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“In ‘The Godfather Part II,’ a senator from Nevada is portrayed as corrupt. His name is Pat Geary. In real life, a senator from Nevada is a jerk. His name is Harry Reid,” Mr. Cohen wrote on Tuesday, elaborating on the Senate majority leader’s insinuation that Mitt Romney did not pay income taxes for a decade.

“For Reid, this is yet another brazen and tasteless partisan attack. As majority leader, he has managed to sink the public image of the Senate even lower than it would otherwise be. He contributes to bad feelings, gridlock and the sense — nay, the reality — that everything is done for political advantage. Reid is a crass man, the very personification of the gaudy and kitschy Las Vegas Strip,” the author says, ultimately concluding that yes, such incivility tarnishes the image of President Obama.

Reader reactions range from puzzled accusations like “You would write this?” to murmurs that “Reid knows something.” Yeah, well. It’s all bodacious buzz.

“Richard Cohen has slipped off the liberal reservation again,” observes Powerline.com analyst Steven Hayward.

ALONG THE CROSS ROAD

The nimble sound bites, the opinion polls. Pope Benedict XVI has taken notice of the Knights of Columbus, which in the past few months has taken a vigorous stand against certain health-care mandates, the commercialization of Christmas, bans on religious monuments on public lands and the disintegration of civility.

“The Knights of Columbus have worked tirelessly to help the Catholic community recognize and respond to the unprecedented gravity of these new threats to the Church’s liberty and public moral witness,” the pope said in a letter to the 1.8 million-member organization, praising it for “defending the right of all religious believers, as individual citizens and in their institutions, to work responsibly in shaping a democratic society inspired by their deepest beliefs, values and aspiration.”

The group is not done yet.

“We are honored by the pope’s encouragement and confidence in our work, and will continue to do all we can to protect the First Amendment rights of all Americans from laws and regulations that would encroach on the first freedom guaranteed in our bill of rights — the freedom to practice our religion,” says Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.

POLL DU JOUR

• 79 percent of U.S. companies use “social media technologies” for business purposes

• 65 percent are not measuring the “return on investment” for their social business programs

• 64 percent use social technologies for “marketing or brand experience”

• 49 percent have not used the technologies to “full potential” yet, 20 percent are “a little skeptical”

• 17 percent say the technology has “helped immensely”, 12 percent say it’s a fad and “a waste of time”

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