- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 11, 2010

REALITY CHECK

He hasn’t gone away: Eight out of 10 Americans say Osama bin Laden is still alive, a sentiment shared almost equally by Republicans, Democrats, independents, the young and the old. Only 10 percent of the nation think the terrorist leader is dead.

“So what? The economy, jobs and health care may top the list of issues people want the government to address, but fear of another terrorist attack against the U.S. is not far beneath the surface,” said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll.

Though one-third of Americans say they are not sure where bin Laden is hiding, many 37 percent think he is in Pakistan. Afghanistan, Yemen and Iran rank next as likely hide-outs though 10 percent surmised that he was “somewhere else.”

Two-thirds of all respondents say the Pakistani government could not defeat the Taliban within its borders. Half say the Pakistanis will eventually support al Qaeda in its efforts to “launch terrorist attacks on the U.S.,” a sentiment shared by 60 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats.

The poll of 2,576 adults was conducted Jan. 18-25.

VALENTINES OF DOOM

“We crafted this Valentine behind closed doors.” (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid)

“You won’t see this valentine card on C-SPAN.” (President Obama)

“If you received this card, the system worked.” (Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano).

“Happy [expletive] Valentine’s Day. (White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.)

Parody Valentine’s Day card mottos from the Republican National Committee. See them and send them from www.gopvalentine.com.

PALIN PRIMER

Daily Beast scribe Matt Latimer, who was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, insists that Sarah Palin could “easily” win the Republican nomination for president in 2012 if she follows seven steps:

Explain why she resigned as governor of Alaska. Ignore political strategists. Don’t ignore the counsel of policy experts. Send Tina Fey flowers. Run against the Republican establishment. Remember political history. Keep engaging President Obama.

“Every day David Axelrod lights a candle in the hope that his boss will have to face off against Sarah Palin in 2012. Oh, how President Smartypants would love to condescend to Gov. Palin, and by implication the voters, on tax policy, health care reform, and, say, the GDP of Ecuador,” Mr. Latimer says.

“In 1968, national Democrats thought they could easily beat a proven loser, Richard Nixon, for the White House. In 1980, conservatives were said to have a ‘death wish’ when they nominated Ronald Reagan. Sarah Palin may or may not prove to be of their caliber, but Team Obama would do anything to give her the chance.”

DAY IN THE LIFE

Hand shaking, baby kissing such activities remain mainstays on the campaign trail, particularly in New Hampshire, where local politics often reflects national trends. Witness the schedule of Manchester Mayor FrankGuinta, a Republican now running for U.S. Congress. These are stops just for Thursday morning and early afternoon, in the town of Rochester:

Remember When Diner (8:00), Pink Cadillac Diner (8:45), Brock’s Plywood Sales (9:15), Nantucket Beadboard Co. (10:00), Rochester City Hall (10:30), Mel Flannigan’s Irish Pub (11:30), Windjammers (12:30), Jenny-Wren Gallery (1:30)

“From what I am hearing on the ground, people are fed up, and they are tired of a Congress that is not listening to them,” Mr. Guinta says, adding that Rochester is the 16th town he’s visited this year.

SO THAT’S IT

The health care reform bill is “one of the most opaque and boring subjects in American politics,” says Michael Wolff, founder of Newser.com.

“This is undoubtedly the fault of the Democrats. Almost all of them have been trained as public sector bureaucrats, instead of keep-it-simple-stupid executives and marketers (like many Republicans). Hence, they gum up almost everything they touch. They are process rather than product people, deal makers rather than salesmen,” Mr. Wolff continues.

“God knows, health care needed a salesman. This is what the Republicans have going for them: that the health care bill seems like so much obfuscation. And if something seems like obfuscation, then it’s probably a scam,” Mr. Wolff adds.

Republicans won’t boycott next week’s health care summit, he says.

“This will be a curious showdown between one side which likes to make things as complicated as possible and the other side that likes to reduce everything to childlike concepts.”

WHACK-A-HACKER

Should we laugh, cry or just log off? On Tuesday, some heavyweights are hosting “Cyber ShockWave,” a simulated cyber-attack on America staged, oddly enough, at the swank Mandarin Oriental Hotel in downtown Washington.

Former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden created the simulation; the big bipartisan cast includes former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Sept. 11 commission co-Chairmen Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, plus former National Intelligence director John D. Negroponte. There are showbiz underpinnings.

“Former senior administration and national security officials play the roles of Cabinet members. The participants, whose mission is to advise the president and mount a response to the attack, will not know the scenario in advance,” the group explains.

“They will react to the threat in real time, as intelligence and news reports drive the simulation, shedding light on how the difficult split-second decisions must be made to respond to an unfolding and often unseen threat.”

Will there be a section on “Tomsk”? The British press claims that hackers from this Russian city were behind Climategate, snitching the damning e-mails from flabbergasted British scientists.

POLL DU JOUR

• 35 percent of American voters say Republicans and Democrats are “so much alike” that a third party is justified.

• 47 percent of voters disagree, 19 percent are not sure.

• 49 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats say a new party is not needed.

• 32 percent of both Republicans and Democrats would approve of a third party.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Feb. 7-8.

Postcards, hand signals, windshield scrapers to [email protected]

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