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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2011

GAFFE-OLOGY

Strategery, misunderestimated, refudiate: former President George W. Bush and Sarah Palin have been chastised by journalists and academes for their inventive language and occasional grammatical gaffes for years. Now it is President Obama's turn. Here comes "Obama Grammar: Using the President's Bloopers to Improve Your English," a new book that parses Mr. Obama's command of the language, or lack thereof.

"The first wordsmith is, in fact, an occasional stem-winder who is grammatically challenged," says author and Harvard-educated historian William Proctor, who pored over 3,000 pages of the president's official speeches and remarks. He's convinced that Americans — particularly students — can learn a little something from Mr. Obama.

"His speeches reveal that at this point, he is simply not in the same rhetorical-grammatical league as a Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan," Mr. Proctor says. "Even as we explore Mr. Obama's errors, we should not lapse into smug, finger-pointing complacency. His mistakes should serve as a reminder to the rest of us that we, too, may need to clean up our technical language skills."

The author also sets the record straight on presidential pronunciation bloopers of several persuasions and provides the "Great Obama Grammar Face-Off." From Inkslingers Press, the ebook is available for $10 on Kindle, via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

FAT CHANCE

The prospect of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a presidential candidate must vex the liberal media. From out of nowhere, a lavish discussion of Mr. Christie's weight has erupted in the press, providing a veritable smorgasbord for journalists intent on proving that (a) Mr. Christie would be physically incapable of holding the job, (b) voters would be turned off by a First Fat Guy and (c) chubby people can't control themselves and therefore can't control the country.

Hm. Consider that our 27th president, William Howard Taft, tipped the scales at 332 pounds and later served as chief justice of the United States. Also remember that 75 million adult Americans are obese, a sizable potential voting bloc. An online Los Angeles Times poll, in fact, revealed that 70 percent of the respondents said Mr. Christie's weight didn't matter.

Meanwhile, Media Research Center analyst Kyle Drennan waggishly suggests that President Obama promotes a "morbidly obese government." And Mr. Christie, ever the gracious hefty he-man, simply dismisses the caterwaul.

"Lay off Chris Christie's weight. It might just help his chances," advises New Republic contributor Paul Campos, a University of Colorado law professor. "While there's no question that cosmetic issues matter a lot in contemporary politics, and that being fat is almost certainly a net negative for a presidential candidate, the contemporary politics of fat, and of fat politicians, are far more complex than they once were."

CANDIDATE TRACKER

The campaign trail goes forever onward for Republican presidential hopefuls, like something out of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel. Saturday events of note: Texas Gov. Rick Perry ventures to the home of Republican "kingmaker" Ovide LaMontagne in New Hampshire while Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum speak at the National Federation of Republican Women convention in St. Louis. Elsewhere in the next 48 hours:

California: Gary Johnson

Connecticut: Mr. Santorum

Iowa: Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum

Georgia: Mr. Perry, Mr. Cain

Missouri: Mr. Cain, Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum

New Hampshire: Rep. Ron Paul, Mr. Perry, Jon Huntsman Jr., Buddy Roemer

North Carolina: Rep. Michele Bachmann

BUMPER PATROL

"Socialism: Trickle Up Prosperity"

- Bumper sticker spotted in Springfield by Beltway reader Joe Farrell, who suggests the driver perhaps be given "a one-way ticket to Greece."

AMERITHRAX

The 10th anniversary of the death of Robert Stevens, the first fatality in the 2001 anthrax attacks looms Wednesday. Letters containing the deadly spores were mailed to the New York Post, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, Democratic Sens. Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont. Five people died, 17 others became gravely ill. One way to revisit that week: "Death by Mail: The Anthrax Letters," a one-hour CNN documentary to air Sunday at 8 p.m. and again Oct. 8

CNN correspondent Joe Johns based his investigations on recent documents released from the FBI and Justice Department; he also interviews Stevens' widow, retired U.S. Postal Inspection Service Agent Thomas Dellafera — lead investigator for the "Amerithrax" case — and FBI Special Agent Edward Montooth. The stories of suspects and "persons of interest" are also turned inside out.

"The bizarre turns in this bioterrorism case," Mr. Johns says, "extended the nation's horror."

POLL DU JOUR

• 65 percent of Americans are "extremely" or "very" interested in the 2012 presidential elections.

• 74 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of conservatives, 64 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of liberals and 77 percent of tea partyers agree.

• 58 percent of Americans overall are not "impressed" with the field of Republican presidential challengers.

• 35 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of conservatives, 78 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of liberals and 26 percent of tea partyers agree.

• 50 percent of Americans overall think President Obama will not get re-elected in 2012.

• 78 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of conservatives, 27 percent of Democrats, 30 percent of liberals and 70 percent of tea partyers agree.

Source: A Fox News poll of 925 registered voters conducted Sept. 25 to 27.

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

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