- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jeb Bush, both the brand and the man, has officially launched. Mr. Bush now commands a spiffy new political action committee named The Right to Rise, which promises a leg up for small business, free enterprise, a strong defense and entrepreneurship. Its mission cites hard work and earned success as the “central moral promise of American economic life.” The group espouses tempered optimism about future opportunity, “but we know America is falling short of its promise,” Mr. Bush says.

And here comes the first fundraiser for those who support the idea, scheduled for Wednesday in Greenwich, Connecticut — hometown of his presidential father, George H.W. Bush.

Mr. Bush the younger will host an “assemblage of relatives and political allies with ties to his father and brother. The private reception is being organized by Craig and Debbie Walker Stapleton — he a former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic and France under former President George W. Bush, she a Bush cousin,” according to the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

Also on hand for the event: Richard Breeden, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission during the first Bush presidency, and David McCormick, a former Treasury undersecretary during the second Bush presidency who also is president of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund.

“It will be an opportunity to discuss the governor’s background, his future plans and, most importantly, ask questions,” invitees have been advised.



THE TRAVELING WHITE HOUSE SHOW

Out of town? Yes, indeed, in Detroit, Phoenix, Knoxville, San Antonio. Those are White House destinations in the next 72 hours. Indeed, President Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, will scurry out of the nation’s capital on Wednesday bound for these four cities — with four sets of talking points.

The trips are an effective dress rehearsal for the president’s upcoming State of the Union speech, now less than two weeks away. In Detroit, for example, Mr. Obama highlights the “resurgent American automotive and manufacturing sector now that the auto rescue has been completed.” In Phoenix he’ll speak of “the recovering housing sector” and, in Knoxville, it’s all about higher education initiatives. San Antonio is a solitary appearance for Mr. and Mrs. Biden on Friday, where they will both deliver remarks at the Student Veterans of America conference.

There is some hubbub afoot, however. Concerned Veterans for America, a nonprofit advocacy group, suggests Mr. Obama pay a call on a troubled Veteran’s Affairs hospital when he is out west.

“If President Obama wanted to get the ground truth — and send a signal of strong leadership — he would take the time to visit the Phoenix VA hospital during his forthcoming trip to that neighborhood. Unfortunately, he has yet to show leadership in the fight to reform and fix the VA,” notes Pete Hegseth, CEO of the group.

THE BOEHNER PRESS

House Speaker John A. Boehner has had a noteworthy variety of news coverage during his tenure on Capitol Hill. At one point the press was preoccupied with what color tie Mr. Boehner wore, whether he smoked, sat under a tanning machine or wept with emotion during certain moments on Capitol Hill. Mr. Boehner’s ability to wrangle and herd the dueling factions within the Republican Party also has been under close scrutiny, as has his prowess in countering White House aggression and Democratic maneuvers.

On Tuesday yet another narrative emerged after the Ohio lawmaker held onto his title and position despite 25 votes’ worth of conservative dissent. Now journalists paint Mr. Boehner as a victor who must neutralize the image of a do-nothing Congress and prove Republicans are united and can live up to their campaign promises. Or something like that. The battles are brewing, meanwhile.

“I think the speaker, like any leader, has to deal with any factions in his party, some of which are more cooperative than others. You see in the Republican Party a very hard-line, ideological rigidity,” Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, advised reporters Tuesday.

Meanwhile, headlines chronicle the Boehner drama: “John Boehner just endured the biggest revolt against a House speaker in more than 100 years” (Washington Post); “Boehner survives” (Politico); “Boehner narrowly re-elected” (ABC News); The itsy-bitsy ambitions of John Boehner” (Mother Jones); “John Boehner’s giant gavel” (Time); “Behind the pomp and circumstance, reality sets in for the GOP” (NBC News); and “Dems accidentally save Boehner’s job” (Daily Beast).

THE MCCONNELL PRESS

On the other side of Capitol Hill, newly minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must also keep order in his shop, instill some productive work habits and shore up the Republican Party amid its ongoing identity crisis. His first few hours on the job Tuesday were spent attending procedural business and assuring his audience that “a lot of hard work awaits.”

The Kentucky senator plans to offer a more substantial speech to his peers on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Mr. McConnell also was under the news microscope. A few headlines offer reviews for another emerging drama: “Can McConnell thaw the Senate without getting soaked? (Fox News); “Can Republicans govern without a crisis?” (Slate); “Air of unpredictability as new Obama-McConnell relationship begins (Reuters); and “In the Senate, promises and perils — of ‘regular order’” (Wall Street Journal).

A 77-YEAR-OLD RULES SUNDAY

Just in from Nielsen: the ratings for the Sunday talk shows on the proverbial Big Three networks for the last three months of the year. The CBS show “Face the Nation,” moderated by veteran Bob Schieffer, age 77, is in first place with an average of 3.4 million viewers. Next up, ABC’s “This Week,” mostly with George Stephanopoulos in the host chair, is in second place with 2.8 million. Despite its splashy overhaul this year and self-described “coffeehouse conversation,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd rolls in last, with 2.7 million viewers.

BECK’S BOOK

Independent media maven Glenn Beck is not done broadcasting — or authoring cautionary thriller novels either. Published just in time to greet the new 114th Congress: “Agenda 21: Into the Shadows,” a sequel to “Agenda 21,” published two years ago, centers upon a grim America in the not-too-distant future.

“It was once named America, but now it is just ‘the Republic.’ Following the worldwide implementation of a UN-led program called Agenda 21, the once-proud people of America have become obedient residents who live in barren, brutal Compounds and serve the autocratic, merciless Authorities,” the new book warns.

It was published Tuesday by Threshold Editions.

POLL DU JOUR

59 percent of Americans say Afghanistan will probably never become a “stable democracy”; 67 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats agree.

53 percent overall are not sure whether the U.S. won or lost the war in Afghanistan; 45 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats agree.

33 percent overall say the U.S. lost the war; 35 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats agree.

14 percent overall say the U.S. won the war; 20 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of independents and 16 percent of Democrats agree.

43 percent overall approve of keeping a limited force of U.S. troops in Afghanistan for two years; 56 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats agree.

37 percent overall disapprove of the idea; 27 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 29, 2014 to Jan. 1, 2015.

Applause and curious asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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