- The Washington Times
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Voters are hard pressed to unravel two concurrent political dramas, both with dire connotations. At their most basic, there are claims that the Obama administration surveilled President Trump’s 2016 campaign — and counterclaims that there was communication between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Both scenarios are subject to spin by pundits and news media. Investigations and conflicting accounts are many, ramped up by calculated distractions, bombshells, cover-ups, leaks and the ongoing battle to control the public narrative.

But has the turmoil reached “-gate” status, requiring the designated suffix that has accompanied scandals and improprieties for the last four decades? There’s Watergate of course, and Travelgate, Climategate, Bridgegate and dozens more. The all-purpose “Obamagate” has been circulating as both a Twitter hashtag and popular headline for several weeks. So that’s already taken.


“The smoking gun in Watergate was President Nixon’s effort to use the CIA to impede an FBI investigation. What kind of ‘gate’ is the misuse of the intelligence community to get inside information on an opposing presidential candidate?” writes American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Peter J. Wallison in an essay for RealClear Politics. “It may turn out that the Democrats, so eager to prove that the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians, have unknowingly blundered into a matter that will come back to damage both their party and the Obama administration.”

Talk radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh had a telling prediction for the Democratic Party and the news media itself — a conglomeration he frequently calls the “Democratic media complex,” among other things.

“They’re a big hate group now, and they’ve been consumed with their hatred for Donald Trump, consumed with their hatred for the American people who voted for Trump, consumed with their hatred for open elections, consumed by their hatred of the fact they can’t get rid of Trump,” Mr. Limbaugh told his 10 million-member audience Tuesday. “Folks, the only thing I’m telling you is, in terms of humanity, that you do not build good, positive, growing movements from a foundation or platform of hate. And they are consumed by it now. They are ravaged by it, and they have become completely irrational to the point of even openly acknowledging the abandonment of the sacred principles of journalism in order to stop Donald Trump.”

SURPRISING HOLLYWOOD MOMENT

“DEMS, The Merrick Garland SHIP HAS SAILED!! Let It Go OR Do You Want Some [cheese emoji] To Go With Your WHINE? This Tantrum Wreaks Of Desperation.”

— Tweet from pop icon Cher on Tuesday afternoon, in reference to the Democratic Party’s grief that former Judge Merrick Garland did not make it to the U.S. Supreme Court; he was nominated by former President Barack Obama on March 16, 2016.

SCHWARZENEGGER, THE HYBRID STATESMAN

Former California governor and action film star Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to position himself as a kind of hybrid statesman, championing a variety of political issues while promoting his latest film “Aftermath,” which opens in theaters nationwide on Friday. And while he has had a few recent squabbles with President Trump, Mr. Schwarzenegger has issued a two-minute protest video against the U.S. Congress, which includes pivotal dialogue from “Conan the Barbarian” and his other signature films to make the point.

“We’ve had years with Democrats in charge. We’ve had years with Republicans in charge. One thing has always remained the same: complete and total inaction on the issues routinely rank as their top priorities,” the actor says, giving the lawmakers a resounding grade of “F” — which sounds like it came from Mr. Trump’s playbook.

Mr. Schwarzenegger is also very active in his namesake Schwarzenegger Institute, a public policy organization at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Which is where he will be Tuesday.

The “Terminator” actor has organized an “Afterschool Summit” to highlight the nation’s many afterschool programs and the role they play in “preparing students to enter the 21st century workforce and compete in the global workplace.” Mr. Schwarzenegger is particularly vexed at Mr. Trump’s proposed funding cuts to afterschool programs, which he says could affect 1.6 million children.

“Once again, politicians in Washington are trying to balance the budget on the backs of the hardworking families that depend on these programs,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger.

The daylong summit has an extensive guest list that includes Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt, “American Ninja Warrior” host Matt Iseman, “Extra” host Mario Lopez, U.S. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Jody Breckenridge, CNN host Van Jones, American Enterprise Institute fellow Gerard Robinson, Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant and mayors or school superintendents from five states. Mr. Schwarzenegger, incidentally, founded the After-School All-Stars program in 1992 for at-risk children.

ROE AT THE READY

A round of applause, please, for House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe. The Tennessee Republican has launched a new website to provide updates and information from the committee and, more important, resources for vets. It is a handsome site, minus annoying videos and useless graphics.

“Having a mobile-enabled, easy-to-navigate website is critical to communicate the committee’s work to the American people. As we work to bring comprehensive reform to VA, this website will serve as a one-stop shop for updates on the important work the committee is doing on behalf of the men and women who served,” said the lawmaker, who is also a medical doctor and chairman of the House GOP Doctors Caucus.

Find the helpful site at Veterans.house.gov.

POLL DU JOUR

94 percent of Americans say they have heard about the tense relationship between President Trump and the news media.

83 percent say the relationship between Mr. Trump and the media is “generally unhealthy”; 78 percent of Republicans, 88 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of independents agree.

87 percent of Hispanics, 86 percent of blacks and 83 percent of whites also agree.

73 percent of Americans say the tension between Mr. Trump and the media hinders Americans’ access to important political news; 73 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of independents agree.

75 percent of Hispanics, 74 percent of blacks and 74 percent of whites also agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 4,151 U.S. adults conducted March 13-27.

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