- The Washington Times - Monday, February 15, 2010

Formal tea party

This could alter persistent press descriptions of the “tea party” that cast the liberty-loving advocates as a churlish, temporary blip on the political radar. The “Tea Party” has qualified as a third party in Nevada and will have a candidate in the Senate race for the seat held by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“The name of our political party shall be Tea Party of Nevada,” the group’s chairman Sid James wrote in “certificate of existence” statement to Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller. “We are concerned citizens who have had enough of government waste, corruption and intrusions into our daily lives.”

The missive includes dozens of formal organizational bylaws: The group appears to be positioning itself as an organizational role model for other tea parties. Their candidate of choice is Las Vegas-based entrepreneur Jon Ashjian, who joins three Republican candidates and a half dozen independent candidates also intent on unseating Mr. Reid.

Not everyone is optimistic about the new entity — already billing itself “TPN” — and the blogosphere is already reverberating with the possibilities:

“It’s looking more and more like this ‘candidate’ and his group are hijacking the Tea Party name,” notes the conservative blog Floppingaces.com, while the progressive Daily Kos observes: “Reid can now hope that the candidate will bleed support from whomever emerges as the GOP nominee.”

TPN could be leading a high-profile backfire, and one headline in right-leaning Redstate.com says all: “Could the Tea Party save Harry Reid?”

Happy whatchamacallit

Wait, Monday is some kind of holiday, right? Oh, yeah. It’s Presidents Day, a designation that gets dismissed by the press, ignored by the public or used as a shrill advertising vehicle by mattress companies and auto dealerships. Poor Presidents Day.

This also-ran illuminates partisan tastes, however.

The majority of Republicans — 53 percent — sayRonald Reagan was “the best president since World War II.” That sentiment is shared by just 3 percent of Democrats, according to Harris Polls, which actually bothered to gauge the nation’s presidential leanings from a historical perspective.

The Democrats are still in love with Franklin D. Roosevelt and rate him first: 28 percent say he was the best president, followed by Bill Clinton, cited by 22 percent.

And who is the worst of the American leaders of the last seven decades? Among Republicans, 31 percent say President Obama is the worst president, followed by Jimmy Carter, with 19 percent. Fifty three percent of Democrats cite George W. Bush, with Richard Nixon in second place, cited by 11 percent.

As far as the best president “in history,” the poll found Abraham Lincoln in first place — followed by Mr. Reagan, the aforementioned Mr. Roosevelt, George Washington and John F. Kennedy.

The poll of 2,576 adults was conducted Jan. 18 to 25. See all the results here: www.harrisinteractive.com.

Baggy imitation

There’s much noise among pundits that Republicans and tea partiers are divided. But there’s division elsewhere as well. Progressive Democrats dismayed by President Obama‘s newfound hawkish bearings want to fight back — and have co-opted a grass-roots theme from across the fence to get their point across.

“If you think Democratic ‘leaders’ should spend our tax dollars on health care not warfare, there’s an exciting new grass-roots movement you can join: the Brownbaggers,” says Bob Fertik, spokesman for Progressive Democrats of America, where board members include Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin plus Reps. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Barbara Lee of California.

The organization is advising supporters to pack a sandwich, stage a sit-in and be noisy.

“Last month, there were 22 ‘Brownbag Vigils’ outside congressional district offices. This Wednesday, that number will grow to 50,” Mr. Fertik adds. “It’s time to start a grass-roots revolution to demand the change we voted for in 2006 and 2008.”

Phone home

Republicans are “better positioned for 2010” and more in touch with their constituents than Democrats, at least according to an emerging demographic: palm device and social media freaks.

Based on the responses of 60,000 iPhone, BlackBerry, Google Android, Windows or Facebook users in 50 states collected over the past six months, Republican senators vote along with their home state constituents on legislation more often than Democrats says Visible Vote, a Chicago-based group that provides free applications for the survey.

The top three senators whose voting record most matches their constituents are Republicans George LeMieux of Florida, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Jon Kyl of Arizona. Senators voting “least often” in sync with voters are all Democrats: Al Franken of Minnesota, Jim Webb of Virginia and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

Poll du jour

• 44 percent of Americans overall would vote for President Obama if he ran for re-election in 2012.

• 42 percent would vote for a Republican candidate.

• 89 percent of Democrats and 4 percent of Republicans would vote for Mr. Obama.

• 5 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of Republicans would vote for a Republican candidate.

• 31 percent of independents would vote for Mr. Obama, 45 percent would vote for a Republican.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,025 adults conducted Feb. 1 to 3.

Rants, raves, tickets to the Cayman Islands to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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