- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2014

PUTIN GETS POPULAR: A RUSSIAN REALITY CHECK

Americans might do well to review the pivotal points of the Cold War when the old Soviet Union was in full aggressive posture, billed as a “bear” on the public stage. Russia appears to be looking for a repeat performance while new polling reveals a confident population, suggesting that persistent rumors of “Cold War Nostalgia” in the nation could be genuine. Some current numbers: President Vladimir Putin now has an 83 percent approval rating among Russians — his best numbers in years, this according to a Gallup poll of face-to-face interviews with 2,000 Russians released Friday.

For the first time in six years, 73 percent of the respondents now say their country’s leadership is “leading them in the right direction” while a record 78 percent have confidence in the military and national government (64 percent). Notably, 65 percent of Russians are “satisfied with their freedoms,” Gallup found. And following a $400 billion gas deal between Russia and China, Russian approval of China is a record 42 percent. Such revelations would likely have given the likes of Barry Goldwater great pause back in the day. But here is what Gallup says now.

“Recent events raised Russian residents’ confidence in their government and various national institutions to their highest points in the past decade. Even with increasing diplomatic isolation and a possible weakening economy with tougher sanctions, the vast majority of Russians will likely give their government full support in whatever course of action it chooses,” write analysts Julie Ray and Neli Esipova.

FOR THE LEXICON

“Sustainable quiet”

— A strategic goal for the Middle East suggested by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to news organizations and the Israeli public.

Mr. Netanyahu told ABC News on Sunday, “I think our goal is to restore a sustainable quiet. And I think if we get that we’ll have to use that quiet to recruit the international community to demilitarize Gaza.”

“I support taking whatever action is necessary to stop this insane situation,” he told CNN. “I think we have to bring back, restore back a reasonable, sustained quiet and security. And we will take whatever action is necessary to achieve that.”

And in a public message, the prime minister later advised his own people, “We will restore quiet and security to the country. We knew this could be a lengthy operation, but our history speaks a truth. The eternal people are not afraid of a long journey.”

Is “sustainable quiet” viable or just a fabulous sound bite? We’ll see, probably sooner than later. President Obama — who spent the weekend at Camp David — spoke with Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday morning, their second call in three days, according to the White House. Mr. Obama “reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself” and confirmed that Secretary of State John F. Kerry will journey to Cairo on Monday to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities.

And as an almost useless aside at this point: Mr. Obama played what appears to be his 181st round of golf following the conversation, flying aboard Marine One from Camp David to the White House, then via motorcade to the links of Fort Belvoir, south of the nation’s capital in Virginia.

ODD BUT INTERESTING TIMING

“As the grip of the Cold War tightened, America pledged our solidarity to every nation held captive behind the Iron Curtain and every individual who refused to accept that fate. We stood with them through a long twilight struggle until — from Europe to South America to Southeast Asia — democracy took root, a wall tumbled down, and people who had known only the blinders of fear began to taste the blessings of freedom. During Captive Nations Week, we celebrate this progress and stand with all who still seek to throw off their oppressors and embrace a brighter day.”

— from President Obama’s official proclamation for Captive Nations Week, which began Sunday.

TED CRUZ, GOP HUMANITARIAN

A noteworthy nuance to Sen. Ted Cruz’s ongoing commentary about the border crisis, currently centered on the plight of “unaccompanied minors.” Except the Texas Republican often calls them “little boys and little girls.” His sincere concern for their welfare is evident, and he is careful to shape his narrative with some humanitarian tone.

“These children, while they’re here, we need to care for them well. We need to demonstrate American values” and ‘Christian love,’” Mr. Cruz said on Saturday in the border town of McAllen as he greeted independent media maven Glenn Beck, who had just arrived with $2 million in emergency supplies from private citizens.

The lawmaker accompanies gracious words with iron legislation, though. Four days ago, Mr. Cruz introduced a terse bill that would defund President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy; he also plans to champion three more legislative reforms to slow illegal immigration, reunite the travelers with family in their home nations and protect the southern border.

FRED THOMPSON’S HEARTLAND VICTORY

Beyond the din of Hollywood comes this news: “Persecuted,” the faith-friendly political thriller starring Fred Thompson has outperformed such mainstream blockbusters as “Sex Tape” and “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” in such markets as Memphis, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and multiple heartland cities.

“We are very happy to see that many traditionalist viewers are coming out to enjoy this movie in such large numbers. I never dreamed we’d be outpacing the big movies in these markets,” says writer/director Daniel Lusko, who cast Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in a dramatic role, which drew unfriendly press.

“The title ‘Persecuted’ and the presence of the Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson in the cast are really all you need to know,” said The New York Times in a recent review.

“I’m glad we chose Gretchen and I’d do it again,” responds Mr. Lusko. “I don’t mind criticism of my movie but singling out Fox is ridiculous.”

OKIE CONFIDENCE

He’s likely in classic incumbent cruise mode. That would be Sen. Jim Inhofe; the Oklahoma Republican has a very comfy lead over Democratic challenger Matt Silverstein.

“Inhofe picks up 58 percent of the vote to Democrat Matt Silverstein’s 27 percent,” says a new Rasmussen Reports survey of 750 likely Oklahoma voters conducted July 15-16. Four percent prefer some other candidate in the race, 10 percent are undecided.

POLL DU JOUR

75 percent of Americans describe Hillary Rodham Clinton as “wealthy”; 80 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

67 percent overall say that Mrs. Clinton will run for president in 2016; 60 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of independents and 75 percent of Democrats agree.

60 percent overall say it’s likely Mrs. Clinton could win if she runs; 38 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats agree.

44 percent say Mrs. Clinton does not understand the problems of ordinary people; 72 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 14 percent of Democrats agree.

43 percent overall do not want Mrs. Clinton to run for the White House; 77 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

39 percent say she should run; 14 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted July 12-14.

Squawks, hoots, hollers to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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