- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2013

An alarm must have gone off somewhere, signaling former President George W. Bush to step out of his polite, self-imposed exile and back onto public radar. Indeed, Mr. Bush makes a noteworthy debut Tuesday evening, joining NBC “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, the sole late night guy who wears an American flag pin. The appearance will thrill those who identify the phrase “Miss me yet?” with Mr. Bush. He may be ready for his public.

“One thing that’s made these activities more inviting for George W. Bush is that his poll numbers are up. There’s a more welcoming audience out there, a more positive reception,” Bruce Buchanan — a presidential historian with the University of Texas at Austin — tells Inside the Beltway.

“The former president is not necessarily signaling he wants to enter the political debate. But I think he may be looking to be in the role of an elder statesman now,” Mr. Buchanan observes.

Is it risky for Mr. Bush to jump on faulty Obamacare issues during his NBC visit? Not really, as long as his comments are shaped by prudence and tempered with some empathy for President Obama and the rigors of the office. The former president likely may take a strategic poke or two, but wrap them in sage advice and a one-liner. Meanwhile, Mr. Bush has been talking policy with gusto in recent days.

“If private sector growth is the goal and Keystone pipeline creates 20,000 new private-sector jobs, build the damn thing,” Mr. Bush told a huge, enthusiastic audience of oil and gas executives at a jumbo-sized industry conference in Pittsburgh late last week. He also talked up immigration, wrangling Iran and dealing with Congress, later adding, “I don’t miss Washington, and I don’t miss being president.”

Still, there are indicators the former president misses — well, something.

“I think Mr. Bush has noted that his own predecessors have done very well with the elder statesman role. He’s already set up his library, a research arm and a foundation. So he could be ready for hands-on activities,” Mr. Buchanan says.

“President Obama can do the same. His favorability may have suffered, but once he’s out of office, and it’s five years down the line, the numbers will go up, just like they have with George W. Bush.”

AND HERE COMES LARRY KLAYMAN

Larry Klayman is ready to rumble, and will make those rumbles known Tuesday in Lafayette Park, the very rarefied bit of real estate opposite the White House. Mr. Klayman, who has been a watchdog and gadfly in the nation’s capital and elsewhere for some time, has organized “Occupy Washington D.C.” — a grass-roots event replete with speechifying and agenda.

And zeal.

“It is critical for us to rise up and confront the political establishment that has willfully and maliciously bound our hands and voices. We must invoke our unalienable right to liberty,” Mr. Klayman declares. “Our government has become so destructive that, as our Founding Fathers expressed, it is our right and duty to alter or abolish it, while ‘instituting’ a new government that truly represents We the People.”

He lists off the “growing scandals of the Obama administration,” from Benghazi to the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups to the faulty rollout of Obamacare.

Mr. Klayman says he is ready to “call out the administration for its unprecedented failure to represent ‘We the People.’” Among the speakers: former lawmakers Bob Barr and Gordon J. Humphrey and World Net Daily CEO Joseph Farah.

“The Second American Revolution begins Tuesday,” Mr. Klayman adds. See their big doings here: Reclaimamericanow.net

YES, LET’S PRETEND

New Yorker contributor and comedian Andy Borowitz had some fun with Obamacare for his latest parody:

“Faced with a barrage of new questions about the Affordable Care Act, President Obama cut short a White House news conference today, telling the stunned press corps, ‘You know what? Everybody can keep their damn insurance.’

“Glaring at the reporters, the president continued, ‘You heard me. If your insurance is crappy, then you just go ahead and keep it — the crappier, the better. Let’s pretend this whole thing never happened.”

LET’S NOT PRETEND

“The bottom has fallen out for everyone in the nation’s political leadership,” says National Journal editorial director Ron Brownstein, on revealing the news organization’s dismal findings in the latest Heartland Monitor Poll.

What with a government shutdown, hair-raising federal debt, Obamacare chaos and a sluggish economy, “Americans aren’t feeling much holiday cheer about the country’s direction or anyone setting it,” Mr. Brownstein says.

And the numbers: 55 percent disapprove of President Obama’s job performance, 38 percent approve — the worst findings in the 19 times the poll has asked the question. And Congress. Well, Congress. Fully 84 percent of the respondents disapprove, 9 percent approve — which is down from 20 percent a year ago.

“Other measures continued to produce consistently grim verdicts,” Mr. Brownstein says. “Just 23 percent said Obama’s agenda would increase opportunity for people like them to get ahead, while 47 percent said it would diminish their opportunities; 25 percent said it would have no impact.”

The poll also found that just 34 percent of the respondents said Obama’s economic policies had helped “to avoid an even worse economic crisis, and are fueling economic recovery”; 52 percent said instead he has “run up a record federal deficit while failing to significantly improve the economy.”

THE THANKSGIVING REPORT

For those nervously tweaking their grocery store lists, Thanksgiving is a mere 216 hours away, give or take a panicked moment or two. To distract earnest Inside the Beltway readers who must wrangle dinner on a personal level, we will offer official insight as the big day looms.

And now, the Pie Report:

Ninety-percent of Americans will include pie at their Thanksgiving dinner, says Pillsbury, which ought to know. Two-thirds will serve pumpkin pie. Regional tastes? In the Northeast, 56 percent will serve apple. In the South, however, 43 percent will feature pecan pie. Pillsbury polled nearly 3,000 people to determine these results, and suggest that “Salted Caramel Pecan Pie” is this year’s newfangled recipe of choice for the T-Day table.

And for sweet potato pie fans, the company, of course, offers multiple recipes for the sumptuous favorite. Yankee Candle ups the ante; the company offers, yes, limited edition Sweet Potato Pie scented candles, which the company deems “a crave-worthy delight.”

POLL DU JOUR

61 percent of Americans believe that “others besides Lee Harvey Oswald” were involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; 52 percent believed that theory in 1963;81 percent believed it in 1976, and again in 2001;

30 percent now believe that Oswald was solely responsible for the assassination;29 percent believed that theory in 1963;11 percent believed it in 1976; 13 percent in 2001.

13 percent think the “others” in the conspiracy were gangsters or involved in organized crime; 13 percent say it was “the U.S. government”; 7 percent cite the CIA, 5 percent Fidel Castro, and 5 percent cite special-interest groups.

4 percent cite nonspecific “political groups”; 3 percent cite “racist groups,” 3 percent cite Lyndon B. Johnson and 3 percent the Soviet Union.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,039 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 7 to 10 and Gallup historical data.

Pie preferences, pie charts to jharper@washingtontimes.com.