- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wait, President Obama is off to attend two Democratic National Committee fundraisers on Tuesday, even as the Iraq situation intensifies? Why, yes, he is. Both galas are in New York, and they follow Mr. Obama’s previous weekend fundraiser near Los Angeles. It seems like just business as usual at the White House, which some observers would deem a viable, even canny, strategy given the situation. Some, of course, would not.

Elsewhere, it is not business as usual. International news organizations have already gone into old-school, high-drama mode, and it appears they’ve declared that a major military engagement is on already. The starkest example of all is a headline that has been present in coverage since Friday: “The Battle of Baghdad.”

Among those who used it: The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, the BBC and the International Business Times. But, of course, we’ve heard this phrase before. Archives and historical accounts already recognize the “Battle of Baghdad,” the 2003 version, which eventually became known as “The Fall of Baghdad.”

AUDACITY NEEDS SOME AUDACITY

“Sen. Barack Obama was first elected to the presidency to extricate the U.S. from foreign wars, to address the health care crisis, to turn the nation around from its worst economic crisis in 80 years, to lead by consensus not by partisanship and to provide the audacity of hope,” points out John Zogby in his often grim weekly analysis of White House doings.

“This week he looks at an Iraq that is engaged in a bloody civil war and about to be partitioned; a firestorm over his negotiating with the Taliban to release a POW in exchange for five of their leaders; and Russia and China in a closer relationship than ever. President Obama is powerless to engage Americans in Syria, in South Sudan, in Ukraine, in Nigeria or anywhere innocents are suffering. There is little the U.S. can do to make things better in these hot spots or to build consensus at home,” Mr. Zogby continues.

“Mr. Obama’s poll numbers are down a tick, yet the GOP just ensured this week that its ideological schism continues. With the GOP primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the president’s hopes for immigration reform are as good as dead. In all, this was a week in which both audacity and hope took a beating,” the pollster concludes, offering Mr. Obama a “D-minus” for the week.

A TALE OF TWO CHAIRMEN

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus simply will not accept the narrative that the Grand Old Party is divided between its establishment and grass-roots factions, an idea that has gotten particularly robust following Rep. Eric Cantor’s recent political upheaval.

“I don’t think it’s divided at all,” Mr. Priebus declared Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” later pointing out, “The Democrats don’t agree on everything either.”

A former committee chairman also cited Mr. Cantor, but for different reasons, however. That would be Michael Steele, who appears to know something Mr. Priebus does not.

With the upcoming presidential election, there’s a lot of interest in Eric Cantor serving as national chairman of the RNC,” Mr. Steele said in an MSNBC appearance on Saturday. “He could bring a very interesting voice into that space.”

THE NEW EQUATION: GOP = TEA PARTY

Democratic operatives would do well to soft-pedal the “tea party is dead” narrative for now, despite the implications of Mr. Cantor’s aforementioned turmoil. There are some new numbers indicating that the tea party mantra of fiscal sanity, less government and lower taxes could be the very backbone of the Republican Party itself.

Support for the grass-roots movement is now the “norm for Republicans,” says Kathy Frankovic, an analyst for the YouGov, which recently gauged public opinion on the trend.

“Although only a third in the public overall support the goals of the tea party strongly or at least somewhat, two out of three Republicans are tea party supporters,” she says, noting that only 7 percent oppose it. The 66 percent who support tea party goals are extremely negative about government in general.

“Just 7 percent approve of the way President Obama is handling his job; just 9 percent approve of the way Congress is handling its job. Eighty-seven percent would repeal the Affordable Care Act,” continues Ms. Frankovic.

Then there’s the engagement factor.

“But what sets the GOP tea party supporters apart is their attentiveness to politics. Sixty-one percent follow news about politics most of the time,” she says, which is 11 percentage points higher than the Republican Party in general.

ON THE LIBERTY-MINDED RADAR

Interesting to note that the Libertarian Party’s national convention next week features much ballyhoo, 25 speakers, lots of strategy sessions and the presence of Gary Johnson. Now comes news from Ron Paul, who has something else in mind. That would be the 2014 Liberty Political Action Conference in September, to be staged in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside the nation’s capital.

“Confirmed speakers so far are my son, Senator Rand Paul,” the senior Mr. Paul says, and includes many more on his somewhat eclectic list.

Among them: Republican Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Paul C. Broun of Georgia; former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Campaign for Liberty president John Tate, The American Conservative editor Dan McCarthy, FreedomWorks policy analyst Julie Borowski, National Right to Work president Mark Mix, Young Americans for Liberty executive director Jeff Frazee, Daily Caller/American Spectator columnist W. James Antle, radio host Jack Hunter, Farm to Consumer activist Kimberly Hartke and Independent Institute senior fellow Ivan Eland.

A NOBLE FISH TALE FROM ELSEWHERE

Catching a rare fish can be a complicated business these days. Such is the case of Clark Wright, a charter boat captain in Sarasota, Florida, and George Seibel, a visiting New Yorker who hoped to catch the proverbial big one. On June 5 both gents got, perhaps, the surprise of their lives when Mr. Seibel managed to hook a 130-pound, orange-spotted piebald tarpon — a rare thing indeed. Though it is a legendary creature in the region, a piebald tarpin has not been seen in those waters in 84 years. The last one ended up at the American Museum of Natural History.

Mr. Seibel, who used a live blue crab as bait, fought his fish foe for 45 minutes before it was hauled aboard. Time for the ultimate fisherman’s selfie? Such things call for much more in this day and age. Mr. Wright rushed to take a DNA sample and 60 photos of the beastie for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which needs more than a selfie and a good tale for evidence. But fisherman nobility? That’s still the same as always. The piebald tarpon in question had the last say.

“It was released alive and well and ready to fight another day,” Mr. Wright told OutdoorHub, a sports news site.

POLL DU JOUR

66 percent of Americans say the U.S. should not close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility.

84 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats agree.

53 percent of Americans overall said in 2007 the facility should not be closed.

33 percent say the Guantanamo prison facility should be closed and some prisoners moved to the U.S.

13 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats agree.

33 percent said the facility should not be closed in 2007.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,027 U.S. adults conducted June 5-8.

Tales, curious asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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