- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 10, 2010

QUESTION OF DAY

Grocery panic, power outages, ice ruts, disappearing merge lanes, snow-shovel theft, frozen dog paws, cancellations, public melancholy: Welcome to Snowmegeddon, Part 23.

“Isn’t it odd that whoever is in charge upstairs has singled out the nation’s capital for all this misery? Perhaps it is a message to Congress,” Rick Fowler, host of WMAL’s “Saturday Morning Update,” tells Inside the Beltway.

SECOND QUESTION

Should Republicans ignore President Obama’s offer to get cozy at a health care reform summit?

When in doubt, take a poll, which is what press watchdogs at Newsbusters.org have done. The findings of the conservative-leaning site, based on the responses of 5,273 reasonably coherent adults:

• 15 percent say “Yes. The GOP needs to show up and make an argument.”

• 44 percent say “No. Obama has stacked the deck.”

• 41 percent say “Doesn’t matter. The media will spin it for the Democrats, regardless.”

FEEDING FRENZY

Former President Bill Clinton appears to have discreetly stepped aside in the childhood obesity limelight, made very bright Tuesday by the monumental launch of first lady Michele Obama’s “Partnership for a Healthier America.”

The initiative has led a star-studded array of media, corporate and interest groups to fall all over themselves for a chance to be involved, including the Walt Disney Co., the American Medical Association, NBC, Viacom, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Sodexo, PepsiCo, the National League of Cities, the Ad Council and Warner Brothers.

Warner’s, in fact, already has produced PSAs for the drive featuring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

Mr. Clinton has already been there and done that; he pioneered the genre. In partnership with the American Heart Association, the former president still recovering from a major cardiac event himself created the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in 2005 to address his concerns about heavy children.

“Why is this happening? Because children are eating more unhealthy foods and exercising less. Who’s responsible? We all are,” Mr. Clinton said at the time.

But he is silent and absent now, though his group is listed as a partner of the White House project and issued a supportive statement. Is Mr. Clinton just being diplomatic and graciously passing the baton to Mrs. Obama ? Is he peeved? After all, his alliance forged some productive partnerships with schools, food suppliers and health care providers.

No answer or comment from the Clinton Foundation yet. But the Beltway is waiting.

PALM PIRATE

Aw. Cute.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs displayed his handiwork at the press podium Tuesday: a 5-item grocery list inked on one hand, reminding him to buy eggs, milk, bread, hope and change.

Yes, well. Hope, change on a list of things to purchase. Of course.

“I wrote eggs, milk, bread,” Mr. Gibbs told assembled journalists, adding that he scratched out “bread” and “wrote down hope and change in case I forgot.”

Like a spate of liberal journalists before him, Mr. Gibbs was mocking Sarah Palin for talking points written on her palm during a recent speech before the National Tea Party Convention. He got his press, though: 300 stories on the moment appeared within an hour.

“Gibbs is supposed to be promoting the party line of President Obama right now, that bipartisanship is needed on major issues to improve America,” observes Kansas City Star columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah. “He’s not supposed to be taking shots at one of the leading spokespersons for the other side.”

WAY TO GO

Noisy budget arguments draw press attention; methodical quiet work, not so much.

Still, Rep. Paul D. Ryan assembled the “Roadmap for America’s Future,” introduced as HR 4529 on Jan. 29, as a strategic panacea for the nation’s financial woes.

The Wisconsin Republican’s road map won support from the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday, revealed in a 50-page review of the plan.

“The lower budget deficits under your proposal would result in much less federal debt than under the alternative fiscal scenario and thereby a much more favorable macroeconomic outlook,” the analysis said, along with 14 other complimentary observations.

See Mr. Ryan’s ideas here: www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov

TAKING AIM

They envision assault rifles in the Grand Canyon, shotguns in Yellowstone.

The 740-member Coalition of National Park Service Retirees is vexed by a “dangerous new gun law” that goes into effect Feb. 22 permitting park visitors to carry firearms, consistent with the laws of the state where the park is located.

“This is a significant departure from long-established, common-sense gun regulations that allowed visitors to possess guns in parks only if they were stowed out of reach and unloaded,” the group says of the law, an amendment to the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican.

“This is a sad chapter in the history of America’s premier system of heritage areas. On the heels of the Ken Burns documentary about the importance of national parks to America and after a year of increased visitation to parks despite a poor economy, this law will have a chilling effect on how visitors behave in national parks,” predicts spokesman Bill Wade, former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park. “A feeling of safety and security will be replaced by wariness and suspicion.”

That might depend on the visitor, perhaps. The sentiment might change should there be a terrorist incident in a big park. Stay tuned.

POLL DU JOUR

• 44 percent of Americans say President Obama has done “too little” to compromise with Republicans on “important issues.”

• 73 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of Democrats agree.

• 58 percent of Americans say Republican leaders have done too little to compromise with the White House.

• 44 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

• 9 percent of Americans say President Obama has done “too much” to compromise.

• 14 percent of liberals agree.

• 8 percent of Americans say Republicans have done “too much.”

• 11 percent of conservatives agree.

Source: An ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,004 adults conducted Feb. 4 to 8.

• Crossword puzzles, hot chocolate, snow plows to [email protected] .com.


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