- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 25, 2011

RAISING CAIN

Wise businessman and presidential hopeful Herman Cain is not taking much time to bask in his Florida straw poll victory. He’s on NBC’s “Today Show” on Monday and has a well-timed book in the wings: On Oct. 4, his new 240-page memoir, “This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House” will be released by Threshold Editions, the conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster, and publisher of Karl Rove, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin.

“When Herman Cain speaks, people listen. When he debates, he wins,” the publisher notes.

HOLLYWOOD ONE

Two states, 48 hours, seven fundraisers: Sounds like the name for a Hollywood road trip movie, but alas. This is the genuine White House scenario for President Obama, who’s courting campaign cash in Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, Calif. This is Mr. Obama’s 10th trip to the Golden State since taking office, and while there’s chatter that skittish West Coast progressives are feeling frosty toward Mr. Obama, he will nevertheless likely raise $8 million during the visit. And for those trying to keep track, the president returns to Washington on Tuesday.

But back to Tinseltown. Sunday it was Seattle. Monday it’s Mr. Obama at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, for an afternoon event emceed by actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson with performances by B.o.B and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. The president then dines at the Fig and Olive restaurant with 120 fans who paid $17,900 each for some face time. Meanwhile, there’s a Gaga Factor.

Yes, as in Lady Gaga - who entertains next week at a massive fundraiser for former President Bill Clinton’s foundation. She hints of her own meeting with Mr. Obama. In a tweet to her nearly 14 million Twitter followers, the singer insists, “I am meeting with the president. I will not stop fighting.” Her cause: She hopes to address “bullying.” Needless to say, the White House has neither confirmed nor denied the presence of Miss Gaga on the presidential schedule.

HOLLYWOOD TWO

Still pondering showbiz talent manager Stephen Hanks’ recent public tirade against Bristol Palin in a West Hollywood nightclub as she shot a scene for her upcoming reality TV show? Mr. Hanks’ ire was focused on potential presidential hopeful Sarah Palin. A video of daughter defending mother against the profanity-spewing critic went viral. A local CBS News poll finds that close to three-fourths of the respondents don’t think the exchange was staged for the Biography Channel production.

Meanwhile, the incident has taken on greater political currency as the conservative blogosphere, BigHollywood.com writer John Nolte and others wonder why there’s no outrage in the aftermath. Suppose Mr. Hanks had been a tea party member, they wonder, with choice words for the daughter of, say, a prominent Democrat?

“In the real world where this attack was leveled at a Palin, all Hanks did was enhance his Hollywood resume. This will likely help his career,” Mr. Nolte says.

ROMNEY/TRUMP

No, there’s no startling news that Mitt Romney and Donald Trump will turn into Romney/Trump 2012, or even Trump/Romney 2012. The pair is expected to meet in Manhattan, N.Y., on Monday, with a likely re-emergence of lingering rumors that Mr. Trump is still considering a White House run after his obligation to star in NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” runs out in May.

The visit to Trump Towers is a common one, though. Other Republican presidential hopefuls who’ve stopped in to pay obeisance to The Donald: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin.

AMORAL POLITICS

Oh, heavens. Forget about compromise between Republicans and Democrats as long as there’s mention of “morality” in the political discourse.

“In politics, as in war, everyone believes morality is on their side. And the mingling of political beliefs with moral certainty makes compromise all but impossible,” says University of Southern California psychology professor Jesse Graham.

“No one wants to find the middle ground between good and evil. Moral concerns have consequences in today’s political debates - because people see them as principles that should not be compromised,” he observes.

Mr. Graham and a team of researchers reached this conclusion after surveying 35,000 self-identified liberals and conservatives to find that political issues have morphed into issues of morality. The debt ceiling debate, they say, turned into a fight between programs for the needy versus being good stewards of money.

“We dont normally see bookkeeping as a moral issue. These convictions make people draw ranks and vilify opponents,” Mr. Graham explains.

Liberals place the individual as “the locus of morality,” with concerns prioritized around protecting people from harm, or unfair treatment by individuals or society. Conservatives center their morality on the family unit and proper relationships between humanity and their Creator, man and woman, parent and child, the big fat study found.

“The most intractable political debates involve respect for tradition and authority and physical and spiritual purity,” says Mr. Graham, citing gay marriage laws that involve “concerns of tradition and purity pitted against issues of fairness.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 80 percent of Americans say news organizations are “influenced by powerful people and organizations.”

• 81 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

• 66 percent overall say major news coverage is “often inaccurate.”

• 69 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

• 63 percent say the organizations are “politically biased.”

• 76 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats agree.

• 39 percent overall say that news organizations are “too critical of America.”

• 49 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press poll of 1,501 U.S. adults conducted July 20 to 24 and released Friday

Gibberish, guffaws, clear-minded commentary to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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