The DC morning – August 25, 2010

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African-American leaders express dissatisfaction with Obama’s attitude toward black issues || Clergy campaign to stop ‘War On Prayer’ || Marco Rubio leaves Tea out of victory speech || 9/12 Project gears up for September’s ‘March on Washington’ || OPINION: J-school, fostering a culture of liberalism || Remaining an average Joe

1. African-American leaders express dissatisfaction with Obama’s attitude toward black issues

With President Barack Obama’s approval ratings dipping below 50%, members of his strongest voting bloc have also started to voice displeasure with the way he has chosen to govern.  Since Obama has taken office African Americans have faced a number of disproportionate “highs,” few of them good, such as an exceptionally high unemployment rate, a high foreclosure rate, and a high number of African-American political figures deprived of the president’s support or dismissed from his administration (such as former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, former Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod, South Carolina Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene, former green energy czar Van Jones, Democratic Illinois Sen. Roland Burris, Democratic New York Gov. David Patterson, would-be Democratic New York Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr., and Democratic Reps. Charlie Rangel of New York, Maxine Waters of California and Kendrick Meek of Florida).

2. Religious leaders start campaign to defend mosque near Ground Zero

A group of religious leaders representing different faiths have signed an open letter in support of the controversial Park51 Islamic community center and mosque scheduled to be built in Lower Manhattan, calling political opposition to the center a “transgression of the worst order.”  Framing the effort to halt construction of the Islamic community center and mosque as a “war on prayer,” the nearly two-dozen members of clergy who signed on include the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, a progressive religious activist group, and the Rev. Katharine Henderson, president of Auburn Theological Seminary in New York, who is spearheading the effort.  The leaders drafted the letter in response to statements made by national public officials who have voiced strong opinions on whether the Muslim group should build the community center so close to Ground Zero.

3. Marco Rubio doesn’t mention Tea Party in victory speech

Marco Rubio’s path to winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Florida would not have been possible without the ardent backing of Tea Party activists. But you wouldn’t know that by listening to his victory speech Tuesday night.  The Republican candidate, who easily won the GOP nomination Tuesday and will face independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Democrat Rep. Kendrick Meek in November, thanked his wife, his parents and God during his victory speech. But he did not mention the Tea Party or thank the grassroots activists specifically.  Does this mean Marco Rubio’s general election strategy includes cooling down his Tea Party rhetoric?  “Marco Rubio owes his position to the Tea Party, the 9/12 groups and the other grassroots groups,” said Robin Stublen, a Tea Party activist who founded the Punta Gorda Tea Party in Florida. He said the notion that Rubio is moderating his Tea Party speak is “100 percent correct,” though admitted he still fully supports the Tea Party-backed insurgent.

4. 9/12 Project gears up for September’s ‘March on Washington’

Several conservative groups are gearing up for the 9/12 Project, a big Washington, D.C., rally in its second year. The 9/12 Project, a movement started by Fox News personality Glenn Beck, brings together conservatives from all over the country to Washington.  The 9/12 Project’s March on Washington is set to take place on Sept. 12 with keynote speakers including FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and Republican Indiana Rep. Mike Pence. Some other key conservative events are happening over the few days leading up to the Sept. 12 march.  On Sept. 9 and Sept. 10, the Liberty Xhibit of Patriot Organizations (XPO) will showcase speakers from the National 9-12 Project, the National Center for Constitutional Studies, the Leadership Institute and other conservative organizations.  Conservative groups also plan to gather at the Washington Monument on Sept. 11 to hold a 9/11 Memorial Ceremony from 8:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  The 9/12 Project events come three weeks after Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, which has been grabbing most rally-related headlines as of late.

5. OPINION: Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, fostering a culture of liberalism

As my time at Medill comes to end, I am reminded of an article that I read last year, just weeks before I moved to Chicago and took the plunge into graduate school. Michael Lewis, then a senior editor at The New Republic, wrote an editorial in 1993 titled, “J-school Confidential,” taking the position that journalism schools refused to call a spade a spade.  Instead of accepting journalism for what it is (observe, question, report), Lewis deemed journalism school a “pretentious science [designed to] distract from the journalist’s task” and dubbed Columbia University’s graduate program nothing more than a “trade” school.  Just days away from surviving J-school, I can’t help but wonder if Lewis was onto something.  For Medill’s one-year grad program, it costs approximately $44,000 in tuition. Add living expenses and students are looking at about $60,000. All that money for what is billed as the best journalism school in the country. But the question Lewis posed, and the question I am left pondering is: Was it worth it?  A former undergrad professor of mine recently told me, the reason he attended graduate journalism school was not to learn a “trade,” as Lewis put it, but to “learn how best to learn.”

6. Remaining an average Joe

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough dismissed speculation that he could run for president in 2016 as a Republican by saying he’s too busy.  “My wife says that year’s already taken,” Scarborough wrote on Twitter, linking to a story written by Marc Ambinder arguing that the former GOP congressman would be a viable candidate in 2016. “Lots of yardwork.”  Ambinder, in his piece, argues Scarborough, a conservative who often disagrees with the Republicans on his show, would be a perfect fit that year.