- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2012

The “professional core” of the U.S. military overwhelmingly favors Mitt Romney over President Obama in the presidential election, says a new Military Times survey of 3,100 active and reserve troops. Two thirds of the “battle-hardened” respondents support Mr. Romney, 26 percent say they will vote to re-elect Mr. Obama. Another 55 percent said Mr. Romney “has their best interests at heart,” compared to 24 percent who feel that way about the president.

“Respondents rated the economy and the candidates’ character as their most important considerations and all but ignored the war in Afghanistan as an issue of concern,” says Andrew Tilghman, who analyzed the results for the publication.

Most respondents, he adds, “were highly critical of Obama’s performance as commander in chief, especially his handling of the defense budget and national security strategy. Sixty-two percent rated his handling of the defense budget as only fair or poor, while 57 percent applied the same rating to his handling of the war in Afghanistan.”

WHAT THEY REALLY THINK

“Like Mitt Romney, Ryan’s severely conservative positions are out of touch with most Americans’ values.”

(Rep. Paul Ryan, as described by President Obama’s re-election campaign).

ONCE UPON A TIME

While an intrigued America awaits the next presidential debate Oct. 16, there is persistent talk that President Obama’s shortcomings in Denver were because of a certain weary boredom with the White House. Now some wonder if the nation has gotten weary with the president.

“Have Americans finally tired of the Obama narrative? Or do they wish to stay in dreamland?” asks Pajamas Media columnist Jean Kaufman. “In the very best post-modern fashion, Obama and his supporters have relied on a narrative about Obama that has been carefully constructed. He’s brilliant, a great writer, a rare thinker, a moderate, a first-class temperament with neatly pressed pants, a uniter, a cool guy who’s unflappable.”

Mitt Romney’s monumental performance during the first debate dislodged that narrative, to the surprise of many observers.

“Obama has woven the spell himself, aided and abetted by his supporters and mentors and admirers, both in the media and elsewhere,” Ms. Kaufman observes. “We in this country have had many kinds of presidents, good and bad, beloved and detested. But have we ever before had a president whose career and persona have been based to such an enormous extent on a carefully constructed narrative that in turn rests on weaving a spell over a charmed public?”

The last debate was more than “a momentary setback” for Mr. Obama, says Zeke Miller, a BuzzFeed columnist. “It has forced him, for the first time since the 2008 Democratic primary, to fight for his political identity.”

DAYS OF YORE

John F. Kennedy Jr.’s monogrammed diaper pin, cigars from the Ronald ReaganWhite House, Harry Truman’s handkerchief, Theodore Roosevelt’s rocking chair. In three days, they’re all up for bids, along with Richard Nixon’s golf balls and tees, inauguration memorabilia, multiple photographs, paper ephemera and little things, like matchbooks and cigarette lighters. All were part of a collection amassed by one Bonner Arrington, a carpenter at the White House for 33 years. Among many things, Mr. Arrington was tasked with building Kennedy’s funeral bier and the garden gazebo for Tricia Nixon’s 1971 wedding.

“Even if it wasn’t a presidential election year, this collection would still attract enormous attention,” says Marie Kowalik, president of Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery. “It’s quite literally a historical timeline of 20th century White House history.”

Things gets underway at 1 p.m. Friday in Atlanta, and naturally there’s online bidding, complete with live audio and video streaming, to be found here: greatgatsbys.com.

AMERICA THE VULNERABLE

“The findings are alarming. As FBI surveillance tapes have previously shown, foreign governments understand and are eager to exploit the weaknesses of American campaigns. This, combined with the Internet’s ability to disintermediate campaign contributions on a mass scale, as well as outmoded and lax Federal Election Commission rules, make U.S. elections vulnerable to foreign influence,” says “America the Vulnerable,” a hefty new study from the Government Accountability Institute.

It reveals that almost half of all congressional websites don’t require anti-fraud security numbers for credit card use that are standard at most e-commerce websites.

The study also points out that while BarackObama.com is an official site of President Obama’s re-election campaign, Obama.com was purchased by someone in Shanghai, China, “whose business is heavily dependent on relationships with Chinese state-run television and other state-owned entities.”

The researchers conclude that “campaign fundraising crimes are now just a click away.”

“We are urging all congressional offices and President Obama to turn on anti-fraud credit card protections immediately.” says Peter Schweizer, director of the Florida-based watchdog group. Download the 109-page report and track lawmakers with “vulnerable” websites here: campaignfundingrisks.com.

POLL DU JOUR

• 72 percent of Americans who watched the first presidential debate said Mitt Romney did “the better job.”

• 20 percent said President Obama did the better job.

• 69 percent of all U.S. voters watched some or most of the debate.

• 64 percent said the debate was “mostly informative.”

• 83 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents agree.

• 26 percent voters overall said the debate was “mostly confusing.”

• 11 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents agree.

• 50 percent of all voters say Mr. Obama’s policies would help the middle class, 49 percent say Mr. Romney’s policies would help.

• 45 percent support Mr. Obama, 49 percent support Mr. Romney.

Source: A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey of 1,511 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 4 to 7.

Caterwaul and doggerel to jharper@washingtontimes.com