- The Washington Times - Monday, May 10, 2010

SUPREME BEINGS

President Obama‘s big Supreme Court nomination appears imminent, just as new evidence surfaces that Americans hanker for a conservative, and that the nation is perhaps weary of all the prattle in the press about the ethnicity, sex and religion of prospective nominees to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Should it be a woman, a Hispanic, a Protestant, asks the Gallup Poll. Well, uh, nobody much cares.

“Gender, race and ethnicity are not important factors,” the poll found. Indeed, it found that 82 percent of the respondents said that whether the next justice is black “doesn’t matter.” Seventy-six percent said the same about a Hispanic, 72 percent said the same of a women, and two-thirds felt that way about a Protestant nominee.

However, opinions were a little more pronounced elsewhere in the poll of 1,029 adults conducted May 3-6.

“Americans prefer a nominee who would tilt the court more conservative,” says Frank Newport, director of the Gallup Poll. “Justice Stevens has been one of the Supreme Court’s more reliable liberal votes. Given Obama’s political leanings, it is likely that he will select a left-leaning replacement who would essentially keep the ideological composition of the court intact.”



He continues, “Americans, however, would prefer a new Supreme Court justice who makes the court more conservative (42 percent) over one who would make the Court more liberal (27 percent). Gallup found essentially the same result last May prior to Obama’s nomination of Sonya Sotomayor to replace David Souter.”

I-YI-YI-PAD

“Remember when the mainstream media went crazy over and likely exaggerated former President George H.W. Bush‘s supposed unfamiliarity with a supermarket scanner? President Obama has now had his supermarket-scanner moment, claiming he doesn’t know how to operate an iPod, among other popular electronic devices. Do you think the media will pick on this in the same way to paint a portrait of an out-of-touch president?”

Newsbusters analyst Mark Finkelstein‘s reaction to Mr. Obama’s admission that he was clueless about iPods, iPads, X-Boxes and PlayStations during a commencement address at Hampton University


BANISHING BENNETT

The elimination of Republican incumbent Sen. Robert F. Bennett from the party primaries in June is just more evidence of a “corrosive Republican intraparty civil war” between the “tea party” movement and the Grand Old Party’s establishment, at least according to Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, who has been using the “Civil War” allegory as a convenient campaign talking point since April.

Mr. Bennett’s bye-bye, meanwhile, has become a tea party cultural moment.

“Republican primary politics in Utah are not, generally, something people think about every day,” says the Atlantic’s Chris Good. “But this is significant, because it shows that the Right is more conservative now than it was a few years ago. Tea partiers and other fiscal conservatives held tremendous power in this election, and they used it to get rid of a senator who isn’t a liberal, by any means. He’s not as far to the right as, say, conservative champion Jim DeMint of South Carolina, but he has an 83.6 lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.”

Mr. Good adds, “The Tea Party/fiscal-conservative movement presses forward after this weekend, not just pleased with the result, but emboldened on a national scale.”

PRESSING ISSUE

Here’s one reason to hope that local newspapers don’t shrivel up and die. They offer details that big news organizations just can’t get to. In areas where members of Congress get lots of ink in local newspapers, voters are more informed and representatives do more to serve local interests, says new research.

“Our findings support the idea that press coverage is important for electoral accountability,” says James Snyder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who studied press coverage trends over an 11-year period in a joint project with Sweden’s Stockholm University.

“The current trend toward fewer local newspapers could make for less responsive politicians in the future,” Mr. Snyder adds. “As local newspapers disappear, the remaining papers cover larger areas. In some cases, broadcast media becomes a primary news source. Our results suggest that this is likely to reduce voter information, political participation and political accountability.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 51 percent of U.S. voters trust Republicans to handle tax issues; 36 percent trust Democrats.

• 49 percent trust Republicans to handle national security and terrorism; 35 percent trust Democrats.

• 43 percent trust Republicans to handle the economy; 41 percent trust Democrats

• 41 percent trust Republicans to handle immigration issues; 38 percent trust Democrats.

• 30 percent trust Republicans to handle government ethics and corruption; 34 percent trust Democrats.

• 36 percent are “not sure” whom they trust.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted May 2-5.

Tips, quips to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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