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Inside the Beltway: Republicans grit their teeth
A certain dread has descended upon members of the Grand Old Party, who must now bear witness to a grand old party that is not theirs to celebrate. Indeed, Democrats will bask in the glow of victory in the next 72 hours as the presidential inauguration takes over and wrests the nation's capital into submission. And Republicans? Dismay could prompt an exodus to ski resorts, indoor golf ranges and movie theaters this weekend.
There are numbers: 83 percent of Republicans report they are "upset" about the prospect of President Obama's second term in office, this according to a new Harris poll gauging public sentiments about the next four years.
Needless to say, 86 percent of Democrats report they are happy.
Overall, "a slight majority of Americans are feeling hopeful about the President's second term. Just over half — 52 percent — of U.S. adults describe themselves as very or somewhat happy about Obama beginning his second term," Harris reports.
New findings from the Pew Research Center, meanwhile, indicate that feisty Republicans may be down, but they're not out: 14 percent now give Mr. Obama a positive approval rating, while a mere 17 percent expect bipartisan compromise between the parties in the near future.
There are only two official inauguration galas that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will attend, but the massive events will draw some 40,000 revelers intent on revisiting hope and change. But wait. There are also some 30 inaugural parties sponsored by state societies, and another 50 or so unofficial fetes that focus on everything from hip-hop and ecology to American Indians, the African diaspora, lawyers, clean technology, Christianity, retro-style bowling and Martin Luther King's birthday.
Not to be outdone, NASA will trot out six astronauts for a public meet-and-greet. Inaugural fashion itself is explored by the California State Society and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, which stages a red carpet-style showcase of the possibilities at the Ritz-Carlton on Saturday.
Mrs. Obama's fashion choices for the monumental events over the weekend, incidentally, are the stuff of wild speculation. Women's Wear Daily at least has a handle on "who" the first lady will wear during the pivotal next three days, based on scarce reports from the East Wing of the White House, they say. Among those on the short list of designers: Barbara Tfank, Laura Smalls, Derek Lam, Jason Wu, Bibhu Mohapatra, Tracy Reese, Chris Benz, Michael Kors and Tory Burch.
Meanwhile, there are the very unofficial parties around town, such as the "Nevermind the Inauguration: A Punk-Rock Counter Inaugural Ball & Festival of Resistance," staged in a warehouse setting for the young and restless. Meanwhile, the Jack Rose's Inauguration Hawaiian Luau unfolds in a whiskey bar, intent on honoring Mr. Obama's aloha roots with hula dancers, tiki cocktails, roast pig and "Spam sliders."
There is little escape from inauguration news coverage. Cable news broadcasters begin in earnest Sunday morning; MSNBC, in fact, is touting "Way Too Early" coverage to begin at 5:30 a.m. at The Dubliner, an Irish bar a block from the Capitol. Fox News, Fox Business, CNBC and CNN will offer live fare from various locations on the Mall, or from reviewing stands near the White House.
Meanwhile, more than 500 broadcasters from 21 countries will descend on the Newseum's rooftop above Pennsylvania Avenue, vying for a picturesque spot for their stand-up reports, enabled, the museum says, by 100 miles of fiber-optic cable and 49 audio-video panels.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors, a federal agency, promises to "bring the presidential inauguration to the world capturing the U.S.'s role as a model of democracy." Ready to report: Voice of America, which will broadcast events in such languages as Indonesian, Burmese, Korean, Khmer, Spanish, Creole, Ukrainian, Urdu, Farsi, Bosnian, Serbian and Macedonian, throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East via local TV and radio affiliates, plus satellites and shortwave.
Also on the agency's airwaves: Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa, Radio and TV Marti, and Radio Free Asia — which will showcase interviews with members of the "global North Korean defector community."
"The current flare-up in the long political battle over gun laws is coming at a moment when American gun culture is more expansive than ever, having gained a foothold among the type of coastal elites that, just a couple decades ago, would have dismissed the very idea of holding a rifle as obscene and offensive," points out BuzzFeed correspondent McKay Coppins. "Hunting and recreational shooting, once viewed by the left as backwater pastimes, have won over a liberal coalition of eco-conscious locavores, hipster hunters, and adventure-seeking New York media elites."
To illustrate, Mr. Coppins points out a tweet sent out by none other than New York Times columnist David Carr, who revealed he was on his way for some target practice at a local gun range, quipping, "Hide yer children and valuables."
Poll du jour
• 82 percent of American say President Obama "stands up for what he believes in"; 64 percent of Republicans and 96 percent of Democrats agree.
• 76 percent overall say Mr. Obama is a "good communicator"; 59 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats agree.
• 66 percent overall say the president is "trustworthy"; 32 percent of Republicans and 95 percent of Democrats agree.
• 66 percent overall say Mr. Obama "cares about people like me"; 32 percent of Republicans and 95 percent of Democrats agree.
• 59 percent say he is a "strong leader"; 25 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats agree.
• 57 percent overall say Mr. Obama is "able to get things done"; 30 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,502 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 9 to 13.
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