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Inside the Beltway: Firing up the ‘W’ legacy

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It has to do with wise civility, perhaps, and some fabulous strategery. Former President George W. Bush, deemed either a "frat boy" or war monger by an unfriendly press for years, has re-emerged on the public radar, earning a growing number of positive reviews and rising approval ratings on par or even besting President Obama's numbers. "George W. Bush returns as a uniter" declared The Washington Post in the wake of Mr. Bush's well-received visit to Africa, and a particularly compelling interview with ABC News in the aftermath. "The expanding legacy of George Bush," heralded a recent McClatchy editorial.

Following four years of gracious silence after he left office, Mr. Bush has adopted an appealing, straightforward mien that appears both authentic and sincere. He dismisses any talk of legacy, telling ABC that "history will see to that." Asked why he doesn't chat more with Mr. Obama, he replied, "Because he's busy and I'm retired."

Well, not quite. Phase one of the Bush legacy fires up Wednesday at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Mr. Bush hosts a daylong event titled "What Immigrants Contribute," meant to "honor America's immigrant heritage," and opening with an official naturalization ceremony. "President Bush will deliver keynote remarks before America's newest citizens take the oath of allegiance to the United States," organizers say.

Timely? Yes. The immigration reform bill currently is mesmerizing all of Capitol Hill.

Multiple forums and panels abound at the Bush event, meanwhile, offering evidence that immigrants and naturalization help the economy. Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore and U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president Javier Palomarez are among the speakers. The big doings will be broadcast live on C-SPAN and streamed online (Bushcenter.org/live) beginning at 9 a.m. EST.

There's still baggage out there, though. A Gallup poll released Tuesday finds that 69 percent of Americans still blame Mr. Bush for the flagging U.S. economy while 53 percent blame Mr. Obama.

AND IN SUMMATION

"With Spitzer & Anthony Weiner running for office, New York is pervert central! Pathetic."

— Donald Trump reflecting on the state of Big Apple politics, in a tweet.

COFFEE PLEASE, BUT NO GUNS

A Sig Sauer with that non-fat vanilla latte? Uh, no, says the Indiana-based grass-roots group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which has launched a campaign to demand that the almighty Starbucks franchise ban guns from its stores nationwide. The company currently allows patrons to bring loaded firearms into their stores in states where public carrying is permitted, the group says.

A petition and letter-writing campaign are underway; the ladies are contacting local newspapers and rattling their social media chain.

"Many moms are unaware that if they take their children to a Starbucks, their children may be standing next to a customer who has a loaded weapon," says Shannon Watts, founder of the group. "Starbucks needs to understand that they must take the safety of our children and families as seriously as mothers do."

THE MONSTER OF MEDIA BIAS

The partisan slant in the media has been pondered and parsed since word got out in the 1990s that, uh, most journalists were liberal and brought their ideology into the newsroom. Media bias has become a dangerous behemoth rather than a nuisance, growing bold and reckless in the shrill era of 24/7 coverage and desperate competition between news organizations for audience.

Which brings us to "In Collusion: How the Media Stole the 2012 Election — and How to Stop Them from Doing it in 2016," written by Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell and Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the conservative watchdog.

The pair document their claims that the left-leaning press made an "unprecedented" and "naked" effort to censor news, bash Republicans and craft a fairy tale narrative for Democrats to ensure President Obama won re-election.

"There is no question that the media fully invested in Barack Obama and played a major role in his 2008 election victory through biased news reporting. The media's role in Obama's 2012 re-election, however, goes far beyond bias," Mr. Bozell says. "The liberal media systematically undertook a campaign of character assassination against every single Republican candidate while pushing the narrative that the Obama White House was scandal-free."

It's the worst Mr. Bozell has seen in the last 25 years, he says, adding, "We never witnessed bias that severe."

"The press have gone from the right to know to the right to keep people in the dark. Until the liberal media's suppression of the facts is exposed and neutralized, Republicans can forget about ever winning another election," observes Mr. Graham.

VEGEMANIA

"Broccoli."

— President Obama on his favorite food, responding to a young attendee at the White House Kids State Dinner on Tuesday.

Incidentally, former President George H.W. Bush said 70 times while he was in office that he hated broccoli, this according to a painstaking count by Eric Ostermeier, founder of the University of Michigan's ever-ready Smart Politics Blog.

A RYE SMILE

Something for journalists to look forward to? Oh my, but yes. The gracious folks from Mount Vernon will soon journey to the National Press Club for a press preview of the spiffy $104 million George Washington Presidential Library, devoted to the study of all things George, due to open in late September.

Yes, Mount Vernon President Curt Viebranz will offer wisdom, and a sampling of Washington's historic books will be there to ogle. And lucky this is not a breakfast event. Also there for the happy press: "Taste George Washington rye whiskey," the invitation declares.

Whiskey? Indeed. Mount Vernon has a petit distillery, producing unaged rye whiskey described as "authentic" and "slightly floral, earthy, and grainy." The price: $95 a bottle.

THE DEGREE DECREE

What should Junior major in? Here's a brief practical guide to college degrees — gleaned from a Harvard University analysis of a Georgetown University Public Policy Institute study:

"The lowest unemployment rates were among elementary education (5 percent) and nursing (4.8 percent) majors, while information systems (14.7 percent) and architecture (12.8 percent ) saw the highest rates of unemployment. Computer science majors saw an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent; but drama and theater arts majors had a significantly lower rate, at 6.4 percent. English language and literature majors had an unemployment rate of 9.8 percent. While that is relatively high, accounting majors saw a rate only one percentage point lower, at 8.8 percent."

POLL DU JOUR

68 percent of Americans manage different "sets" of family and friends across multiple social networks; 58 percent wish they could monitor their accounts through a single source.

56 percent experience "fear of missing out" anxiety if they don't constantly monitor their accounts.

52 percent have taken a "vacation" from one or more of their accounts in the past year.

51 percent log in more frequently than they used to.

27 percent check their social networks as soon as they wake up.

26 percent would be willing to give up cigarettes before giving up social media.

Source: A MyLife.com survey of 2,084 U.S. adults conducted May 31 to June 4 and released Tuesday.

Crabby admonishments, polite applause to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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