our country or our future," says Debbie Millman, president of the design division at Sterling Brands.

ROMNEYFIED

"President Obama and his allies are obsessed with Mitt Romney," declares Gail Gitcho, communications director for the presidential hopeful, who adds that all 26 Democratic National Committee "attack videos" target Mr. Romney.

"Obama's press secretary, Ben LaBolt, has referenced Mitt Romney over 110 times on Twitter in the last month. On the other hand, he mentioned 'jobs' 11 times and 'Iran' twice. In the last five days, 'Romney' has been mentioned 37 times on the Democratic party's official Twitter feed, with no mention of any other GOP candidate," Ms. Gitcho notes.

LET US IN

"We believe the public interest is best served by live television coverage of this particular oral argument. It is a case which will affect every American's life, our economy, and will certainly be an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign. Additionally, a five-and-a-half hour argument begs for camera coverage — interested citizens would be understandably challenged to adequately follow audio-only coverage of an event of this length with all the justice and various counsels participating."

- C-SPAN chairman Brian Lamb, in a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, asking the high court to allow C-SPAN to broadcast arguments to examine the constitutionality of health care reform.

THE LONE STAR

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is back in touch with his inner Texan, apparently.

"I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint, it needs a complete overhaul. We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C., and our federal institutions," the presidential hopeful said Tuesday during a campaign stop in Bettendorf, Iowa.

"It's time to create a part-time Congress where their pay is cut in half, their office budgets are cut in half, and their time in Washington is cut in half."

POLL DU JOUR

• 54 percent of Americans would vote for President Obama in a 2012 presidential matchup with Newt Gingrich.

• 18 percent of Republicans, 24 percent of conservatives, 92 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of liberals agree.

• 43 percent of Americans overall would vote for Mr. Gingrich.

• 81 percent of Republicans, 73 percent of conservatives, 8 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of liberals agree.

• 48 percent of Americans would vote for Mr. Obama in a 2012 presidential matchup against Mitt Romney.

• 10 percent of Republicans, 21 percent of conservatives, 87 percent of Democrats and 81 percent of liberals agree.

• 48 percent of Americans overall would vote for Mr. Romney.

• 88 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of conservatives, 11 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,036 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 11-13.

Predictions, translations, humorous asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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