- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 18, 2010

TEA-LEVISION

“Tea Party TV” is here, a product of the clever journalists at Pajamas Media. But could showbiz veneer mar the homegrown quality of the “tea party,” a network of fierce grass-roots groups that take pride in their independent, down-home strengths?

The new program airs online twice a week, hosted by “Instapundit” Glenn Reynolds and analyst Alfonzo Rachel; the inaugural episode (see it here: www.pjtv.com) showcases the recent National Tea Party Convention.

“The tea-party movement isn’t going away. The anger and frustration felt by voters are real, and as a news organization, we plan to cover that frustration as it continues to fester and grow,” says Roger L. Simon, chief executive of Pajamas Media.

Executive producer Owen Brennan describes the show as “a one-stop shop for those who want to learn about the issues, the leaders, the individual activists in each state, the candidates and the movement.”

Judson Phillips, who organized the aforementioned convention, is not worried about increased attention or media packaging.

“The PJTV folks are a good group. I don’t think their coverage will take away from the tea-party movement. We live in a media age, and you will find this on TV or the Internet,” he tells Inside the Beltway. “The networks don’t understand this movement, so they could never do anything that would really work.”

He has his own surprise.

President Obama told Americans not to go to Las Vegas, so that is exactly where we will be holding our next event,” he adds. “We’re pleased to announce the National Tea Party Unity Convention will be held in Vegas July 15th through 17th.”

Mr. Judson reveals another dimension that surely will galvanize public curiosity.

“We’ll also be presenting the first Tea Party Nation Conservative Film Festival,” he says.

Celebrities? A red-white-and-blue carpet walk? Stay tuned.

A LITTLE DITTY

But it’s not about Jack and Diane.

The notion that Hoosier rocker John Mellencamp should run for the seat to be vacated by Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, is just 24 hours old but already has sparked a partisan skirmish, with Fox News in the middle.

“Mellencamp, who established his political creds long ago with performances for ‘Farm Aid’ and many other political events could conceivably gather the necessary 4,500 signatures in the remaining 24 hours, if he were allowed to use the internet,” proclaims Draft Mellencamp for Senate, a new Facebook page.

The page has accrued more than 1,000 members who think Mr. Mellencamp is a viable candidate. But Fox News morning host Steve Doocy is wary of it all, suggesting the singer “certainly is liberal” and “way over there,” as in tacking far left. This in turn vexed David Edwards of Rawstory .com, who accused Fox of staging “a pre-emptive strike” against Mr. Mellencamp.

“The rocker behind Farm Aid is evidently too subversive for the gang at ‘Fox and Friends.’ “, Mr. Edwards observes.

FRIENDS OF SARAH

Two gentlemen of note don’t hide their approval of Sarah Palin.

Prior to his keynote speech Thursday to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio praised the former Alaska governor as a dynamic force for the party.

“I think she is an important voice in the party and brought energy and enthusiasm to the center-right movement. Lots of disenchanted voters have found in her a voice for their feelings,” Mr. Rubio told friend-of-Beltway and ace Washington Times political reporter Ralph Z. Hallow, who incidentally sits just a cubicle away.

As a delicate side note, the Beltway recalls that Mrs. Palin recently turned down an offer to address the CPAC. They like her anyway.

“My opinion of Sarah Palin has always been very high,” American Conservative Union and CPAC Chairman David Keene told LaDonna Hale Curzon, host of Sarah Palin Radio, an online channel.

UPPING THE ANTE

They’re watching: After suggesting Iran was becoming a “military dictatorship,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton drew quick criticism from that nation’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. She had “spread lies against Iran,” he said.

Did she? Here’s how Mrs. Clinton framed it to Cyba Audi, a correspondent with Dubai-based Al Aribaya television.

“Some observers feel your comments, especially about Iran moving closer to a military dictatorship, may be some form of verbal escalation. Is it?” Ms. Audi asked.

“No, it’s an - in my view - an explanation. People say to me all the time, what happened to Iran? I mean, we haven’t had good relations with them for 30 years and they have obviously not been willing to change their views toward us,” Mrs. Clinton replied.

“But when President Obama came in, he was very clear that he wanted to engage, and that’s what he’s been trying to do - reaching out to the Iranian people, reaching out to the Iranian leadership. And you have to ask yourself, why, when so many experts thought that there would be a positive response to President Obama’s outreach, has there not?”

POLL DU JOUR

c 43 percent of U.S. voters say President Obama has “not been aggressive enough” in supporting those who want to reform Iran’s extremist government.

• 72 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of unaffiliated voters agree.

• 67 percent of Democrats say Mr. Obama’s response has been “about right.”

• 29 percent of voters overall say the U.S. should take action alone against Iran.

• 46 percent of Republicans agree.

• 61 percent of Democrats oppose the U.S. acting alone.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Feb. 13 to 14.

Hue and cry, press releases, little ditties to jharper@ washingtontimes .com

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