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Jewish World Review Jan. 15, 2003 / 12 Shevat, 5763

Matt Towery

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Starting anew but first


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Beginning next week, this column space will become a forum for the results of a regular national survey of issues. Polls of over 1,000 respondents apiece will reveal how Americans feel about a variety of topics that are interesting and important to all of us.

The new column won't just be a typical, dry recitation of polling results, drowning you in numbers. Each week's polling results will be objectively interpreted and analyzed in light of what they mean to the lives of everyday people. Often the commentary will feature comments from experts or newsmakers who are integral to what's being discussed that week.

Opinion pages in America traditionally are reserved for just that -- opinion. But why shouldn't they include the statistically significant voice of a cross-section of Americans? After all, it's easy enough for editorial writers and others to claim they know what "the people" think. It is much more accurate -- and just plain fun -- to dissect the latest, freshest sample of what the country is really thinking.

My job will be to present the polling data as fairly and balanced as possible, and to interpret it and put it into plain English. Rest assured, I'll provide more than just one side to each story.

Because polls are ultimately about opinions, I will be writing some of my own views as well. I reserve the right to make predictions, offer commentary, add inside background information, and even provide a little humor.

Since this week is my last freewheeling opinion piece, here are some random opinions I feel compelled to blurt out. Some hearken back to previous columns from 2001 or 2002.

  • The Economy: President Bush's programs are some of the most solid economic policies I've seen in years. If the GOP can sell its many facets in a coherent fashion, the Bush stimulus plan should successfully appeal to working Americans. That includes the unemployed, who can get cash to help along their job searches; retirees, who can enjoy tax-free dividends from their stock investments; and those who stand to gain when businesses spend money, which in turn allows other businesses to expand and start hiring workers. The national media and many politicians seem to think the Bush proposal is dead on arrival. Let's wait and see how Americans decide the issue. I'm betting on Bush.

  • North Korea: There is a reason why President Bush included North Korea in the "axis of evil." It's because an axis requires a connection, implicit or explicit. Is anyone really shocked that North Korea waited until we had inspectors in Iraq to stage this little passion play of theirs? Could it be that North Korea has been the beneficiary of big dollars from Iraq? Could it be that these dollars made it possible for North Korea to obtain the materials necessary to build nuclear weapons, or to at least make it seem so and gain economic or political concessions from the United States and the world?

  • Politics: Isn't it interesting how quickly the huge blow-up over Trent Lott ended once he surrendered his leadership position in the U.S. Senate? Never doubt that Republicans are quick to bend to public opinion. They dumped Newt Gingrich in 1998 and since then have more or less drifted politically, offering little significant legislation. And while Lott made a serious mistake in his comments about South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond and race, give him credit for keeping his Senate seat, even though he darn well knows that he was done in by some of his so-called friends.

What really matters -- Football: Last summer, I blasted the NFL for poor service to certain patrons at an Atlanta Falcons-Jacksonville Jaguars pre-season game. To the credit of the league, the owner of the host team, Home Depot Co-Founder Arthur Blank, went to work on that issue with the same energy he used to rebuild the team -- and to create the Home Depot empire. Since the Falcons are now out of the playoffs and Jacksonville is in the process of rebuilding its team, I have turned all of my fanatical support over to another upstart Super Bowl contender, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The brilliance of the NFL is that its devotion to parity among teams has worked, a la Tampa Bay. Now, each new year brings hope to every team that it can go from underdog to wonderdog. So here's my last opinion: Go get 'em Bucs!

And from now on in my columns, I'll be like the referees in an NFL game -- calling it by the numbers. I can't wait.

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12/11/02: Time to put some post-9/11 energy into solving our domestic woes
12/04/02: Henry Kissinger's Earl Warren problem
11/13/02: Where a forceful president belongs
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10/25/02: Jeb's campaign is sinking and it will impact the GOP nationwide
10/18/02: Weighing election scenarios
10/11/02: Jeb's future
10/03/02: Pity the once-popular governors
09/26/02: Electronic train wrecks that stain people's lives
09/19/02: Floridians take themselves seriously
09/13/02: Don't dither, Dubya
09/05/02: Should Jeb really be concerned?
08/28/02: The dynamics of defeat? Florida governor's race could have national implications
08/21/02: Unsure Americans
08/15/02: A white, Southerner faces discrimination at sports dome
08/08/02: The hidden story in the Reno v. Bush race
08/05/02: McKinney, 9-11 conspiracy theorist, in fight for political life
07/31/02: GOP quietly shoring-up domestic policies
07/25/02: Media snobs need to look beyond New York, D.C.
07/18/02: A letter to President Bush from Outside the Beltway
07/11/02: Dear President Bush: An effort in futility
07/03/02: Updates and freedom
06/27/02: The coming election: Seeking change for the sake of change?
06/20/02: The inside story re the political future of controversial GOPer Bob Barr
06/11/02: On dirty bombs and scare-mongering: Sometimes a columnist wishes he was wrong
06/06/02: The emerging confused GOPer?
05/30/02: In search of an aggressive GOP leader
05/21/02: Anticipating new terrorism: "Dirty bomb" is no fantasy!
05/16/02: The oddity of Carter's legacy
05/09/02: Replay of 1992 coming?
05/02/02: The hottest family on television might have to abandon the United States
04/25/02: One step ahead of devious minds capable of unthinkable crimes?
04/18/02: Alaskan battleground?
04/11/02: How the peaceful fairways of the world's most revered golf course, may serve as a brilliant strategic battleground the most recent round of "cola wars"
04/05/02: The most likely immediate threat to our national security is being ignored
03/14/02: Clinton's influence looms
03/07/02: Poll turns up surprising views on Bush and more
02/21/02: The recession is over --- so why are the sophisticates still using scare tactics?
02/14/02: This Enron story directly affects our own pocketbooks
02/07/02: The epicenter of quiet but powerful shifts in the American political landscape
01/31/02: A little bipartisan hope
01/24/02: Secrets of the past can often provide guidance for dealing with the future
01/18/02: And I thought explaining Jane Fonda was tough
01/09/02: Dubya falling into Dems' trap?
01/02/02: A few adjustments and 2002 might turn out all right
12/27/01 Rudy, the 'perfect excuse'?
12/19/01 Haig the madman?
12/12/01 That senator with the funny name

© 2001, Creators Syndicate