Inside the Beltway: Please hurry up, GOP

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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

As horrific events are sorted out, here comes the instant website BostonMarathonConspiracy.com that was set up with its own message by one Jaimie Muehlhausen, a Californian who is weary of the sudden public din that erupts when there is not enough viable information to consider. Visitors to the site are greeted by one stark message: “I bought this domain to keep some conspiracy theory kook from owning it. Please keep the victims of this and their families in your thoughts.”

Mr. Muehlhausen has explained himself in an email, with a mention of both George W. Bush and President Obama:

“Sadly, one of my first thoughts was that it would only be a matter of hours before a certain group of people would begin to say it was a government conspiracy; an act of terror on our own people for political gain. It’s sickening, but take a look at the massive numbers of 9/11 conspiracy nuts people who think Bush and the gang took down the Twin Towers and ended the lives of nearly 3,000 people so we could go to war. The heartless and sick Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists who think the Obama administration killed kindergartners to bolster the gun control debate. And there are plenty of others. Well, I was wrong. It didn’t take hours. It took minutes.”

SIR RICHARD

“I was first inspired by her leadership when she received me as a young Rhodes scholar in London, 58 years ago, and asked me about Indiana.”

Former Sen. Richard G. Lugar about Queen Elizabeth II, upon receiving an honorary knighthood at the British Embassy on Tuesday, bestowed on the Hoosier lawmaker and octogenarian by Ambassador Peter Westmacott.

POLL DU JOUR

• 80 percent of Americans “seek out green products”; 72 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats also do.

• 60 percent overall prefer environmentally friendly cleaning supplies: 49 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats feel the same.

• 59 percent overall think “organic” food labeling is just an excuse to charge more; 65 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats agree.

• 30 percent overall are willing to pay extra for green products; 20 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats feel the same.

• 23 percent overall say they are a conservationists; 17 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of Democrats say the same.

• 18 percent describe themselves as an environmentalists; 9 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Democrats also do.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,276 U.S. adults conducted March 13-18 and released Monday.

• Declarations, proclamations, expectations to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.

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