Ronald Reagan and Elvis Presley, an impossible combination? Not this week. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation is offering a tribute to Elvis on Thursday — an "old time Vegas" gala, complete with Elvis impersonator, seven-piece show band and casino-inspired eats at the spectacular Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
On the menu: Mojo grilled chicken, Italian sausage and cheese-stuffed jumbo mushrooms, short rib pot roast, country style barbecue pork ribs, apple cider coleslaw, buttermilk biscuits and hot apple caramel crumble with vanilla ice cream. Among many offerings.
Did Reagan ever meet Presley? No, according to Phil Arnold of the Elvis Blog, which tracks Elvis minutiae. Elvis met Richard M. Nixon in 1970, and former presidents George H.W. Bush when he was U.S. ambassador to the United Nation in 1971, plus Jimmy Carter when he was governor of Georgia two years later. Presley died Aug. 16, 1977.
"He epitomized America, and for that we shall be eternally grateful. There will never be anyone else like him. Let's all rejoice in his music," a gracious Reagan said after the singer's passing.
THE REPUBLICAN BRAND
The Grand Old Party is displaying its tusks, and trumpeting. Republicans are wrestling with their identity: Should the party embrace a conservative standard bearer or a hybrid with wide voter appeal like, say, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie? The talk is the delight of Democrats and liberal media who insist the party is in disarray.
But behold: Here comes rebranded Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who is feisty, but also emerging as nimble, cheerful and capable of seamless responses.
"A healthy family debate is not a bad thing at all. I don't think at a time when we just came off of a presidential election that having a party that is just dull and boring is something that is good for not just our party, but for this country. So I think that these debates are good," a grinning Mr. Priebus told ABC News.
And he had another deft response to criticism of Republicans unified by their chairman's proposal to boycott CNN and NBC should they produce carefully timed programming on Hillary Rodham Clinton. Democratic National Committee press secretary Michael Czin cautioned that if the GOP hoped to attract more diverse interest, the boycott and a potentially diminished audience would only bring them fewer voters.
"I'm trying to get a hold of a primary process and a debate debacle that, as you know, I've called a traveling circus," Mr. Priebus told ABC. "I've got to protect this party and our nominees. We don't want 23 debate rounds like we've had before. And I would just say that entities like NBC and CNN that are moving forward with [shows] about Hillary Clinton are not going to take part in our debates."
Some suggest that the Republican symbol needs an update to counter the upstart donkey of Democratic fame. The GOP needs more mastodon, less dutiful circus creature.
"The logo should have a great deal more oomph and dynamism. An improved logo would rampage, trumpeting a challenge to all comers. It should also have a pair of menacing tusks. Then let that damned donkey come rearing up in its face," proclaims American Thinker columnist Perry Drake.
"Party faithful might feel that the elephant as it is most popularly portrayed is part of GOP history and shouldn't be tampered with. Naysayers should keep in mind, though, that once you use the word 'history' you've already lost two-thirds of your audience. America is a today country, especially among the demographic groups the Republican Party hopes to attract," Mr. Drake observes.
HILLARY IN MOTION
Many analysts insist that Hillary Rodham Clinton intends to run for president, and already has adopted the political postures of a serious candidate. Some of her fans say it's premature, and possibly unwise. But nothing is ever too early for fans of the former first lady, senator, presidential hopeful and secretary of state, apparently. Ready for Hillary — a grass-roots group and political action committee founded in January by former Clinton fundraisers — already claims 500,000 members, a donor base of 10,000 and contributions topping $1.25 million. The group is selling campaign buttons and wearables. Emily's List, a PAC that supports progressive candidates, also has inaugurated a series of public events titled "Madam President."
Well, that's all nice, but inconsequential at the moment. What is not inconsequential is Mrs. Clinton's methodical, carefully planned trajectory onto the public radar through a series of policy speeches and town hall meetings that began with an appearance before the American Bar Association one week ago that drew much media coverage, and revealed future plans.
"Next month at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, I will talk about the balance and transparency necessary in our national security policies, as we move beyond a decade of wars to face new threats. And later in the fall, I will address the implications of these issues for America's global leadership and our moral standing around the world," Mrs. Clinton told her audience.
Also in the works, and one that the aforementioned Mr. Preibus can do nothing about: a memoir written with the help of Ted Widmer — a Center for American Progress scholar, historian and foreign policy speechwriter and adviser to President Bill Clinton — to be released by Simon and Schuster on June 1, 2014. The memoir is yet to be titled, but the publisher is already taking preorders.
THE CLINTON CAMELOT
We should recall that Bill Clinton greatly admired John F. Kennedy, though Mr. Clinton did not get to construct much of a Kennedy-style "Camelot" atmosphere during his two terms in office. Will he get a chance to work on a Clinton-style Camelot should his spouse win the White House in 2016 and he becomes, egad, the first gentleman?
The hallmarks of a Clinton dynasty are already in place. The William J. Clinton Foundation, in fact, was quietly renamed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. But wait. The famous family unit can be close, but not too close. Mrs. Clinton must be prudent, advised former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
"She also has to distinguish herself from her husband. If her campaign becomes an extension of either her husband's term, or the current president's term, it's not necessarily a good deal for her," he said during an appearance on NBC News.
Mr. Clinton has done some distinguishing of his own, however. In the wake of a negative New York Times report on the financial status and management of the Clinton Foundation, he issued a point-by-point deconstruction of the newspaper's claims in a public letter, particularly citing complex tax forms that "will often indicate that we have more or less money than is actually in our accounts."
Mr. Clinton appears willing to push back, and to fight for a Clinton Camelot, or reasonable facsimile therein. See the lengthy letter here: Clintonfoundation.org
POLL DU JOUR
• 76 percent of U.S. parents give a positive review of the school their child attends.
• 61 percent of parents say the education their child gets is better than the one they received.
• 55 percent say local public schools do a good job preparing children to be good citizens.
• 45 percent say public schools do a good job preparing students for the workforce.
• 38 percent give a positive review of "public schools in the U.S. generally."
• 21 percent say the education their child gets is worse than one they received as a child; 16 percent say it's "about the same."
Source: An Associated Press/NORC Center survey of 1,025 U.S. adults parents conducted June 21 and 22 and released Friday.
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