Inside the Beltway: No geezers allowed in GOP race

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Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney turns 65 on Monday. Frequently attired in jeans and shirtsleeves, Mr. Romney is not embracing geezerhood, though he has 16 grandchildren. Rep. Ron Paul, meanwhile, is 76 and has 18 grandchildren plus four great-grandchildren. He, too, rejects geezer anything, and would rather be pedaling a Cannondale bike, with the wheezing press in his dust. Rick Santorum, 53, has no grandchildren, and a 3-year-old. Enough said. Newt Gingrich, 68, has two grandchildren, but cultivates the dynamic statesman look with perfectly tailored suits.

“Of course these guys are emphasizing their vitality. Duh. Their chief rival is only 50. But as every marketer will now tell you, 70 is the new 50, which makes Romney only 45,” observes one GOP strategist.

THE RUSH IS ON

Vintage feminists have joined the hubbub over Rush Limbaugh’s use of untoward language to describe Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke. Though they insist their message is not “political,” the ladies use some strong language themselves.

“Limbaugh doesn’t just call people names. He promotes language that deliberately dehumanizes his targets. Like the sophisticated propagandist Josef Goebbels, he creates rhetorical frames — and the bigger the lie the more effective — inciting listeners to view people they disagree with as sub-humans,” say Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan — a poet and author of “Fighting Words: A Toolkit for Combating the Religious Right” — in a guest editorial for CNN.com.

A 7-foot bronze statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass created as a gift to the U.S. Capitol from the District of Columbia is "homeless" because of a technicality: the statues in National Statuary Hall must originate in states.

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A 7-foot bronze statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass created as a gift ... more >

“If Clear Channel won’t clean up its airways, then surely it’s time for the public to ask the FCC a basic question: Are the stations carrying Limbaugh’s show in fact using their licenses ‘in the public interest?’ ” the three note in their message, which includes a link to the FCC complaints department.

“Individual radio listeners may complain to the FCC that Limbaugh’s radio station (and those syndicating his show) are not acting in the public interest or serving their respective communities of license by permitting such dehumanizing speech.”

STATUE OF LIMITATIONS

A $100,000 bronze statue of Frederick Douglass once intended for National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol is described as homeless by its maker, who says the 7-foot figure of the famed statesman and abolitionist was barred from the historic space because of a technicality: The District of Columbia is not a state.

The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities commissioned local sculptor Steven Weitzman to create the work. It was presented to the Capitol in 2007, as a gift on behalf of the city, and rejected — now “collecting dust at Judiciary Square, with no home,” he says.

“There was no doubt in my mind that this bronze likeness of Frederick Douglass would go into the U.S. Capitol while creating it. However, I do hope to see him placed there in my lifetime. But it is not for me to decide,” Mr. Weitzman tells Inside the Beltway.

“Each state is allowed to have two statues as a gift to the Capitol. But we are not yet a state. This is preventing us from honoring one of our own sons of D.C. Accepting this statue will lead us one step closer to statehood.”

Could neighbors help? In a Feb. 9 letter to House Republican leadership, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell advised them to support legislation granting the District the budgetary autonomy that “governors of every state enjoy.” The Prince George’s County Council in Maryland also adopted a resolution supporting District statehood.

“It is a public monument so it needs to be in a public place. But I do believe it was made for the U.S. Capitol, and it should find its way,” Mr. Weitzman observes.

THE DEBATE MYSTERY

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