ODD ODDS

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

ers and their con­stituents.

“The poll also makes clear that con­gres­sional Democrats are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly out of touch with their own sup­port­ers. Among self-de­scribed lib­er­als, the strong­est level of sup­port still gar­ners an im­pres­sive ma­jor­ity of 57 per­cent,” Mr. Hanna adds. Things are in­cred­i­bly petty on the global scale. Ire­land’s largest book­maker, Paddy Power, be­gan tak­ing bets last week on which world leader will be in­sulted next by Italy’s flam­boy­ant prime min­is­ter, Sil­vio Ber­lus­coni. He re­cently mocked Pres­i­dent Obama and first lady Michelle Obama with cer­tain de­scrip­tors Belt­way will not re­peat. Ex­pect more of the same, the bookie pre­dicts, and is of­fer­ing odds of 3-1 that Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel will be next in line for a Ber­lus­coni bash.

“Given his ex­traor­di­nar y track record for ruf­fling feathers, we’re sure it’s only a mat­ter a time be­fore he lands him­self in hot wa­ter again,” a spokesman says, adding th­ese odds for the next vic­tims: Moam­mar Gad­hafi 7-2, Gor­don Brown 4-1, Ni­co­las Sarkozy 5-1, Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad 6-1, Pope Bene­dict XVI 7-1, Kim Jong-il 8-1, Dmitry Medvedev 14-1 and Hu Jin­tao 18-1. heard in the wake of Howard Fine­man’s col­umn in the Oct. 5 Newsweek that sug­gested there were “lim­its” to Pres­i­dent Obama’s charisma and that he should stay the heck off TV for a while.

“De­spite his many words and tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ances, our el­e­gant and elo­quent pres­i­dent re­mains more an em­blem of change than an agent of it. He’s a man with an end­less, wor­thy to-do list — health care, cli­mate change, bank re­form, global cap­i­tal reg­u­la­tion, . . . the Mid­dle East, you name it — but, as yet, no boxes checked ‘done.’ This is a prob­lem that style will not fix,” Mr. Fine­man ob­served.

Wait. Howard Fine­man wrote this? In­quir­ing minds wanted to know, and called In­side the Belt­way for an­swers and re­as­sur­ance that the world wasn’t about to end.

Mr. Fine­man’s ob­ser­va­tions brought a spec­trum of re­ac­tions from those amazed that Mr. Fine­man would crit­i­cize Mr. Obama and those con­vinced he was a racist — some­one who could not deal “with a black man in the White House,” ac­cord­ing to one com­ment.

“I’m no racist, and my anal­y­sis had noth­ing to do with race, but, hey, it’s a free coun­try,” Mr. Fine­man tells Belt­way. “I was pretty tough on the pres­i­dent, but I’ve also been very lauda­tory and op­ti­mistic. I still am. I just sug­gested that he not sign up for ev­ery ad­vanced course in the cat­a­log and re­sist rais­ing his hand in ev­ery class. It’s the op­po­site of Ge­orge W’s prob­lem. At Har­vard Busi­ness School, he was what they called a sky­decker. He sat in the up­per deck of the lec­ture hall and never said a thing.”

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