Inside the Beltway: The Polish Connection

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Certain powerful voting blocs will track Mitt Romney’s goodwill visit to Poland on Monday with keen interest: A very friendly audience awaits him in that nation, along with some potential election benefits. Both Polish-American and Catholic voters “overlap significantly with this year’s swing states,” says John Kromkowski, a Catholic University professor with expertise in urban and ethnic politics. He tells CBS News that Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio all are home to numerous voters who trace their heritage to Poland.

Mr. Romney’s visit already is billed as the “anti-Obama tour” in the Polish press. The Republican presidential nominee has a strong ally in Lech Walesa, who personally asked Mr. Romney to visit Poland on July Fourth. Mr. Walesa — a stalwart of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, icon of the Solidarity movement and Nobel Prize winner — turned down a meeting with President Obama when he came to Poland more than a year ago, however. Mr. Obama also created a controversial stir last month after referring to “Polish death camps” rather than “Nazi death camps,” a gaffe that prompted him to write a letter of apology to Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. In the meantime, Mr. Walesa is not mincing words.

“When Obama was elected, I saw it as a sign of reform, both in the U.S. and around the world. I expected that America would not try to fight or impose anything, instead offering programs that were so interesting that Poland would support them immediately. So far, I have not noticed such things happening, and have seen no signs they will,” Mr. Walesa told Polish Radio on Sunday.

OLYMPIAN ENDEAVOR

The 2012 summer Olympics are only 72 hours old, yet the games are already fraught with media high jinks, political peril and hypersensitivity on a global scale. “Romney bashing,” in fact, may be a whole new Olympic category. Despite his prowess as an authentic troubleshooter of the Salt Lake City Games a decade ago, Mitt Romney continues to be accused of myriad “gaffes” during his recent stay in London. The most recent installment in the ongoing Romney bash: During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Obama campaign manager Robert Gibbs declared Sunday, “Mitt Romney wondered aloud whether London was ready for the Olympics, and I think it’s clear that voters in this country wonder aloud whether Mitt Romney is ready for the world, and I think the world is not yet ready for Mitt Romney.”

Enough, already.

Meanwhile, the chaotic opening ceremony revealed the agenda of its left-leaning producer, according to many observers, offering a kind of melancholy insight into the mindset of Great Britain at this juncture in history. NBC, which sold more than $1 billion in advertising for its Olympics coverage, vexed viewers for assorted reasons, whether it was omitting live coverage of Michael Phelps or bumping other coverage to broadcast an “inane” interview with the swimmer. And for all the hub-bub, Americans continue to watch the games, motivated by national will that has nothing to do with banter about “hot” athletes or Queen Elizabeth’s queenly behaviors.

“With nearly six out of 10 Americans planning to watch a great deal or fair amount of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Americans’ attention may be diverted from the divisive presidential campaign to something that tends to bring Americans together,” reports Gallup, a reminder, perhaps, that the simple, genuine sentiment always outranks fanciful coverage and endless marketing.

GLENN BECK EMERGES

“We don’t have emptiness in our stomachs. No. What we have is a void — a void in our hearts, an emptiness in our culture. We have forgotten what we’re building. And so others step in and tell us what to build. Where to build it. How to build it. When to build it. America, we have lost our way.”

- Media entrepreneur Glenn Beck, to an audience of 65,000 assembling for the “Restoring Love” event at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday night

HISTORIC MUDSLINGING

“President Calvin Coolidge is at bottom a cheap and trashy fellow, deficient in sense and almost devoid of any notion of honor — in brief a dreadful little cad.”

- Journalist H.L. Mencken in the Baltmore Evening Sun, Nov. 3, 1924

MAPLE LEAF DIPLOMACY

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