- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Even before his “Shepherd One” aircraft touched down in America, Pope Francis assured the press on board that he was not liberal, noting that news organizations with “more leftish” perceptions about him had made “a mistake of interpretation.” The pontiff will generate enormous news coverage during his six-day visit to the nation’s capital, Philadelphia and New York City — and he is right. His visit is subject to interpretation.

Pope Francis brings tough love to America,” noted CNN, while the Washington Post called his red carpet arrival a “spiritual shindig.” National Public Radio saw fit to create an entire graphic to illustrate how the pope clashes with both Democrats and Republicans. A Fortune magazine headline intoned, “Repeat after me: Pope Francis is not a socialist.” Alternatively, The New York Times deemed him “prince of the personal.” Fox News, meanwhile, summarized that the pontiff was “bringing his church of the poor to the world’s wealthiest superpower.”

It’s culturally complicated, though. Speaking of money, Bonham’s, a New York-City based auction house is now be auctioning off a 1775 decree letter signed by Junipero Serra and four other mission leaders in colonial California, for an estimated $60,000 and $90,000. Serra will be canonized by the pope on Wednesday as the first Hispanic-American saint; the phenomenon has vexed some American Indians who see the missionary as a symbol of vigorous, early colonization of indigenous peoples.

“Some scholars theorize that Francis’ choosing Serra for sainthood is a way of teaching Americans about their own painful treatment of Native Americans and blacks — and to nudge the country toward adopting a more sympathetic view of immigrants,” observes NBC News analyst Jon Schuppe, who also says the canonization will be one of six places that Pope Francis will make policy-related news during his visit.

The other five: His speech before Congress, a appearance at the United Nations, his visit to a Catholic school in Harlem, his speech at Independence Mall in Philadelphia, and his visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, the largest prison in the city.


SEE ALSO: Pope Francis visits U.S. amid legal challenges to religious freedom

He’s been in Iowa for the past 48 hours. Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush will be in the nation’s capital on Wednesday for two reasons. Accompanied by his wife Columba, Mr. Bush will attend the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the late afternoon. Then yes, it’s on to a campaign fundraiser. Indeed, the campaign never sleeps; Mr. Bush heads for Mount Pleasant, South Carolina on Thursday, arriving just in time to attend the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club Annual Shrimp Dinner at dusk.


“I never imagined Scott Walker as president. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t have won. Now Walker has decided to drop out. But if he really wants to be president, then why on Earth would he do such a thing? Yes, his poll numbers are down, and his fundraising has dried up. He has made too many gaffes, and his debate performances have been lackluster. Well, so what?” asks Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, a columnist for The Week.

“No, I’m not kidding. This is September 2015. The Iowa caucuses will be held on Feb. 1, 2016. Anything could happen by then. Rick Santorum managed to win Iowa in 2012 with a total campaign budget that was probably less than what the Walker campaign spends on toner. Bobby Jindal’s poll numbers are hovering around the margin of error, and he’s still around,” he continues.

“At the end of the day, Walker is still a conservative Republican who won three elections in a row in a blue state, including the only incumbent victory in the entire history of gubernatorial recall elections in the United States. He passed union-busting bills, a concealed carry law, and a 20-week abortion ban. Nothing is like running for president of the United States, but he knows something about campaigning for office and winning elections. No matter how you slice it, he is still a credible presidential candidate,” Mr. Gobry declares.


“Like Rick Perry, Walker couldn’t make the transition from excellent conservative governor to excellent conservative national political candidate,” says William A. Jacobson, founder of the much visited Legal Insurrection blog. “There is a ton of gloating on Twitter. Walker shouldn’t get mad. When Walker goes back to Wisconsin, Walker should get even by finishing the job he has started.”

Which is not bad advice for other candidates who must end their 2016 campaigns.


Well at least the two nations can agree on something.

“As part of the official state visit of the People’s Republic of China to the United States, first lady Michelle Obama will host Madame Peng Liyuan, first lady of the People’s Republic of China, for a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The first ladies will visit the Panda House to commemorate over four decades of scientific collaboration between the United States and China around giant panda conservation. While at the National Zoo, Mrs. Obama and Madame Peng Liyuan will make a special announcement,” the White House advises.

Mei Xiang, incidentally, is the 233-pound panda queen at the zoo who gave birth last month to a darling little prince cub. And of note: David M. Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, recently pledged a $4.5 million gift to zoo to fund its giant panda research and conservation program through the end of 2020. Mr. Rubenstein has donated an additional $9 million to support the zoo’s panda program since 2011.


On the radar: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be back in the nation’s capital in early November to receive the 2015 Irving Kristol Award from the American Enterprise Institute. The award goes to those who make “exceptional, practical and intellectual contributions to improve government policy, social welfare, or political understanding,” the non-partisan organization says; past recipients include Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

The award ceremony includes an annual dinner staged at the soaring National Building Museum, always a sign that the event is large scale and significant. “Israel serves as a reminder that a commitment to free enterprise, democracy, human dignity, and the courage to defend one’s values are the best model to lift up all people,” observes Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute.


70 percent of Americans say Pope Francis has “influence” over world affairs; 76 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 75 percent of Democrats agree.

52 percent of Americans overall say Pope Francis should take an active role in world affairs; 50 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of independents and 61 percent of Democrats agree.

43 percent overall say it’s “appropriate” for the pope to try to influence world affairs; 41 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats agree.

31 percent overall say it’s “inappropriate” for the pope to try to influence world affairs; 38 percent of Republicans, 33 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats agree.

27 percent overall say Pope Francis should stay out of world affairs; 35 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of independents and 21 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,979 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 11-15.

Ballyhoo, hullabaloo, who’s who to [email protected]

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