- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aside from lurid tales of intrigue and titillation, there is nothing the news media likes better than a story of an unknown who rocks the world, particularly the Republican world.

Such is the case with David Brat, the economics professor with a master’s degree in divinity who defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia Republican primary. Reporters scurried to weigh in on Mr. Brat, unpacking an entire briefcase of adjectives to describe the upset, with shocking, historic and stunning among the favorite descriptors in the last 24 hours. Many accounts also treated Mr. Cantor’s defeat as major seismic event. Some major news organizations dipped into fairy tales to make their case.

“Meet Dave Brat, the giant slayer who beat Eric Cantor,” declared a Time magazine headline.

“Who is Dave Brat, GOP giant killer who took down Eric Cantor?” asked USA Today.

“Meet David Brat, the new tea party giant-killer,” said the Fiscal Times.

Some 3,500 news accounts appeared after Mr. Brat’s victory. Just like that. Ka-boom. Some headlines of the moment:

“Cantor loses, and Washington goes ape” (New Yorker); “Elites beware: Eric Cantor’s defeat may signal a populist revolution” (National Journal); “How Eric Cantor sabotaged himself” (Daily Beast); “Potent voices of conservative media propelled Cantor opponent (New York Times); “Why Cantor lost” (National Review); “DC earthquake: Top Republican booted” (World Net Daily); “Cantor Chaos” (Politico); “Meet Dave Brat’s 23-year-old campaign manager” (Fox News); “David Brat pulls off Cantor upset despite raising just $231,000” (Wall Street Journal); “The GOP just got a wake-up call” (The New Republic); and “Eating Eric Cantor for dinner” (CNN).

NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS — OR NOT?

Slowly but surely, Americans have become privy to the emerging and complicated personal story of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The circumstances of his rescue have also prompted some introspection about policy and protocol. Is it worth negotiating with terrorists for the safe release of U.S. prisoners, or is it more important to discourage terrorists from taking prisoners by refusing to deal with them?

The nation is divided on the answer, a new Gallup poll finds: 44 percent of Americans say it’s more important to refuse to negotiate with terrorist groups, 43 percent say the return of prisoners takes precedence.

“Democrats and Republicans currently have clear views of which considerations are more important when Americans are held captive. Republicans by a better than two-to-one margin believe the U.S. should not negotiate with terrorist groups, whereas by nearly the same margin Democrats believe securing the safe release of U.S. prisoners is more important,” reports Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones.

And the numbers: 64 percent of Republicans say the U.S. should refuse to negotiate with terrorists, while 26 percent say securing the release of U.S. prisoners is more important, even if it means compromising American policy. Among Democrats, 26 percent say refusing to negotiate is most important while 61 percent say prisoners are paramount.

“The Bergdahl situation has proved to be highly controversial and President Obama continues to be questioned about his decision to exchange prisoners with the Taliban. The president has emphasized the United States’ desire to bring home all of its captive soldiers as a rationale for his decision,” Mr. Jones notes in his analysis.

There’s serious worry in other sectors, though. The prisoner exchange has worried one Michigan Republican in particular

“We’ve made a serious, serious geopolitical mistake. We’ve empowered the Taliban. The one thing they wanted more than anything was recognition from the U.S. government, so they can use that to propagandize against areas that are unsecure still in Afghanistan. They got all of that,” Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News earlier this week.

HILLARITY

Wisdom from the front lines of a book tour: Hillary Rodham Clinton offered her opinion on the quintet of Taliban fighters now free and living in Qatar following the Bergdahl prisoner exchange.

“These five guys are not a threat to the United States,” she told NBC News. “They are a threat to the safety and security of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s up to those two countries to make the decision once and for all that these are threats to them. So I think we may be kind of missing the bigger picture here. We want to get an American home. Whether they fell off the ship because they were drunk or they were pushed or they jumped, we try to rescue everybody.”

Responds PJ Media columnist and author Andrew C. McCarthy: “There are still thousands of American troops in harm’s way in Afghanistan and it is a ripe dead certainty the five jihadist commanders with which President Obama has just replenished the Taliban will go back to the anti-American jihad.”

CRABALICIOUS

He’s far from the icy waters of Alaska, and into another hostile environment, perhaps. That would be Keith Colburn, the he-man star of Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” who is in the nation’s capital to net a little help for his own industry.

Last time he was in Washington, Mr. Colburn testified before Congress about the impact the government shutdown had on fisheries. This week, he’s paid a call on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and will appear as the keynote speaker for a Pacific Seafood Processors Association event emphasizing the importance of small business ownership and some unity among seagoing entrepreneurs.

He has some sympathetic lawmakers to lend him an ear, a source tells Inside the Beltway: among them Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Maria Cantwell of Washington, plus Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, both of Alaska.

A SAMMICH-FREE FREE ZONE

Kale, quinoa and lentils? Forget those baloney sammiches. Children have moved away from the old lunchbox staples of yore during the Obama administration. Young palates are evolving, it seems. Winners of the annual “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge” organized by the White House, two federal agencies and a food magazine have been revealed.

Indeed, first lady Michelle Obama, editors from Epicurious, plus officials from the Departments of Education and the Agriculture pored over 1,500 recipes from youngsters across the nation to determine the winning entries, submitted primarily by kids in elementary school.

Among the recipes from very young chefs: Grilled salmon with farro and warm Swiss chard salad; Chesapeake fish tacos with lemon-basil sorbet; Hawaiian kale wraps, quinoa lentil burgers with kale slaw; and chia chicken Pitas. A free cookbook is on the way, and the 50 state winners will descend on the White House next month for a Kids State Dinner with Mrs. Obama.

“It’s clear that kids palates and cooking skills are getting increasingly sophisticated, even at the young age of 8,” notes Carolyn Kremins, general manager of Epicurious, part of the Conde Nast magazine publishing empire.

POLL DU JOUR

58 percent of Americans say the U.S. is “on the decline” as a world leader.

50 percent say foreign leaders who challenge the U.S. would behave that way toward any president, not just President Obama.

46 percent say foreign leaders challenge Mr. Obama because they perceive him as “weak” and not willing to take aggressive action to stop them.

31 percent say the U.S. is at about the same level as a world leader; 9 percent say it is “on the rise.”

31 percent approve of how Mr. Obama handled the Bergdahl matter.

31 percent approve of how he handled recent Ukraine unrest.

Source: A Bloomberg News National Poll of 1,005 U.S. adults conducted June 6-9.

Tut-tuts and ahems to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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