Before he was even elected in 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama was declared by San Francisco Chronicle culture writer Jeff Yang to be our first "Asian American president." Two years ago, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker deemed Mr. Obama the first "female" president. In May, a Newsweek cover framed Mr. Obama as "the first gay president." By August, Huffington Post editorial director Gabriel Lerner claimed he was the "first Latino president." Now Mr. Obama has another title.
"Think about it for a second. The president loves basketball. He has an Indian name, he knows what it's like to be poor and he hasn't forgotten where he came from. And his theme song is 'Hail to the Chief.' I think he definitely qualifies as the first American Indian president," said Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, upon introducing Mr. Obama to some 700 American Indians attending the Tribal Nations Conference on Wednesday.
THE $100,000 INAUGURAL
Those who pine for a deluxe inaugural experience are in luck. A cool $100,000 procures much for elite visitors who opt for the Ritz-Carlton's "Access Washington" presidential inauguration package, now offered in the nation's capital for that moment in January when President Obama makes it official once again. What does $100,000 buy?
The cost includes first-class airfare, a chauffeur and limo, four nights in a Ritz-Carlton suite, and private tours of "iconic sites" around town, not to mention the secret spots within the historic hotel itself. Could the fact that Al Gore grew up in a suite on the eighth floor come into play? Perhaps. Meanwhile, there's also an Inaugural Parade Watching Party with commemorative goodies and a Jumbotron at the Newseum on the big day, and a private viewing of the hotel's VIP autograph book signed by heads of state and celebrities.
There's also access to a private lounge, a cupcake-decorating party at Georgetown Cupcake, and dinner prepared by private chef. Saks Fifth Avenue assembles the inauguration gala outfits; "Walk away outfitted in a designer dress and luxury tuxedo," the hotel advises. There's also a private hair and makeup session in the guest suite, plus a one-of-a-kind diamond and ruby pin by jewelry designer Ann Hand.
And that's what $100,000 will buy.
STAND BY THAT PLEDGE
Stand fast, keep your promise, says a coalition of interest groups that implore lawmakers not to waver on the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, even as Democrats and select Republicans insist that the only alternative to the "fiscal cliff" is instant compromise. Not so, says the coalition.
"Some members have said they will repudiate their pledge to taxpayers but attempt to hold the line on rate increases to achieve a 'deal' with the Obama administration. We urge you to reject this line of thinking. We urge you to reject tax increases, refocus negotiations on spending cuts and entitlement reform, where they belong, and send a strong signal to Americans they can count on their elected representatives to look out for them in the upcoming budget negotiations," they state, noting that negotiated trade between tax increases and spending cuts will lead to tax increases and no real spending cuts.
The letter was signed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Commitment, Less Government, R Street Institute, Family Research Council, Accuracy in Media, Capital Research Center, Institute for Policy Innovation, National Taxpayers Union, Rio Grande Foundation, Cascade Policy Institute, the Maine Heritage Policy Center, Let Freedom Ring, American Conservative Union, the National Center for Public Policy Research, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Center for Individual Freedom, GOProud and 60 Plus Association.
"Stop Instagramming your breakfast take part or get taken apart, or these old coots will clean out the U.S. Treasury before you get there," says ornery but spirited hipster-senator Alan Simpson, who has issued his own "Gangnam Style" plea to young voters to use their social media skills to rev up their peers, not to mention members of Congress, over the debt crisis. There's an advocacy group at work, of course. See their big doings and a video of the former senator dancing with a patriotic can here: thecankicksback.org.
THE LUNAR FUTURE
He aims to take the curious for walks on the moon for a reasonable fare, and Thursday will announce his dramatic ideas at the National Press Club in Washington. Former Apollo flight director and NASA Johnson Space Center Director Gerry Griffin will launch the Golden Spike Co. to offer "routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the moon by the end of the decade," the company says. Named for the gilded ceremonial spike that linked the rails of the first transcontinental railroad across the U.S., Golden Spike boasts aerospace engineers and "world class" scientists. And hopefully some snappy looking in-flight uniforms and plenty of refreshments.
"Golden Spike intends to break new ground and create an enduring link to the next frontier, providing regular and reliable expeditions to the Moon at prices that are a fraction of any lunar program ever conceived of before," observes the company, which has the launch planned for Friday to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17's takeoff.
POLL DU JOUR
• 51 percent of U.S. voters say marijuana should be made legal in the U.S.; 31 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Democrats agree.
• 48 percent of Americans overall support same-sex marriage; 23 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats agree.
• 41 percent think that David H. Petraeus should have remained director of the CIA even though he admitted adultery; 37 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats agree.
• 41 percent say the Obama administration "deliberately misled the American people following the Benghazi attacks; 79 percent of Republicans and 11 percent of Democrats agree.
• 37 percent overall think Superstorm Sandy was the result of climate change; 14 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Quinnipiac University poll of 1,949 registered U.S. voters conducted Nov. 28 to Dec. 3.
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