- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 29, 2009

Antiwar protesters can’t complain now that President Obama is here. Or can they? Their dream man is in the White House. He does YouTube diplomacy to make nice with the Middle East. He’s larger than life. He’s approved a White House kitchen garden.

So shut up already, peaceniks. Go rearrange your sock drawer or ready your begonias for Earth Day.

Protesting is a hard habit to break, though. It’s gotten to be such fun these days, what with the G-20 summit just around the corner. Just ask all the old hippies who marched on Washington for decades, screaming, “Down with (fill-in-the-blank).” Ask the giddy peace girlies who go topless for peace. Ask the dogs — indecorous and wearing bandannas — who are dragged to peace marches to become dogs-for-peace. Indeed, protesting is sport, recreation. And it’s become quite mainstream, complete with parade permits. Imagine. Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin with a parade permit. But hey, everybody’s welcome.

A recent gathering of “peace” lovers in San Francisco yielded protesters protesting Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel vs. Palestine, Proposition 8, Sept. 11, Wall Street, health care, gay rights, taxes and the ban on same-sex marriage, among other things.

“It’s really important for people around the world to see Americans standing up against this war,” protester Noel Juan told the San Francisco Chronicle recently. “Obama has rebranded this war and made it cool for people to wave the flag again. But all the things people hated about George Bush are being continued with a slightly different flavor.”

What? Say again?

There is another peace brand, though. Let us bring it out now and dust it off like an old medal. This one stayed on message for decades. Curious? It’s the old motto of the Air Force Strategic Air Command — those B-52 drivers and Nike silo sitters who ensured that no one dropped anything on anyone throughout the Cold War:

“Peace through strength.”

Now go write that one on a placard, and we’ll see you down on the Mall.

Sunday horse race

Missing Tim Russert on all these Sundays? The longtime host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” died of a heart attack last year, his formidable shoes filled by interim hosts and, since December, White House correspondent David Gregory.

But something is up. Mr. Gregory appears to be getting serious competition from ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” For the seventh straight week, “Week” has cut into the “Meet” audience and could emerge the ratings victor, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The most recent numbers: “Week” drew 3.1 million viewers to “Meet’s” 3.7 million viewers. Nielsen also said that “Week” was the only Sunday talk show to grow its audience — by 10 percent in the last year — while “Meet” declined 13 percent.

Let’s not forget “Fox News Sunday” with 1.3 million recent viewers and CBS’ “Face the Nation” with 2.6 million.

Perhaps Mr. Russert is more missed than we know.

Days of yore

Kudos to road trips today: It’s the 203rd anniversary of the nation’s first official highway. Work began March 29, 1806, on the Great National Pike, also called the Cumberland Road, initially funded with $30,000 from the nation’s treasury. The road stretched from Cumberland, Md., to Vandalia, Ill.

Happy birthday today to former senator and presidential hopeful Eugene McCarthy, born in Watkins, Minn., in 1916. It also marks the 48th anniversary of the 23rd Amendment, which gave D.C. residents the right to vote in presidential elections.

But on to peculiar political moments. Then-Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton told the world, “I didn’t inhale and I didn’t try it again,” in reference to his experiences with marijuana, on this day in 1992.

And why not run for a 12th term? The House rejected a constitutional amendment that would have limited terms to 12 years in the U.S. House and Senate on this day in 1995.

By the numbers

64 percent of Americans overall say religion is an important part of their daily life.

76 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats agree.

42 percent of Americans overall attend religious services at least once a week.

55 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Democrats attend once a week.

Source: Gallup Poll of 428,516 adults conducted January 2008 to March 15, 2009.

Quotes of note

“TOTUS” (Teleprompter of the United States) — a name for President Obama, suggested by Rush Limbaugh.

“Do you guys still drink Tang up there?” — President Obama, to International Space Station Commander Michael Fincke.

“Homophobe.” — A description of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia by Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, to 365gay.com.

“They said I wouldn’t last 15 hours.” — Michael Savage, on being a talk radio host for 15 years.

Bipartisan poppies

Yeah, so this is a political column. But we still like to throw in cheerful things for house, home and lifestyle as a panacea for overworked wonks. Here are giant “peel-n’stick” poppies for the wall, from Roommates. They’re $21, reusable and repositionable, and leave no residue. The company offers a jillion styles, including gerbera daisies; the goodies are available through multiple retailers. Check out possibilities at www.roommatespeelandstick.com or call 800/236-4520.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085.

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