- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

WARRIORS OR POLISHED POLITICIANS?

Republican presidential hopefuls are now huddling with strategists, advisers, wardrobe consultants, vocal coaches, maiden aunts, Labrador Retrievers and anyone else who could give them an edge during the upcoming GOP debates, each a prime-time broadcast before a bodacious audience. Does this audience crave combat? Not necessarily. A new Bloomberg poll of GOP voters finds that 52 percent want the candidates to “play nice and avoid criticism,” while 39 percent want the rivals to go on the attack. There are other threats. The bane of on-camera gaffes, sweaty brows and assorted blunders is ever-present. And yet, it’s all so simple, some say.

“You’re not going to win over voters in a primary debate just by spouting facts and policy positions. The first debate is all about likability. First and foremost, Americans are unconsciously looking for who they feel they can trust,” Amy Showalter, a Cincinnati-based grass-roots campaign adviser, tells Inside the Beltway.

“We like and imbue trust upon people who are similar to us — who share our values, attitudes, morality and even our appearance. That’s why candidates are quick to share their biography that emphasizes experiences and values that they have in common with their audiences, and why those without a compelling biography are harder to relate to,” she continues. There’s some trickier stuff as well.

“Studies show that people like to root for who they view to be the underdog in the race — those they believe to have more grit, more heart and more persistence than the rest. Whomever can position themselves as relatable, demonstrate morality, and highlight their past hardships in an authentic way, will win over the hearts of the American public,” Ms. Showalter concludes.

THE CONSERVATIVE NUANCE

It’s an online poll of over 13,000 readers of PJ Media’s “Instapundit” — a smart, canny news aggregation site founded by Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and columnist. The goal was to determine who his conservative readers favored in the GOP presidential lineup. The answer: Gov. Scott Walker, with a very healthy 40 percent of the vote, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz with 21 percent and Carly Fiorina with 16 percent.

It’s a moving target, though. Mr. Reynolds will repeat the poll in the near future.

There’s much nuance among conservatives. A recent Gallup poll queried “very conservative” respondents to find that their favorite was Sen. Marco Rubio. Mr. Walker was fourth.

MCCAUL’S WARNING

The House Homeland Security Committee has released its monthly “Terror Threat Snapshot” on Tuesday, noting in their report, “There have been more U.S.-based jihadist terror cases in 2015 than in any full year since 9/11, and the total number of cases has increased three-fold increase in just five years — from 38 in July 2010 to 122 today.”

The grim assessment also said that ISIS now has a direct presence, affiliates, or groups pledging support in at least 18 countries or territories; controls a dozen cities and town in Iraq and 10 more in Syria as of mid-July. ISIS can now “field nearly 30,000 foot soldiers, including Americans and thousands of other Westerners,” the committee said.

“Terror struck the heartland in Chattanooga last month, a sobering reminder that a new generation of extremists is targeting our city streets,” says Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican and committee chairman.

“We can’t stop what we can’t see, and with terror going viral — spreading online and across borders — I am worried more fanatics will go undetected until it’s too late. We’ve got to do more to take the fight to the enemy overseas at its source, otherwise we’re going to see the threat picture here at home steadily worsen,” the lawmaker concludes.

THAT SINKING FEELING

Here’s another thing for Congress to worry about. Washington is apparently wallowing in muck, and not just the political variety. Geologists now claim that land around the nation’s capital “is sinking rapidly” and that the city could drop by 6 or more inches in the future. The area is sinking faster than any location on the East Coast, they say, warning that the phenomenon could threaten “the region’s monuments, roads, wildlife refuges and military installations.” The research team included geologists from the University of Vermont, the U.S. Geological Survey and three other institutions.

“It’s ironic that the nation’s capital — the place least responsive to the dangers of climate change — is sitting in one of the worst spots it could be in terms of this land subsidence. Will the Congress just sit there with their feet getting ever wetter?” asks Paul Bierman, one of the Vermont geologists and the senior author of the paper.

There was some “drill, baby, drill” of the geological kind involved. The team reached their conclusion following extensive drilling — 70 boreholes up to 100 feet deep — in the coastal plain of Maryland. After examining sediment and using data from high-resolution maps, the geologists reached their consensus.

“Right now is the time to start making preparations. Six extra inches of water really matters in this part of the world,” says lead author Ben DeJong, also from the Vermont campus. The results were presented this week in GSA Today, an academic journal published by the Geological Society of America.

IMPLICATIONS OF AN ECO-MINDED HILLARY

Hillary Rodham Clinton was quick to voice support for President Obama’s strident new plans for an ecologically conscious clean energy plan,. The Democratic presidential frontrunner called the multiple programs “a significant step forward in meeting the urgent threat of climate change” and vowing to continue them should she win the White House. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is not buying any of it.

“President Obama’s heavy-handed EPA regulations won’t impact the climate, but they will have devastating consequences for our economy. The last three months saw the slowest wage growth in 33 years, and now President Obama and Hillary Clinton want to make it even harder for struggling Americans to make ends meet. With her support for yet another job-killing Obama policy, it’s becoming clearer by the day that Hillary Clinton doesn’t have answers to get our economy growing again,” says Mr. Priebus.

Scientists are not so keen on it all either.

“The subject is carbon dioxide emissions, not ‘carbon pollution.’ Power is a physical quantity, not something that is either clean or dirty. Dirty power has no more meaning than, and just as silly as, clean entropy. These terms are political terms used to manipulate emotions and impressions of people who do not or should know better,” says Christopher Essex, professor of applied mathematics at the University of Western Ontario. “They are distortions of scientific language meant to appear scientific. They are anti-scientific.”

NERVOUS LAUGHTER

“When Americans are asked whether liberals or conservatives tend to be funnier, few say that conservatives are funnier than liberals,” says YouGov poll analyst William Jordan. Yes, there’s a new poll that reveals that 30 percent of the respondents say liberals are the funniest while 9 percent say conservatives deserve the title. Another 28 percent say the ideological groups are equally as funny.

“Only 17 percent of conservatives themselves think that conservatives tend to be funnier. Liberals, however, are widely convinced — 62 percent — that they are funnier than conservatives,” Mr. Jordan notes.

MOMENT OF TRUTH

“Something happened on the way to a coronation. It was me.”

— Sen. Bernard Sanders, alluding to his White House rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a speech at Southern New Hampshire University.

CROSSROADS

“We need a president that will protect that right, and it begins by having an attorney general that will defend them in court, and by appointing people to the Supreme Court that understand these deeply embedded constitutional principles of the right to exercise your faith, not simply to hold your faith privately, but to exercise it in every aspect of your life. So if I’m president, we are going to have Supreme Court justices that we appoint, that will defend that liberty. We are going to have an attorney general and a Justice Department that will protect all Americans from discrimination — including Americans of faith, who have designed their lives around the teachings of their faith.”

— Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, in a speech before the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday.

POLL DU JOUR

50 percent of Americans say the federal government “should do more”; 46 percent say the government “does too many things.”

44 percent offer a positive review of President Obama; 38 percent approve of the Democratic Party, 26 percent approve of the Republican Party.

39 percent say it would be “better for the country” if a Republican were elected president; 37 percent say it would be better for a Democrat to be elected, 9 percent say it makes no difference, 7 percent would prefer a third party.

39 percent will wait to vote until the general election in November, 2016; 30 percent will vote in the Republican primary, 30 percent will vote in the Democrat primary

36 percent are “pessimistic and worried” about the remainder of Mr. Obama’s term of office; 24 percent are “satisfied and hopeful,” 20 percent “optimistic and confident,” 19 percent “uncertain and wondering.”

Source: An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted July 26-30.

Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin

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