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Obama proves Panetta’s point

In this Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 photo, President Barack Obama speaks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institutes 37th Annual Awards Gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington.

In this Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 photo, President Barack Obama speaks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institutes 37th Annual Awards Gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• Obama proves Panetta’s point
• Orman stays on the attack
• Power Play: What women want
• Chamber of Commerce deploys Rand Paul in Alaska
• Sorry, bro…

A note to all those, right and left, who heralded the arrival of a new wartime era in the Obama presidency on Sept. 10 with the president’s about-face on bombing Syria: No chance, Lance. President Obama Thursday was back to his old self. A “pivot to the economy” was really a turn back to trolling Fox News and leading chants of “Yes we can!” and promising “bold” executive action to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country at a fundraiser for Hispanic Democrats. The war effort in Syria and Iraq looks increasingly like the regime-change mission Obama undertook in Libya: Arrived at under political pressure and departed from as quickly as possible – regardless of outcome.  Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta can’t be surprised. While his predecessor, Robert Gates, wondered whether politics outranked policies on national security at the Obama White House, Panetta is certain, writing in his new book: “[T]hose on our side viewed the White House as so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests.”

[On “The Kelly File” last night, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked to answer Panetta’s charges. She did not. Watch here.]

Same game, higher stakes - By “side,” Panetta is referring to those in his Clintonite faction urging the president to be more aggressive with dealing with Islamists. We will never know exactly what happened. But with little public confidence that Obama’s strategy for dealing with the fast-metastasizing radicalism across the region will actually work, this is a good time to draw some bright lines between Obama foreign policy and Clinton foreign policy. If things go as poorly in Obama’s latest effort as they have in the ones he has held up as examples of success, Yemen and Somalia, Hillary will need lots of distance indeed. While the president may like the fact that he can carry out occasional assassinations by drone of Islamists in those two countries with little fanfare or attention, the stakes in Iraq, Syria and Libya are much, much higher. Rubbing out a Jihadi in the Puntland with a drone is one thing, but when we talk about a fight for control of oil-rich and population-dense territories in the crossroads of the Middle East, it’s quite another.

[Panetta on Obama’s Syria red line flinch - “The result, I felt, was a blow to American credibility. When the president as commander in chief draws a red line, it is critical that act if the line is crossed. The power of the United States rests on its word. Assad’s action clearly defied President Obama’s warning; by failing to respond, it sent the wrong message to the world.”]

Pivot and divot - So the president’s past actions certainly reinforce that this latest crisis, even though his role in creating it is undeniable, has not changed him into some Bush-like resolute warrior. But his current conduct proves Panetta’s point about politics over policy. It only took three weeks for Obama to revert to the same kind of base-beating, conservative-trolling antics that helped him win in 2012. If Obama saw the threat from Islamists in any way like George W. Bush does, he wouldn’t be trying to start a flame war with the right, which happens to be the only base of support for his actions in Syria and Iraq. Taken to its logical (if absurd) conclusion, a Democratic Senate would make it harder, not easier for Obama to prosecute this new war. Whatever the election outcome, a wartime president would need a wartime coalition. But war doesn’t seem to be much on the president’s mind these days.

“Make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”President Obama discussing the need to protect his health law and other domestic policies in a campaign speech in Chicago.

[Neo Campbellites?  - Yahoo’s Olivier Knox reminds us of how a lone lawmaker forced Congress to debate and decide on then-President Bill Clinton’s Balkan war in 1999. Just as now, neither party’s leadership wanted to deal with the issue. What’s changed since then, though, is that members of both parties are more sensitive to executive overreach on the power to make war.]

“Isn’t it a bitch, I mean … this vice president thing?...I’m joking. I’m joking. I’m joking. Best decision I ever made. That was a joke. That was a joke.” –Vice President Joe Biden, responding to a question from the vice president of Harvard’s student body.

WRAL: “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis is calling on the Obama administration to issue a travel ban on countries impacted by the Ebola virus until the epidemic is brought under control. A statement from the Tillis campaign on Thursday called on the president to ban travel from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The North Carolina House Speaker said it makes no sense to risk more cases of Ebola in the U.S. by allowing travel from those countries.”

[Watch Fox: Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will appear on “Special Report with Bret Baier” tonight in the 6 p.m. ET]

Class of 2016 studies epidemiology - You can read the letter from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to the FAA asking what steps are being taken to restrict passengers from within the zone of the Ebola epidemic. And check out the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s report on the hardline stance from Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee.

ABC News: “Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky is just five days old and already appears to be a living embodiment of themes her grandmother, Hillary Clinton, could put to use on the campaign trail. During her prepared remarks at a women’s real estate convention in Miami [Thursday], the former secretary of state used a line never heard before on her paid-speaking circuit: one about the future for her new granddaughter. ‘I think my granddaughter has just as much God-given potential as a boy who was born in that hospital on the same day,” Clinton told the crowd at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, adding, ‘I just believe that. That’s the way I was raised.’”

[Cash for Crist - Hillary Clinton raked in $1 million for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist Thursday night at a closed-door fundraiser in Coral Gables, Fla., according to a Crist source tells Fox News.]

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says he’s considering a bid for the White House in 2016.“If I get through my general election, if nobody steps up in the presidential mix, if nobody’s out there talking…I may just jump in to get to make these arguments,” Graham told The Weekly Standard’s Stephen F. Hayes. Asked if many of his hawkish positions weren’t already being made by potential 2016 GOP candidate Sen.Marco Rubio, R-Fla.,  Graham issued this blunt take: “‘He’s a good guy, but after doing immigration with him—we don’t need another young guy not quite ready,’ said Graham. ‘He’s no Obama by any means, but he’s so afraid of the right, and I’ve let that go.’”

Romney: ‘I’d like to be in the White House’ - The Marietta [Ga.] Daily Journal: “Romney was asked if he would run again. ‘Ah, no. I’m just sad I’m not able to be there either. I’d like to be in the White House. This is a slightly partisan crowd here, but I’m pleased at the reception I’ve had. I love my country. I’m concerned about the country. I think the president has been more disappointing than even I had expected, not just domestically but also internationally.”

Fox News First sees much wisdom in the new Baronial Rule that 45 is the new 50 for embattled incumbents. In the days before the hyper-sorting of the electorate and media saturation bombing, incumbents under 50 percent in close races usually lost. As the Wizard of 15th Street wrote, “Everyone knows them, the logic went, and half aren’t voting for them.” Because of changes to the business of politics and structure of the electorate, that number is now 45 percent. So what does the new rule say about the latest Fox News polling? Nothing good for the class of embattled Democratic incumbents. Forty-seven percent of voters would support the Republican in both House and Senate races compared to 40 percent for Democrats. That’s pretty dire, right? Well try this on for size: The number goes up to 53 percent support for Republicans in the 14 Senate battleground states.

[Dough flow - WSJ: “Conservative sister organizations American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have raised a total of $100 million to spend on the November election, according to a spokesman…”]

The latest Fox News Poll shows Republicans and Democrats essentially tied among women voters as Democratic advantages have eroded in state-level polls. What’s behind the shift? Political Pros Joe Trippi and Lauren Zelt join Power Play host Chris Stirewalt to discuss what may be driving women away from the blue team and how that might translate in the upcoming midterm elections. Watch here.

The National League Division Series opens today as the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers take the field at Chavez Ravine and the Washington Nationals play host to the San Francisco Giants. To get in the spirit, check out the WaPo report on an amazing discovery by staffers at the Library of Congress who found 4 minutes of footage from the 1924 World Series winning game that the Washington Senators took in 12 innings, 4 to 3. The film was miraculously intact after being discovered in the attic of an estate in Worcester, Mass. Eight cans of nitrate film were found in the rafters of a garage, certainly not ideal preservation conditions. Shocked to at the near perfect quality, archivists found the film included the great Walter Johnson pitching four innings of scoreless relief, Muddy Ruel scoring the winning run and fans storming Griffith Stadium’s field. Huzzah!

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

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.2 percent//Disapprove – 53.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28.0 percent//Wrong Track – 65.7 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 42.8 percent// Republicans – 45.7 percent

-- 32 days until Nov. 4 --

Kansas Independent Greg Orman slams Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, in this ad for failing to support a plan to stop illegal immigration, “When Pat Roberts first got to Washington, there were under one million illegal immigrants in America. 47 years later, the problem's only gotten worse…Instead of working on a solution, Roberts has come back to Kansas to lie about Greg Orman. The truth: Orman opposes amnesty, and he'll secure the border with a plan that's tough, practical, and fair to taxpayers.”

Home, home on the range - The Hill: “Kansas independent Senate candidate Greg Orman has pitched himself as the real Kansan for the Senate, up against an out-of-touch Washington insider, Sen. Pat Roberts (R). But a review of public property records reveals Orman has owned multimillion dollar, thousand-square-foot properties, both in and out of Kansas… Johnson County property records show Orman currently lives in a 4,211-square foot property in Olathe that he purchased in 2006, at which time it was assessed at just under $1.59 million…It was most recently assessed at about $1.15 million, and Orman put the property on the market after marrying his wife, Sybil, last year, for $1.75 million. Just prior to launching his bid for Senate, however, Orman took the home off the market.”

#mediabuzz: politics download - This week, Howard Kurtz welcomes a host of media superstars including The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes, Sharyl Attkisson, Chief White House correspondent Ed Henry, The Daily Beast Michael Tomasky, columnist Matt Bai, The Hill’s Editor-in-chief Bob Cusack and Washington Examiner’s Chief Congressional correspondent Susan Ferrechio Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.

On Fox News Sunday - Chris Wallace talks to Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and Dan Bongino, former Secret Service agent for President Obama about the growing issues surrounding the Secret Service. “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” airs at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Fox News. Check local listings for air times in your area.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is out with a new ad featuring Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on behalf of Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, targeting the independent swing vote. Paul says in the ad, “Washington is horribly broken. I’m Rand Paul and I’m fighting to change that but nothing’s going to change when Mark Begich votes with his liberal Democrat friends 91 percent of the time, Washington takes too much of our freedoms and too much of our money. I think Dan Sullivan will get it back. To change Washington, change your Senator.”

Back at you - Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, is out with his own new ad firing back at attacks by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, that Sullivan was lenient toward abusers. The woman narrating the ad worked with Sullivan says, “Because of Dan’s work, offenders got longer prison sentences and abused women are getting the legal representation they need to restart their lives. Now Mark Begich is shamefully and falsely attacking our work to try and hurt Dan. That’s stooping pretty low even for Mark Begich.”

Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., continues to be the target of attacks by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee claiming an inconsistent stance on abortion in this latest ad, saying in part, “Over the years Cory Gardner supported three personhood amendments to make all abortions illegal. Now he says he’s switched positions but in Washington Gardner hasn’t changed at all…He’s saying one thing and doing another. Cory Gardner you just can’t trust him.

High road - Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., retaliates against the negative attacks ads in his own new ad pushing his “four corners” policy plan. The ad says in part, “Thousands of ads, they’re all the same. They’re all false…I think this campaign should aim higher. My four corners plan protects our environment, makes college affordable, expands our energy resources, and gets America’s economy back on track.”

Washington Examiner: “Democrats are investing more money in attacks on Republican Joni Ernst for her support of a personhood amendment in Iowa. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will launch a new ad Thursday as part of a multimillion dollar ad push across major markets statewide, calling Ernst “too extreme” for having backed the measure.  “Ernst would outlaw abortion, even for victims of rape or incest and would actually impose criminal penalties on doctors,” a narrator says in the ad.  The ad then cuts to a clip of Ernst saying during a Republican primary debate in May, “I think the provider should be punished if there were a personhood amendment.”

Obama-style - In their latest attack, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hits Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, on tax breaks for outsourcing jobs. The ad says in part, “Over 20 thousand Iowa jobs lost due to outsourcing. But Joni Ernst wants to keep special tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas…Joni Ernst even signed a pledge to protect their special tax breaks instead of protecting us.”

Michigan Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land is slammed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in this ad, claiming that Land supports a plan that would adversely affect Medicare for seniors. The ad says in part, “…Terri Lynn Land supports a plan that would end the Medicare guarantee giving insurance companies the power to make healthcare decisions. Slashing benefits, raising prescription drug prices and making seniors pay thousands of dollars more a year. Terri Lynn Land, she’s not for us.”

Land losing ground - Detroit Free Press: “U.S. Senate nominee Gary Peters and his Democratic allies appear to be succeeding at defining his Republican opponent for the voters, driving up Terri Lynn Land's unfavorability ratings and rebuilding what looks like a substantial lead with less than five weeks until Election Day.  In a new EPIC-MRA poll done for the Free Press, WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) and their outstate partners, Peters, a Democratic congressman from Bloomfield Township, regained a 9-point lead - 42%-33% - over Land, the Republican nominee and former Michigan secretary of state.”

Washington Free Beacon: “A teachers union that endorsed Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, is suing the state of Louisiana to restrict funding for charter schools. The Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) filed a lawsuit in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge on Monday that would eliminate $60 million for dozens of schools. The lawsuit attacks charters as insufficiently ‘public,’ and bemoans that school systems, and teachers unions, have ‘no control whatsoever’ over charter schools. Charter schools are publicly funded, but privately run.”

Some shuffling afoot in Fox News First readers’ consensus of the six seats Republicans need to pick up take control of the Senate. South Dakota jumps into fourth place in the top tier, but the big news is way up north as Alaska has wedged solidly into the sixth slot. The widening lead of Alaska GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is just one topic that Power Play Political Pros Joe Trippi and Lauren Zelt discuss with Chris Stirewalt as they share their Pick Six choices. Trippi and Zelt also touch on bubble states and a pick in New England that hasn’t broken into the top group in among our reader consensus. Watch here.

Which blue seats are the most vulnerable in this year’s midterms? Here are the top picks among Fox News First readers: Arkansas (13.7%), Montana (13.1%), West Virginia (12.3%), South Dakota (11.9%), Louisiana (11.7%), and Alaska (8.7%). On the bubble: North Carolina (8.4%), Iowa (6.0%) and Colorado (3.7%) Reader Brian Steiner says, “Unlike many of your readers, I do not think North Carolina is a sure thing. In fact, I think we may have a better chance at losing NC, MI and NH than we do at winning them. I view LA, CO and MN (and KS) as the true toss ups.”

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

Boston Globe: “The 11 members of the all-Democratic Massachusetts congressional delegation have been asked to pony up at least $25,000 each from their political funds for the party’s financially struggling gubernatorial nominee, Martha Coakley.

At least three of them have initially balked at the idea, however, exposing some of the problems Coakley faces in getting full support from the Democratic establishment as she and the party struggle to close a fund-raising gap with GOP rival Charlie Baker and the state Republican Party…The state’s two US senators, Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, agreed this week to give $100,000 each from their campaign accounts to the state committee, said a senior party official.”

[Listen to Fox - FOX News Radio's Jason Bonewald features Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley’s Senate battle in Iowa, Democrat Mark Pryor’s attempt to hold on to his Senate seat in Arkansas and the dead heat between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker in the Massachusetts gubernatorial contest. All in this week’s Balance of Power podcast.]

And you thought human relationships were difficult, after 4 years of unsuccessfully mating attempts between two spotted hyenas; the Maruyama Zoo in Japan made an awkward discovery. UPI reports that Kamutori and Kami were born in South Korea and given as a gift to Japan in 2010. Under the impression that Kamutori was male and Kami was female, the zoo thought it was a match made in heaven and brought the promise of baby hyenas. Zookeepers encouraged breeding behaviors between the two who could be seen frolicking and cuddling. By 2012, the relationship started turning sour and earlier this year the behavior escalated to constant fighting and the zoo had to separate the two. It was during this separation that zookeepers performed several tests and discovered that both Kamutori and Kami were actually both male hyenas.

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

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.