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Inside the Beltway: Truly gun-free

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News outlets have reported with much fanfare that President Obama will soon fire up Air Force One and travel around the nation in campaign mode, making his case for gun control. And in its own halting way, the White House officially confirmed this Monday during the daily press briefing, where a hefty part of the questions targeted assault weapons, background check and sales, plus gun-related violence.

"I do anticipate that you will see the president using the power of the bully pulpit, as you described it, by traveling across the country a little bit and talking about some of these issues, including this one," deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told one questioning reporter.

"Obama to travel around the country on new gun control campaign. To make a symbolic point he should do this with a completely disarmed Secret Service," muses Lucianne Goldberg, founder of the news website Lucianne.com.

WHITE HOUSE/BLOOMBERG LINK

The aforementioned Mr. Earnest, meanwhile, also kind of, well maybe, sort of acknowledged there had been chatter between New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the White House over gun control. From the press briefing came this question: "Mayor Bloomberg is rolling out a $12 million ad campaign. Has there been any discussions between Mayor Bloomberg and the White House about this campaign, any coordination about the messaging?"

"I can't speak to any specific coordination," Mr. Earnest replied. "I know that the vice president recently met with Mayor Bloomberg where they talked about a range of issues, including proposals that would reduce gun violence. So in terms of whether or not there was any coordination or advice that Mayor Bloomberg sought for his political activities, I don't know the answer to that. But we certainly have been in touch with Mayor Bloomberg, as we have been with a range of individuals."

NOT SO SUPREME

"As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on two same-sex marriage cases, and with several other high-profile cases on its docket, the court's favorability rating remains close to an all-time low," says a Pew Research Center survey, which also revealed that just 9 percent of Republican conservatives say the court steered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is actually conservative.

Among Americans overall, 52 percent view the court favorably, 31 percent unfavorably.

Forty-seven percent of Republicans have a favorable opinion, up from 38 percent in July, following endless discussions about health care reform.

By contrast, favorable sentiment among Democrats slipped from 64 percent to 56 percent.

"About as many conservative Republicans say the Supreme Court is liberal (45 percent) as middle of the road (39 percent). Very few conservative Republicans, just 9 percent, say the court is conservative," the survey says.

"Nearly half of liberal Democrats (48 percent) say the Supreme Court is conservative; 31 percent say it is middle of the road and just 15 percent view the court's ideology as liberal."

DITHERING OVER CLINTON

What with his sister running for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina and a parody presidential campaign behind him, Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert could be getting, uh, serious in his politics. Maybe.

"For the first time, Stephen Colbert will interview former President Bill Clinton and host the closing session of the sixth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University. It will mark President Clinton's first appearance on the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series," says the somewhat star-struck network, upon announcing an event that won't even happen until April 6.

"I am thrilled and honored to be interviewing President Clinton, and I assume he is aware this is happening," Mr. Colbert notes.

FOX CANDOR

"Liberals take it as an article of faith that Fox News is not merely biased but a travesty that serious people should ignore. But the notion that there is something unholy about what is broadcast on Fox or that its mix of news and opinion is uniquely biased has never stood up to scrutiny," points out Commentary columnist Jonathan S. Tobin, recalling a recent Pew Research study that found MSNBC content to be 85 percent opinion, 15 percent actual news.

"For decades, mainstream news icons like Walter Cronkite maintained the pretense of objectivity while tilting his enormously influential broadcasts to the left. But while belief in his impartiality and that of almost all of his colleagues on CBS and the other big two of that time was based on myth rather than truth, it was more believable than the willingness of his successors as well as many of those seen on MSNBC and CNN -- including those that report as well as those who merely opine -- to continue to pretend that they aren't ideologues," Mr. Tobin says.

"Fox's success is rooted in its honesty about its point of view as well as the fact that the uniform liberalism of the other networks has left the field wide open for a conservative alternative. What Roger Ailes and his backer Rupert Murdoch did was to find an underserved niche of the news market. Only in this case that niche is made up of approximately half of the American people. No wonder liberals resent it so bitterly," he adds.

POLL DU JOUR

• 65 percent of Americans say the U.S. should use drone airstrikes against suspected terrorists in other countries; 79 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats agree.

• 41 percent overall say the U.S. should use drone strikes against American citizens in other countries who are suspected terrorists; 50 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats agree.

• 25 percent overall say the U.S. should use drones against suspected terrorists in the U.S.; 31 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of Democrats agree.

• 13 percent overall say the U.S. should use drones against American citizens in the U.S. who are suspected terrorists; 21 percent of Republicans and 10 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,020 U.S. adults conducted March 20 to 21.

• Chatter and prattle to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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