- The Washington Times - Monday, August 12, 2013

“What difference does it make?” is bound to end up on the cutting room floor. Though Hillary Rodham Clinton may soon be ready for her presidential close-up, the Republican National Committee predicts that her now infamous, strident appearance on-camera before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Jan. 23 will be delicately excised from a pair of upcoming “Hillary bi-ops,” as the Hollywood establishment now calls them.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus — who has threatened to boycott the networks involved and mounted a public petition against the suspiciously timed docudramas — believes CNN and NBC will omit Mrs. Clinton’s moment “dodging questions about the Benghazi attacks.” She was secretary of state at the time, and was being queried by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican.

The committee already has produced a dramatic little video of its own titled “Will The Hillary Films Include ‘What Difference Does It Make’?” Mr. Priebus is adamant, of course.

“If CNN and NBC are both making productions to promote Hillary Clinton, we have some suggestions for them. They should first remember to include how she failed to answer basic questions about Benghazi,” he says.

The increasingly outspoken Mr. Priebus, incidentally, is drawing fire of his own.

“I know exactly what you are saying right now. Who the hell is Reince Priebus? Excellent question. Reince Priebus (rhymes with Benedict Cumberbatch) was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee on the seventh ballot on Jan. 14, 2011, because delegates thought his name was Latin for ‘none of the above’,” Roger Simon, Politico’s chief political columnist, advised his readers.

“He was re-elected in 2013 because few Republicans were aware the party even had a chairman and nobody wanted to waste money changing the stationery.”

CLAPPER’S CLOSER LOOK

“At the direction of the President, I am establishing the Director of National Intelligence Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies to examine our global signals-intelligence collection and surveillance capability,” says James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence in a straightforward statement released Monday.

“The Review Group will assess whether, in light of advancements in communications technologies, the United States employs its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust,” Mr. Clapper says.

Expect interim findings to reach the White House in two months, a final report “with recommendations” by mid-December.

HOLA AMERICA

“Seventy-two percent of Americans say it is essential that immigrants living in the United States learn to speak English. Meanwhile, 20 percent believe it is essential that Americans learn a second language other than English,” reports Gallup poll analyst Jeffrey Jones.

About a third of Americans already know a second language. See many other numbers in today’s Poll du Jour at column’s end. These views have changed little since Gallup first asked the question 12 years ago.

GREYHOUND ONE ROLLS AGAIN

It has been exactly two years since “Greyhound One” first rolled across the American countryside in the name of White House agenda. The nickname was bestowed on the custom, $1.1 million, armor-plated, Canadian-made excursion bus by conservative wags in the summer of 2011 when President Obama embarked upon a three-day “Economic Rural Bus Tour” through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Later that fall, the president went the bus route in North Carolina and Virginia.

In 2012, he toured Ohio and Pennsylvania on the “Betting on America” tour, when he was in heavy campaign mode, and preferred a podium with patriotic bunting and a heartland-style backdrop.

Here we go again.

Mr. Obama will board the bus, or a version of it, for a two-day jaunt through New York and Pennsylvania later this month, “to discuss another cornerstone of his vision for a better bargain for the middle class.” Or words to that effect. Details are very limited. But the tour will likely be a charming photo-op.

THAT PESKY SEQUESTER

Americans do not have a clear case of sequesterphobia, at least for now. “Dire warnings that the sky was falling didn’t pan out. So, little angst outside Washington and no reason for President Obama to squander his political capital on a battle to change or supplant the sequester, especially while GOPers are fighting with themselves over the 2014 budget and the next debt ceiling hike,” points out a lengthy new analysis from the Kiplinger Letter, a weekly forecast of business trends.

There will be $109 billion in cuts next year compared to $80 billion n 2013. Half comes from domestic programs, half from the military; yes, there will be furloughs and funds manipulation.

“Highly visible and critical programs will be spared the ax: U.S. meat inspectors will remain on the job, as will air traffic controllers. Most offices will maintain a semblance of business as usual. National monuments will stay open. Medicare, Social Security and veterans benefits have been exempt from the beginning,” the Kiplinger analysis says.

“Offsetting the limited pain is this fact: The sequester seems to be working. The spending cuts, in combination with tax hikes and an improving economy, will help trim the deficit to $642 billion this year. The red ink totaled $1.1 trillion in 2012.”

WHERE’S THE MONEY, PLANNED PARENTHOOD?

Interesting: the Government Accountability Office plans to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the use of federal taxpayer funds that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers have received. More interesting: Texas-based affiliate Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to repay $4.3 million to U.S. and Texas taxpayers to settle the fraud claims brought forward by a former Planned Parenthood employee

“The fact that Planned Parenthood received over half a billion dollars in taxpayer money last year is beyond comprehension, especially as there is little federal oversight of the exact use of these funds. They should be held accountable for every dollar they receive, like every other federal contractor and grantee,” says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life interest group.

“We applaud the GAO for conducting this investigation. After 40 years of lavish federal funding from dozens of programs, a comprehensive audit is long overdue,” she adds.

POLL DU JOUR

72 percent of Americans say it is “essential” that immigrants to the U.S. learn English; 85 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats agree; 58 percent of Hispanics and 59 percent of current U.S. immigrants also agree.

34 percent of Americans overall say they personally speak a second language; 60 percent of that group speak Spanish, 18 percent French, 12 percent German, 5 percent English, and 3 percent each for Italian, Russian and Chinese.

20 percent of Americans overall say it is essential that Americans learn a second language; 13 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Democrats agree; 30 percent of Hispanics and 27 percent of U.S. immigrants also agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 4,373 U.S. adults conducted June 13 to July 5 and released Friday.

Happy talk, gallant press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com.