- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 20, 2011

BEHAVE OR ELSE

Incivility does not connote power or political prowess. Republican presidential hopefuls should remember that petty potshots - while amusing to the press - do not wear well with the weary, worried American public. Democratic strategists can easily exploit such moments as a symbol of (a) Republican disunity (b) Republican boorishness (c) Republican immaturity. And alas. Polished, studied Mitt Romney has abandoned is steady behavior by sparring with Texas Gov. Rick Perry; the rivals grappled before 5.5. million prime-time viewers on camera at the Republican debate in Las Vegas, and now duel with scathing campaign ads.

“For the first time in the five years since he launched his methodical, by-the-numbers, always placid, PowerPoint-inspired campaign for the presidency of the United States, an emoticon crossed Mitt Rombot’s faceplate. In layman’s terms, the former governor short-circuited,” observes Matt Latimer, a onetime speechwriter for President George W. Bush and now a Daily Beast contributor.

It’s a “chink” in the Romney armor, Mr. Latimer says, and an opportunity for bodacious rival Mr. Perry to reassert himself. And then? If a political campaign devolves into showbiz, the audience expects Act 2. And 3. On pay-for-view. Meanwhile, Herman Cain, who has won considerable voter affection for his cheerful mien and straight talk, says he’s done with Mr. Nice Guy as well.

The trio is so close in opinion polls that every iota of favorability counts. Numbers for them to keep in mind: 90 percent of Americans say the way presidential candidates treat their opponents is a “very important” factor in influencing their votes, 88 percent say a candidate’s “civility” is an important influence factor - even outranking their experience. And more: 67 percent say they have not voted for political candidates who acted like rats. The source: a Weber Shandwick/Powell Tate survey of 1,000 adults.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

“The death of Muammar Gaddafi makes news today, video game next Tuesday.”

(News from Brian Crecente, writer for the online gamer’s site Kotaku, who reports that Kuma Games promises their new Gaddafi computer war game will showcase “the Libyan rebel fighters’ mission to capture him and end the war.”)

NOW HEAR THIS

Though Lisa Simeone is a freelance contributor rather than an employee of National Public Radio, her recent support of Occupy Wall Street is generating hubbub for the broadcaster. Ms. Simeone - host of “Soundprint” and heard on many NPR affiliates - was fired from the role because her work with a Wall Streeter steering committee violated the network’s code of ethics, which essentially bars employees from lending their name to a political cause.

The incident was enough to remind some critics of NPR’s liberal bias, specifically, last year’s firing of news analyst Juan Williams, and a later sting by conservative videographer James O’Keefe which revealed an executive’s vexation with the tea party.

“Enough is enough. NPR must be defunded,” Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell says in an open letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner. “This is just the latest in a long list of abuses by this taxpayer subsidized leftist propaganda machine. … NPR is out of control, using taxpayer money to lend support to a sometimes violent and lawless mob set on crippling the financial backbone of our country.”

The adamant Mr. Bozell continues, “NPR is not an objective, independent news broker. NPR is a shill for George Soros and other liberal funders, doing the bidding of these donors and acting in tandem with their political interests. NPR is a rogue operation which must be eliminated once and for all. It wasn’t necessary, we can’t afford it, and it continues to violate its own ethical standards of non-partisanship.”

CANDIDATE TRACKER

Where, oh, where are the Republican hopefuls? Here’s where they’ll be in the next 72 hours:

Iowa: Reps. Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum. All but Mr. Romney attend the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition autumn banquet in Des Moines on Saturday. Mr. Perry, incidentally, will shoot pheasant on Saturday with Rep. Steve King of Iowa.

Indiana: Mr. Cain

Michigan: Mr. Cain

Oklahoma: Mr. Romney

New Hampshire: Mr. Romney

A DOLE MOMENT

And that would be “A Salute to the Leader” on Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington - “a bi-partisan gathering of friends and supporters of Bob and Elizabeth Dole, who will be in attendance as our special guests for the evening,” say organizers, who count former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton as honorary chairmen.

The celebration marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Mr. Dole’s service in Congress.

BUMPER PATROL

“Liberty and justice for all. (Offer not available in some areas, price subject to change.)”

- Bumper sticker spotted in Keene, N.H.

POLL DU JOUR

• 95 percent of Americans give Congress a negative job review; 95 percent of Republicans and 93 percent of Democrats agree.

• 67 percent give President Obama a negative job review; 95 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats agree.

• 49 percent of Americans say President Obama will not be re-elected; 79 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Democrats agree.

• 30 percent overall say Mr. Obama will be re-elected; 9 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats agree.

• 21 percent overall are unsure; 12 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Democrats agree.

• 40 percent overall say it’s likely they will vote for Mr. Obama; 9 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,463 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 10-17.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com. Follow the column at twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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