NEWS AND OPINION:
He has more stops on his schedule than the presidential hopefuls. General George Washington has arrived in Des Moines on a mission to promote civility — and likely to provide a contrast to the gaudy hubbub following the Republican debates.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has sent its official George Washington historic interpreter to the Hawkeye State. The costuming, speech and manner of veteran actor Ron Carnegie are most authentic, and he is accompanied by his horse Blueskin, though there’s a back-up campaign bus as well. Mr. Carnegie appears Wednesday at a family farm, a distillery, a diner and at the office of Gov. Terry Branstad before joining the Iowa State Fair parade through the city streets to herald the opening of this heartland event. Thursday finds General Washington, er, Mr. Carnegie, getting political. He makes the opening speech for the first “Soapbox” series at the fair — an important stop for all of the candidates to have their say while standing on a traditional soapbox, grass-roots style.
Mr. Carnegie says his tour, which continues in New Hampshire next week, will re-introduce the nation to it’s first president. But there’s some noble fare too. “It aims to remind all Americans of their sacred responsibility to take part in the electoral process, and to reawaken them to the important legacy of American political and societal discourse that he and the other Founding Fathers began hundreds of years ago, and that continues to evolve and shape our country today, he says.”
This is a very connected George Washington. The actor may not command the media coverage of, say, Donald Trump, but he’ll get plenty of attention, and he has much media of his own. Mr. Carnegie will visit other key states throughout 2016, bolstered by broadcast ads and an extensive social media campaign. Yes, George is on Twitter @01POTUS, and online at ItStartsHere2016.org.
FOUR REPUBLICANS TRUMP HILLARY
It’s very close, but a new Public Policy Polling survey finds that a quartet of Republican hopefuls now bests Hillary Rodham Clinton among Iowa voters. “The strongest Republican against Clinton in the state is Ben Carson, who leads her 44 percent to 40 percent. The other three GOP hopefuls ahead of Clinton all lead her by just a single point — Mike Huckabee at 44/43, Gov. Scott Walker at 44/43, and Sen. Marco Rubio at 43/42,” the poll reports.
Mrs. Clinton, however, trumps seven GOP rivals by a small margin of from 2 to 4 percentage points. Lagging behind: Jeb Bush, Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Govs. Chris Christie and John Kasich.
COLBERT’S BIG WISH
“I just want to say that every little boy grows up believing they could be president of the United States, and I’m just so happy that little boy is Donald Trump. Please stay healthy until I’m on the air. Don’t do anything dangerous. Every night, I light a candle and pray that he stays in the race — and that nobody puts that candle near his hair.”
— Incoming CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, on the current Republican front-runner, during a press conference Tuesday before the Television Critics Association. Mr. Colbert debuts on Sept. 8.
HOW DEMOCRATS FEEL ABOUT JOE
They like him, and his favorability ratings have gone up, but Democrats are split about whether Vice President Joseph R. Biden, 72, should actually run for president. He is currently mulling the possibilities while on vacation in South Carolina.
Three-fourths of Democrats have a positive feeling about Mr. Biden in a new Gallup poll, up 11 points from a similar survey a year ago. Another 19 percent say they would “definitely support” Mr. Biden in a White House bid, while 61 percent would “consider” voting for him. And the most important numbers: 45 percent say they want Mr. Biden to run, 47 percent do not. He does slightly better than Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has her own fan base but little motivation: Thirty-six percent of the respondents want her to run, 49 percent do not.
“Should Biden emerge as a viable nominee, it would likely be an expensive and bruising battle with Hillary Clinton. But if Biden is looking for a clear signal from rank-and-file Democrats, this poll doesn’t provide one,” says Gallup analyst Lydia Saad. “While nearly half say he should run, and most view him favorably, most also view Clinton favorably, and only 19 percent say they would definitely back him — similar to the percentage saying they would back Warren. Rather than seeking an alternative to Clinton, Democrats may simply believe other candidates, Biden included, deserve a chance — and like to keep their own options open.”
Regardless of the postdebate distractions, Fox News is enjoying its best ratings since its coverage of the Iraq War in 2003. Fox News has had its third-highest-rated week for prime time in its history, says Nielsen Media ratings. And the Republican debate with its 24 million viewers? It was the “highest-rated cable news program ever on any network” and “the highest-rated telecast for the entire week in both broadcast and in cable.” And oh, the tweeting. Fox News and the debate also generated 3.3 million tweets on the night in question.
OUTRAGE: A BRIEF HISTORY
Bristol Palin generated buzz following her blog posting on Tuesday titled “The New GOP ‘Outrage Industry’: Lessons in Decency from Erick Erickson and Fox News.” She noted, “I used to use this blog to point out how liberals use the ‘outrage industry’ to manipulate people and keep their power. Now Republicans are just as bad.”
The term “outrage industry” appears to have surfaced in 2008 when Jeffrey Berry and Sarah Sobiera — a politics and a sociology professor, respectively, at Tufts University — presented a paper titled “The Outrage Industry” at a Dartmouth College conference, itself titled “Going to Extremes: The Fate of the Political Center in American Progress.” The pair later published a book in 2014 titled “The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility.” Yes, well. There are variations on the theme, including outrage politics and outrage journalism. And now we have outrage outrage.
A METEORIC RISE
Why not pay attention to meteors while the White House hopefuls duke it out? NASA and assorted “Perseid pundits” report that, thanks to a new moon, this week’s Perseid meteor shower is expected to be one of the best in years. NASA Television will offer a live broadcast with input from the Meteoroid Environment Office, the American Meteor Society and other learned spots. The four-hour broadcast begins at 10 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. Consult NASA.gov.
“The best opportunity to see the Perseid meteor shower is during the dark, pre-dawn hours of Aug. 13. The Perseids streak across the sky from many directions, with theoretical rates as high as 100 per hour. The last time the Perseids peak coincided with a new moon was in 2007, making this one of the best potential viewings in years,” the federal agency said.
POLL DU JOUR
• 64 percent of Republicans say Carly Fiorina won the extra Fox News debate; 10 percent said “no one” won the debate; 17 percent were unsure who won it.
• 59 percent of Republicans said the debate improved their opinion of Ms. Fiorina.
• 19 percent said Sen. Marco Rubio won the main Fox News debate; 4 percent said no one won it; 12 percent were unsure.
• 45 percent said the debate improved their opinion of Mr. Rubio.
• 18 percent said Donald Trump won the main debate; 22 percent said the debate improved their opinion of him.
• 12 percent said Sen. Ted Cruz won the main debate; 38 percent said the debate improved their opinion of him.
Source: A YouGov poll of 501 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 8-10; the sample included 150 Republicans.
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