Inside the Beltway: Walking the slow walk

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If women were managing the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, things would be in order, according to one female lawmaker. “I think if we were in charge of the Senate and of the administration that we would have a budget deal by now. What I find is, with all due deference to our male colleagues, that women’s styles tend to be more collaborative,” says Sen. Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican, in an upcoming ABC News interview that won’t air until Jan. 3.

Could she be alluding to the meandering mentality that’s afoot among Capitol Hill menfolk? Indeed, “slow walk” is the operative phrase of choice among Republicans dueling Democrats over the fiscal cliff and its onrushing deadline.

There are alternatives to the term, though. The officials in question also could say “run out the clock” or “spin the wheel,” for example. “Dither” has a certain ring to it.

Republicans still favor the proverbial walk. In the past 48 hours, House Speaker John A. Boehner has twice accused the White House of walking a “slow walk” up the cliff in question, at the nation’s peril. “The president seems to be walking us ever so slowly toward the cliff,” suggested House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia in an appearance with Mr. Boehner on Wednesday. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, however, broke some ground at the same event, noting, “The clock is ticking, and we’re running out of time.”

Democrats, meanwhile, seek to steer the metaphors to their own advantage. “I’m getting increasingly concerned that one of the reasons the speaker is deciding to string out these discussions is that he wants to wait until Jan. 3 when the election for speaker takes place,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland told reporters at a press breakfast.

CALL TO ARMS

“The Democrat leadership wants to ‘fundamentally change’ America. They want to increase federal power, federal spending, federal taxes, federal deficits, and federal debt. They want to give more advantages to their liberal allies and put more federal money into the pockets of their political cronies. They want to undermine further traditional values and to surrender more of our national sovereignty to international bodies. They want to weaken our country militarily and move America more rapidly in the direction of European socialism.

“Their entire leftist agenda opposes the principles on which you ran and the principles of the millions of people who elected Republicans to Congress. And now we count on you to stop them. Nobody else can stop them but you. You have the power, if you will use it. The whole leftist apparatus is gearing up to panic you and to force you to cave in. Don’t do it.”

“All of them, the liberal Democrats, the labor unions, the leftist ideologues in the so-called ‘progressive’ movement, and their allies in the print, broadcast, and online media will try to convince you that your political careers will be over if you don’t cave in.”

(From an open letter to U.S. House and Senate members signed by 139 conservative leaders, including American Conservative Union President Al Cardenas, Citizens United President David N. Bossie, Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly and American Values President Gary Bauer.

BUMPER PATROL

“I fell off the fiscal cliff and hurt my assets.”

“Merry Cliff Mess”

“The Fiscal Cliff: It’s another Obama con game.”

- (New bumper stickers from Zazzle.com)

MOTTO TO BE RECKONED WITH

“Faith in America’s Future.”

So reads the official theme for the 2013 presidential inaugural ceremonies, a phrase chosen to commemorate the United States’ “perseverance and unity,” organizers say, and to mark the 150th anniversary of the 19-foot bronze statue of Freedom, placed atop the U.S. Capitol dome in 1863. See much about the approaching events here: www.inaugural.senate.gov.

PROGRESSIVE PRESENTS

The first ever “Ultraviolet Holiday Gift Guide for Nonsexist Holiday Shopping” is available, meant “to combat the deluge of pink, sparkly, princess-themed gift options for girls,” say Nita Chaudhary and Shaunna Thomas, co-founders of Ultraviolet, a progressive feminist group that already has led assorted public campaigns against Fox News, CNN analyst Erick Erickson and talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.

But back to the guide. There are just 20 gifts on the list for girls in several age groups, including the under-4s, where the suggestions include wooden building blocks, a Fisher-Price unisex doctor’s kit and a “Girls Are Not Chicks” coloring book, which features “girls riding tractors, boys asking for dolls, with captions such as ‘Sometimes the princess is saved by the girl next door.’”

Ms. Chaudhary, incidentally, most recently was the national campaign and organizing director at MoveOn.org Political Action; Ms. Thomas was a project director with the Progressive Change Campaign.

THE EARLIEST SENTIMENTS

“Yes, it’s early. Too early. But even as of this much-too-early date, the Democrats have one clear favorite when they were asked in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll who they think should be their party’s nominee for president in 2016 — and that person is Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,” says a new Economist/YouGov poll that reveals that 53 percent of Democrats are fans of Mrs. Clinton’s.

She’s repeatedly denied she’d make a White House run, but her appeal lingers nonetheless. Another 22 percent of Democrats are not sure whom they’d like to see, though 15 percent cited Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who would be nearing 74 if he were to make a run in the 2016 election.

“The picture is far different on the GOP side. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio gets more votes than any of the other named contenders, but just 21 percent of Republicans choose him. 14 percent favor this year’s vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan. But many Republicans aren’t sure about whom to support: ‘not sure’ runs better than Rubio with them,” the poll says.

Indeed, a third couldn’t think of any candidate to be the Republican standard-bearer, though New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Condoleezza Rice were each cited by 8 percent of the respondents.

POLL DU JOUR

• 47 percent of U.S. voters think the Democratic Party is “too liberal.”

• 86 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of conservatives, 13 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of liberals agree.

• 46 percent of voters overall say the Republican Party is “too conservative.”

• 16 percent of Republicans, 18 percent of conservatives, 67 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of liberals agree.

• 15 percent overall say the Republican Party is “too liberal.”

• 20 percent of Republicans, 26 percent of conservatives, 13 percent of Democrats and 5 percent of liberals agree.

• 8 percent overall say the Democratic Party is “too conservative.”

• 5 percent of Republicans, 7 percent of conservatives, 10 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A McClatchy/Marist University poll of 1,246 U.S. voters conducted Dec. 4-6.

Admonitions, suggestions, complaints to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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