- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2008

What is community organizing exactly?

On the heels of Gov. Sarah Palin’s attack on Sen. Barack Obama’s political history, the Obama campaign tells us exactly what community organizing is - sort of.

“Community organizing is how ordinary people respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies,” campaign manager David Plouffe writes in a fundraising e-mail Thursday morning, responding to the Republican vice-presidential candidate’s criticism Wednesday night that the difference between her small-town mayorship and Mr. Obama’s community organizing was as a mayor “you have actual responsibilities.”

I admit I’ve always thought community organizer a strange job title. I don’t know what I’d make of it on a resume. Is the guy who brings the basketball to the pick-up game down the street a community organizer? According to the discussion on Daily Kos on Thursday morning, apparently it also includes those such as Mother Teresa.

I wonder which of those Mr. Obama was closest to.

- Stephen Dinan

Drilling - into records or land

Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele defended Gov. Sarah Palin’s slam on her opponent’s days as a community organizer in her speech Wednesday.

The Republican vice-presidential nominee sarcastically said there is little responsibility with such a job.

“It’s perfectly appropriate to question that service when they denigrate her two terms as mayor of a ‘small town,’” Mr. Steele said.

He said community organizers, while in an important job, are likely to question themselves on whether their experience will lend itself for the presidency.

“Does it qualify me to leave my job today and qualify me to run for president tomorrow?” he asked.

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, frequently refers to his time as a community organizer in Chicago.

“And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves,” Mrs. Palin said. “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

Mr. Steele is also basking in the glow of a successful one-liner. His line from Wednesday’s speech has become a sensation.

“Let me make it very clear. Drill, baby, drill, and drill now.”

He said the line came to him as he was writing his speech and trying to boil down the imperative to expand energy production, and couldn’t figure it out.

“I just felt like something here has got to go to sum this up,” he said. “I thought, drill, baby, just drill.”

The audience loved it - and started chanting it repeatedly, not only back at him, but back at any other speaker who called for more oil drilling.

It’s maybe even more catchy that the simple “No car tax” slogan that carried James S. Gilmore III to a gubernatorial victory in Virginia in 1997. The T-shirts and bumper stickers can’t be far behind.

So has Mr. Steele trademarked the phrase?

“I’m about to. I’ve got to.”

-Jennifer Haberkorn and Stephen Dinan

Palin’s viewership nearly ties Obama

Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech Wednesday night was watched by 37 million viewers, only one million fewer than those who watched Democrat Sen. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech last week.

“The TV audience for day three of the 2008 GOP convention was significantly larger (+99%) than the audience for the same night during the 2004 convention, which drew 18.7 million viewers,” said a release on Nielsen’s Web site.

“On Wednesday, September 3, 2008, convention coverage varied by network, with all six networks noted above airing live coverage from approximately 10 pm to 11:15 pm EST.”

- Jon Ward

cItems ran during the day at The Washington Times blog Trail Times (www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/trail-times), featuring dispatches from reporters and editors in Minnesota.

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