- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2009

CONFUSION, PART SIX

Welcome to part six of President Obama’s broadcast extravaganza. After five appearances on Sunday political talk shows, Mr. Obama will be the sole guest on David Letterman’s “Late Show” on CBS on Monday night. For 90 minutes. The mind reels. But it may be all for naught.

“I don’t believe President Obama’s media blitz helped his cause,” Alan Siegel tells Inside the Beltway. “The health care reform program is so complex, it is unreasonable to ask the American people to intelligently evaluate and support the program until they have all the components and details spelled out for them. They need to see the architecture of the final proposal with all the details before they can really understand it.”

A recent survey conducted by Mr. Siegel’s New York marketing and branding agency Siegel+Gale found that 37 percent of Americans say they “believe they understand” heath care reform.

“Unfortunately, people still distrust the claim that this program will not inflate the budget deficit or that the government can reduce the Medicare budget without taking away important benefits. The president’s explanations supporting these points are still not convincing. He needs to present and explain the details much more fully. A civil dialogue about the proposal is impossible until there is something more definitive to react to,” Mr. Siegel says.

FINAL SALUTE

Only in America, perhaps. The remains of an unknown Union Civil War soldier found at the Antietam National Battlefield by a sharp-eyed hiker were brought back to his home state of New York and buried with full military honors in a national cemetery.

Bone fragments, shreds of uniform, a belt buckle and buttons identifying his unit were all that were left of the soldier, thought to be about 17. Initially discovered in the diggings of a groundhog last October, the remains were solemnly placed in a box made by a carpenter from a walnut tree cut down on the fields of Antietam and draped with an American flag. Seven National Park Service rangers served as pallbearers. Members of the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group escorted the box on a 330-mile ride to Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville, N.Y. The remains lay in repose at the site with a full honor guard and were buried Thursday.

“It is right and fitting that today’s citizen-soldiers from New York state bring home this unknown New York volunteer of the Civil War,” said Army Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Taluto of the New York National Guard. “The Soldier’s Creed reminds all American soldiers that we never leave a fallen comrade behind. This is a way for soldiers of today to care for a fallen comrade from our past.”

“The idea of being able to send him home was something the entire staff stood behind. It was the right thing to do,” said J.W. Howard, superintendent of the Antietam battlefield and cemetery.

DELAYED TELECAST

Yes, it’s here. Tom DeLay finally turns to terpsichorean on “Dancing With the Stars,” live Monday night at 8 p.m. on ABC. Extent of broadcast: three nights. Injuries: “Pre-stress fracture” of Mr. DeLay’s foot. His likely costume: Grey shirt, black vest, black trousers. Local interest: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is sponsoring a “watch party” at Top of the Hill in the District. Their comment: “Oh, how the mighty Hammer has fallen.”

BACK AND FORTH

Communications are complex in the media-politico realm - like this recent e-mail exchange between Democratic National Committee press secretary Hari Sevugan and Geoff Etnyre, deputy managing editor of The Washington Times.

“We are writing to request a correction stemming from a column by Armstrong Williams in the Times yesterday which asserts that Governor Kaine stated at the DNC fall convention that race was the motivating factor behind Republican opposition,” Ms. Sevugan wrote Sept. 17, deeming the column rife with “clear mis-characterization and false assertions.”

Mr. Etynre responded, “I see nowhere in Mr. Williams’ column where he says Tim Kaine ‘stated’ race was an issue. Mr. Williams clearly refers to Mr. Kaine ‘insinuating’ race was a motivating factor behind Republican opposition. The word ‘insinuate’ means to introduce in an indirect or covert way. It clearly does NOT mean the idea was stated ‘explicitly.’ We all agree Mr. Kaine did not ‘explicitly’ state the race issue. It is Mr. Williams’ opinion, however, that he did insinuate it, an opinion it seems many might share. Whether or not you agree with that opinion is immaterial. Mr. Williams has a right to it; that is indisputable. We see no need for a correction.”

And back to Ms. Sevugan: “Thanks for the quick reply and English lesson. While Mr. Williams undoubtedly has a right to his opinion, it does not absolve his publisher from the responsibility of ensuring that an opinion piece which makes such serious claims has a basis in fact. We continue to hold there was no basis in fact for the claim Mr. Williams made about what the Governor was insinuating…We are disappointed that the Washington Times would publish such claims without a basis in fact, and are distressed that they refuse to correct their error when it was brought to their attention.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 63 percent of Iranians favor restoring diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran.

• 60 percent favor “unconditional talks” between the countries.

• 77 percent have an unfavorable view of the U.S. government.

• 16 percent have confidence in President Obama.

• 81 percent say the U.S. hopes to weaken the Islamic world.

• 73 percent say the U.S. wants to impose Western culture on Muslim society.

Source: A World Opinion Organization survey of 1,003 Iranian adults conducted Aug. 27-Sept. 10.

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