- The Washington Times - Monday, September 5, 2011

TUNE IN THURSDAY

His big jobs creation speech is only 48 hours away. President Obama has two days to craft an eloquent prime-time message, all wrapped up in a tidy package that can be handed off to the American public just before the season’s first NFL game begins Thursday night. Mr. Obama’s fans and advisers urge him to be “bold” before the fidgety Congress. The White House, meanwhile, is being coy. Asked Monday if there was some cool new rhetoric in the works, deputy spokesman Josh Earnest would only allow that the president’s speech would emphasize a “strong and growing middle class.”

Mr. Obama himself is feeding the buzz. During a public appearance before a Labor Day crowd in Detroit, the president hinted that he was privy to “a new way forward on jobs.” When exuberant bystanders urged him to elaborate, Mr. Obama replied, “Tune in Thursday.” Which probably means that (a) there’s a fat federal program lurking on a drawing board somewhere in the West Wing and (b) the final draft of a speech includes creative reinvention of the phrases “hope” and “change,” and soaring references to the American Dream.

One thing’s for sure, though. Whether Mr. Obama has a new way forward or not, he’ll be in serious campaign mode. Republicans should plan accordingly. They have been cast as the heartless, cheapskate, uncooperative villains in the popular fiscal scenario crafted by the mainstream press, with the president as straight-shooting hero and Reaganesque optimist. He’s already set the stage.

“I still believe both parties can work together to solve our problems,” Mr. Obama told his Detroit crowd, later adding, “The time for action is now. No more manufactured crises. No more games. Now is not the time for the people you sent to Washington to worry about their jobs. Now is the time for them to worry about your jobs.”

BUMPER PATROL

“I’m having an out-of-money experience.”

-Bumper sticker spotted in Frederick, Md.

COCOONING PROFITS

Well, at least somebody made money during the most recent East Coast disaster. The American instinct to shelter in place and stay home with family had a lot to do with it. Rentrak, a media research group that measures trends in the entertainment industry, reports that during Hurricane Irene, movie ticket sales dropped 19 percent. On that wet, windy and dismal Saturday, however, DVD rentals increased by as much as 300 percent in the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states.

“On August 27th, while Hurricane Irene was hitting the Southeastern coastal states, people from states north of Virginia still had relatively good weather so they went out and rented a large number of DVDs and Blu-ray discs in preparation for being stuck indoors when Irene continued up the coast,” says David Paiko, vice president of home entertainment for the company.

Yes, but of course. Now we’re waiting for hurricane sales figures from Orville Redenbacher and speculation that nine months hence, there will be an “Irene baby boom.”

COME BACK MR. PERRY

Organizers of the American Principles Project Palmetto Freedom Forum in South Carolina supported Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to withdraw from Monday’s innovative presidential debate with five of his campaign rivals to return to the burning acreage of the Lone Star state. The door’s still open, though.

“We pray for the people in Texas who are suffering these fires. We understand Governor Perry’s need to return to Texas. His first priority is to the people of his state,” says Frank Cannon, president of the hosting group, which included Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. Steve King as debate moderators.

“We will be contacting the governor’s staff to arrange a future date. We look forward to hearing his views on the constitutional principles underpinning our democratic republic, the division of powers, federalism and other important matters of concern to Americans today,” Mr. Cannon adds.

PARSING 9/11

As dozens of 9/11 anniversary specials continue to air on broadcast and cable TV, one group meets Thursday to explain the real meaning of the date. That would be the House Committee on Homeland Security, chaired by Rep. Peter King, New York Republican, augmented by two pivotal witnesses: Lee Hamilton, former vice-chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, and Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security in the hair-raising years following the attacks.

The topic: “Where are we today?” Mr. King says the sobering occasion will highlight our progress over the last decade. But no one’s guard is down yet, and the lawmaker seeks an inquiry into “the numerous gaps that still exist.”

Particularly on Mr. King’s radar: “The federal governments failure to reallocate the D-Block portion of the radio spectrum to public safety and the ‘dysfunctional’ congressional oversight of the governments homeland security functions.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 77 percent of Americans have confidence that the U.S. government can protect citizens from future acts of terrorism.

• 38 percent say it is “likely” there will be acts of terrorism in the U.S. in the next few weeks.

• 39 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 29 percent of Democrats agree; 34 percent of men and 42 percent of women agree.

• 26 percent of people 18-34, 40 percent of those 35-55 and 44 percent of people 55 and older also agree.

• 36 percent of Americans overall are worried that they, or a family member, could be a terrorist victim.

• 42 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of independents and 30 percent of Democrats agree; 28 percent of men and 42 percent of women agree.

• 25 percent of people 18-34, 41 percent of those 35-55 and 40 percent of people 55 and older also agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,008 adults conducted Aug. 11-14 and released Friday.

Soaring rhetoric, grand plans, disgruntled mumbles to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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