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Inside the Beltway: Drumstick politics

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“What part of the First Amendment does [Boston Mayor Thomas Menino] not understand?” the Boston Globe asked editorially about the mayor’s criticism of Chick-fil-A. (Associated Press)

Deep-fried controversy continues: “Chick-fil-A Day” looms Wednesday, organized by Mike Huckabee and some 219,000 fans of the embattled restaurant chain after its CEO Dan Cathy condemned gay marriage, prompting multiple boycotts and much political posturing. Billy Graham and Rick Santorum have issued calls of support for the restaurants, while Eliot Spitzer, Roseanne Barr and the Muppets rail against them. Mayors Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago and Thomas Menino of Boston say the franchise is not welcome in their towns, though Mr. Menino later admitted he wouldn’t “actively” block the restaurant.

But now it’s time for the second course. Insta-polls from talk radio and the local press now reveal that three-fourths of the respondents say they’ll continue to dine upon the signature crispy chicken and waffle fries. Weighty opinionmeisters are also chewing the fat.

“Which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license,” offers a Boston Globe editorial. “Chick-fil-A must follow all state and city laws. If the restaurant chain denied service to gay patrons or refused to hire gay employees, Menino’s outrage would be fitting. And the company should be held to its statement that it strives to ‘treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender.’ But beyond the fact that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, the religious beliefs of the company’s top executive don’t appear to control its operations.”

The Globe later adds, “If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage.”

“2016”, THE NUMBERS

There’s a sizable audience waiting for “2016: Obama’s America,” the cautionary documentary produced by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza and “Schindler’s List” producer Gerald Molen that anticipates a downsized nation should President Obama win re-election. The film officially opens Friday and is expected to pick up buzz and speed: “We’re on track for 300 screens by Aug. 10 and 500 by Aug. 17,” a spokesman tells Inside the Beltway.

SHALOM, MR. ROMNEY

“What Israelis know about Romney: He’s not Obama,” observes Jerusalem Post diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon, anticipating Mitt Romney’s 36-hour visit to Israel this weekend. Though the locals know little about him, Mr. Romney still outpolls President Obama says a Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies survey asking Israelis who would best promote Israel’s interests.

“Twenty-nine percent said Romney, while 22 percent said Obama. Fully 49 percent said they didn’t know, an astounding figure considering that Israelis generally — but not always — like and trust sitting U.S. presidents,” Mr. Keinon says. “What is also telling is that Romney out-polled Obama, even though he has absolutely no track record on Israel. Romney’s rhetoric is good, he says all the right things regarding the changes in the Middle East and Iran, but he has no paper trail. Nevertheless, more Israelis believe he will be better for the country than Obama.”

Why?

“The reason seems to be a lingering distrust of Obama,” Mr. Keinon says. “Israelis, always feeling vulnerable, want an American president who not only likes Israel the way he likes Taiwan or New Zealand, but loves Israel, feels something special toward it. That is why Israelis liked George W. Bush, and also why they liked Bill Clinton, though many disagreed with his Mideast direction. Still, Clinton went out of his way to demonstrate personally deep friendship for Israel. Obama — more cerebral, less emotional — has not done so.”

Meanwhile, the White House issued this statement after reporters asked Thursday whether the U.S. officially recognized Jerusalem or Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel:

“The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue and others in a way that is just and fair, and respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

SWEAR BY IT

“Workers in the nation’s capital were the most likely to report that they swear at work, with Denver and Chicago rounding out the top three,” says a new Career Builder survey of U.S. employees, with 51 percent admitting that they curse on the job. In Washington, it’s 62 percent. No comment from the researchers, though, on why Washington won the bad-word derby. Incidentally, Los Angeles came in fourth, followed by Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Phoenix, New York and Philadelphia.

OH BEHAVE

A recent Knights of Columbus survey found that 78 percent of Americans are frustrated by negative politics; the findings generated much coverage, inspiring the organization to launch a national initiative “to give voice to Americans’ desire for civility in public discourse,” says Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.

“We respectfully request that candidates, the media and other advocates and commentators involved in the public policy arena employ a more civil tone in public discourse on political and social issues, focusing on policies rather than on individual personalities. For our part, we pledge to make these principles our own,” states a new petition states. See the effort here: www.CivilityinAmerica.org.

ON THE RADAR

Lesser known, but a survivor: That would “Parents Day,” a national day of recognition for “remarkable” American mothers, fathers, grandparents and foster parents that was unanimously adopted by Congress, then signed into law in 1994 by President Clinton. Organizers say the celebration comes to Capitol Hill in September, meant to honor those truly in charge of the nation’s future.

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About the Author

Jennifer Harper

To read Jennifer Harper’s Inside the Beltway columns, click here. Contact her at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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