- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bored with the midterm horse races, the press frolicked through a real novelty: raking a clandestine group over the coals. Their inspiration was the bipartisan investigation of a White House security breach conducted by nine Democrats and eight Republicans, all members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and all with much on their minds.

“Grill on the Hill, Secret Service edition,” announced ABC News. “Government Failure, Secret Service Edition,” noted The National Review. Tick-tock timelines of the breach and best-of-the-worst lists appeared immediately. The Guardian published “Secret service slip-ups: a handy guide to the agency’s most famous blunders.”

Descriptive prose was in lavish use among journalists when it came to Secret Service Director Julia Pierson’s testimony before the lawmakers. “Pierson puts the ‘secret’ in Secret Service”, according to The Washington Post. And why use a straightforward term like “interrogated” when grilled, slammed, blasted and rebuked are so much more fun? All appeared in follow-up coverage, which numbered about 1,500 news accounts by midafternoon. Even Secret Service dogs were subject to scrutiny.

But one headline in particular asked the question of the day:
“Should the Secret Service have shot the White House fence jumper?” demanded the Christian Science Monitor. A lawmaker also had a practical suggestion.

“It’s a simple thing. If someone opens a window, or a window is broken at my house, I have an alarm. … It is not very costly. You can subscribe. That can be installed,” Rep. John Mica, Florida Republican, said during the hearing, suggesting that Director Pierson contact ADT Security Systems.

Hopefully, this will all lead to productive reforms and ironclad security policies for the White House. But it may lead to a couple of TV specials and a Hollywood movie instead. Meanwhile, expect some truly fabulous coverage once Rep. Michael McCaul’s “blue ribbon commission” gets rolling; the Texas Republican is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.


SEE ALSO: Gov. Scott Walker as the new hope pope: I can show GOP the way forward


BAGTOPIA

The eco-conscious cheer, the realists shake their heads when it comes to California Gov. Jerry Brown’s new ban on plastic bags. He will go from Governor Moonbeam to Governor Beanbag, perhaps, in the minds of his critics.

“The ban on plastic grocery bags may not be the worst piece of legislation Brown will sign this year, but it is among the most obnoxious. Combine crony capitalism and liberal condescension with pious environmentalism and a callous disregard for the Golden State’s embattled manufacturing sector, and you have an apt description of this new law,” says Ben Boychuk, a policy adviser at the Heartland Institute.

“Every policy has unintended consequences; this new law is no different. One obvious consequence will be the return of paper bags, which cost more to make and certainly leave a larger carbon footprint, if you fret about such things. Another effect: The new law will cost California 2,000 manufacturing jobs. The governor should have bagged this bill when it crossed his desk,” Mr. Boychuk observes.

THE WINDY CITY GETS WINDIER

It’s time for a midweek White House fundraiser. So fire up Air Force One: President Obama journeys to Chicago late Wednesday, set to deliver a speech on economics and blah-blah-blah at the University of blah-blah on Thursday afternoon — followed by an appearance on behalf of Gov. Blah and an elite group of blah-blahs, who paid whatever to get in. To avoid the appearance of disrespect, we translate. Mr. Obama will attend an event for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, up for re-election on Nov. 4. This will be the president’s 47th fundraiser this year.

The president then boards trusty Air Force One once again and heads home to the nation’s capital for a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala Thursday evening.

A DIAGNOSIS FOR THE GOP

No matter what happens Nov. 4, there are those still in search of a robust Republican Party with unity on its mind.

“In the end, the Republicans may gain control of the Senate, but to what end? To simply deny power to the Democrats? The GOP is truly a house divided against itself,” says Craig Shirley, a Reagan biographer and Reuters contributor.

He is a historian with institutional knowledge of the GOP and is troubled by spats and mischief between establishment Republicans and their tea party counterparts — and not entirely convinced that the party will take back the U.S. Senate.

“Some establishment Republicans, straining to retain control, talk about nationalizing the midterm elections — as Newt Gingrich did in 1994, when he led the GOP takeover of the House, after 40 years of Democratic rule, and won the speakership. But the modern GOP has no story to tell the American people,” Mr. Shirley observes. “What really unites this GOP establishment? Nothing.”

A DOSE OF WALKER

“Can Scott Walker unite the Republicans” asks a GQ interview with the Wisconsin governor published Tuesday.

“The bottom line is I was pretty committed to my ideals, and that’s why people elected me. Not necessarily because they were ideologically in line with me, but because people have become cynical about politicians, and they want somebody who actually stands for something,” Mr. Walker tells the publication.

“No one doubts whether he stands for something,” reports GQ correspondent Robert Draper, who did the interview. “The question for Republicans nationwide is whether his stances will elevate the GOP or sink it into oblivion. That question will first be tested at the polls in Wisconsin, a high-stakes electoral proposition that will either take Walker to the next level or finish his political career altogether.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 55 percent of Americans say leaders in other nations “don’t have much respect” for President Obama; 42 percent say the leaders do respect Mr. Obama.

• 54 percent say they disapprove of the way Mr. Obama handles foreign affairs, 42 percent approve.

• 50 percent disapprove of the way Mr. Obama handles terrorism; 46 percent approve.

• 51 percent of Americans do not trust President Obama as commander in chief of the armed forces; 48 percent trust the president.

• 49 percent disapprove of the way President Obama is dealing with the Islamic State, 45 percent approve.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,055 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 25-28.

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