- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009


There’s much chatter, pro and con, about President Obama‘s overtures to Iran and the glittering prospects of civility and global dialogue. The waning of missile silos in Eastern Europe is also on the public radar. Though such things are full of hope and promise for some, Rep. Tom Price is not much buying it.

“Soft platitudes and halfhearted commitments to national defense only encourage those who seek to harm America. The fact is, there remains real evil in the world,” the Georgia Republican tells Inside the Beltway. “While most of humanity seeks peace, all nations will eventually find themselves the target of those who desire war. If we are unprepared to defend ourselves against our enemies, they will surely take advantage of our weakness. The best way to prevent conflict is to be more prepared than your enemy. Disarmament does not deter ones foes - it just encourages them.”


Astonished snorts could be heard in the wake of Howard Fineman‘s column in the Oct. 5 Newsweek that suggested there were “limits” to President Obama‘s charisma and that he should stay the heck off TV for a while.

“Despite his many words and television appearances, our elegant and eloquent president remains more an emblem of change than an agent of it. He’s a man with an endless, worthy to-do list - health care, climate change, bank reform, global capital regulation, … the Middle East, you name it - but, as yet, no boxes checked ‘done.’ This is a problem that style will not fix,” Mr. Fineman observed.

Wait. Howard Fineman wrote this? Inquiring minds wanted to know, and called Inside the Beltway for answers and reassurance that the world wasn’t about to end.

Mr. Fineman’s observations brought a spectrum of reactions from those amazed that Mr. Fineman would criticize Mr. Obama and those convinced he was a racist - someone who could not deal “with a black man in the White House,” according to one comment.

“I’m no racist, and my analysis had nothing to do with race, but, hey, it’s a free country,” Mr. Fineman tells Beltway. “I was pretty tough on the president, but I’ve also been very laudatory and optimistic. I still am. I just suggested that he not sign up for every advanced course in the catalog and resist raising his hand in every class. It’s the opposite of George W’s problem. At Harvard Business School, he was what they called a skydecker. He sat in the upper deck of the lecture hall and never said a thing.”


Facebook + Secret Service = Uh-Oh. There was some bizarre mischief afoot in the social-media universe on Monday after a nameless Facebooker posted a poll inquiring “Should Obama be killed?”

But there are limits even on the free-wheeling Internet, where a posse of bloggers put an end to the situation. A sharp-eyed scribe with the Political Carnival blog spotted the offending survey and notified the Secret Service, their vigilance supported and chronicled by Talking Points Memo and Who Runs Gov, a blog published by The Washington Post.

“Given all the other craziness we’ve seen out there, this latest one, while pretty ugly, wasn’t terribly surprising,” Greg Sargent tells Inside the Beltway. He writes “The Plum Line” for the aforementioned Postie blog.

“Still, it is pretty reassuring how quickly the Secret Service jumped on something as dubious as an anonymously posted Internet poll. Even if it does suggest that something about the Obama presidency is forcing them to work pretty hard these days.”

The poll is gone, meanwhile, and both Facebook and the federal agency are investigating.


“The right sees an Obama Olympic conspiracy.” (Slate.com)

“Obama wants Chicago Olympics as his crowning glory.” (Wall Street Journal)

“U.S. could get Olympics in 2016, health care in 3016.” (Borowitz Report)

“Health care dragging, Obama goes to Copenhagen.” (New York Daily News)


Political news junkies is an expanding demographic, at least according to Gallup.

“Americans’ consumption of political news has expanded over the past decade. The trend may reflect a greater politicization of the American public, regardless of political ideology, as attention is up among all three party groups,” says Gallup analyst Lydia Saad.

Thirty-six percent of Americans overall follow political news “very closely,” while 42 percent follow “somewhat” closely, according to a new Gallup poll. That’s a lot of “closely.”

But some are more enamored than others. Thirty percent of Democrats say they follow “very closely,” compared with 41 percent of Republicans. The most intent of all is the postgraduate crowd: 52 percent follow very closely, followed by men over 50 (49 percent), seniors over 65 (46 percent) and people making more than $75,000 a year (45 percent).

The least interested? The under-30 set, with just 19 percent.


• 75 percent of Americans have cut back on everyday expenses.

• 63 percent of Americans say the way they spend and save has been changed “forever.”

• 60 percent will continue to cut back on everyday expenses in the future.

• 42 percent were using savings to pay their everyday expenses.

• 29 percent say their spending would go back to pre-recession levels.

Source: A Citibank survey of 2,005 adults conducted Sept. 1-5.

Snorts, snuffles, laudatory outcry to jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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