- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Uh oh, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is only 17 days off. This means that the press, pundits, political operatives, lawmakers, military brass, broadcasters, policy wonks and curious celebrities are beginning to fidget over an annual spring rite that draws 3,000 “correspondents” to the nation’s capital. Yes, there will be pre-parties, pre-pre-parties, post-parties, imitation parties and parody parties.

The hoi polloi will gaze in wonder at “The Beast” — President Obama’s armored limousine that is typically parked outside the big party on the big night. Selfie-snapping gawkers will scream as famous and sort-of-famous folks stroll the red carpet past a wall of cameras.

But there’s an authentic wild card in the mix this year: Now there’s a feature-length movie about it all. Patrick Gavin — a veteran political journalist who left his job at Politico to man a camera himself — has written and directed “Nerd Prom: Inside Washington’s Wildest Week.” The exuberant but incisive documentary debuts in the nation’s capital on Thursday, and it is no exercise in celebrity worship. The audacious Mr. Gavin has focused on the “unadulterated self-celebration” that erupts in an event once intended to be a civic-minded gathering that offered scholarships to young journalists.

“There were some folks who didn’t quite see the need to hurry and get the film out before this year’s dinner, but I felt strongly about making sure it was ready in advance of the 2015 dinner. I’d like for it to be a part of the conversation and to perhaps add a little bit of context to how people perceive this weeklong roster of events,” Mr. Gavin tells Inside the Beltway. “I’m excited for people to see it. When you work on a documentary, it’s usually just you and your computer for most of the time, so it’ll be great to release it out into the world and see how others perceive it.”

Read all about it here: NerdPromtheMovie.com.

THE RAND PAUL PRESS

Let the fact-checking begin.

Now that Sen. Rand Paul has become the second Republican to make his White House intentions official, journalists have switched into automatic analytical mode. In the aftermath of the Kentucky lawmaker’s announcement, the press responded with best and worst lists, chatter about GOP infighting, speculations about Mr. Paul’s evolving relationship with his father, Ron Paul, and even criticisms of what the new candidate is offering in his campaign store. Such treatment is a given for one and all in the presidential arena, and that’s that. But there are still straightforward Rand fans out there.

“We live in an age where government overreach is everywhere, from our health care system to Internet regulation to our taxes. Sen. Paul has shown that he will work hard to remove unnecessary government intervention from the lives of American individuals, families and businesses. He has proven to be a conservative leader who is willing to challenge the GOP establishment and put principle and constituents first,” says Brent Bozell, chairman of For America, a nonprofit. “Our country needs someone who will stand for the people, not against them, and I’m glad to see another conservative enter the race with that promise.”

Mr. Paul, meanwhile, describes himself as a constitutional conservative. But he’s branching out.

“I like the words ‘constitutional conservative’ but, more and more over the last three or four years, I’ve come to believe that we need someone who stands up for the entire Bill of Rights,” Mr. Paul told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday.

STALWARTS: THE NEW CHENEY TEAM

On bookshelves in less than five months: “Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America,” co-authored by Dick Cheney and daughter Liz Cheney, to be published Sept. 1 by Threshold, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

“America is the exceptional nation — our accomplishments for the good of all mankind are unmatched by any other nation in history. It was American power that was indispensable in the defeat of Nazi fascism and Soviet communism in the last century. It is American power that will defeat militant Islam in this century,” declares Ms. Cheney.

“Unfortunately, as we face the clear and present danger of a rapidly growing terrorist threat, President Obama has significantly diminished our power, abandoned America’s allies and emboldened our enemies. Reversing course on his devastating policies must be the top priority for America’s next president,” observes her father.

‘CLOSET PARTISANS’

An exhaustive analysis of 279 surveys and 450,000 interviews conducted between 1992 and 2014 by the Pew Research Center takes a “deep dive” into long-term voter identity. It’s complicated, with a clear takeaway for both parties to consider.

“Democrats hold advantages in party identification among blacks, Asians, Hispanics, well-educated adults and Millennials, and Republicans have leads among whites — particularly white men, those with less education and evangelical Protestants — as well as members of the Silent Generation,” the study states.

“The most notable change in recent years has been the rising share of Americans who reject party labels. Based on 2014 data, 39 percent of the public identifies as independents, 32 percent as Democrats and 23 percent as Republicans. This is the highest percentage of independents in more than 75 years of public opinion polling,” the analysis says. “Still, many political independents are, in fact, ‘closet partisans.’ When the partisan leanings of independents are taken into account, 48 percent either identify as Democrats or lean Democratic; 39 percent identify as Republicans or lean Republican.”

And among men, it is a tie. When partisan leanings are taken into account, 44 percent of men are Democratic, 43 percent Republican.

‘IF CONSERVATIVES UNITE’

With 2016 now materializing on the horizon, Kiplinger Deputy Managing Editor David Morris wonders if history will repeat itself for the Grand Old Party.

“Will the Republican Party relive 1980, when Ronald Reagan gave new hope to conservatives by setting the stage for three straight GOP terms? Or will it be 1964, when a conservative, Barry Goldwater, won the Republican nomination but was swept away in the LBJ landslide in November?” Mr. Morris asks.

With strong name recognition and solid finances, Jeb Bush is a mainstream favorite, but with baggage.

“If there’s no conservative consensus, the right will fight with itself, not with him,” Mr. Morris observes. “His backers say Bush is the strongest candidate the GOP can run, and claim a name from the far right would spell a third straight term for Democrats. But he is anathema to many in the party.

“For some, it’s a matter of fatigue after the presidencies of his father and his brother. For others, the fight is ideological. They see him as far out of step, even liberal, on immigration and education issues,” he continues. “It won’t be easy, but if the conservatives unite, they can push Bush aside. Who would they pick? Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas or Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Or, in the next tier of hopefuls, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky or Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.”

POLL DU JOUR

83 percent of likely U.S. voters say immigrants should be required to prove they are legally in the U.S. before receiving local, state or federal government services.

62 percent say the U.S. government is “not aggressive enough” in its efforts to deport illegal immigrants.

54 percent say a child of an illegal immigrant born in the U.S. should not automatically become an American citizen.

54 percent are concerned that efforts to deport illegals could also violate the civil rights of some U.S. citizens.

51 percent say illegals with American-born children should not automatically be exempt from deportation.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted April 1-2.

Frivolous chatter, weighty admonishments to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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