- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2014

A new Pew Research Center poll asked Americans the difficult question about the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and this is what they found: “Overall, 56 percent say the U.S. has a responsibility to do all it can to return an American captive soldier, no matter what the circumstances; 29 percent say that because Bergdahl left his post, the U.S. was not obligated to do all it could to secure his release.”

“Reactions to the Bergdahl case are deeply divided along partisan lines. Fully 71 percent of Republicans think the prisoner exchange was the wrong thing to do, while just 16 percent say it was the right thing to do. Democrats, by more than two to one (55 percent to 24 percent), have a positive opinion of the agreement,” the survey says. See more numbers in today’s Poll du Jour, at column’s end.


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There’s trouble when too much show biz sneaks into politics. Entertainment often trumps simple truths for distracted voters; valuable and authentic moments can get lost in the manufactured hubbub — a situation fraught with peril for politicians scrambling to establish their “brand.” Hillary Clinton’s monumental return to public radar on Tuesday is a case in point.

She has a new memoir, multiple interviews and a national tour complete with fancy campaign bus courtesy of Ready for Hillary, a super PAC. The book has already earned some catty reviews and/or accusations that it offers little in the way of substance but lots of packaging and safe sound bites. Skeptical news organizations wonder if she’s conducting book tour or a 2016 campaign rollout.

And while Mrs. Clinton’s strategists hope to time her public presence with exquisite calibration, their candidate-in-waiting may be offering too much too soon. It is very difficult to control the trajectory of such things in our frantic age. There is also a delicate balance between over-marketing and productive campaigning. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul will be the first to say that unscripted, shirt sleeves-style moments often yield voter interest, and votes. But at least Mrs. Clinton is not racing off to, say, Iowa or New Hampshire just yet. And there is a chance she won’t run at all. No, really. There is.

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Meanwhile, we must note intriguing deep numbers in a recent poll. Yes, of course it reveals lofty favorability ratings. But 55 percent of Democrats themselves also say other Democrats should run for president in 2016. Only 28 percent say Mrs. Clinton should run unopposed, while 13 percent say she should not run at all, this according to a survey conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News.


“Look who fired the 1st shot in the real ‘war on women’. Hint: it wasn’t the GOP. See this excerpt from Hillary’s book,” tweeted Sarah Palin on Monday.

The former vice-presidential hopeful provided an image of a page from “Hard Choice,” Hillary Clinton’s memoir, highlighting a passage centered upon the surprise news in 2008 that Sen. John McCain had asked Mrs. Palin to join him on the campaign trail.

“The Obama campaign suspected that her nomination was a blatant attempt to scuttle their hope of welcoming the women who had vigorously supported me,” Mrs. Clinton writes in the passage. “They immediately issued a dismissive statement and reached out to me in the hope I would follow suit. But I wouldn’t.”


There is a new term to consider: “congressional fatigue,” newly coined by Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America, that identifies a worrisome trend that not only affects members of Congress but likely other elected officials. Intense media coverage, a culture of conflict and the presence of partisan scolds have made consistent legislating a challenge indeed. Lawmakers are weary of the chase.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this. On Thursday, 78 senators, including 24 Republicans, voted to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be Obamacare’s implementer-in-chief for the rest of his term,” Mr. Needham pointed out in a new op-ed for the organization, noting that there was not much discussion when Mrs. Burwell replaced Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“There is no single reason why Burwell was confirmed so easily. Harry Reid’s triggering of the ‘nuclear option’ last fall most certainly played a role, but there is a larger, more disturbing trend at work: congressional fatigue,” he writes. “The Obama administration understood the media fervor over websites and sign-up rates would die down and many lawmakers would tire. And this proved correct. Washington became weary of fighting over Obamacare and pundits relapsed into viewing the fight as a mere partisan squabble.”

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