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Inside the Beltway: Seeking enlightened conservatism

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"Clearly something is not working in the GOP and hasn't since its nervous breakdown caused by George W. Bush and exacerbated by the political consulting classes. The only part of the GOP that makes sense now is the tea party movement," Craig Shirley — a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian — tells Inside the Beltway.

"Ronald Reagan left his party with a coherent philosophy that was not about compromise, as the current disinformation is being pushed by some cable TV jockeys and revisionist liberals. Reagan was about unshakable principles and enlightened conservatism," Mr. Shirley notes.

Mr. Shirley will be part of an upcoming forum at Yale University that addresses "The Future of Conservatism." Among his peers on the podium: Sen. John Barasso, Wyoming Republican; syndicated columnists Jonah Goldberg, Rich Lowry and Michael Barone, and New York Post editorial page editor William McGurn.

The Oct. 18 event was organized by the William F. Buckley Jr. Program on the campus and will address such topics as "Standing athwart history: Should conservatives accept a truce on social issues?" and includes an opening address by none other than James L. Buckley, former U.S. senator, undersecretary of state, federal appellate judge and brother of the aforementioned Mr. Buckley, the late founder of the National Review who marshalled public awareness for conservative thought.

THIRD PARTY FEVER

More Americans dream of a third political party than ever before: "60 percent of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed," says Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones, who reports that these findings set a record.

And for the first time, Republicans and Democrats roughly agree: 52 percent of the GOPers and 49 percent of Democrats say a third party is in order. Only a quarter of the respondents overall say the two major parties "adequately" represent the nation.

Mr. Jones is not surprised, pointing out that the two parties can't agree on "the most basic of government functions," like passing an annual budget to pay for federal programs. But third party fans shouldn't get their hopes up.

"The desire for a third party is not sufficient to ensure there will be one," Mr. Jones adds. "Structural factors in the U.S. election system and the parties' own abilities to adapt to changing public preferences have helped the Republican and Democratic parties to remain the dominant parties in U.S. government for more than 150 years. Third parties that have emerged to challenge their dominance have not been able to sustain any degree of electoral success."

A BLEAK F-MINUS

Pollster John Zogby gives President Obama an "F-minus" for his job performance in the past week.

"Although the GOP might get lots of the blame for the government shut down, it is President Obama's failure because he's the boss presiding over it," Mr. Zogby says. "Americans are disgusted, and we are united at least in that sentiment. Less than 1 in 5 feel the country is on the right track. That is as low as it was when George W. Bush left the presidency amid crisis. Only 5 percent approve of the Congress' job."

THE RARE QUESTION

Phone calls, press releases, huddles, name calling and finger-pointing have yet to foster that elusive compromise between Republicans and the White House over gridlock on the federal shutdown and the debt ceiling. Perhaps something else is needed.

"In a spiritual sense, what will it take for leaders to solve this?" "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace asked U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black.

"It's going to take humility. There's a proverb that says pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. So before making a commitment to be stewards, to being servants, that's going to involve humility," the former chief of Navy chaplains said.

Mr. Wallace replied, "Humility in the Senate. Good luck."

The pastor, incidentally, was named "Power player of the week" by the program for his ongoing prayers to help lawmakers and the White House to find some productive agreement.

'DE-AMERICANIZED WORLD'

A stark reminder to House Republicans and the White House as they reel toward, well, something, anything: the world watches and speculates. Witness an editorial published Sunday from Xinhua, the official news agency of China, which takes the blame game to a global scale.

"As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world," the commentary states.

"The U.S. government has gone to all lengths to appear before the world as the one that claims the moral high ground, yet covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders," the news organization said, declaring that the U.S. was creating "chaos," among many other things.

"The cyclical stagnation in Washington for a viable bipartisan solution over a federal budget and an approval for raising debt ceiling has again left many nations' tremendous dollar assets in jeopardy and the international community highly agonized. Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated, and a new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing."

Xinhua's wide-ranging suggestions for the "de-Americanized world" include more attention on international law and United Nations authorities, plus "the introduction of a new international reserve currency that is to be created to replace the dominant U.S. dollar, so that the international community could permanently stay away from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States."

The news agency added, "Of course, the purpose of promoting these changes is not to completely toss the United States aside, which is also impossible. Rather, it is to encourage Washington to play a much more constructive role in addressing global affairs."

POLL DU JOUR

70 percent of Americans say "most members of Congress" do not deserve to be re-elected to office; 69 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats agree.

11 percent overall say the lawmakers deserve re-election; 14 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

47 percent overall say the lawmakers in their congressional district do not deserve re-election; 37 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats agree.

25 percent overall say their representatives deserves re-election; 37 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats agree.

37 percent overall say they would vote for the Democrat if the U.S. congressional elections were held today; 1 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

31 percent would vote for the Republicans; 83 percent of Republicans and 6 percent of Democrats agree.

18 percent overall are unsure who they would vote for; 11 percent of Republicans and 12 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A YouGov/Huffington Post poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 9 and 10.

Humble comments, soaring rhetoric to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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