- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 9, 2009

The daily discourse

Old-fashioned mudslinging has become an instantaneous and efficient craft in our age of creative politics and limitless technology. Partisan rivals can attack and repel with style and within moments, civility be damned.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse recently went on a rampage against GOP foes.

“The Republicans and their allied groups — desperate after losing two consecutive elections and every major policy fight on Capitol Hill — are inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right wing extremists funded by K Street Lobbyists to disrupt thoughtful discussions about the future of health care in America taking place in Congressional Districts across the country,” Mr. Woodhouse said in a statement sent to news organizations.

Republicans also used nazi symbols and “devil horns” to get their point across, he said.

In less than 20 minutes, Republican National Committee press secretary Gail Gitcho fired back.

“In a remarkable example of callousness today, the White House and Democrats reduced the concerns and opinions of millions of Americans to ‘manufactured’ and have labeled them as ‘angry extremists,’ simply for voicing their opposition to President Obama’s government-run health care experiment,” Ms. Gitcho said in her counterstatement.

“Are Democrats so out of touch that they are shocked to discover that Americans are concerned about their $1.6 trillion government-run health care experiment?” she demanded.

The take-away messages may get lost in the adjectives here. And what’s next — fisticuffs? Vitriol can be a very hard act to follow.

Vessel wrestle

Some insist America’s next aircraft carrier should be named after Barry Goldwater. The idea was proposed way back on May 20, 2008, by a quintet of Republicans, including Reps. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Connie Mack of Florida. They pointed out that Mr. Goldwater was a veteran, historically significant and that without him, “there would have been no Ronald Reagan.”

The proposal still vexes critics 15 months later.

The idea of a USS Goldwater is “not acceptable” to Robert Farley — who says former President Bill Clinton is more deserving a namesake.

“I’m tired of the conceit that Republican presidents get aircraft carriers, but not Democratic ones,” says Mr. Farley, an assistant professor of diplomacy at the University of Kentucky and a contributor to Lawyers, Guns and Money, a liberal blog.

Alex Massie, a columnist with Britain’s Spectator magazine, has a solution.

“The obvious thing to do is avoid naming ships after politicians at all,” he says, noting the British navy’s penchant for names like Furious, Vengeance and Vindictive.

There could be cultural fallout, warns Matthew Yglesias, a fellow — and blogger — at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The Starship Gerald Ford won’t fly in some “Star Trek” spinoff any time soon.

“It’s worth noting that in the socialist utopia of the future, it seems we’ll be following the British tradition,” Mr. Yglesias says, pointing out that our Hollywood starships have been named Enterprise, Voyager and Defiant

“Basically no starships seem to be named after committee chairman or undistinguished former presidents,” he says.

Days of yore

On this day 219 years ago, the Columbia sailed into Boston Harbor after a three-year voyage, becoming the first ship to carry the American flag around the world.

This somber ursine is now 65. The Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council created Smokey the Bear on this day in 1944, in the longest-running public-service campaign in history.

The U.S. drops the second atomic bomb, “Fat Man,” on Japan on Aug. 9, 1945, at 11:02 a.m., and destroyed the northern part of Nagasaki; Japan announced its surrender six days later.

A poignant anniversary today, the 35th anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation from office. As Mr. Nixon prepared to step aboard a helicopter and leave the White House for the last time, he reached out and took incoming President Ford’s large hand in his own.

“Goodbye, Mr. President,” Mr. Nixon said quietly.

“Goodbye, Mr. President,” Mr. Ford replied.

As the chopper circled overhead, the newly minted leader turned to his wife, Betty, and told her, “We can do it. We’re ready.”

Poll du jour

42 percent of Americans say the “historic legacy” of the baby boomers was to usher in an era of consumerism and self-indulgence.

27 percent said boomers brought lasting social and cultural change, and ended a war.

11 percent overall said baby boomers did nothing at all, or nothing special, to earn a legacy.

13 percent were unsure what the legacy was.

9 percent cited some “other” forms of legacy.

Source: A Zogby Interactive poll of 4,811 adults released July 23.

Quotes of note

“Providing nothing of substance — at great length.” — USA Today’s Jonah Goldberg, on Vice President Joe Biden.

“Why don’t we have cash for refrigerators? Or cash for anything?” — Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

“Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura.” — title of new TruTV reality series.

‘Attempting to read every word of every legislative bill would be counterproductive. I think you would slow down the business of Congress to a crawl and it would be hard to get done what needs to be done.” — Rep. Paul Hodes, New Hampshire Democrat, to the Nashua Telegraph.

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