- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 8, 2017

A joke has backfired on the news media: Gleeful journalists who cackled over the celebrity boycott of the presidential inauguration must now face a new phenomenon. President-elect Donald Trump and his staff are winning praise for their “refreshing” ideas as they return inaugural culture to its more traditional, less complicated origins.

The event is not supposed to be Woodstock says Boris Epshteyn, director of communications for the Inaugural Committee. Mr. Trump himself insists his No. 1 guest is “the American people,” and appears delighted with the heartland heroes — all 8,000 of them — who will be with him on Jan. 20, including Border Patrol officers, police color guards, high school and university marching bands, Boy Scouts, equestrian corps, first responders, wounded warriors, veterans, caissons battalions and pipe and drum corps.

“As the participants follow in the footsteps of our new president and vice president down Pennsylvania Avenue, they will be adding their names to the long list of Americans who have honored our country by marching in the inaugural parade,” observes Sara Armstrong, CEO of the committee itself.

Also ready for duty: Steve Ray, the official new voice of the inaugural. The veteran broadcaster and stadium announcer based in the nation’s capital will man the microphone on the big day.

“My personal goal for the inauguration parade is to make this about celebrating the seamless transition of power and moving past divisive partisanship,” Mr. Ray tells Inside the Beltway. “This is an apolitical position with the responsibility of not only entertaining attendees, but because of the unique advantage of the president’s announcer position across from the reviewing stand, I am the eyes and ears of the first family who are alerted to stand when certain military and color guard units approach. I’m taking this one parade at a time, but looking forward to streamlining and modernizing the presentation for many more to come.”

Mr. Ray will take over for Charlie Brotman, 89, the venerable announcer who was present at every inaugural parade since 1956. Though the Trump committee has deemed him a “national treasure,” predictable follow-up press coverage suggested Sunday that Mr. Brotman was “dumped.”

LET’S GET ON WITH IT

Amazingly enough, the nation actually wants Donald Trump to succeed in the White House. Yes, there are numbers: Among all voters, 73 percent want Mr. Trump’s presidency “to be a success,” says a new Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters. It also reveals 91 percent of Republicans hope for success — along with 57 percent of Democrats.

THE SAGA OF MADAME MAYOR CONTINUES

There has been steady hubbub over the notion that Hillary Clinton might run for mayor of New York City, which has never, ever had a woman mayor. In the last four days, the possibility of “Mayor Clinton” has drawn considerable coverage from the global press, including at least one suggestion that Mrs. Clinton run for New York governor instead.

Only a single “Clinton insider” has dismissed the idea so far. Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden flatly told CNN on Sunday “I don’t expect her to ever run for any elected office again.”

But Mrs. Clinton may not be ready for such dramatic finality, perhaps. She’ll be in the nation’s capital on Tuesday to deliver a speech at the State Department, and will attend the inauguration 10 days later, accompanied by former President BillClinton.

CHRIS WALLACE, BEN CARSON AMONG ‘MOST MANNERED’

The National League of Junior Cotillions — a North Carolina organization which lauds “honor, dignity and mannerly conduct” among young people and everyone else — has named two familiar faces to their list of the 10 “Best Mannered People of 2016.”

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace was praised for “his tact and diplomacy while reporting and mediating during the 2016 election season and throughout his years in journalism.” Former GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson was cited “for displaying his humility in success as both a pediatric neurosurgeon and political advocate and depicting himself as an upright and dignified individual to all.”

The roster also include Malia and Sasha Obama, Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith and Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles.

‘MILO GOES MAINSTREAM’

Conservative authors have a few champions. One of them is Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster and the publisher of Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, among many others. Next up on the list: Milo Yiannopoulos — Brietbart editor, provocateur and openly gay conservative who campaigned for President-elect Donald Trump and was ultimately banned from Twitter for his commentary.

He has received a $250,000 advance on a forthcoming book, an offer that set off outrage in the literary world, including the Chicago Review of Books, which declared it would no longer review books from Simon & Schuster, deeming Mr. Yiannopoulos a “clickbait grifter” guilty of hate speech. The National Coalition Against Censorship has pushed back, citing the “chilling effect” such boycotts would have on those who “tackle topics and ideas” of controversy.

“Every line of attack the forces of political correctness try on me fails pathetically. I’m more powerful, more influential and more fabulous than ever before, and this book is the moment Milo goes mainstream. Social justice warriors should be scared — very scared,” Mr. Yiannopoulos tells the Hollywood Reporter.

POLL DU JOUR

67 percent of Americans say lowering health care premiums is a top priority for President-elect Donald Trump and Congress to work on; 64 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents and 70 percent of Democrats agree.

61 percent cite lowering the cost of prescription drugs; 55 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents and 67 percent of Democrats agree.

37 percent cite repealing Obamacare; 63 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 21 percent of Democrats agree.

35 percent cite reducing the role of federal government in health care; 50 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 26 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Kaiser Health Tracking Poll of 1,024 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 13-19 and released Friday.

Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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