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Inside the Beltway: Clinton is everywhere
Question of the Day
As was once said about Elvis Presley, former President Bill Clinton seems to be everywhere. Last week he was named "father of the year" by a public interest group, spoke to geeks about gun control at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas then journeyed to Haiti for the third anniversary of the earthquake there. Mr. Clinton thrilled giddy liberal fans at the Golden Globe Awards in Hollywood on Sunday. His video greetings added to the nonpartisan din at the blabby No Labels gathering organized by Jon Huntsman Jr. in Manhattan on Monday.
And Tuesday? The indefatigable Mr. Clinton will preside over the star-studded "2013 Clinton Health Matters Conference" at a California golf resort. On the agenda: guided meditation with Deepak Chopra and speeches from, among many others, Barbra Streisand, Chelsea Clinton, Gary Player and Olympic beach volleyball champions April Ross and Jen Kessey.
"This is just Bill being Bill," says a Democratic observer.
THE IMPERIAL MOMENT
"This is a man pushing the edge of the envelope as far as I'm concerned, whether it's the appointment clause, whether it's his unilateral action on immigration, whether it's trashing the Commerce Clause and the tax clauses under Obamacare. Now they're talking about executive orders on the Second Amendment. They've issued regulations on First Amendment attacks on religious liberty. This notion that he might be able to lift the debt ceiling, you know, unilaterally under the 14th Amendment," talk radio host Mark Levin told Fox News following President Obama's news conference at the White House on Monday.
"I think we have an imperial president, he sounds imperial, he's arrogant as hell, and I'm furious about this and I'm going to tell you why. We are a magnificent country. We don't need to be turned upside down. We don't need to run from crisis to crisis to crisis. He's bankrupting this country," Mr. Levin concluded.
"Levin's words will resonate with hard-working, overtaxed households across the country, and with good reason," points out Nile Gardiner, a Washington-based analyst for The Telegraph of London.
"There was not an ounce of humility in the president's remarks, as he lambasted Congress and flat out refused any negotiation on the debt ceiling issue. There were no words of gratitude to the American people, or any sense that his administration was there to serve the country, as opposed to lording over it," Mr. Gardiner notes.
WE THE LAWMAKERS
They'll step up to the podium to remind voters that a more perfect union, domestic tranquility, common defense, general welfare and the blessings of liberty are still part of the thinking on Capitol Hill. Indeed, some 120 lawmakers will read the U.S. Constitution from the House floor for two hours beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday, in an effort organized by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Rep. Bob Goodlatte — both Virginia Republicans eager to demonstrate they are still in touch with their inner patriots.
"We must never lose sight that we are committed to protecting the fundamental rights of the people we represent," Mr. Cantor says.
"This reading of the Constitution demonstrates that House Republicans are committed to our Constitution and the enduring principles for which it stands," Mr. Goodlatte says.
This is the second time the Constitution will be read in the House. Is it just empty political theater? Why, no.
"It is a very good idea for members of Congress to read the Constitution in public, especially at a time when America faces a crossroads over the debt ceiling and funding the federal government," Republican strategist Ron Bonjean tells Inside the Beltway.
"Lawmakers need to be reminded why they are on Capitol Hill. This is one way to do that. The reading may or may not make headlines on the national news, but I think the folks back home will be paying attention, and hometown news will pick it up. This is what people care about locally," Mr. Bonjean adds.
TARGETING THE TONE
Animal lovers have their own reasons to be vexed with the White House over gun control.
"I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and our more than 3 million members and supporters to ask you, as you prepare your statements this week on gun violence, to reconsider your defense of hunting and shooting animals for sport as a justification for gun ownership," says Tracy Reiman, vice president of the animal-rights group, in a letter to President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
"In a news conference five days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, you stated that 'the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible — they buy their guns legally, and they use them safely, whether for hunting or sport shooting, collection or protection.' Yet, there is nothing 'responsible' about making a sport out of killing, about hunting, or about teaching children to hunt."
She adds, "While a ban on hunting may not be in our immediate future, a change in tone could easily be had with a stroke of your speechwriter's pen. Americans' views are evolving on many issues, from same-sex marriage to gun control, and the time is right to reconsider the dangerous message that the practice of killing animals for fun is acceptable and should even be protected."
POLL DU JOUR
• 85 percent of Americans favor background checks for private and gun-show sales; 85 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Democrats agree.
• 80 percent favor preventing people with mental illness from purchasing guns; 86 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Democrats agree.
• 67 percent favor a federal database to track gun sales; 49 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats agree.
• 64 percent favor armed security guards in schools; 73 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Democrats agree.
• 56 percent favor a ban on semi-automatic assault-style weapons; 47 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey of 1,502 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 9 to 13.
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