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Fore! Obama tries to drop second-term jitters

obama_golf_081813.jpg

Aug. 18, 2013: President Obama prepares to tee off while golfing at Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown, Mass. (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• Fore! Obama tries to drop second-term jitters
• Egypt unrest deepens funding rift
• Bubba birthday highlights difficulties in Hillaryland
• Republicans debate direction… and debates
• Talk about snail mail!

OBAMA NEEDS A MULLIGAN - President Obama is back in Washington and getting ready for another round of campaign events to sell his proposals for increased domestic spending ahead of looming budget battles with Republicans, this time a bus tour. The president, who retreated to Martha’s Vineyard for a week of vacation and lots of golf, needs a mulligan as he tries to reverse a difficult start to his second term. His job approval ratings are down almost across the board and in some cases approaching career lows. So what’s Obama to do?

[Serenity now! - Obama struck up a vacation friendship with “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David. The Daily Caller has the details.]

Hitting a fade - The biggest challenge facing the president today is that voters don’t seem to be listening. His latest round of campaign stops on the economy – a four-state swing before his vacation – ended with voters yawning. Independents are tuning out in a big way. Obama’s fellow Democrats are very much interested in attacking Republicans ahead of a difficult midterm cycle for the blue team and, increasingly, the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency. But as for the president calling for doomed spending proposals? Not even his own side seems to be paying much attention.

[3:15pm ET: White House huddle on new bank regulations. President Obama will host representatives from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Reserve and other regulatory agencies to discuss the implementation of new bank rules. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will also be attending.]

Duck hook - A president becomes a lame duck when he ceases to be relevant. If Obama continues to act predictably, voters and Washington-types alike won’t have cause to pay attention to him. How can the president change that trajectory? Either by making a new try at some bipartisanship, laying out a surprising proposal or altering his talking points. Whatever he does, he’d better get busy. If Obama can’t get his game in shape before the end of the year, Democrats will start ditching him in greater numbers before midterms and that means his hopes for a “bold” second term will be lost.

EGYPT MASSACRE DEEPENS DIVIDE OVER FUNDING
Fox News “Egyptian security officials say suspected Islamist militants ambushed two minibuses in northern Sinai Monday, killing 25 policemen.”  Washington split on Egypt aid – “…raising further questions about which side the United States is taking amid the escalating and deadly political protests in the Middle East country.”

BAIER TRACKS: EGYPT ENGAGEMENT…Bret Baier - “With Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham just back from Egypt, their stinging rebukes of the Obama administration for a lack of a strategy in the Middle East seemed to carry a little more weight.  Yes, they are frequently very critical of the administration's foreign policy: Syria, Benghazi, Afghanistan, Iraq ... but it seems the language is even more pointed now. The president's red line for Syria looks more light pink in the context of his administration's handling of Egypt.  And three high-ranking foreign diplomats from countries in the region confirm to Fox News the perception there is the U.S. is not fully engaged. Translation: weak. Administration officials point to ongoing talks with Egypt pushing toward elections, support for Syria rebels, and a renewed effort at the Peace Process by Secretary Kerry between the Israelis and Palestinians.  But, critics say without the full power of the U.S. behind the things said from a podium, many don't know where the U.S. Middle East policy is.” 

BUBBA SCALES BACK BIRTHDAY BASH - President Bill Clinton turns 67 today. His recent birthday blowouts have featured lavish events with A-list celebrities. With all of the scrutiny over the family’s foundation and post-presidential riches -- Maureen Dowd today writes about: “The Clintons’ neediness, their sense of what they are owed in material terms for their public service, their assumption that they’re entitled to everyone’s money.” It’s not a great time for a big Bubba love-fest. No celebrity-studded events have been scheduled for this year. One downside to Hillary’s impossibly early campaign launch: That’s all the longer that her husband has to be on good behavior.

Obama insider pans Hillary’s early launch - Appearing on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs offered a puzzled critique of Hillary Clinton. From the Washington Examiner: “…as a strategist, [I] am fairly floored that she has decided to enter the public fray so quickly. She could do the foundation work, she could do issue work, she could build the campaign, she could develop a message without having to be so far out front there.”

Related: Byron York - If Hillary is a lock, what’s a Democrat to do? Campaign for veep: “How can a candidate campaign for himself or herself if so much tribute must be paid to Hillary Clinton?”

Bulldog - Yale touts Hillary Clinton’s return to New Haven in October to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her graduation from the university’s law school.

Not to forget Sheriff Joe, though - Team Biden is confident that Vice President Joe Biden could actually pull off a win against Hillary Clinton the WSJ reports: “…[Biden] has ties to elected officials nationwide, can attract crowds and money, and is a visible part of an administration that is popular with Democratic voters.”

REPUBLICANS DEBATE DIRECTION AHEAD OF 2016
Bring it on: Christie v. Paul  –
Fox News: Republicans on Sunday dismissed the argument that the party is being hurt by the feud between Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie about the direction of the party -- but the infighting appears far from over. “I really believe a debate is not a bad thing,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told ABC’s “This Week.” “I think these debates are good.”

Campaign Carl Cameron: “Will the sparring matches between potential 2016 candidates like Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and now Peter King carry on to the floors of the House and Senate?”

Inside Christie’s organization -NYT: “As Gov.Chris Christie heads for what is expected to be an easy re-election, he is also quietly building a sophisticated political operation that could become the basis for a national campaign. His advisers, while saying the governor is focused on New Jersey, are aiming to run up a huge margin against his Democratic opponent and position Mr. Christie as a formidable figure among Republicans ahead of the next presidential primary.”

Scott Brown tests waters in Iowa - The Daily Caller reports that former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., made an appearance at the Iowa State Fair, sticking his toe in for a possible 2016 presidential bid. Brown told the Boston Herald that he wanted to, “get an indication of whether there’s even an interest” and to see if there is “room for a bi-partisan problem solver.”

REBUBLICANS SPAR ON NSA - Paul wants Supremes to hear domestic spy case: “The constitutionality of these programs needs to be questioned and there needs to be a Supreme Court decision that looks at whether or not what they’re doing is constitutional.” -- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”

“That was just a grab bag of misinformation and distortion coming from him.” -- Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., responding to Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky., claims on NSA surveillance, on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.

Hayden defends on violations - “All of the incidents were inadvertent; no one claims that any rules were intentionally violated. All of the incidents were discovered, reported and corrected by NSA itself.” -- Former NSA Director Michael Hayden in a USA Today op-ed.

Perturbed Tweet- Daily Caller: “Time magazine senior national correspondent Michael Grunwald gloated this weekend over the prospect of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s death in a drone strike, inviting a public backlash that forced both Time and Grunwald into hasty excuses. ‘I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange.’”

PARTNER OF REPORTER LINKED TO SNOWDEN DETAINED - AP: “The partner [David Miranda] of a journalist [Glen Greenwald] who received leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden was detained for nearly nine hours Sunday under anti-terror legislation at Heathrow Airport, triggering claims that authorities are trying to interfere with reporting on the issue.”

DEFUNDING OBAMACARE LOSES STEAM - National Journal “…The growing concern is that the tea-party activists and a handful of senators, led by the troika of Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., are marching into battle without a plan for victory short of Obama reversing himself on his signature domestic achievement—an almost unimaginable outcome.”

Landrieu’s embarrassment -“It’s embarrassing to me to go to places like France and Spain ... and their workers all manage to have health insurance that can’t be taken away.” –  Sen. Mary Landrieu,D-La., speaking at a luncheon at her home state, according to the Weekly Standard.

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR SIGNS GUN CONTROL MEASURE - Fox News “Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., signed a new gun-control measure into law Sunday that requires all gun owners, including private citizens, to check the background of the person buying the gun.…Under the new law, gun owners are also required to report any lost or stolen firearms to the police within 72 hours.”

Related: National Journal’s Chris Frates looks at the home-state offense/defense game by Sen. Joe Manchin after bucking pro-life and pro-gun groups. Manchin on Washington: "They're trying to basically beat the s**t out of each other. I don't subscribe to that."

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

MCDONNELL AND WIFE TO MEET WITH FEDERAL PROSECUTORS WaPo:  “Attorneys for Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will spend Monday locked in separate hours-long meetings trying to convince federal prosecutors that the first couple should not be charged in the gifts scandal that has dominated state politics. … Federal authorities have been investigating whether McDonnell agreed to take official actions to aid nutritional supplement company Star Scientific while accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and money from its chief executive, Jonnie R. Williams Sr.

FOOD STAMP FRAUD - Fox News - “The percentage of Americans selling their food stamps back to stores for cash has increased by 30 percent over the past several years, according to a new Agriculture Department study.”

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.7 percent//Disapprove – 50.2 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.6 percent Right Track//Wrong Track – 62.2 percent 
 
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
AP’s Ken Thomas & Andrew DeMillo consider what’s in a name as it relates to upcoming races in their piece “Family Ties Factor in Key Senate Races.” “ Family does matter in the runup to next fall's Senate elections: Candidates are wielding famous political pedigrees in a number of races that could determine whether Democrats maintain control in the 2014 elections.”

DELAYED MESSAGE - Fox News: “A jar cast into the ocean fifty years ago by a boy during family trip to Seaside Heights, N.J. -- and likely buried in the sand for decades – has surfaced after Superstorm Sandy dug up large portions of the state’s coastline. In 1963, Dennis Komsa cast the glass jar carrying a note, a 1958 nickel and an envelope with his Paterson, N.J., return address into the ocean.”

A BILL CLINTON BIRTHDAY TREAT - The late. great Phil Hartman as President Bill Clinton in a classic “Saturday Night Live” sketch. Watch

 

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30amET, click here

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.