- The Washington Times - Monday, April 8, 2013

There were some distinct shortcomings in press coverage marking the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “This was a women who changed the world. And here we get journalists who are talking about her purse, her hairstyle or whether she flirted with Ronald Reagan. This treatment really is noting more than lazy shorthand, if not a complete intellectual deficit,” historian and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley tells Inside the Beltway.

“There is a time for seriousness and purpose. And the death of Margaret Thatcher warrants that seriousness and purpose. But this also happened when President Reagan died. During the Reagan funeral, there were commentators who were saying, ‘Oh, he was just a nice guy who could tell jokes.’ That kind of journalism shortchanges America.”

Then there are those who rise to somber occasions with thoughtful decorum.

The American Conservative Union has founded the “Baroness Margaret Thatcher CPAC Scholarship Fund,” Chairman Al Cardenas says. The scholarship will be given annually to an “outstanding young female conservative” who will receive complimentary three-day VIP registration at the Conservative Political Action Conference, starting in 2014.

“Against all odds, Baroness Thatcher stood for the courage of her convictions,” Mr. Cardenas says. “Let her life be an inspiration to our current and future leaders so that they may pick up her torch ensuring that future generations may live in prosperity, peace and freedom.”

SHOW THEM THE MONEY

“Most Americans favor members of Congress voluntarily returning some portion of their salary as a result of the impact of the sequestration budget cuts, which went into effect March 1. In response to two suggested giveback amounts, 78 percent of Americans favor Congress members returning 5 percent of their pay, and 79 percent favor Congress returning 25 percent,” reports Gallup poll director Frank Newport, citing a survey of more than a thousand people, conducted April 6 and 7.

“There is virtually no difference in the views on this issue between Democrats and Republicans, making this one of those issues on which there is a high level of agreement across partisan lines,” Mr. Newport adds.

But wait. Could Congress really slice its paycheck in the name of valiance and good PR?

“It is impossible for Congress to officially cut its own pay across the board in any short-term way, but this read of the attitudes of the American public suggests that individual members may face pressure to return their pay or provide explanations for why they are not doing so,” Mr. Newport predicts.

FAUX FIRST TWEET

“The 29,503,030 people who follow Barack Obama’s Twitter account might see his picture, see his name, see that little blue verified account badge and think they’re following the president but it’s not him. All of the president’s named social media accounts, in fact, have been handed over to a nonpartisan, not-for-profit group that isn’t overly concerned if you didn’t notice the transition,” declares Philip Bump, a correspondent with The Atlantic.

Mr. Obama’s account was created March 5, 2007, two months before he declared his presidential candidacy. In January, the account went under the control of Organizing for Action, an aggressive new grass-roots activist group created to leverage the 2012 Obama campaign’s extensive databases and other apparatus.

“As the first sitting president with a Twitter account, the murky handover raises questions that didn’t exist 10 years ago can a politician legally hand over his valuable online identity to an outside group? Is it ethical?” Mr. Bump demands, adding that the situation raises question that “federal regulators are unprepared to answer.”

BROWN’S QUEST

A political moment of note: California Gov. Jerry Brown and a supporting cast of 90 assorted officials and acquaintances are journeying to China to drum up business for the Golden State, even as the North Korea drama rages to the East. Delegates shelled out $10,000 each for the trip, which will last about a week.

“I think we’re going to get billions of dollars in investment coming from China. We’re also going to facilitate billions of dollars in additional exports, not overnight, but over time,” Mr. Brown said while readying for the excursion. He arrives Tuesday, though the moment which will lack the celebrity firepower of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s visit to the nation eight years ago.

“Brown’s trip promises to be decidedly more low key, filled with mid-level government meetings and photo-op-ready handshake agreements,” says Los Angeles Times business reporter Anthony York.

“As delegates wait for Brown to arrive Tuesday afternoon, they will receive morning briefings on how to do business in China, before embarking on a walking tour of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Brown will make his first public appearance here at a delegation dinner which, according to the official itinerary, will feature California wine featured at President Obama’s 2013 inaugural ceremony,” Mr. York adds.

There’s money, too. A recent Asia Society report says California already has attracted $1.3 billion in investment deals from China in the past decade, primarily in entertainment industries and software.

POLL DU JOUR

• 61 percent of Americans say that if South Korea is attacked by North Korea, the U.S. should defend the South with military troops; 68 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats agree.

• 51 percent of Americans overall say the North Korean situation cannot be resolved through economic and diplomatic efforts alone; 62 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

• 41 percent overall say North Korea poses an “immediate threat” to the U.S.; 56 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats agree.

• 41 percent overall say North Korea poses a “long-term threat” to the U.S.; 33 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Democrats agree.

• 16 percent overall say North Korea poses no threat; 7 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,012 U.S. adults conducted April 5 to 7.

• Churlish remarks, happy talk to jharper@washingtontimes.com.