- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The persistent, noisy refrain that the Republican Party is “out of touch” with mainstream America continues. The phrase and its many variants have been repeated in public opinion polls and throughout the liberal media from the moment Mitt Romney solemnly waved goodbye from the presidential campaign trail and went back to private life. The Grand Old Party has taken the insults, but gotten the message. The Republican National Committee addressed public perceptions of a heartless, clueless GOP weeks ago in a 98-page “autopsy report,” based on the input of 52,000 people. Committee Chairman Reince Priebus proclaimed, “Our message was weak, our ground game was insufficient, we weren’t inclusive, we were behind in both data and digital, our primary and debate process needed improvement.”

So the GOP gets it. But the public? Not yet.

A Washington Post/ABC News survey released Tuesday plumbs the discouraging issue all over again. The findings reveal that, wonder of wonders, 51 percent of Americans think the Democratic Party is also “out of touch with the concerns of most people in the United States today.” Twenty-one percent of Democrats, 25 percent of liberals, 82 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of conservatives agree with this.

But on to the Republicans: The survey found that 70 percent of Americans still say the GOP is out of touch. Here are some deep numbers: 49 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of conservatives, 85 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of liberals agree. So do 69 percent of gun owners, 68 percent of women, 71 percent of men, 69 percent of whites, 72 percent of “non whites” and 67 percent of Hispanics.

The takeaway message here: The Republican Party has numbers, not solutions. Now it needs an authentic overhaul of public image crafted by clever, fearless people with a broad sense of audience. Maybe they are in house, maybe not. One thing is an absolute: Those charged with re-purposing the GOP must be deft at defining button-pushing commonalties among GOP voters, whether they are finicky youth, stalwart geezers or curious Latinos.

And the second take away: The clock is ticking on 2014. Hurry up.

THE BAG STRIKES BACK

As American shoppers tote their motley collections, the American Progressive Bag Alliance is striking back against the ever-widening ban on plastic bags.

“To date, the debate on plastic bags has been supported by unfounded stats, junk science and myths. The reality is that American-made plastic bags are a better choice for the environment and banning them will cause more harm to the environment,” said Mark Daniels, chairman of the trade group that represents 30,800 people nationwide in the manufacturing and recycling sectors.

They are starting the fight in California with much broadcast advertising and a website (bagtheban.com) insisting that plastic grocery bags require 70 percent less energy and 4 percent less water to produce, among many other things. California, incidentally, is considering state Senate Bill 405, which would prohibit local retailers from distributing plastic grocery bags and charge consumers a tax for paper bags.

“If California wants to lead in the fight against global warming, banning plastic bags will have the exact opposite effect,” Mr. Daniels adds.

CULTURAL MOMENT

Bacon Sazerac (“Bacon-washed” rye whiskey, maple syrup, $13)

Bacon cocktail introduced by Ichabod’s, a new Manhattan restaurant.

STEMMING CONSPIRACY

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