- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2011


What’s the state of the union before the State of the Union speech on Tuesday night? Pretty prickly. The media presence is huge, political theater is at its zenith and public pain over the national economy is in an acute, genuine and dangerous stage. Americans, in fact, are not particularly impressed with the state of their union, and with any speeches that summarize it. Not the best of circumstances for President Obama, accustomed to buoyant applause, a friendly audience and supportive press. He drew 52 million viewers in his 2009 speech, 48 million in 2010. As the teleprompter looms, some have advice for the president.

“This is one speech that has to get to specifics. We understand broad themes. We just have little time for them,” Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto — who will anchor coverage from the Newseum — tells Inside the Beltway. “So, unless the president spells out what he plans to do ‘with’ Republicans, hell be turned off — by all.”


Of some 500 assorted campaign promises and pledges President Obama has made in recent years, he’s kept 134 of them, according to the Obameter, an ongoing analysis project of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. Mr. Obama has broken 34 promises, compromised on 41, stalled on 74 and has 221 “in the works.” See details of the president’s record — along with those of Republicans, Democrats, pundits, journalists and officials — at www.politifact.com.


“Draft Olbermann for Senate.” The notion that former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann should run for office is out there. Already. Not four days after his hasty exit from the network. Specifically, fans want him to run for retiring independent Sen. Joe Lieberman’s seat in Connecticut. The aforementioned title is a new Facebook page with 900 supporters at the moment; there’s a “Draft Olbermann” Twitter feed as well. The phenomenon has picked up instant traction. Among many news organizations following the progress: USA Today, Hartford Courant, Hollywood Reporter, The Hill, and the New York Observer.


The colors of the Super Bowl-bound Pittsburgh Steelers are black, gold — and red. During the 2010 election cycle, people directly associated with the NFL franchise — owner Dan Rooney and family, team executives and coaches — contributed $32,469 to federal-level political candidates and interests, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The “vast majority of their contributions” went to Republicans, including two of the family’s own: Rep. Tom Rooney, Florida Republican, and Brian John Rooney, a Republican House hopeful in Michigan. Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, Pennsylvania Democrat, who lost her bid for a second term, and Rep. Bill Shuster, Pennsylvania Republican, also received modest contributions.

“The Packers? They didn’t even exit the locker room, as people directly associated with the team didn’t contribute one green-and-yellow cent to federal-level candidates and political interests during the 2010 cycle,” said Dave Levinthal, communications director for the watchdog group. “Of course, the Packers” — the league’s only nonprofit, shareholder-owned, publicly traded team — “are a National Football League anomaly, not having a single owner, or even a small group of them, to centralize political clout.”


Well, at least we know that Keith Olbermann won’t be anchoring the event. The first of a spate of Republican presidential candidate debates is just over three months away, with a strategic media alliance of note. Fox News and other right-leaning news organizations do not have a role in the “Ronald Reagan Centennial Debate” at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., on May 2; the event will be moderated by NBC News anchor Brian Williams and Politico editor-in-chief John F. Harris, to be aired on MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo, a Spanish-language network.

The date itself was selected “after consultation with national Republicans,” say organizers.

“We have established a wonderful tradition — of which I know Ronnie would be so proud — of using the library as a first-in-the-nation forum for candidates to introduce themselves and their visions for America to a national audience,” observes former first lady Nancy Reagan.


83 percent of Americans says the “current state of the union” is “only fair/poor.”

92 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats agree.

17 percent overall rate the state of the nation as positive.

8 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of Democrats agree.

76 percent say that efforts to strengthen the economy are “only fair/poor.”

91 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats agree.

27 percent overall say they will watch President Obama’s State of the Union address.

19 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of Democrats say they will be watching.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,066 adults conducted Jan. 18-20.

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