Inside the Beltway

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

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ABOUT GLORIA

The toxic press continues to dwell on sexual-harassment charges against presidential hopeful Herman Cain, to the point that one CBS story erroneously reported he had been accused of “sexual assault,” says Matthew Balan, an analyst with the watchdog site Newsbusters. Are voters buying it? A new Rasmussen Reports voter poll conducted Tuesday finds Mr. Cain remains 13 points ahead of rival Mitt Romney; details at column’s end.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cain likely can find solace with Gloria, his wife of more than four decades, a mother of two and grandmother to three. “My wife has been an absolute gem,” he told ABC News. “She has been 200 percent supportive of me today, she has been 200 percent supportive of me for 43 years.

“My wife represents that calm and tranquillity that I look forward to seeing when I get home,” the candidate assured Fox News; the couple will make an appearance with Greta Van Susteren on the network Friday night.

LAURA‘S ‘LASTING GOOD’

Former first lady Laura Bush and daughters Barbara Bush and Jenna Bush Hager have been named 2011 Women of the Year by glitzy Glamour magazine, which has noticed their quiet power. “With little fanfare, this trio have become hugely powerful advocates on behalf of women, children and the world’s neediest,” the publication says.

Mrs. Bush and her daughters have organized or contributed to programs that boost basic health and educational outreaches for women and girls in Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa, along with poor communities here and abroad. The Bush ladies have, among other things, raised $500,000 for UNICEF and earned kudos from CARE. “They are all strong, compassionate and loving people,” says former President George W. Bush.

“We haven’t seen anything like this before. They’re using their celebrity and credibility as a springboard for lasting good,” says Myra Gutin, a historian who tracks first ladies. The list also recognizes, among others, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat; see details here: www.glamour.com.

PARTY PATRIOTIC

Party like you’re patriotic? Indeed. There’s a monumental event Thursday evening for 600 guests in celebration of “the spirit of patriotism,” at a grand site known for soaring windows and sweeping staircases, a mere three blocks from the White House.

The National Defense University Foundation presents the American Patriotism Award to Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent. The lawmakers will be feted by, among many, U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno; and retired U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, director of the CIA.

Ah, but this august occasion is indeed a gala. Guests will tuck into spinach salad, grilled tenderloin of beef with filet of lubina, followed by a swank salted caramel tart with bitter chocolate sorbet. But wait. There’s dancing afterward in a nearby ballroom, this marked by an after-hours “floating dessert buffet.” Yes. The spread of assorted minipastries will be suspended from the lofty ceiling, as a DJ spins the music.

PROTECTIVE ORDER

“We call on the Department of Justice, our nation’s top law enforcement agency, to stand up and protect American citizens whose rights to protest peacefully are under attack,” states a new public petition launched by Democracy for America, the million-member Vermont-based progressive group founded by Howard Dean in 2004.

The group notes that President Obama has demanded that “all governments worldwide” protect the rights of their people to assemble publicly. So they’re, uh, waiting.

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