- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2014

A new Pew Research Center poll asked Americans the difficult question about the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and this is what they found: “Overall, 56 percent say the U.S. has a responsibility to do all it can to return an American captive soldier, no matter what the circumstances; 29 percent say that because Bergdahl left his post, the U.S. was not obligated to do all it could to secure his release.”

“Reactions to the Bergdahl case are deeply divided along partisan lines. Fully 71 percent of Republicans think the prisoner exchange was the wrong thing to do, while just 16 percent say it was the right thing to do. Democrats, by more than two to one (55 percent to 24 percent), have a positive opinion of the agreement,” the survey says. See more numbers in today’s Poll du Jour, at column’s end.


There’s trouble when too much show biz sneaks into politics. Entertainment often trumps simple truths for distracted voters; valuable and authentic moments can get lost in the manufactured hubbub — a situation fraught with peril for politicians scrambling to establish their “brand.” Hillary Clinton’s monumental return to public radar on Tuesday is a case in point.

She has a new memoir, multiple interviews and a national tour complete with fancy campaign bus courtesy of Ready for Hillary, a super PAC. The book has already earned some catty reviews and/or accusations that it offers little in the way of substance but lots of packaging and safe sound bites. Skeptical news organizations wonder if she’s conducting book tour or a 2016 campaign rollout.

And while Mrs. Clinton’s strategists hope to time her public presence with exquisite calibration, their candidate-in-waiting may be offering too much too soon. It is very difficult to control the trajectory of such things in our frantic age. There is also a delicate balance between over-marketing and productive campaigning. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul will be the first to say that unscripted, shirt sleeves-style moments often yield voter interest, and votes. But at least Mrs. Clinton is not racing off to, say, Iowa or New Hampshire just yet. And there is a chance she won’t run at all. No, really. There is.

Meanwhile, we must note intriguing deep numbers in a recent poll. Yes, of course it reveals lofty favorability ratings. But 55 percent of Democrats themselves also say other Democrats should run for president in 2016. Only 28 percent say Mrs. Clinton should run unopposed, while 13 percent say she should not run at all, this according to a survey conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News.


“Look who fired the 1st shot in the real ‘war on women’. Hint: it wasn’t the GOP. See this excerpt from Hillary’s book,” tweeted Sarah Palin on Monday.

The former vice-presidential hopeful provided an image of a page from “Hard Choice,” Hillary Clinton’s memoir, highlighting a passage centered upon the surprise news in 2008 that Sen. John McCain had asked Mrs. Palin to join him on the campaign trail.

“The Obama campaign suspected that her nomination was a blatant attempt to scuttle their hope of welcoming the women who had vigorously supported me,” Mrs. Clinton writes in the passage. “They immediately issued a dismissive statement and reached out to me in the hope I would follow suit. But I wouldn’t.”


There is a new term to consider: “congressional fatigue,” newly coined by Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America, that identifies a worrisome trend that not only affects members of Congress but likely other elected officials. Intense media coverage, a culture of conflict and the presence of partisan scolds have made consistent legislating a challenge indeed. Lawmakers are weary of the chase.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this. On Thursday, 78 senators, including 24 Republicans, voted to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be Obamacare’s implementer-in-chief for the rest of his term,” Mr. Needham pointed out in a new op-ed for the organization, noting that there was not much discussion when Mrs. Burwell replaced Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“There is no single reason why Burwell was confirmed so easily. Harry Reid’s triggering of the ‘nuclear option’ last fall most certainly played a role, but there is a larger, more disturbing trend at work: congressional fatigue,” he writes. “The Obama administration understood the media fervor over websites and sign-up rates would die down and many lawmakers would tire. And this proved correct. Washington became weary of fighting over Obamacare and pundits relapsed into viewing the fight as a mere partisan squabble.”

So the White House won this one? The effects of Obamacare on the general public and the economy is serious stuff, Mr. Needham warns. He also noted that Ms. Burwell was “remarkably unresponsive” during her own confirmation.

“If lawmakers feel limited in their ability to attack the law — a silly, but real sentiment — they should focus on the inevitable taxpayer bailout of the insurance companies, he said, recommending everyone take a second look at Sen. Marco Rubio’s recent Obamacare Bailout Prevention Act.

“That’s a pretty good one-two punch, but first lawmakers need to wake up and get in the ring,” Mr. Needham concluded.


Yes, there are those who pine for a proper sartorial demeanor. Rep. Bill Cassidy is one of those. The Louisiana Republican won his quest to reinstate National Seersucker Day in Congress after it was discontinued two years ago. The big day is Wednesday. A photo-op at the Capitol is planned and more than a few will show up.

“We have about 30 members, from both sides of the aisle participating,” a source tells Inside the Beltway.

Meanwhile, some historic press accounts contend that seersucker-wearing is a Republican habit; indeed it was then Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott who called for a formal gathering of, well, seersuckerees back in 1996, a gathering that included former Republican Sens. Rick Santorum, Bill Frist and Elizabeth Dole. “Seersucker Soirees” are popular among college-age Republicans in Louisiana and elsewhere.

And with delicate decorum, The Beltway notes that The Washington Times’ own Editor Emeritus Wesley Pruden and several other gents at The Times don seersucker suits from time to time — ensembles deemed “iconic American clothing,” by Mr. Cassidy himself.


64 percent of Americans say President Obama should inform Congress about decisions like Sgt. Bergdahl’s rescue; 87 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents agree.

30 percent overall say Mr. Obama is not obligated to inform Congress; 11 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents agree.

59 percent overall say Sgt. Bergdahl makes them neither sympathetic or angry; 52 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents agree.

56 percent say the U.S. is always obligated to secure a captive soldier’s release; 39 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents agree.

43 percent overall say the “Bergdahl exchange” was the wrong thing to do; 71 percent of Republicans, 24 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of independents agree.

34 percent say it was the right thing to do; 16 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents agree.

29 percent say the U.S. was not obligated to return Sgt. Bergdahl because he “left his post”; 48 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,004 U.S. adults conducted June 4-8.

Insistent observations and chatter to [email protected]

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide