- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 11, 2016

TRUMPALICIOUS

Here comes fabulous: Donald Trump’s new luxury hotel in the nation’s capital is monumental, sumptuous and could prove an effective campaign tool for the Republican presidential front-runner in the future. It’s also opening two years ahead of schedule. With much ado, the mighty doors swing open in September, a mere six blocks from the White House. What was once simply called the Old Post Office Building is now, for the most part, meticulously restored in “American design aesthetic,” boasting 263 guest rooms with 16-foot ceilings, glittering chandeliers, soaring windows and a palette of federal blue, ivory, soft gold and deep red.

The signature “Trump Townhouse” suite — all 6,300 square feet of it — has a private entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue and is already described as “the largest and most luxurious suite in Washington, D.C.” The suite is about six times the size of the Oval Office, incidentally.

Mr. Trump has dropped $200 million on the redevelopment of this 1899 Romanesque structure — the fourteenth in his collection of international hotels. Does he have a date in mind, perhaps? At 13,200 square feet, the Presidential Ballroom will also be the largest in town, and a prime spot for an inauguration gala when the time comes on Jan. 20, 2017.

The developers have studied D.C.’s political culture and deal making habits, no doubt. “The mornings will belong to power breakfasts on Pennsylvania Avenue at the Trump Hotel. Come lunch and dinner, beef will rule the menu,” notes an advisory.

“For decades people have looked in wonderment at the magnificence of the Old Post Office building and structure,” says Mr. Trump himself, in full real estate mogul mode. “There is nothing like it, and we are so proud to have not only brought this incredible building back to life, but also to a position far greater than it ever was at its previous zenith.”

21-GUN SALUTE FOR REAGAN

Ronald Reagan would have been 105th last week, a significant and heartfelt occasion still celebrated with much ado. Consider the major event at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, complete with the Camp Pendleton Marine Division Band, a color guard, the blessings of a chaplain, a brass quintet, a 21-gun salute, an aircraft flyover, the placing of a White House wreath at the grave site and remarks by Brigadier Gen. Edward D. Banta, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, and Marlin Fitzwater, Reagan’s press secretary.

Then there is the new statue. It’s a doozy. The 11-foot tall, 11-foot long bronze statue by sculptor Donald Reed weighs in at 2,500 pounds and was unveiled outside the library’s spectacular Air Force One Pavilion. It depicts the 40th president astride his favorite horse El Alamein and is titled “Along the Trail.”

The heroic but cheerful work — privately funded, incidentally — has a secret. One of Reagan’s personal belt buckles and a piece of the Berlin Wall were wrapped in muslin, placed inside a fireproof security box and tucked inside the sculpture itself.

‘CROOKED’

Well, that’s simple enough. Rasmussen Reports asked 1,000 likely voters whether they felt that the federal government is corrupt. The response: 81 percent agreed with the idea. “Voters strongly believe the federal government is crooked,” the pollster points out. The survey was released Friday.

AND ABOUT THOSE SPEECHES

“Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, combined to earn more than $153 million in paid speeches from 2001 until Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign last spring, a CNN analysis shows,” reports Robert Yoon, a correspondent for the network.

“In total, the two gave 729 speeches from February 2001 until May, receiving an average payday of $210,795 for each address. The two also reported at least $7.7 million for at least 39 speeches to big banks, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic 2016 front-runner, collecting at least $1.8 million for at least eight speeches to big banks,” Mr. Yoon adds.

LET THE RACE BEGIN

The political landscape grows clearer: Iowa and New Hampshire have come and gone, South Carolina and Nevada loom, as does Super Tuesday. The White House race has taken on a new dimension as it picks up speed.

“Here is where we begin to see what these candidates are really made of,” says veteran pollster John Zogby. “Issues are very important but the character to inspire, lead, legislate, persuade, engage the public, laugh at themselves when they should, and cry with the rest of us when they must — that is what the presidency is all about.”

WRESTLING WITH THE NEW NORMAL

“Unpredictable instability has become the new normal, and this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Violent extremists are operationally active in about 40 countries. Seven countries are experiencing a collapse of central government authority,14 others face regime-threatening, or violent, instability or both. Another 59 countries face a significant risk of instability through 2016,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently told the Senate Armed Service committee during his annual worldwide threat assessment.

“Migration and displacement will strain countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. There are now some 60 million people who are considered displaced globally,” Mr. Clapper continued, on point and unflinching — marching right through a threat list that includes ISIS, cyber threats, aggressive non-state actors, infectious disease, vulnerable food supplies, weapons of mass destruction, satellite warfare, drug trafficking, fentanyl-laced heroin, Iran, Russia, China, North Korea — the list goes on.

And now we pause, please, for a round of applause for Mr. Clapper and the entire Intelligence Community for their inner mettle, focus and skill. And courage.

“I’ll stop my litany of doom here,” Mr. Clapper later noted, ceding the microphone to Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

AND SPEAKING OF PRESIDENTS

Just arrived: “9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America — and Four Who Tried to Save Her” by historian Brion McClanahan, who chronicles how past presidents snatched power throughout the years, “paving the way for the our current president to dismiss constitutional restrictions for his own gains.”

Mr. McClanahan, author of “The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution,” says he judges these presidents on the only true standard: “Did they keep their oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution? And if not, where did they go off the rails?” The new book is published by Regnery History.


BUMPER STICKER-TO-BE

“That’s enough of those guns and large sodas, America. Bloomberg 2916. He’ll save you from your own bad judgment.”

— Suggested campaign slogan for potential but presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, from National Review contributing editor Jim Geraghty.

The former three-term New York City mayor and billionaire — who’s worth $40 billion by the way — has commissioned a second national poll to gauge his chances of winning voter confidence during an often chaotic presidential race. Will he skitter into the race?

“Mike is itching to do it,” a confidant of Mr. Bloomberg told the New York Post, hinting that the media kingpin believes there’s a spot on the slate for centrist.

ABOUT THE WOMEN VOTING FOR WOMEN THING

Yeah, well so much for that. Rasmussen Reports has just released another new poll asking voters if women have an “obligation” to vote for a woman candidate, as suggested in a recent campaign event for Hillary Clinton. Only 4 percent of the respondents say it’s more important for women to vote for a woman candidate because she is a woman.

Ninety-one percent disagree and place more importance on where the woman candidate stands on the issues. The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted Feb. 9-10,

GOP SET 64-YEAR RECORD

New Hampshire voters had a historic number of bona fide Republican hopefuls to consider in their recent presidential primary. Though eight other candidates dropped out of the GOP field in the last five months, Granite State voters could still choose from nine active, non-fringe Republicans.

“That is the largest number of such candidates across the 17-cycles since 1952 when the first primary with candidate voter preference options made its debut,” says Eric Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota political professor who pored over election records and made the analysis.

“The previous high water mark was eight active Republican candidates who had not yet suspended their presidential campaigns at the time of the New Hampshire primary, set 20 years ago in 1996,” he says. Here’s who was on the ballot back in the day: Bob Dole, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, Steve Forbes, Dick Lugar, Alan Keyes, Morry Taylor and Bob Dornan were all still in the race when the Granite State primary was held on February 20th of that year. Texas Sen. Phil Gramm had exited after the Iowa caucuses.

RALPH NADER’S MOTHER’S ADVICE

Veteran consumer activist and onetime presidential hopeful Ralph Nader looks askance at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who still refuses to share the content of the $250,000 speeches she gives before powerful interest groups. Mr. Nader hopes voters themselves insist the candidate reveal what she tells those business magnates on Wall Street.

“She has a large staff and good files for fully and promptly responding to lifting this strange curtain of secrecy around closed speeches for big fees,” counsels Mr. Nader, who turns 82 at month’s end.

“Her laughing off any such questions is not the way. My mother always had a method with getting answers from candidates she met. On shaking hands with a candidate, she did not let go of the candidate’s hand until she got her answer,” recalls Mr. Nader, who offered his advice to the locals in a special editorial for the Concord Monitor, a New Hampshire newspaper.

POLL DU JOUR

80 percent of Americans say climate change is related to a normal cycle in global temperatures; 91 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of independents and 45 percent of Democrats agree.

53 percent overall say climate change is a result of human activity; 30 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

28 percent overall say climate change is not related to human activity; 41 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 11 percent of Democrats agree.

12 percent overall say a rise in global temperatures is “unprecedented”; 5 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of independents and 30 percent of Democrats agree.

9 percent overall say terr. is no climate change; 13 percent of Republicans, 9 percent of independents and 4 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 21-22 and released Friday.

Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin

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