Inside the Beltway: Don’t worry, be happy, Republicans

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Republican foes were eager to spring upon new Gallup poll findings revealing that a mere 25 percent of voters currently identify with the Grand Old Party, compared to a record high 42 percent who call themselves independents and 31 percent who were Democrats. Is it time to gnash teeth and panic as midterm election season sets in? No, Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak tells Inside the Beltway.

“There are many dynamics at work here. You have to remember how many people also identify as conservative or liberal, and that the generic congressional ballot currently favors Republicans. You also have to consider voter motivation and enthusiasm, a force which will likely sway the election in GOP favor,” he observes. “And yes, the party must woo independents to win a national election.”

But Mr. Mackowiak is keenly interested in news that a pair of Democrats — Reps. Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina — have chosen to retire, which places a damper on the Democratic Party’s grand plans to gain control of the House.

“One survey doesn’t mean more than a Democrat in a red state choosing to retire,” Mr. Mackowiak says. “I pay more attention to the decisions of Mike McIntyre than I do one Gallup poll.”

Interesting to note that a YouGov/Economist poll also released Wednesday finds that 62 percent of independent voters would not re-elect their current local representatives. So indeed, the demographic is up for grabs. See more findings in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

TRUMPALISCIOUS

“Achievers move forward at all times. Don’t tread water. Get out there and go for it,” Donald Trump advised his 2.4 million Twitter followers on Wednesday. And it appears he practices what he preaches. The billionaire will be going for, well, something in the Granite State later this month. Mr. Trump is the headliner at an invitation-only breakfast hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.

“Is he running for something? President? New York governor?” the eager invitation asks.

Only The Donald knows for sure. Meanwhile, he’ll underscore his alliance with Republicans in a warmer climate just 10 days later. Mr. Trump himself will host the Republican Party of Florida at a “House Majority 2014 Golf Tournament,” naturally on his own turf. We’re talking the Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach — which includes the “Trump Nine,” where one signature green is located on its own little island.

SOME INTELLIGENCE ON INTELLIGENCE

Just so you know: there was a cordial and what appears to be productive meeting Tuesday between Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire — three of the five-member review group that compiled “Liberty and Security in a Changing World,” a report delivered to President Obama in mid-December. It offered 46 recommendations on navigating the tricky balance between viable national security and privacy.

The review recommended, among many things, that Congress create the position of “Public Interest Advocate” and a newly chartered, independent Civil Liberties and Privacy Protection Board. And the meeting? Intelligence officials reviewed the review, and heard from its authors. Of particular interest, according to Mr. Clapper’s office: the collection of bulk metadata under Section 215 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; security clearance reform, encryption, judicial approval of national security letters and judicial approval of nondisclosure orders.

“Throughout the meeting, review group members expressed gratitude to the intelligence community for helping keep Americans safe,” the official account said, advising that Mr. Clapper in turn praised the reviewers for “facilitating an informed public discussion about proposed reforms and also thanked them for preserving intelligence capabilities while further strengthening privacy protections and oversight.”

Mr. Clapper “also expressed his appreciation for the ongoing close coordination and consultation between the administration, Congress, and the intelligence community as we work together on a measured approach to intelligence reforms.”

And that sounds promising.

ANOTHER PALIN ERA BEGINS

This is the time of “red, wild and blue America” says the Sportsman Channel, which will showcase new host Sarah Palin before the Hollywood press on Friday. The former presidential hopeful will host a power breakfast at the 2014 Television Critics Association in Pasadena, Calif., to talk up “Amazing America,” an original lifestyle series which debuts in April. “Grizzlies are unpredictable,” the network advises, “and we’ve go the mother of them all.”

Producers intend to demonstrate “where the American spirit and the great outdoors are celebrated in equal measure,” the channel notes, providing a complement to other programming that includes “Meat Eater,” “Addictive Fishing” and “Dog Soldier TV.”

PALIN ERA, PART 2

“I’m not a defender of everything she says. I don’t hear everything she says. But I know she represents a certain group of people who rose up against their own party, which you rarely see. I probably hired her back, if you really want to get to the bottom of it, to give her a chance to say her piece and piss off the people that wanted her dead,” FOX News CEO Roger Ailes told the Hollywood Reporter, regarding Mrs. Palin’s continued presence on his network.

“Hmmm. Funny. I accepted for the same reason,” she countered on her Facebook page in response.

MCCAUL HAS A WARNING

There’s some fretting, and talk of a “false narrative,” meanwhile. The House Homeland Security Committee has garnered the likes of former lawmakers Joe Lieberman and Jane Harman plus retired U.S. Army Gen. Jack Keane for a hearing next week about the spread of al Qaeda, the worrisome expansion of Islamist extremism and the diversification of terrorist groups abroad.

President Obama’s narrative fails to reflect the reality that al Qaeda is not on the run, but is in fact growing in strength at an alarming rate across the Middle East and Northern Africa,” says Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican and committee chairman, who cites renewed fighting in Iraq and civil unrest in Syria in particular.

“We must take an honest look at the danger to the homeland from the spread of extremism. Continuing to downplay the terrorist threat endangers our ability to defeat it, and this hearing will examine the consequences of the administration’s counterterrorism rhetoric,” Mr. McCaul adds.

POLL DU JOUR

46 percent of Americans would not re-elect the current member of Congress in their district if the election were today; 45 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents agree.

49 percent of conservatives, 40 percent of liberals and 49 percent of moderates also agree.

30 percent of Americans overall are not sure yet if they would re-elect their local member of Congress; 27 percent of Republicans, 33 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of independents agree.

27 percent of conservatives, 31 percent of liberals and 20 percent of moderates also agree.

24 percent overall would choose to re-elect their local member of Congress; 29 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of independents agree.

24 percent of conservatives, 29 percent of liberals and 21 percent of moderates also agree.

Source: A You Gov/Economist poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 4-6 and released Wednesday.

Big ideas and small talk to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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