- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2010

LA-DI-DAH MOMENT

Is it just a fancy dress rehearsal for the big fat White House Correspondents’ Dinner a mere 47 days from now? Oh-h-h-h no. The big fat Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner is rivaling that storied event in sheer numbers: 2,000 “correspondents” will assemble in swanky duds on Wednesday night at the Washington Convention Center to fete, well, their correspondence — and tuck in to such delicate fare as ravioli garnished with lobster and crayfish.

“We’re going to pull out the stops and have a good time,” organizing chairman and PBS producer Linda Scott tells Inside the Beltway.

Among the glittering denizens of the coveted head table: Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Republican Sens. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Rep. James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat; White House press secretary Robert Gibbs — but not President Obama, who will be at home hosting his own St. Patrick’s Day party, complete with a bowl of shamrocks from Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen and a performance by the Bronx-based Keltic Dreams, billed as a “multi-cultural Irish dance group” by the Irish press.

“We’re 90 percent sure that Rahm Emanuel is going to show up for our dinner — but we’re not completely sure. He’s still got a lot of health care reform to deal with right now,” Ms. Scott adds.

AND MAYBE VODKA

“Maybe an Irish coffee can warm the situation.”

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin’s advice to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s upcoming visit to Russia.

CNN’S CONSERVATIVE STAR

In five days, CNN debuts a new conservative voice: RedState.com editor Erick Erickson joins the network as a contributor, says Sam Feist, the network’s political director. Mr. Erickson will appear weeknights on “John King, USA”, which launches Monday, and on other CNN offerings.

“Oh, this should make Fox News real happy,” quipped one media observer.

Mr. Erickson, a former attorney, political strategist and current member of the Macon, Ga., City Council, says he’ll hold down the fort in the Peach State.

“My family and I are staying in Macon. Living in what some people call flyover country gives me a perspective I think most people in Washington don’t have,” he tells Inside the Beltway. “Likewise, because of RedState, I hear from thousands of people every day, in every state.”

“He will add an important voice to CNN’s ideologically diverse group of political contributors.” agrees Mr. Feist. “He is an agenda-setter whose words are closely watched in Washington. And as a person who still lives in small-town America, Erick is in touch with the very people John King hopes to reach.”

WHAT GOES ON

“Some House Democrats who claim to dislike the Senate health care bill also seem to think they can safely support it while hopping aboard a ‘sidecar’ reconciliation bill where the contents remain hidden from public view. Here’s the problem with that theory: Reconciliation isn’t a sidecar; it’s a sideshow meant to distract Americans from the awful details,” advises the Republican Study Committee.

If the legislation goes through, “everything Americans hate about the Senate bill - including the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, taxpayer funding for abortion, the individual mandate, the special tax exemption for Big Labor — will become the law.”

“But what about this sidecar bill everyone’s talking about? There are zero guarantees that it gets through the Senate without significant alterations. Remember the Byrd Rule. Zip, nada, zilch. And no one knows if the House and Senate will ever agree on a final version to send to the President’s desk. It’s just a sideshow.”

WHAT ELSE GOES ON

Health care reform — yea or nay — could hinge on the whims of the very few. Democratic strategists are taking the most rooty of grass-roots approaches to win over undecided lawmakers — and it’s Rep. Michael N. Castle’s turn. The Delaware Republican’s vote “could be critical,” says Mitch Stewart, director of the Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America project.

He’s asking loyal Democrats to call voters in Mr. Castle’s district — and tell them to call Mr. Castle and beg him to vote for Obamacare. The group is providing a “list of friendly voters and tips on what to say,” and urges, “every vote in the House could tip the balance.”

ITS TIMING IS OFF

“The D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board will award a 2010 Toyota Prius as Grand Prize of the Washington Auto Show POWERBALL Second Chance Drawing, Wednesday, at DARCARS Toyota in Silver Spring.” (From an announcement issued by the D.C. Lottery.)

CENSUS MEDDLING

Some fear for the U.S. Census.

“Numbers or politics? The Census is used to create everything from congressional districts to the statistics used by the Bureau of Labor. But liberal politicians say that they can’t trust the Commerce Department to ‘get it right’ and want the Census director to report straight to the White House,” says Bob Rinear, editor of Main Street Market Watch and Financial Intelligence Report.

He questions President Obama’s governing style.

“How is it a man who to this day cannot or will not produce a birth certificate, demands that the Census is governed by politicians instead of an impartial scientific body? It seems to me that he would like to redraw the political boundaries inside our states, especially expanding the democratic district lines, to replace the Democrats that will be jobless after November,” Mr. Rinear adds.

POLL DU JOUR

• 70 percent of Americans “definitely will” participate in the 2010 census.

• 74 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats will participate.

• 79 percent of Americans say participating in the census is a “civic responsibility.”

• 82 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats agree.

• 61 percent of Americans say the U.S. Census Bureau keeps personal information confidential.

• 56 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 1,500 adults conducted March 10 to 14.

Faith, begorrah and spirited mutterings to [email protected]

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