- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2011

HOT AS IN “HOT”?

Though she’s not running for president, Fox News founder Roger Ailes still drew gleeful reactions from liberal journalists for explaining his decision to hire Sarah Palin as a contributor because, “She was hot and got good ratings.” Mr. Ailes shared that brief aside in a wide-ranging Associated Press interview on the network’s 15th anniversary.

The press automatically assumed that Mr. Ailes, 71, meant Mrs. Palin was hot, as in hubba-hubba hot. There was no mention of the possibility that Mr. Ailes could have been referring to hot, as in ratings hot, or buzz hot. Besides, Mrs. Palin is a, uh, brunette, some note.

“I thought Roger Ailes likes blondes,” observes Andy Parks, host and sergeant-at-arms of The Washington Times’ daily radio show.

THE JUVENILE RABBLE

It was not so long ago that liberals tried to answer the might of the tea party with their own “coffee party,” which essentially boiled down to decaf. These days, noisy progressives rally under a call for a “middle-class uprising,” urging followers to rescue the proverbial American dream from Republican gluttons, grass-roots style.

It’s “pathetic,” says National Review editor Rich Lowry, who looks askance at Wall Street protests in Manhattan and elsewhere.

“In the Occupy Wall Street movement, the left thinks it might have found its own tea party. MoveOn.org and some unions have embraced the protesters. The left-wing Campaign for America’s Future is featuring them at its conference devoted to reinvigorating progressivism. Liberal opinion-makers have celebrated them,” Mr. Lowry says, dismissing liberal tea partyers as “juvenile rabble” without much heft.

“The right’s tea party had its signature event at a rally at the Lincoln Memorial where everyone listened politely to patriotic exhortations and picked up their trash and went home. The left’s tea party closed down a major thoroughfare in New York City — the Brooklyn Bridge — and saw its members arrested in the hundreds.

“What was remarkable about the right’s tea party is that it depended on solid burghers who typically don’t have the time or inclination to protest anything. Occupy Wall Street is a project of people who do little besides protest.”

OBAMADARE

Note to Republican strategists: Deft White House wordsmiths have retooled the dreaded “Obamacare” word for Democratic gain. And here is the big reinvention, the big debut — all fresh and breezy from President Obama’s speech before a fundraising crowd in St. Louis just 48 hours ago:

“They call it Obamacare? I do care. You should care, too,” the president told his audience.

“The Obamacare line is getting big applause at the fundraisers,” observes Christi Parsons of the Los Angeles Times, the White House pool reporter who witnessed the phenomenon.

But such things are always interchangeable. Don’t forget that “Obamascare” has been in the alarmed public’s vernacular since 2009. Obamadare or Obamablare might get big applause at fundraisers, too.

MARCO’S POLO

Though Sen. Marco Rubio emphatically turned down the vice-presidential nomination, the Florida Republican still elicits visceral support from Republican presidential hopefuls. Newt Gingrich joins five other White House candidates who plan to boycott a debate on Univision after the powerful Spanish language network was accused of strong-arming Mr. Rubio.

Press accounts claim that Univision told the Cuban-American lawmaker it would not air a negative story about his family if Mr. Rubio granted it an exclusive interview. Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr. have all vowed to steer clear of the Jan. 29 debate.

“Newt stands with Marco and with all those who understand the need for a vigilant but ethical news media,” says Gingrich spokesman Joe DeSantis.

JOURNALISM 101v.2

So forget fancy prose. It’s come to this. Political journalists now must tease meaning from tweets, or else. So says the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based consortium pushing journalistic integrity. Part of that integrity includes “mining social media,” and it is high art.

“I think Herman Cain has among the most engaging Facebook pages. It has live photo feeds, polls and posts receive many comments. Jon Huntsman Jr. is perhaps the most active tweeter,” Dallas Morning News reporter Theodore Kim advised fellow scribes in an online workshop.

“Given its size and reach, the campaign of Barack Obama still trumps all, though. His Twitter feed is very sophisticated. Compare his: @BarackObama to @GovernorPerry. I recommend mining Scribd and DocumentCloud for potential tips on the candidates. Search ‘Mitt Romney’ and see what comes up. You may be surprised.

“Analyze the social media influence of politicians using Twitalyzer. For instance, @newtgingrich has many Twitter followers, but is retweeted far less often than, say, @GovernorPerry.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 76 percent of Republican primary voters say it’s “too early” to decide which presidential candidate to support.

• 46 percent are “satisfied” with the Republican field; 60 percent of tea party voters agree.

• 46 percent of GOP voters overall want “more choices”; 36 percent of tea partyers agree.

• 32 percent overall say Mitt Romney is the “most likely” candidate to beat President Obama in 2012; 31 percent of tea partyers agree.

• 21 percent overall cite Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 19 percent of tea partyers agree.

• 8 percent overall cite Herman Cain, 13 percent of tea party voters agree.

• 17 percent of GOP voters overall say they support Mr. Romney for president; 17 percent of tea partyers agree.

• 17 percent overall say they support Mr. Cain; 24 percent of tea partyers agree.

Source: A CBS News poll of 1,012 U.S. adults; the sample included 324 registered Republican voters.

Brief asides, hot issues, cold dismay to jharper@washingtontimes.com.