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Inside the Beltway: Michelle Obama makes her grand debut

November 13, 2018

There will be much ado about former first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday. Her new 448-page memoir “Becoming” arrives from Crown Publishing Group and Penguin Random House, and yes, the book is already No. 1 on Amazon among all books, along with four subcategories. It will be published in 30 languages. And then the real blitz begins. Mrs. Obama will embark on a 10-city national tour, beginning in Chicago with an event hosted by Oprah Winfrey at the United Arena, which seats 23,000 people. The event is sold out, as are the next two dates at major arenas in Inglewood, California, and in Washington, D.C. An appearance in London next month is also sold out.

The Michelle media is poised.

ABC already has aired a prime-time special titled “Becoming Michelle: A First Lady’s Journey.” Mrs. Obama makes appearances on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Good Morning America,” plus “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” There’s also the “Oprah Winfrey Special: Michelle Obama,” which debuts this week, set to air on multiple video platforms this month. And that’s just the beginning.

The press, however, also seemed mesmerized by an excerpt from the book that revealed that Mrs. Obama said she would never “forgive” President Trump for backing the false idea that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.

Mr. Trump was questioned about this revelation during a brief but noisy press gaggle on the weekend. The president responded, specifically citing Mr. Obama.

“I’ll never forgive him for what he did to our United States military by not funding it properly. It was depleted. Everything was old and tired and I came in, and I had to fix it. I’m in the process of spending tremendous amounts of money. So I’ll never forgive him for what he did to the military. I will never forgive him for what he did in many other ways, which I’ll talk to you about in the future,” Mr. Trump told the reporters, who all began to shout at once.

“What he did to our military made our country very unsafe, for you and you and you,” Mr. Trump said, pointing from one reporter to the next.

36 DEMOCRATS WANT TO RUN IN 2020

As acrimony grows, the latest count of aspiring Democratic presidential candidates may be a record-breaker.

“At least three dozen Democrats have floated possible bids to take on President Trump in 2020 more than double the crowded field of 17 Republican candidates who fought in 2016 for the chance to succeed then-President Obama,” writes Fox News political reporter Brooke Singman, who notes that the roster of hopefuls emerged even before the midterm elections have been resolved.

RUN, HILLARY RUN?

A Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Hillary will run in 2020” written by two former Clinton advisers also got the press in an uproar. Mark Penn and Andrew Stein declared that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had reinvented herself as a “liberal firebrand,” is ready to rumble and could snag the Democratic nomination when the time comes.

“Mrs. Clinton will take down rising Democratic stars like bowling pins,” the pair wrote.

Well, maybe. Mrs. Clinton has not retired from public life and maintains a personal website that clearly outlines her “comprehensive progressive vision for the future of America” and includes 42 policy statements. Then there is “Onward Together,” an activist group Mrs. Clinton founded after the 2016 election that has since has picked up the support of a dozen progressive groups that include Color of Change, Swing Left and Run for Something.

But it’s complicated. Newly minted author Michelle Obama already has bested Mrs. Clinton in a McLaughlin Associates poll gauging public support for 19 Democratic presidential hopefuls. Mrs. Obama garnered 17 percent of the vote Mrs. Clinton 8 percent.

Some find comedic relief in the idea of another Hillary run for the White House.

“Dear God, please, yes,” tweeted White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

“The Avenatti/Hillary debates in the primary will be lit!” wrote columnist Glenn Reynolds, the “Instapundit” for PJ Media.

A CELEBRATION OF OPPORTUNITY

There’s a noteworthy gathering in Tuesday in the nation’s capital. On the guest list: Adviser to the President Ivanka Trump, Republican Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James and philanthropist and entrepreneur Sean Parker.

The occasion? It’s the seventh annual Kemp Leadership Award Dinner, organized by the Jack Kemp Foundation, a charitable organization advancing the universal values of the “American Idea” of growth, freedom, democracy and hope all tenets of the late Jack Kemp.

Mrs. Cole will present her organization’s Clare Boothe Luce Award posthumously to Kemp former professional football player, member of Congress and Cabinet secretary an honor previously given to Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and William F. Buckley Jr., among others.

In the meantime, the Jack Kemp Foundation itself will honor Mr. Parker for his pivotal role in developing and promoting “Opportunity Zone” legislation last year a federal policy included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Under the law, businesses and individuals are eligible for tax benefits on capital gains reinvested in 8,700 low-income communities designated as “Opportunity Zones” around the nation.

The provision began as “Investing in Opportunity Act,” a standalone bill introduced by the aforementioned Mr. Scott and Sen. Cory Booker, New Jersey Democrat. Ms. Trump will talk about her support for the idea, which she has called “transformative.” The White House deemed it “a new path to revitalization” and “a systematic approach” to economic development in underserved communities.

“This award dinner is a celebration of policy innovation and entrepreneurship as well as our American idea. Capitalism without capital is nothing but an ‘ism’ and our distressed communities have received too many grants and too little investment capital,” says Jimmy Kemp, president of the Jack Kemp Foundation.

POLL DU JOUR

41 percent of Americans say the Democratic Party is “too liberal”; 83 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats agree.

26 percent say the ideology of the party is “about right”; 6 percent of Republicans, 17 percent of independents and 54 and percent of Democrats agree.

21 percent are “not sure” about the Democratic ideology; 9 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of independents and 11 percent of Democrats agree.

12 percent say the Democrats are “not liberal enough”; 3 percent of Republicans, 11 percent of independents and 22 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 4-6.

Reasonable conclusions and stray facts to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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