Inside the Beltway: Presto! It’s instant change Obama

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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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Hope and change has been replaced by presto change-o. While Obamacare creaks toward commercial viability, its patron saint is busy with fast patter and some appealing parlor tricks. President Obama is talking about many things besides health care and flying around on Air Force One this week — a tried and true method to distract the public during difficult moments.

Mr. Obama travels to Dallas on Wednesday to showcase the feel-good side of the health care law, poised to thank volunteers and local “navigators” who are helping the confused public enroll in the program. But wait. There’s a pair of private fundraisers for Senate Democrats following such earnest fare, bearing price tags of $16,000 and $15,000 a person.

Mr. Obama then journeys to New Orleans on Friday to talk up job creation, increasing U.S. exports and shoring up the economy, though there likely will be squawks from worried local businesses about rate hikes in the National Flood Insurance Program. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, meanwhile, also appears peeved.

“I invited the president to Louisiana recently to meet with parents and visit a scholarship school. He never responded. I am renewing the invitation and hope the president accepts,” Mr. Jindal says.

Then it’s on to more cheerful things. Mr. Obama jets out of New Orleans to arrive in Miami for, yes, a fancy fundraiser for more Democratic lawmakers. And to round out the treasure-filled month, the president will also attend fundraisers in Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco — totaling 10 by Thanksgiving Day.

A TELLING WINNER

The Global Language Monitor has declared that “404” is its official “Word of the Year.” The Austin-based research group determined the winner based on frequency of actual usage, using computer-aided tracking of some 275,000 print, electronic and social media sources.

Yes, well. The numbers-only designation appeared a lot recently at the Obamacare website, but we already know all that.

“404 is the near-universal numeric code for failure on the global Internet, augmenting its original use as ‘page not found’, ” explains chief analyst Paul JJ Payack. The recent Obamacare launch debacle in the U.S. is only a representative example of a much wider system fail.”

Interestingly enough, “toxic politics” was the phrase of the year, while Pope Francis was the name of the year.

WAKE ME WHEN IT’S OVER

The young and healthy will be footing much of the bill for expanded national health care, at least according to multiple analyses by policy wonks. But are youthful Americans even paying attention to news about Obamacare?

Apparently not. New Pew Research Center findings reveal that only 15 percent of those younger than 30 are closely following coverage about the health care law, compared to 42 percent of those 50 and older.

WHAT’S COMING NEXT

This limerick courtesy of F.R. Duplantier, editor of the Weekly Politickle and a longtime friend of Inside the Beltway. He titles it Passive Regressive:

“There’ll be someone to see that we share, and make sure that we always play fair; that we want to behave from the cradle to grave — I can’t wait for ObamaDayCare.”

CHRIStie-CENTRIC TUESDAY

A must see for everyone obsessed with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie? Among the heavy election coverage on all the cable news networks Tuesday comes this from CNN: “The Lead” anchor Jake Tapper travels to the Garden State to spend the entire day with Mr. Christie — on the campaign trail, at the polling places and at the big election night party. Of note: Mr. Tapper will actually broadcast his daily program from Christie headquarters at 4 p.m. ET.

CHANGE A LA GINGRICH

Newt Gingrich’s 27th book has an epic title: “Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America’s Fate.” No wonder the title is so long. He has been mulling over the idea since 1981, Mr. Gingrich revealed during a conference call Monday with The Washington Times and other news organizations. And the idea? Entrepreneurs, scientists and academes are the “pioneers” while lobbyists, politicians and “Hillary Clinton” are the prison guards, the former House speaker explained.

Is he running for office or hoping to garner a Cabinet appointment maybe? Perhaps. Mr. Gingrich is still a man of much energy, with viable institutional knowledge. This book is meant to “shake up and shrink Washington,” he said, faulting those who stay passive on the sidelines. And about that clash. He anticipates that when “drastic new ideas are proposed in the GOP, half the battle is within the party.”

Change is due, Mr. Gingrich counseled. But wait. Didn’t brisk “change” as a strategy backfire on the Obama administration and create some bad press for the tea party? Yes, but the author intends to handle change with care, providing his alternative ideas in a way that proves irresistible.

“These are key ideas necessary for America to break out of gridlock and become the most productive nation on the planet,” he advised.

MEDIA FUMBLE ON THE REDSKINS

“Despite the media’s best efforts”, there were no protests over the Redskins team name at the game on Sunday, observes Mediaite columnist Joe Concha. All that politically correct posturing among journalists has not derailed a certain reality, he says.

“If the Redskins name was so offensive, so deplorable, those who buy the tickets, the merchandise, the hot dogs and the beer would make their voices heard. They would vote to change the name with their wallets by no longer supporting the team,” Mr. Concha says.

He cites NBC analyst Bob Costas, Sports Illustrated correspondent Peter King, ESPN’s Bill Simmons and USA Today’s Christine Brennan, noting that they fancied their protests over the Redskins name “would result in a PR nightmare” for team owner Dan Snyder.

“They dreamed the protests would grow bigger, louder, to the point where the team owner would have no other choice but to bow to the PC-gods. And when it was over, people would shake their hands for taking such a brave stand on such an important topic,” Mr. Concha continues.

“Except apathy won the day. Most Native Americans — in poll after poll — say they have bigger things to worry about. Many even see the name as a positive thing, as a source of pride,” the columnist says, adding, “Remember, it isn’t just about just being a journalist in 2013, it’s about advocating a cause, about taking a stand, making a difference, and of course, making yourself the story.”

POLL DU JOUR

86 percent of likely U.S. voters disapprove of the overall job the U.S. Congress is doing.

75 percent of Americans have confidence in civilian employees of the federal government.

67 percent would encourage a young person who was considering civilian employment with the federal government.

53 percent oppose Obamacare; 52 percent disapprove of the job President Obama is doing.

51 percent disapprove of the job their local member of Congress is doing.

26 percent say their local member of Congress deserves re-election.

45 percent say they would vote Democratic if the election were today; 41 percent would vote Republican.

Source: A George Washington University Battleground poll of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted Oct. 27 to 31.

Exaggerations, prudent talk to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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