- The Washington Times - Friday, September 11, 2009

Polling Pelosi

Don’t be surprised if more Republicans start targeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, in their campaign efforts. More than half of general election voters feel unfavorable toward her, according to a new survey.

The Republican National Committee hired consultant Wes Anderson, co-founder of the GOP polling group OnMessage Inc., to examine the speaker’s favorables and unfavorables as part of its August survey on health care. He found her unfavorability rating had jumped four points from June to August from 50 percent to 54 percent and that her favorables went down that same period from 33 percent down to 28 percent.

“There are a majority of general voters who do not have a favorable opinion of the speaker,” Mr. Anderson said.

Her poor ratings are because of a few factors, the pollster explained. “Part of it is ideology, but another part is what’s seen as shrill partisanship,” he said in a presentation about his survey to reporters at the RNC headquarters on Capitol Hill. The last time a house speaker generated such intense feelings was when Newt Gingrich, a Republican, held the post, he said.

“There is an amazing level of partisan polarization already similar to last year during the election and in 1994,” Mr. Anderson said.

Palin talk

Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, landed in hot water for calling President Obama a liar during the president’s joint session address Wednesday evening, but Mr. Obama indirectly called now-private citizen Sarah Palin the same thing from the podium.

It’s well known that Mrs. Palin has been widely denounced by Democrats for injecting phrase “death panel” into the health care debate, a charge she levied once again in a Sept. 8 op-ed on health care in the Wall Street Journal. In it, she blasted the notion of creating an Independent Medicare Advisory Council charged with cutting costs, which she argued would lead to rationing care for the elderly.

Hours before Mr. Obama addressed Congress, Politico reported that the White House issued talking points about Mrs. Palin’s editorial to their allies that said, “the ideas in her op-ed are both scary and risky.”

During the speech, in a thinly veiled shot at Mrs. Palin, Mr. Obama said, “Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but by prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.”

The former governor of Alaska also suggested in the editorial that Medicare payments be given in the form of vouchers as an alternative means of driving down costs, along with tort reform, letting people purchase insurance across state lines and equalizing tax benefits among those who get insurance from their employer versus those who purchase it individually.

Mr. Obama vehemently opposed the voucher idea, too.

“Medicare is another issue that’s been subjected to demagoguery and distortion during the course of this debate,” he said in his speech, warning that it must never be paid out with vouchers. “That will not happen on my watch,” he vowed.

On the Hill

Thousands of conservative activists began streaming into Washington on Thursday for Saturday’s “tea party” protests, but a group of women has made it its mission to demonstrate on a more regular basis to remind members of Congress to support the troops.

Standing at New Jersey and Independence avenues outside the Cannon Office Building was the Band of Mothers on Thursday afternoon, playing patriotic music, waving signs and asking passers-by to write postcards to soldiers as they have done at least 10 times over the past two years.

“We give lots of hugs to veterans, too,” said Band of Mothers founder Beverly Perlson.

But not every demonstration is so warm and fuzzy, she said. Mrs. Perlson told this reporter about the time Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, called the Capitol Hill Police on her last year. She had gone into his office to confront him about accusing U.S. Marines of killing Iraqis in “cold blood” and was turned away by his staff.

“I yelled into the office, ‘I know you are hiding in there, Murtha!’ ” she said. But when she got outside several police cars surrounded her and the police asked for identification and whether she had just visited Mr. Murtha’s office. She was eventually released without any problems.

Despite that incident, Mrs. Perlson said the group is usually received well. “Adam Putman [a Republican congressman from Florida] even brought us orange juice once,” she said.

(Corrected paragraph:) Also at the small pro-troop rally were Kristinn Taylor, spokesman and co-leader of the D.C. Chapter of Free Republic, and Lei Hennessy-Owen, who carried a sign that read: “Sarah Palin’s Got It Right: Never Apologize for Our Great Country!”

Mr. Taylor expressed his concern about the White House’s efforts to turn Sept. 11 into a day of service, with activities focused on green jobs and the environment. He said he viewed some of the planned activities and disheartened with the music and barbecues being promoted for it.

“Can you imagine observing Pearl Harbor Day in the 1940s with stuff like this?” he asked incredulously.

American Maggie

A Web site chock full of opinion articles and social networking tools targeted toward Republican and conservative women went live this week.

AmericanMaggie.com founder Elise Stefanik, a 2006 Harvard graduate who worked on domestic policy for the Bush White House and on the New York 20th District special election, said she hopes to fill a void in the conservative movement by giving women a place to participate in the free exchange of ideas.

“There is a need for this kind of platform,” she told The Washington Times in a telephone interview. “We are going to have lots of content and many stand-alone opinion articles, rather than just a blog.”

Miss Stefanik also has a strong advisory board helping her. Among its members are top Republican consultant Ed Gillespie, former White House press secretary Dana Perino and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.

Some of the Web site’s top stories during its launch week included a story by Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jennifer A. Nassour about how Democrats in her state may change election law and an essay by Skyla Freeman, a former writer for President George W. Bush, about first lady Michelle Obama’s style called “Empty Icon.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com.

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