- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

Appeaser in chief

Respectfully said, Mr. President: Enough already. The world has gotten your point.

They’ve heard your oft-repeated message that America has made “mistakes” and “shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive” in the recent past. Understood. It is time to retire those speeches and work on a few aimed at North Korea, Iran and maybe Venezuela, full of promising phrases like “play nice or else” and “please take care of your people.”

It’s OK. The rest of the planet is convinced for the time being that the mighty U.S. has been taken down a peg in our new age of wisdom, change and confession.

But what about your fellow Americans, sir?

Perhaps they are not so convinced that America is the bad boy on the global playground. A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 voters conducted April 5 and 6 revealed that only 37 percent of the respondents agreed with the idea that the U.S. was arrogant, dismissive or derisive in dealing with its European allies over the years.

But almost half — 47 percent — disagreed with the idea; 16 percent were not sure. Another 54 percent said it would be “better for the world if Europe become more like the United States,” the poll found. Americans are not always eager to blame America first.

“Groveling really pays,” observes Lucianne Goldberg, proprietess of the longtime news and opinion blog Lucianne.com.

“Obama asked all of Europe for help in Afghanistan. Belgium offered to send 35 military trainers and Spain offered 12.”

When hybrids attack

Yes, we certainly love combo deals that offer two for the price of one. The nation has witnessed the rise of such hybrids as the celebrity-activist, the comedian-journalist, the journalist-buffoon, the politician-pariah, the politician-entertainer and most certainly the pundit-politician.

Americans were transfixed by the idea that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was mulling over a run for office in 2008 during those moments when President Obama was not giving him a thrill up his leg.

There was — and still is — much ado about comedian Al Franken’s fight to be a congressman. Talk radio king Rush Limbaugh steers political discourse with ease.

One hybrid pundit-politician, though, appears to have the biggest footprint of all. Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly<$> has become pundit-politician-oracle.

He allowed to the New York Post recently that he would consider a run for office and was assured by columnist Liz Smith that he would be “elected to office in a heartbeat.”

Mr. O’Reilly was not so impressed, though, as he is already quite sure of his place in the cosmos.

“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think San Francisco would elect me,” he mused. “I believe I have more power here than any politician in the country.”

Days of yore

The Civil War blasted into existence on this very day in 1861 after Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard fired on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor over a span of 34 hours; U.S. Maj. Robert Anderson surrendered. Within two days, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quiet the Southern “insurrection.”

Happy birthday to voting machines: Voters in Lockport, N.Y., became the first in the U.S. to use voting machines 117 years ago today. Remember FDR as well. President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in Warm Spring, Ga., on this day in 1945 after four presidential terms; he was 63.

Lawmakers in space? Former Republican Sen. Jake Garn of Utah became the first member of Congress to fly aboard the space shuttle Discovery 24 years ago today. The former Navy pilot made 108 Earth orbits and traveled 2.5 million miles.

Oh, and the date — April 12, 1985 — also marked a moment of b-a-a-a humbug, or at least inspired some really strange entries on a legal memorandum somewhere. Federal inspectors declared that four animals billed as “unicorns” by Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus were actually goats with surgically implanted curlicue horns.

Your government in action. Thanks, guys.

By the numbers

16 billion jelly beans and 90 million chocolate rabbits are manufactured in the U.S. each year.

88 percent of Americans make Easter baskets for their kids each year.

76 percent eat the ears of their chocolate rabbit first.

58 percent would like to give the Obama family Easter candy.

20 percent prefer Easter egg hunts in their front yards.

12 percent would prefer an Easter egg hunt at the White House.

Source: National Confectioners Association

Quotes of note

“I did not drink the Obama Kool-Aid last year. I think if he walks across the Potomac, his feet will get wet.” — Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, before an audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

“The new chic thing to do is to feel guilty if you have a job and others don’t.” — Rush Limbaugh.

“There have been very few elected political officials who have appeared on ‘Celebrity Jeopardy,’ and they have not done very well.” — host Alex Trebek, to Politico.

Rahm Emanuel opened a Twitter account. Turns out he doesn’t need 140 characters, just four.” — David Corn, at a Reporters Without Borders benefit.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085. Follow her at www.twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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