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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.

"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

The countdown is still on for the last sanctioned Republican presidential debate, scheduled to air March 19 on PBS and NPR stations nationwide from Portland, Ore. — sponsored by the broadcasters, the Oregon Republican Party and The Washington Times, and moderated by Ray Suarez of PBS and Ralph Z. Hallow of The Times. The intimate audience would only number 120. The candidates have been asked to avoid potshots and concentrate on in-depth discussion.

Is the debate a go? Organizers, who have yet to reveal if the four GOP hopefuls have accepted their invitations, are cautiously optimistic.

"We're moving forward," says the state's GOP chairman, Allen Alley.

POST 'GAME CHANGE'

Has HBO lost some viewers after airing "Game Change," the dramatic portrayal of the 2008 presidential election? Maybe. "Please don't use my name as I'm in the entertainment biz, but I called DirecTV last night and canceled HBO. The operator told me they have had a ton of calls," one disgruntled viewer told Instapundit and Pajamas Media contributor Glenn Reynolds.

Another reader who canceled his HBO subscription told Mr. Reynolds, "The rep asked me why and I said, 'Cost and political content.' He asked: 'Bill Maher?' 'Yep.' "

Meanwhile, while some critics insist that "Game Change" was both ambitious and fair, BigHollywood.com contributor Stacy Drake vetted the film and compiled the "Top 10 Lies of HBO's 'Game Change.' "

POLL DU JOUR

• 73 percent of Americans are "very concerned" about the amount of U.S. debt held by other countries.

• 81 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of conservatives, 65 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of liberals agree.

• 57 percent overall are "very concerned" how the political situation in Iran will affect the U.S. economy.

• 68 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of conservatives, 48 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of liberals agree.

• 51 percent overall are very concerned how trade relations with China will affect the U.S. economy.

• 65 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of conservatives, 40 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,029 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 2 to 5 and released Friday.

Querulous comments, snorts of derision, ballyhoo to jharper@washigntontimes.com.

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