NEWS AND OPINION:
How much do we mock our politicians? Much. Rough math reveals that late night comedians generate well over 100 jokes a week about leaders and lawmakers. Like this one: “Some good news for President Obama: In the last three months, his re-election campaign raised $86 million. The bad news: To be re-elected, he’s going to need $14 trillion more.” So said NBC ‘s “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno on a recent night.
But he has company. Americans heard 1,415 political jokes from May to August told by Mr. Leno, along with CBS’ David Letterman and NBC’s Jimmy Fallon. And surprise: The Center for Media and Public Affairs laboriously tallied and tracked them all to reveal that six out of the top-10 targets were Republicans and/or conservative.
But none led the pack. That dubious honor belonged to former New York congressman Anthony Weiner. At No. 1, he inspired 207 jokes — like Mr. Letterman’s recent observation: “Now he’s back in the private sector. And I thought, your private sector is what got you in trouble.”
Osama bin Laden was in second place with 199 jokes, Arnold Schwarzenegger was third with 125, followed by Mr. Obama (104), Sarah Palin (60) and Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, with 56. Rounding out the top-10: Newt Gingrich (55). Donald Trump (39), Vice President Joseph R. Biden (34) and Rupert Murdoch (31)
“This summer has been tabloid heaven for late night TV. And politics is the gift that keeps on giving,” observes George Mason University communications professor Robert Lichter, who led the study.
READING THE TEA
“American voters sympathetic to the Tea Party movement reflect four primary cultural and political beliefs more than other voters do: authoritarianism, libertarianism, fear of change and negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration,” says new research from the University of North Carolina presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
It’s all “new cultural expression of late 20th-century conservatism,” says lead author Andrew J. Perrin, who explains that tea partyers tend to prefer obedience over creativity in kids, are insecure about rapid change and favor both libertarianism and “nativism.”
IT COULD HAPPEN
“The Wolfeboro White House.”
Yes, that is what we would hear ad nauseam from an unfriendly press should Mitt Romney win the presidency next year. The candidate has a six bedroom, $10 million summer home in Wolfeboro, N.H., on the shores of sparkling Lake Winnipesaukee — a picturesque meeting place for his family, which includes five sons and 19 grandchildren.
The locals are already pondering a more prosperous future. What happens when a president lives in the neighborhood?
“When George Herbert Walker Bush became the 41st president, Kennebunkport has seen a huge swell of visitors hoping to see the Bush family compound at Walker Point,” says Paula Tracy, a reporter with the New Hampshire Union Leader. “There are maps and historical information about the Bush family, and the site is a destination for people around the world.”
A LITTLE TARNISH
Voter annoyance with President Obama is beginning to mar the shiny White House veneer. Mitt Romney has bested Mr. Obama in a straightforward Gallup Poll that pairs up the president with four leading Republican contenders. Among voters overall, Mr. Romney captured 48 percent of the vote to Mr. Obama’s 46 percent in the matchup.
But some tea party annoyance with Mr. Romney may be surfacing among those who don’t trust the former Massachusetts governor and his old health care policies. Among Republican voters, Gallup found that Texas Gov. Rick Perry beats Mr. Romney by a point: 92 percent would pick Mr. Perry over Mr. Obama while 91 percent would vote for Mr. Romney over Mr. Obama.
Meanwhile, a Rasmussen Reports survey released Monday had reassuring news for Republicans: 44 percent of likely voters would vote for their districts Republican congressional candidate, while 38 percent would choose the Democrat instead.
9/11 PART 2
The 10th anniversary of 9/11 will be on us in days. Broadcasters are poised. Brace for impact. More than 40 large scale, national TV specials are scheduled to air in and around the date; hopefully the fare will be thoughtful, free of mawkish or partisan trappings and reporting that veers shamelessly into “blame America” territory. But the sheer volume of programming may takes it toll.
“So many networks have scheduled specials, movies, even entire themed weeks centered on Sept. 11 that they risk trivializing the event, making it equivalent to the way prime-time series air a slew of Halloween or Christmas episodes,” says Variety reporter Brian Lowry. “By dissecting the day from every conceivable angle — CNN alone has scheduled four documentaries; National Geographic Channel will devote a full week to it — the resulting din has become a noise-canceling exercise.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 77 percent of young American adults from 18 to 29 years have or plan to delay a major life change like marriage or home purchase due to economic factors.
• 76 percent want federal government spending decreased.
• 69 percent say today’s political leaders “do not reflect the interests of young Americans.”
• 59 percent believe the U.S. economy grows best “when individuals are allowed to create businesses without government interference.”
• 57 percent say they will learn more about the policy positions of U.S. presidential candidates in the 2012 election than they did in 2008.
• 54 percent believe that the U.S. has “pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.”
• 31 percent approve of President Obama’s handling of youth unemployment.
Source: A Generation Opportunity poll conducted April 16 to 22 and released by the nonprofit group on Aug. 18.
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