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Inside the Beltway: Airing the GOP’s laundry

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 11, 2013

These were once internal family squabbles, dismissed as growing pains for a Republican Party in search of itself.

Now they are public family squabbles under the careful scrutiny of major pollsters who ponder the ongoing "internal dissent" in the GOP, and its potential side effects.

"GOP congressional leaders face mounting disapproval among tea party Republicans. Just 27 percent of Republicans and GOP leaners who agree with the tea party approve of the job Republican leaders in Congress are doing, compared with 71 percent who disapprove," says a new Pew Research Center poll.

As Republicans practice their legislative dance moves to defund or defang Obamacare, tea partyers have framed them as villains.

"The GOP leadership had the opportunity to galvanize Americans and make a real difference. Instead it is more business as usual with games, tricks and gimmicks that stick American families with the costs of Obamacare," says Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots. "The ruling elite in the House, and their shell-game with our money, aren't fooling us."

Pew says that the job rating of GOP leaders among tea party Republicans has fallen 15 points in six months, from 42 percent to 27 percent. "Disapproval has risen from 54 percent to 71 percent over this period," the findings say. Now there's a price affixed to the squabbles.

"This internal dissent contributes to the lower job ratings Republican leaders receive from the public when compared with Democratic congressional leaders," Pew says. The Democrats' advantage "stems from the substantially more positive job ratings they receive from their own base: 57 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners approve of how Democratic congressional leaders are handling their job."

Pew concludes, "There is no internal ideological divide within the Democratic Party, as the GOP leadership faces."

THE O'BAGY HEADLINES

She has captured the press instantly, for sure. That would be Elizabeth O'Bagy. She is the young researcher who was fired from her job as a think tank analyst Wednesday for fibbing about her credentials, despite penning a Wall Street Journal op-ed urging the U.S. to support Syrian rebels that was cited by both Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Sen. John McCain when they urged military intervention following chemical attacks on civilians in the war-torn nation. A selection of headlines:

"From anonymous to media star to unemployed in a week" (National Public Radio); "Lost in credibility gulch" (Esquire); "Who funds Syrian rebel advocate O'Bagy and the Syrian Emergency Task Force? You do" (Daily Caller), "Obama relying on student's spin on Syria?" (World Net Daily), "State Dept. funds O'Bagy's pro-rebel Syria lobbying" (Pajamas Media).

WEINER HOUR ON MSNBC?

It worked for former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, at least for a while. Now media observers wonder when Anthony D. Weiner will answer his true calling as a cable TV property, now that he's out of the Big Apple's mayoral race.

"While many speculate on Weiner's future career prospects, here's one job that actually embraces the egomaniacal side of humanity: cable news host," observes Mediaite analyst Andrew Kirell, who points out that much cable news is entertainment, like pro wrestling.

"Weiner has consistently shown that he can act without regard for other people's feelings; he is unafraid to confront his opponents; he has strong opinions about seemingly everything; he's good at yelling; and he has name recognition that he would love to continue riding," Mr. Kirell says. "What does that all sound like? A cable host."

'BIG TENT' LIBERTARIANS

In polite circles, they're called "Libertarian-leaning" Republicans who are borrowing a few pages from the Libertarian Party playbook to widen the voter appeal of the Grand Old Party as 2014 and 2016 approach.

Now there are some numbers on it. A FreedomWorks poll released Wednesday reveals "fiscal issues and the role of government take top priority across the GOP voter base," The findings note that "big-tent libertarian values within the Republican Party and the American voter population at large are at the highest level in a decade."

The survey found that 41 percent of Republicans say they have such values. The greater concern is whether social conservatives and the Libertarian-leaners can get along — but that's another story.

Meanwhile, on the laundry list of voter concerns, the pollsters says that voters fret about increasing government power — including the U.S. engagement in overseas conflicts, citizen surveillance, the IRS matter, and of course the incoming Affordable Care Act and the endless federal debt.

"We are seeing a realignment of the GOP, and a return to the fiscal policy priorities that fueled the last Republican midterm sweep. It's 2009 all over again, only this time combined with a growing distrust of an executive branch plagued with scandal," says Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a sizable grass-roots group of liberty minded folk.

THE CREATOR'S APPEAL

A conservative Christian group that was once locked out of its Facebook account reports the good news: They founded their own website, and in less than 12 hours saw a "new account created every 45 seconds."

Their pitch: "MyWorldviewPage.com is where conservative Christians can connect, fellowship, and encourage one another by sharing Biblical resources and discussing Biblical issues that strengthen a Biblical worldview."

The organizers bill their new online destination as a free spot where Christians can spend time without fear of being "blocked, censored or harassed for their beliefs."

In June, their Facebook page had been caught up in a clampdown on 40 "counter-jihad and patriot pages," according to the American Thinker. Administrators were locked out of their pages, and pages disappeared.

So the Worldview folks went out on their own.

"I was hoping that we would have 1,000 members in the first six days but we are now on track to have around 2,000 members in our first 24 hours," says president and founder Brannon Howse.

POLL DU JOUR

63 percent of Americans are unsure who they want to "win" in the Syrian civil war; 26 percent would like to see Syrian rebels win, 11 percent pick the Syrian government.

58 percent say how their member of Congress votes on military intervention in Syria could be a factor when they decide who to vote for in 2014; 27 percent say it is not a factor.

46 percent believe President Obama will order a military strike against Syria; 45 percent are not sure; 12 percent say he will not order the action.

45 percent are not sure who has committed the most war crimes in Syria; 44 percent say the Syrian government has committed the most war crimes; 11 percent say it is the Syrian rebels.

24 percent would support U.S. military intervention against Syria.

Source: A YouGov/Economist survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 7 to 9.

Mewling, polite applause to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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