You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

Inside the Beltway: Coulter seeks liberal challenger

- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2014

It's all a matter of Ann Coulter vs ? The cool blonde with the brilliant mind and unflappable mien seeks a liberal debating partner for an event that is the equivalent of New Year's Eve, Fourth of July and maybe Thanksgiving Day for conservatives. That's the Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC — now just nine days off.

Organizers at the American Conservative Union have issued a serious challenge to "polemicists of the left" who are ready, willing and able to, they say, "defend the creeping socialism of Obama's America."

Indeed. The prospective combatant would face Miss Coulter right there on the expansive CPAC stage, before the largest gathering of conservative leaders and activists in the nation. There is some history to this, though. Back in the day, conservative columnist Robert Novak and veteran TV correspondent Sam Donaldson would square off and fling rhetoric.

"We'd welcome the chance to watch this kind of debate over the fundamentals of the American experiment again," says executive director Dan Schneider. We're confident in Ann. Is there a champion of the Left that is unapologetically supportive of their worldview?"

The man is serious now. Bill Maher? Rachel Maddow? Chris Matthews? Anyone?

Interested challengers should contact organizers via Twitter, using the hashtag #CPAC2014, or on Facebook.com/CPACNews. In the case of multiple hopefuls, Miss Coulter and Mr. Schneider will select an opponent.

A SALVO FOR PIERS

"We're offering a 21-gun salute to Piers Morgan for admitting that his push for gun control killed his ratings and his show," declares Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Indeed, Mr. Morgan's nightly prime-time talk show has been canceled by CNN for flagging ratings, a phenomenon that the British host himself attributed to viewers fatigued by polarizing issues — including gun control. His obsession with cricket didn't help either. But no matter.

"He's been more like a bull in a china shop when it comes to having a rational, reasonable discussion about firearms civil rights in the United States," Mr. Gottlieb points out. "The guy just can't control his nasty temperament toward the right to keep and bear arms. He made a habit of demonizing and insulting American gun owners. When you are a guest in another country, you really shouldn't spit on their constitutional rights or their traditions."

Mr. Morgan, however, appears armed and ready himself, now that the news of his cancellation has gone public.

"I wouldn't get too excited @NRA — I'm not done with you yet," the host tweeted Monday.

The show, which initially attracted 2 million viewers, is now down to a nightly audience of 270,000. The last show airs next month.

"If I were CNN head Jeff Zucker and had that 9 p.m. time slot to fill now, I would not do what is expected of CNN. What he should do is learn from the network that is dominating right now. Fox is succeeding not necessarily because it is conservative. Fox succeeds by mixing a few elements together that work," points out PJ Media columnist Bryan Preston.

"People talk about Fox's eye-candy factor, and there's no getting around the fact that many of Fox's talent are easy on the eyes. They are also sharp and in command of their air. Fox is far less predictable than either CNN or MSNBC," Mr. Preston adds.

His recommendation to replace Mr. Morgan: the brilliant "InstaPundit" and Tennessee-based attorney Glenn Reynolds.

BANE OF BUSH?

Barbara Bush is adamant that none of her close relatives will run for president any time soon, reasoning that another family should have a turn in the political pantheon. Fans of her son Jeb Bush — not to mention his son George P. Bush, now running for a state office in Texas — would perhaps politely differ with the former first lady.

But a curious dynamic has surfaced.

During an appearance before the Long Island Association on Monday, Jeb Bush told the audience that his name is "an issue for sure," suggesting that they're might be voter fatigue with yet another Bush, or even a Clinton, in the White House. But wait. This runs counter to every marketing tenet known to Madison Avenue. Name recognition pays off, particularly in the already chaotic landscape of the 2016 presidential season.

"I get the point. It's something that, if I run, I would have to overcome that," Jeb Bush said. "And so will Hillary, by the way. Let's keep the same standards for everybody."

Indeed, his potential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton also would have instant name recognition. But Mrs. Clinton is not likely to soft-pedal the family name any time soon; it is part of a plan for an emerging family legacy — what with Bill Clinton pining to be the First Husband and daughter Chelsea in full civic mode as fundraiser and do-gooder.

A very polite note to Jeb Bush then: The Bush family name is an asset, not an "issue."

MR. O'REAGAN

He was known as "Dutch," but he's a grand Irish-American. We're talking one Ronald Wilson Reagan, who has just been inducted in, yes, the Irish American Hall of Fame, through the efforts of the historically-minded Irish American Heritage Center up there in wee and windy Chicago. Also among the honorees: Commodore John Barry, an officer in the Continental Navy during the Revolutionary War; Hall of Fame baseball manager Connie Mack; Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the nation's first televangelist; and the ace lunar-minded astronaut Michael Collins.

Four hundred famed folks were nominated; the nine inductees will be honored at a gala in April.

BEAUTY AND THE BELL

A grand debut on Monday: That would be the brand new "Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo" on the Fox Business Network. The two-hour, live roundup of world market openings, significant stock moves and key business headlines of the day is an morning asset for viewers seeking smart delivery, authentic insider stuff and yes, some charm.

"Every morning at this time I'll be bringing you the latest word on your money straight from the decision makers on Wall Street, in the C suite and Washington," Ms. Bartiromo said during her first moments on a Fox camera.

"She breaks down what viewers need to know both before and after the opening bell rings," the network says

Ms. Bartiromo left CNBC after an on-air tenure of two decades. There's more ahead. She'll also host a Sunday business talk show on sister network Fox News Channel in March.

RUBIO'S RESUME

Further proof that Sen. Marco Rubio is honing the foreign policy portion of his resume for 2016. The Florida Republican will address arms control issues with Russia at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, with a host of analytical heavyweights. Mr. Rubio is striking an aggressive posture, and will talk about "recent Russian attempts to destabilize global security, its backing of tyrants and rogue regimes, and its rampant violation of human rights." He'll also highlight the importance of a "clear-eyed and realistic U.S. policy toward Russia."

See the event online beginning at 11 a.m. ET at Heritage.org.

POLL DU JOUR

61 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with America's "position in the world"; 37 percent are satisfied.

53 percent of Americans think "leaders of other countries around the world" do not have respect for President Obama.

77 percent of Republicans, 57 percent of independents and 28 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent overall say the leaders have respect for Mr. Obama; 19 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

51 percent overall say the U.S. is looked upon favorably in the world, 47 percent say the U.S. it is not.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,023 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 6-9 and released Monday.

Hurrahs and hisses to jharper@washingtontimes.com

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.