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Inside the Beltway: Shalom, America
“In the Middle East, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?” asks a CNN survey released Monday. The simple question has multiple answers. Overall, 59 percent of Americans side with the Israelis, 13 precent with the Palestinians. Three percent sympathize with both, 11 percent with neither, and 13 percent have no opinion. The partisan divide is evident, however: 80 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of conservatives side with Israel, compared with 51 of Democrats and 37 percent of liberals. Republicans, in fact, register the highest percentage of support for Israel, liberals the lowest.
Asked whether Israel “was justified or unjustified in taking military action against Hamas and the Palestinians in the area known as Gaza,” 57 percent overall agreed it was justified, along with 74 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of conservatives, 41 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of liberals.
“Regardless of one’s politics, now is the time for people in both parties to unite in support of America’s only democratic ally in the region — Israel,” observes Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coaltion, a grass-roots group.
He does not believe in “transformative people in politics.” That is what Sen. Marco Rubio, the conservative man-of-the-moment, tells the December edition of GQ magazine. There are instead people with a “historic opportunity to speak the truth and take on the issues at a historic moment.” No one chooses the opportunity, the Florida Republican says.
“That’s something that just happens and falls on your lap. Usually, it falls on your lap during periods of extreme trial, and I don’t think any of us want to experience extreme trial for our country. We would much prefer to be not historic on those terms. I think I’ve been given a unique opportunity to serve during an important time in American history, and I would like to make a contribution,” Mr. Rubio says, adding his observations about Republican mistakes in 2012 and the way forward.
“I think the bigger challenge that we face, and that we continue to face, is that we have not done a good enough job of communicating to people what conservatism is. In fact, we’ve allowed a myth to take hold in the minds of some that conservatism is about helping the people who have ‘made it’ and not about helping the people who are trying to make it,” Mr. Rubio observes.
“Surprised” is the most often cited reaction to the resignation of CIA Director David H. Petraeus. Next in line: disappointed, followed by shocked, saddened, disgusted, don’t care, stupid, not surprising, ridiculous, indifference, cover-up, suspicious, interested, uninterested, concerned, unfortunate, good, bullcrap, personal, shameful, terrible and waste of time. And that’s just the beginning of a lengthy list from a Pew Research Center survey asking respondents to simply describe what they thought or felt.
A TURKEY’S PUBLIC LIFE
One of President Obama’s first duties upon returning to the White House after his overseas trip is to pardon the national Thanksgiving turkey, which the president will do on Wednesday in the Rose Garden. Then the turkey will assume the duties of public life with all the benefits therein.
“Immediately following President Obama’s pardon, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate will welcome the turkey with a ceremony featuring a trumpet fanfare and proclamation read by Washington’s farm manager, James Anderson. The turkey will arrive to the front of the mansion in a horse-drawn carriage guided by staff dressed in 18th-century costumes for the ceremony. He will reside in a custom-made enclosure situated near Aladdin, a camel who represents the camel George Washington had on the grounds to entertain visitors during Christmas of 1787.”
And so proclaims Mount Vernon.
LOST THE COUNTRY?
In the days after the election, talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh wondered if President Obama’s victory signaled that “we’ve lost the country,” a remark that prompted Thomas Edsall, a Columbia University journalism professor and New York Times contributor, to consult opinion polls and a Heritage Foundation index of “dependence on government” to determine if conservatives had reason to fret.
“In effect, the 21st-century version of class conflict sets the stage for an exceptionally bitter faceoff between the left and the right in Congress. The national government is facing the prospect of forced austerity, weighing such zero-sum choices as raising capital-gains taxes or cutting food stamps, slashing defense spending or restricting unemployment benefits, establishing a 15 cents-a-gallon gasoline tax or pushing citizens off the Medicaid rolls, pushing central bank policy favorable to the financial-services industry or curtailing Medicare eligibility,” Mr. Edsall observes.
“In broader terms, the political confrontation pits taxpayers, who now form the core of the center-right coalition, against tax consumers, who form the core of the center-left. According to the Tax Policy Center, 46.4 percent of all tax filers had no federal income-tax liability in 2011, although most people pay a combination of state, sales, excise, property and other levies,” he continues. “There are clear exceptions to this dichotomy, as many Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries (tax recipients) vote Republican, and many college-educated upper-income citizens of all races and ethnicities (tax payers) vote Democratic.
“Nonetheless, the overarching division remains, and the battle lines are drawn over how to distribute the costs of the looming fiscal crisis. The outcome of this policy fight will determine whether Limbaugh is correct to fear that his side has ‘lost the country.’ “
POLL DU JOUR
• 65 percent of Americans say President Obama will make a “sincere effort” to work with Republicans to solve the nation’s problems.
• 27 percent of Republicans and 98 percent of Democrats agree.
• 57 percent of Americans overall say Democrats in Congress will make a sincere effort to work with Republicans.
• 27 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats agree.
• 48 percent overall say Republicans in Congress will make a sincere effort to work with Mr. Obama and Democrats.
• 64 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,009 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 9-12.
• Squawks of annoyance, moral imperatives to email@example.com
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