- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NEWT’S 15 MINUTES?

First it was Texas. Gov. Rick Perry, then Herman Cain, who shot to giddy fame and then slumped in the polls after their imperfections were magnified in an unfriendly media marketplace. But alas. Now it’s Newt Gingrich’s turn, some insist.

“Virtually every other candidate in the race has had their 15 minutes of notoriety and soon collapsed. Gingrich, who has thrived in the numerous debates that have become the focus of the race, suddenly looks a lot more attractive than he did a few months ago if for no other reason than the alternatives,” observes Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary magazine.

“If Gingrich is no longer merely one more talking head on the stage but a genuine contender, then we’re going to be hearing a lot more about why few thought his presidential ambitions realistic. Which is a polite way of saying it shouldn’t take too long for his bubble to burst,” Mr. Tobin continues.

“The beauty of the debates for Gingrich is that they have taken the spotlight off of his record and personality and allowed him to play the role he likes best: The professorial ideas maven who rises above the political fray to pontificate on the great issues of the day,” he says, adding, “In short, Gingrich can easily be portrayed as being as much, if not more of a RINO than Romney, which makes the case for his role as the new conservative ‘non-Romney’ untenable.”

TURKEYTOPIA

Occupy Wall Streeters, move over. The pro-turkey, vegetarian activists of United Poultry Concerns will “leaflet for turkeys” across from the White House on Thursday at high noon, urging the citizenry not to “gobble” the birds, or indulge in “a holiday meal made of misery.”

They forgot to mention that Benjamin Franklin once suggested that the turkey be made America’s national symbol, rather than the bald eagle; Franklin noted in 1784 that the turkey “is a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.”

Yes, well. Hot-cha. Meanwhile, the White House is hearing about other turkey issues, including the upcoming White House “pardon” of a Thanksgiving turkey, an event often fraught with peril, depending on the temperament of the given bird and president.

” As you know, ‘to pardon’ means ‘to exempt a guilty party from punishment.’ We would like to propose a more appropriate term for the event: ‘Spare.’ The difference between ‘spare’ and ‘pardon’ may seem slight, but as you know, our language choices have a lasting influence on the way that we, as a culture, view the action described,” Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, tells President Obama — himself charged with negotiating a settlement with the turkey.

“It would be more accurate to ‘spare,’ or refrain from harming, them,” Ms. Newkirk advises.

THE FINAL FRONTIER

At least NASA is hiring.

“Since all crewmembers will be expected to fly aboard the Soyuz vehicle and perform extravehicular activities (space walks), applicants must meet the anthropometric requirements for both the Soyuz vehicle and the extravehicular activity mobility unit (space suit). Applicants brought in for interview will be evaluated to ensure they meet the anthropometric requirements.”

So reads the Office of Personnel Management’s new description for job number “JS12A0001 Astronaut Candidate,” now publicly advertised at www.usajobs.gov until late January, with a salary range from $64,724.00 to $141,715. There are other requirements: “Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. And a probing mind,” the agency says.

OCCUPADO

Democratic organizers are still working in concert with the Occupy Wall Street movement, marking “the two-month anniversary of their heroic action” on Thursday with calls for solidarity.

“The 1 percent is truly afraid. They’ve tried everything to stop us — riot police, mass arrests, pepper spray, helicopters, police horses and endless Fox News lies — but we refuse to quit,” says Bob Fertik, founder of Democrats.com, the million-member grass-roots group that bills itself as “the aggressive progressives,” which has crafted the Progressive Caucus People’s Budget just in case the supercommittee can’t come up with anything in the next few days.

“There’s nothing we can’t achieve if we set our minds to it, and keep fighting. We’ve truly just begun,” Mr. Fertik says.

HEELS ON, GLOVES OFF

Republican women get their say about politics in the next 72 hours via Project GoPink’s three-day “Women Working for Change” conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor. The change the ladies seek is more Republican women in office, and yes, their motto is indeed “Heels on, gloves off.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire are among the feminine luminaries at opening festivities on Thursday; Condoleezza Rice, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, three lawmakers plus potential first ladies Callista Gingrich and Anita Perry ramp up the energy on Friday. There’s serious talk on tap. On the agenda: “Election day legality” and “domestic policy discussion.” See their plans here: www.wwfc2011.com.

POLL DU JOUR

• 71 percent of U.S. voters say the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction.

• 59 percent disapprove of the job President Obama is doing on the economy.

• 50 percent disapprove of the overall job Mr. Obama is doing, 43 percent approve.

• 49 percent have an unfavorable impression of Mr. Obama, 47 percent have a favorable one.

• 48 percent say they “definitely” plan to vote against Mr. Obama in 2012; 38 percent definitely plan to vote for him.

• 48 percent would vote for Mr. Obama, 44 percent for Mitt Romney in an Obama/Romney 2012 match-up.

• 47 percent would vote for Mr. Obama, 45 percent for Newt Gingrich in an Obama/Gingrich match-up.

Source: A McClatchy-Marist College Poll of 872 registered U.S. voters conducted Nov. 8-10.

Caterwaul, doggerel and squawks to jharper@washingtontimes.com