Inside the Beltway: ‘Big sticks’

A cultural moment of sorts: Americans think al Qaeda is “more scared” of Mitt Romney than President Obama, according to a new poll released by Esquire magazine on Wednesday. According to the numbers, 39 percent cite Mr. Romney as Mr. Scary in Chief; 37 percent cite Mr. Obama. Thirteen percent, incidentally, cite “neither,” while 16 percent had no opinion.

“This, we think, is strange: Isn’t Obama in command of the lethal presidency? Aren’t Obama’s supporters going around using ‘GM is alive and Bin Laden is dead’ as an unofficial campaign slogan? It seems that as effective as Democrats have been in neutralizing the Republicans’ historic advantage in the matter of national security, there remains a core group of Americans who still believe the GOP is the party of big sticks,” the manly magazine says.

HOW CLOSE IS IT?

We’re entering forecast season, when the learned ones solemnly predict who’s going to win the White House with great portent. Yeah, well. “Prominent political scientists” from the American Political Science Association now predict President Obama will win the election, but not by much — underscoring the consistent fuss on both sides over swing voters and the undecided.

“It will be extremely close with the average of all forecast models predicting Obama will receive 50.2 percent of the two-party popular vote. For comparison, in 2008, Obama received 53.7 percent of the two-party popular vote,” the organization says, citing 13 forecast models based on historic and statistical data.

“Five of the 13 models predict a modest to close popular-vote plurality for Barack Obama, though three of these are on the cusp of predicting a tossup; five predict a modest to close popular-vote victory for Mitt Romney; and three regard the election as a tossup. The forecasts range from predicting a 53.8 percent vote for Obama to a 53.1 percent vote for Romney,” the group says.

ALREADY RUMBLING

“We’ll be like we are in real life. Me very successful, you just hanging on.” (Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly to Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, regarding their sold-out “Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” debate on Oct. 6, which will be held at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium and streamed live online on a pay-per-view basis.)

“When I’m finished with you, when you walk off the stage, you’ll be 5-foot-7 and I’ll be 6-foot-4.” (Mr. Stewart’s impression of the same event, during an exchange between the two on “The O’Reilly Factor.”)

BUBBLING OVER

Details, details. No matter how many shirt-sleeve appearances President Obama makes in the heartland, the siren call of glittering celebrity is never far from the campaign trail. Witness the 350-bottle tower of Armand de Brignac champagne that greeted the president and some of his very elite fans during a recent fundraiser at Manhattan’s 40/40 Club — owned by hip-hop kingpin Jay-Z, who co-hosted the event with wife Beyonce. The bottles are embellished with hand-applied, gilded pewter wrapping; they cost $800 each.

Daily Mail political columnist Toby Harnden did the math and points out that the bubbly tower was worth $105,000, more than twice the income of the typical U.S. household.

“The median income for an American family was $51,413 in 2011,” Mr. Harnden observes.

FORCE OF HABIT

“Champagne wishes and caviar dreams? While it’s easy to fantasize about what one would do with a lottery jackpot, a new CouponCabin.com survey reveals that many U.S. adults would continue to live normally if they won the lottery,” says Jackie Warrick, president of the online coupon distributor, which surveyed some 2,500 Americans about such things.

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