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Obama trapped by war doubletalk

In this Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 photo, President Obama arrives at MacDill Air Force Base for meetings at Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

In this Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 photo, President Obama arrives at MacDill Air Force Base for meetings at Central Command in Tampa, Fla.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• Obama trapped by war doubletalk
• Benghazi panel probe begins amid cover-up charges
• Boom: Ernst grabs big lead in Iowa Q Poll
• Biden under fire for anti-Semitic swipe at ‘shylocks’
• Louder than the sound of one hand clapping

The boots are not boots. The Islamists are not Islamic. The war is not a war. But despite all of the doubletalk about President Obama’s still-unnamed military action against the Muslim extremists who are building a new nightmare state across the Syria-Iraq border, liberals are growing very anxious that Obama will continue to succumb to political pressure and further escalate his unwilling role in the conflict. The New York Times Editorial Page today expresses no confidence that the president will honor his promise to not commit “combat troops.” But as the NYT’s own poll out today shows, 57 percent of respondents still don’t think the president is being “tough enough” in confronting Islamist militants. His job approval rating stayed stuck at 40 percent in the poll and his handling of foreign policy slipped to a new low of 34 percent. More ominous for the president and his party: Republicans enjoy wide advantages with voters on terrorism and foreign policy. The issue is already causing headaches for candidates and will continue to do so.

[“So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that [the U.S. won’t put boots on the ground], the president, in effect, traps himself." – Former Obama Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on CBS News.]

Endless war - The increased pressure from his commanders is causing terrible grief for the president. As Eli Lake and Josh Rogin point out, the same rift that we saw when the Pentagon applied public pressure on the president to get in the game on fighting ISIS is still very much alive. That’s the major fear for liberals – that Obama, having succumbed to election-year pressure to engage, will be shoved over and over again by the military and by hawkish politicians. But Obama will struggle to reassure base voters that he isn’t now a captive leader since doing so would actually make things worse. While mainstream voters believe the president is being a wimp, his base sees the president delivering their worst fear of the Bush era: “endless war.”

[Rubio outlines 21st century defense plan for vets group - Potential 2016 contender Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is brushing up his bona fides with the conservative veterans group Concerned Veterans for America.  You can watch the 11a.m. ET speech online here.]

Rallying the troops - President Obama is scheduled to be briefed by military commanders at Central Command in Tampa, Florida this morning in an effort to garner support for the mission against ISIS. Following that briefing, he is expected to make remarks at MacDill Air Force Base to further expand on his message and the battle against ISIS. The president is also trying to ease tension over who is in command of the mission after naming retired Gen. John R. Allen to be the special envoy to the coalition fighting against ISIS, a position based at the State Department.

The much-anticipated congressional hearings investigating the deadly Islamist attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya two years ago begin today. With the North African country gripped by open civil warfare more three years after U.S. led military intervention, allegations that Hillary Clinton allies may have tried to shield the former secretary of State in the wake of the 2012 terror attack are in the forefront of the special select committee probe. Speaking with Fox News, committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., made clear he eventually plans to call former acting CIA director Mike Morell to testify - alleging the former boss “intentionally scrubbed” the so-called talking points that were the basis for the administration’s flawed public narrative about the attack…Gowdy also called new and separate allegations from a former State Department official that Clinton confidants hid politically damaging files from a supposedly independent review board investigating the attack “incredibly serious,” but stressed that they are only allegations at this stage.

[Citing the ongoing catastrophe in Libya following the U.S. intervention, former Rep. Pete Hokestra tells a cautionary tale on the perils of arming ‘moderates”]

What’s at stake? - 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton could face a major bruising and, as her pre-emptive strike at Republican critics during the June release of her book shows, Team Hillary knows it. A March Pew poll showed her handling of the Benghazi attack as the former secretary of State’s top negative. With allegations that members of the Obama administration engaged in scrubbing initial reports on the attack and covering up damaging documents during Clinton’s tenure at Foggy Bottom, Democrats already fighting sour public opinion of the administration’s handling of foreign affairs face yet another hit.

[Spin on the left - The Clinton campaign boosters at Correct the Record and American Bridge have launched, a hub for rapid responses to charges against the 2016 Democratic frontrunner.]

Remember the doctor’s orders? – The Sage of Studio One Charles Krauthammer warned Republicans when the hearings were first announced: “If botched like previous hearings on the matter, these hearings could backfire against the GOP, as did the 1998 Clinton impeachment proceedings. On purely partisan considerations, the hearings are not worth the political risk. But the country deserves the truth. They’ll get it if the GOP can keep the proceedings clean, factual and dispassionate. No speeches. No grandstanding. [Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.] has got to be a tough disciplinarian — especially toward his own side of the aisle.”

[Spin on the right - In the group’s first ad since its formation in May, the Stop Hillary PAC, is putting more than $100,000 towards online and television ads in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Clinton is accused of engaging in a cover-up in the ad and encourages viewers to sign a “citizens’ subpoena” petition demanding she testify before the committee.]

After their campaign stop in Iowa last weekend, the Clintons are going to stay focused on closing the door on another 2008-style debacle. WMUR reports that former President Bill Clinton will campaign in New Hampshire next month while Politico reports that the Clinton-backed campaign group Ready for Hillary has picked its target states for a fall push, ostensibly aimed at helping other Democrats that includes Iowa and New Hampshire, which have marquee races this cycle, but also Nevada and South Carolina, which have low-wattage midterm contests.

Hillary papers over old split with unions - WSJ: “Hillary Clinton appeared at a fundraiser hosted by labor unions and the New York State AFL-CIO in support of the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. “‘Organized labor was my principal ally and that’s why I wanted to be here tonight.” Really? Really?

Just in case - Washington Examiner: “Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. will headline this year’s Jefferson Jackson dinner [Oct. 25] in Des Moines, Iowa, traditionally an important event for Democrats hoping to make a presidential run.”

It was on this day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the charter for American self-governance, the most enduring and successful guarantee of human liberty in history. But did you know that it was anti-war sentiment and concern about executive overreach on war powers that made Constitution Day official? The late Sen. Robert Byrd, W.Va., led the charge to attach the measure into a 2004 funding bill for the Iraq war. Byrd, who became an unlikely hero to liberals for his fight with the Bush administration over the separation of powers and the authority to wage war, argued that America’s school children should be instructed in the ways of the Constitution so as to avoid future executive abuses. Byrd said, “The framers ensured that the people, through their elected representatives in Congress would control the military so that it could not become a tool of Government repression against their own people or a way for presidents to lead the nation into foreign misadventures.” Watch Byrd’s floor speech here.

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 41.3 percent//Disapprove – 54.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 26.4 percent//Wrong Track – 65.1 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 42.7 percent// Republicans – 45.7 percent

[Poll Watch: The latest Fox News polls on pivotal Senate races in Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, the gubernatorial contests in Iowa and Kansas, plus President Obama’s job approval ratings and feelings about Obamacare will be released in the 6 p.m. ET hour during Special Report with Bret Baier.]

-- 48 days until Nov. 4 --

A Quinnipiac poll out this morning finds Iowa Republican Senate nominee Joni Ernst pulling ahead of Democrat Bruce Braley by 6 points According to the poll, Ernst now leads Braley 50 percent to 44 percent. A June poll found Braley ahead, 44 percent to 40 percent.  The RCP average for the race shows a dead heat with Braley leading by 0.2 percent.

Chamber ramps up efforts - Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, endorses Joni Ernst for Senate in this latest ad out today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Joni Ernst is going to bring Iowa common sense to Washington and let me tell you it’s badly needed there.” This ad combined with the group’s ad from last week pushes the Chamber’s Iowa effort so far into the seven figures.

The National Rifle Association is saturating three key Senate races with a multimillion dollar ad buy expected to start today in Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina. They are endorsing Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis in North Carolina in this ad saying “Our Second Amendment rights are under attack by the Obama Administration, and we need leaders like Thom Tillis in the Senate to fight back.”

In his latest ad Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., rebuts Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes’s shotgun shooting ad as a “publicity stunt” and points out that President Obama did much the same thing in 2012 while pushing gun control measures that Grimes also supports.

[The Daily Beast unloads on the technical aspects of Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes shooting spot.]


More On This...

David Drucker reports: “Senate Republicans on Tuesday agreed to transfer $3 million in personal campaign funds to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in their bid to capture the Senate majority this November, sources confirmed.”

How did Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., gain a bit of breathing room in his race with Republican nominee Rep. Cory Gardner?  Chris Stirewalt has the answer for you in 90 seconds.

But Hickenlooper gets thrown for a loop - In a sign that Colorado may not be friendly ground for Democrat’s this year, Republican gubernatorial challenger former Rep. Bob Beauprez holds a 10-point lead on incumbent Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. The survey found that 50 percent of likely voters support or lean toward Beauprez while 40 percent back Hickenlooper. The results could be an ill harbinger for Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

Economic issues remain at the forefront of voters’ minds this fall. The non-partisan deficit foes of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation are releasing an economic toolkit today for candidates to use when discussing fiscal issues.

[WaPo: “New figures released by Census bureau shows that while poverty rates are down the number of Americans at or below the poverty level remains at record highs. Just 13 states have lower poverty rates now than before the recession hit.”]

Yahoo News: “Vice President Joe Biden drew fire from a prominent Jewish group on Tuesday after he described unscrupulous bankers who prey on servicemen and servicewomen deployed overseas as “Shylocks” — a term frequently condemned as an anti-Semitic caricature. “Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day. The Vice President should have been more careful,” Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said. Shylock, the villain in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” is a Jewish moneylender who mercilessly demands a “pound of flesh” from the merchant who defaults on a loan…Biden’s slip came in a speech to the Legal Services Corporation…In his remarks, the vice president described the experience of his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, who was deployed for one year in Iraq. ‘People would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being — I mean, these Shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas,’ Biden said.”

But he’s cool with nuns, though - Des Moines [Iowa] Register: “For this Iowa visit, Joe Biden is hitching his wagon to a bus full of nuns. The vice president of the United States will help kick off a 10-state voter turnout tour for a liberal group called “Nuns on the Bus” today with an outdoor event on the west terrace of the Iowa Capitol. For the nation’s first Catholic vice president, this is a chance to attach himself with religious leaders who embrace a message on economic equality that syncs with his soul, his Iowa supporters say.”

How do you write a political thriller that keeps reader interest but doesn’t succumb to melodrama like “House of Cards” or “Scandal?” Author Doug Brunt knows the answer. His new book, “The Means,” is grounded in the realities of politics and life on the campaign trail and in office. But there is plenty of drama and enough twists to satisfy even a Mickey Spillane junkie. And sex. Boy howdy is there sex. If only the people in Washington were as attractive as Doug depicts them! You can watch Doug talk about the novel with his No.1 fan.

[Ed. note: Yes, I did get a mention in the book, which, in an uncommon false note, far overstates my influence. And yes, it was my pleasure to spitball ideas with Doug. But I would have read it anyway. You should too.]

KIRO: “People who live near the Duoc Su Buddhist Monastery on 42nd Avenue South in Seattle’s Othello neighborhood, have been complaining about noise… Monastery president William Lee [said] the monastery only gets loud about three times a year when special events are hosted at the location. … Neighbors disagree. They argue the noise has been constant even when the special events aren’t on location. ‘The noise is really bad there’s been incidences where they have gongs and bells going and they had a gas powered leaf blower that was running,’ said Pat Murakami, president of the South Seattle Crime Prevention Council. She’s called 911 about the noise several times in the past few days… most of the neighbors say the noise stops by 10 p.m., Murakami says it’s still way too loud. ‘They’ve had music blaring at concert levels,’ said Murakami.”

“Either the president wants not to do it, which appears to be the impression. . . . and the military wants to go ahead and do it, because it knows it’s going to need to at some point. Or, Obama is very cleverly the one giving the good news, and he’s having the generals go out and talk about the inevitable bad news, the ground troops. Or the third possibility is, these guys have no idea what they’re saying or doing, and they can’t agree on what’s going on.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News.  Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.