- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2014

Republicans continue to revere Ronald Reagan, a practice which offers reassurance in times of duress and a chance to review strategies that worked in a complicated era. But even through Reagan-era lenses, the Grand Old Party must be prudent about the feel-good mire of nostalgia and move forward. And it appears they have more of this practical skill than Democrats.

“Republicans, for all their Reaganolatry, have taken the first step toward sobriety and admitted they have a problem. There is considerable discussion among conservatives about whether it’s time to leave the Reagan legacy behind. Florida governor Jeb Bush has urged the party to give up its nostalgia for the 40th president,” observes Tim Cavanaugh, news editor of National Review Online.

Democrats apparently have a growing case of Bill-ism, though. They have not gotten over the Clinton presidency. Indeed, Bill Clinton still provides active star power on the campaign trail; he tops the popularity polls. “Bill Clinton has become the Democrats’ Reagan,” Mr. Cavanaugh says. But unlike the GOP, the Democrats are in no mood for self-assessment. The prospect of Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential campaign also deters a reality check.

“The Clintons, like The Fantasticks and the Great Recession, are a show that keeps running long after the audience has lost interest, a complex of spite and personal pathologies that still seems compelling only thanks to a vague sense that things were better in the nineties. But the Clinton economy is no more likely to come back than Netscape Navigator. The world has moved on. The Democrats should do the same,” Mr. Cavanaugh advises.

BILL O’REILLY’S ‘JESUS’, THE MOVIE



The politics and history of Jesus Christ: It is an uncommon project from the National Geographic Channel with a potentially huge audience. Now going into production, it’s “Killing Jesus,” the movie, based on the book of the same name by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, to be made available in 171 countries and 45 languages on its completion next year.

“The film ‘Killing Jesus’ will break new ground in chronicling the life of the most famous human being who ever lived,” says Mr. O’Reilly, who praises the sizable cast which includes Kelsey Grammer as King Herod, Stephen Moyer of “True Blood” as Pontius Pilate, and Haaz Sleiman — notable in “The Visitor” — in the title role.

“We are going to explore the seismic political and historical events that surrounded the life and death of Jesus as never before,” promises Heather Moran, the network’s executive producer.

MR. O’REILLY AND MR. PANETTA

And speaking of the aforementioned Fox News veteran, Bill O’Reilly has landed the first prime time cable news sit-down with former CIA chief Leon Panetta, to air Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. The interview is notable because the former Defense secretary has had made a few piquant comments about President Obama’s strategy — or lack thereof — in Iraq. Mr. Panetta also has new memoir titled “Worthy Fights,” now on bookshelves.

The White House, Mr. Panetta writes, was “so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests.”

KANSAS GETS COMPLICATED

Republicans still have the edge for control of the U.S. Senate, holding noteworthy leads in 20 of 36 races, with a single-point separation between GOP and Democratic hopefuls in two more. Translated: If Republicans win even one of those two close contests, the party would have a 51-seat majority. But then there’s Kansas, explains William Jordan, a YouGov analyst.

“The most favorable change for Democrats has taken place in Kansas, albeit in circumstances they can at best take only partial credit for, at best. The Democratic candidate in this deeply red state recently dropped out of the race, allowing investor Greg Orman, an independent, to draw even with 17-year incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts,” Mr. Jordan says, noting that Mr. Orman says he’ll caucus with whichever party holds a clear majority.

“Assuming Democrats win in all the states where they currently hold leads plus Iowa — which is by no means given — they will have 49 seats total, meaning control of the Senate could turn on the race in Kansas. If Orman won and caucused with Democrats, Vice President Joe Biden would provide the tie-breaking vote,” the analyst explains. “These complicated counterfactuals point to the more sobering realityfacing Democrats. Even with modest gains, their grasp on the upper house of Congress looks tenuous at best.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE GETS CHUMMY

“Marco and Scott.” It sounds so chummy — like a buddy movie. And that’s exactly how U.S. Senate hopeful Scott Brown is billing his public meeting on Tuesday evening with Sen. Marco Rubio, in the town of Derry, New Hampshire. Foreign policy talk is on the agenda at Halligan Tavern, an Irish pub with meatloaf on the menu, and 24 beers on draft. It is typical of Mr. Brown’s campaign circuit — a precise mix of Yankee-style appeal and some aggressive marketing to counter the efforts of rival incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“Started my morning off in Dover for Apple Harvest Day. Later I stopped at the Exeter Powder Keg Beer and Chili Festival then finished up at the Autumn Harvest Festival in Kensington,” says Mr. Brown. But he has also rolled out a noble new video spot emphasizing his 35 years in the Army National Guard, with a narrator who intones,”He knows what it takes to keep America safe.”

New Hampshire remains a political magnet, meanwhile. Mr. Rubio himself returns in two weeks. Sen. Rand Paul soon makes his fourth visit of the year. Also on the way: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Bob Erlich, former governor of Maryland; independent Bernie Sanders and former President Bill Clinton. And the big moment which will draw devoted press: Hillary Clinton herself arrives Nov. 2, just 48 hours shy of the elections, poised to shore up the campaigns of Mrs. Shaheen, and Gov. Maggie Hassan.

POLL DU JOUR

67 percent of Americans are not concerned about personal exposure to Ebola; 67 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents agree.

32 percent of concerned they will be exposed; 33 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of independents agree.

57 percent of Americans have confidence that the federal government can handle a health crisis; 48 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents agree.

41 percent overall do not have confidence in the government to handle it; 51 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of independents agree.

49 percent overall did not have confidence that the government could handle the 2005 bird flu outbreak; 24 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents agreed.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,007 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 2-5 plus historic data.

Righteous indignation, sly commentary to jharper @washingtontimes.com.

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