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Inside the Beltway: Left Coast bandwagon

- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2012

Never underestimate the entrenched West Coast support for a Democratic White House. Yes, the glitterati are worried about President Obama's performance at the Denver debate. But they will show up. Among those on hand to raise a possible $9 million at five fundraising events for Mr. Obama in Los Angeles and San Francisco through Monday evening: George Clooney, Bill Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, Jennifer Hudson, Jon Bon Jovi, John Legend and Earth, Wind & Fire. Among the events: a megaconcert titled "30 Days to Victory," complete with an appearance by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

There is some official business for the first day of the week, however, as described by White House spokesman Jay Carney:

"The president will travel to Keene, California, to announce the establishment of the Cesar E. Chavez national monument. Years in the making, the monument, which will be designated under the Antiquities Act, will be established on the property known as La Paz … recognized worldwide for its historic link to civil rights icon Cesar Estrada Chavez and the farmworker movement. The site served as the national headquarters of the United Farm Workers, as well as the home and workplace of Cesar Chavez and his family from the early 1970s until his death in 1993."

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar and the aforementioned Mr. Villaraigosa will also attend. Mr. Obama, incidentally, departs for Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday for one more campaign event before returning to the nation's capital in the evening.

BUON GIORNO, COLUMBUS

"Cristoforo really embodies the spirit of entrepreneurialism, the spirit of adventure and the spirit that we all like about America."

(An observation about Christopher Columbus by Mario Gabelli, grand marshal of New York City's Columbus Day Parade, set for Monday afternoon).

"We propose that Columbus Day be rededicated as Exploration Day, for the true American spirit is about achieving the impossible through exploration, scientific research, innovation and creativity."

(From the public petition from the activist group Americans for Exploration Day, published at the "We the People" section of the White House website.

"We recall the courage and the innovative spirit that carried Christopher Columbus and his crew from a Spanish port to North America, and we celebrate our heritage as a people born of many histories and traditions." (From President Obama's official proclamation recognizing Columbus Day, 2012.)

BORED IN OFFICE

Is it White House ennui? Has the fire in the First Belly gone out? Some contend that President Obama is so fatigued by the rigors of office that he may not want the job anymore. That is the newest thinking among observers who still ponder Mr. Obama's lethargy during his debate with Mitt Romney five days ago. Everything but a bout with turista has been blamed for the president's tepid performance, including suggestions from the Daily Kos that Mr. Romney used a "cheat sheet" or Al Gore's speculation that Colorado altitude was the culprit. But keeping up monumental appearances may also take a toll.

"Campaigns are physically taxing. But the toll of being president is something different again. His supporters keep wanting Obama to be who he was in 2008. But that's not who he is anymore," says Garance Franke-Ruta, senior editor at Atlantic magazine,

"Does Obama even want to win the election?" wonders Michael Tomasky, political correspondent for Newsweek/Daily Beast. "Someone needs to ask the cut-to-the-chase question: is he enthusiastic about keeping this job, or he is just maybe tired of being president?"

Mr. Obama's debate demeanor may be due to less dramatic reasons, perhaps.

"A look at the president's career shows he has never stayed in a job four years without looking to move on to something better," notes Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Examiner, who has traced Mr. Obama's restlessness since his days as a community organizer. The tendency sent him from law school to state legislature, to campaigns for U.S. House and Senate and finally the presidency.

"Now Obama has been president for nearly four years. Aided by a huge Democratic majority from 2009 to 2011, he achieved some big things — massive stimulus, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank. He even won the Nobel Peace Prize, essentially for showing up. But he hasn't achieved, and won't achieve in four more years, the 'fundamental transformation' of American society that he envisioned," Mr. York says. "And his entire career suggests that by now he should be angling for a bigger, better job. The problem is, there isn't such a position — and a second term in the same old job doesn't count."

AND IN SUMMATION

"He looked tired, he had trouble getting his answers out. It looks like he took my million and spent it all on weed."

(HBO host Bill Maher, who donated $1 million to President Obama's re-election campaign in March, pondering the president's debate performance in Denver.)

"You know what the American people want right now? They don't want you, they don't want me. They just want these guys to work together, cut the crap, shut the hell up and do their jobs."

(Pollster Frank Luntz, pondering the state of U.S. politicians and politics in general, to Mr. Maher.)

POLL DU JOUR

• 58 percent of senior level executives in the U.S. plan on increasing hiring within the next 12 months.

• 49 percent are not hiring and "remaining status quo."

• 43 percent do not anticipate an increase in hiring, or anticipate layoffs; 26 percent are actively hiring.

• 39 percent say the "end of the fiscal cliff" would make them most prone to hiring.

• 30 percent cite increased economic stability in the European Union as a hiring incentive.

• 19 percent cite the U.S. lowering its corporate tax rate.

Source: A Korn/Ferry International survey of "hundreds" of senior level executives, conducted Sept. 28-Oct. 3.; the exact number of respondents was not released.

Weary observations, upbeat forecasts to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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