- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2009

SHALOM?

How close is President Obama to Israel? The degree of his affection is subject to interpretation. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, suggested the relationship is tepid, telling the Politico that Mr. Obama does not appear to be a “true friend” to the Jewish nation. Some beg to differ, however.

“Mr. Cantor has decided to position himself as the arbiter of who is and who isn’t pro-Israel in this country. Setting aside Cantor’s lack of sterling professional foreign-policy credentials, is it wise for him to set himself up as such a figure?” asks Ira N. Fornan, CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

“This is a particularly salient question considering the fact that President Obama is on the record repeatedly praising Israel and committing himself to its security needs throughout his administration. Moreover, Cantor should understand that these types of partisan attacks damage the long-standing tradition of bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Brad Dayspring, spokesman for Mr. Cantor, who is Jewish, tells Inside the Beltway, “It’s rather revealing that the president only has the support of 4 percent of Israelis. The American people - Jews and non-Jews - understand that the true obstacle to peace in the Middle East is the Palestinians’ refusal to accept Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state.”

Last but not least, a source close to the situation weighs in, “A bit of NJDC hypocrisy? It’s really remarkable that the NJDC would have the chutzpah to bring up foreign-policy credentials, when they seemingly had no issue with then-Sen. Obama’s lack of foreign-policy credentials last year. I’d note that Mr. Cantor has far more experience, both on foreign and domestic policy, than Sen. Obama brought to his presidency.”

SCREEN GEMS

Movie stars + politicians = true love, right? Well, maybe. “Hollywood on the Potomac,” a new photo-heavy book by veteran political strategist Jason Killian Meath, is now in bookstores, boasting 200 images of silver-screen heartthrobs and their Washington counterparts, all cozy in the Oval Office and elsewhere. Though much has been written about the ideological chasms between, say, Jon Voight and the Obama White House or between Sean Penn and the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Meath is convinced that stars and politicians still have commonalities.

“They’re fascinated with each other, and both sides are always ready for their close-up, and their moment in history,” Mr. Meath tells Inside the Beltway.

President Obama sang to J-Lo and Marc Anthony, and Tom DeLay did the cha-cha on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ Hollywood and Washington are wrapped in a torrid love affair, but by the way things are going, I hope they signed a pre-nup. A lot of politicians have learned the hard way that involving Hollywood friends in policy decisions can turn from ‘Love Story’ to ‘The Hangover’ very fast,” Mr. Meath adds.

IT’LL COST YA

Americans continue to think the news media is mired in favoritism: 84 percent of respondents say news organizations are biased, while nine out of 10 say the national media “played a very or somewhat strong role in helping to elect President Obama,” according to a poll released Wednesday by Sacred Heart University.

Seventy percent agreed the press is intent on “promoting the Obama presidency,” while 27 percent disagreed. Over half of the respondents - 56 percent - said the press was promoting Mr. Obama’s health care reform “without objective criticism.” And there’s one stand-out bias: 58 percent agreed that the media “appear to be coordinating efforts to diminish the record of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.”

“It is sad,” said Jerry C. Lindsley, director of the Connecticut university’s Polling Institute. “This perception of bias will eventually catch up with the news media outlets. We also found 46 percent of the respondents have permanently stopped watching a news media organization, print or electronic, because of perceived bias.”

The survey of 800 adults was conducted Sept. 8-11.

NOW HEAR THIS

“Obama loves to hear himself talk - about himself. In just 41 speeches so far this year, not including this week’s big speech at the United Nations, Obama has talked about himself nearly 1,200 times - 1,198 to be exact. That breaks down to 1,121 ‘I’s and just 77 ‘me’s,” Dan Gainor tells Inside the Beltway.

Holy tamales. Well, we congratulate Mr. Gainor, vice president of business and culture at the Media Research Center, for his vigilance in tallying such things, not to mention his mathematical prowess.

SAVAGE LARGESS

Let the critical squawking about Michael Savage cease and desist long enough for people to hear a nice thing about the talk-radio host, heard by 10 million listeners a weeks and currently challenging the British government to remove his name from a list of “undesirables” banned from the country. Mr. Savage has just donated $50,000 to the Injured Police Officers Fund of Nevada.

“The thin blue line is all that separates the ordinary citizen from chaos and violence. We must all support them or risk losing our nation, especially now that violent foreign gangs are roaming the streets of America,” Mr. Savage tells Inside the Beltway.

OK. Resume squawking now.

POLL DU JOUR

• 70 percent of Mexicans living in the U.S. say they have “achieved their goals.”

• 57 percent of Mexicans say they could enjoy a better life in the U.S.

• 39 percent have relatives or close friends living in the U.S.

• 47 percent know someone captured by the Border Patrol and deported.

Source: Pew Global Attitudes poll of 1,000 Mexicans conducted May 26-June 2.

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