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Obama to go bold on post-presidential buck raking

President Barack Obama speaks at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 in Bethesda, Md.

President Barack Obama speaks at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 in Bethesda, Md.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• Obama to go bold on post-presidential buck raking
• White House rolls out unwelcome wagon for Carter
• Harkin seconds Schumer: ObamaCare a mistake
• Doubts grow about Hillary
• At least they’re not doing it when they order the steak

Conservatives believe that President Obama plans to close his time in office as a modern Emperor Nero, expanding executive power grabs and driving the nation into a constitutional abyss. So why are liberals still having a debate over whether Obama is “bold” enough? Part of that is just that some folks are never satisfied, but there’s something substantive here too. After all, it seems odd that a president who has often talked about the liberation of having run his last campaign is doing things like nominating Wall Street insiders skilled at tax avoidance to key economic posts, still holding fundraisers and, most notably, standing by laughable choices for key diplomatic posts?

[Ummmm… - At her nomination hearing, Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to Hungary, a former producer of the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful,” struggled to name a single U.S. strategic interest in Hungary. A real stumper, no doubt.]

The real fiscal cliff - The answer lies in a key deadline approaching at the end of next week. No, not the potential government shutdown, but instead a personal one for the president. The formal proposals for where his presidential library are said to be due on Dec. 11, and BuzzFeed reports that the process is intensifying and the scope is expanding ahead of an expected February announcement. The University of Hawaii, The University of Illinois’ Chicago campus, Obama’s alma mater Columbia University and frontrunner The University of Chicago are under consideration. Obama’s closest adviser, Valerie Jarrett, has made it clear that she is in charge of establishing the post-presidency version of the “Obama brand,” so it seems unlikely that the HQ will be anywhere but Chicago.

Bigger than Bubba - And while the Obamas are no doubt keen to have as many donors as possible ponying up to build the monument to his legacy, we now live in the post-Clinton age when the financial value of having been president is measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The Obamas, who have learned to live very well indeed since leaving their upper-middle-class life behind in Chicago, must assume they can outshine their predecessors, post-White House. Bill Clinton and his first lady could rake in $150 million in straight cash plus an estimated half-billion dollars for a family foundation which helps provide staff, support and travel. Could the Obama brand be a billion-dollar industry? Why not? As Obama gets ready for his post-presidency, he will feel the continuing tension between a desire to be bold and legacy-making and a competing impulse for preemptive nest feathering. Sucking up to really rich people will be a big part of that. As the Clintons have proven, there are plenty of patrons at home and abroad for a former president.

WSJ: “Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) on Tuesday said President Barack Obama has lurched to the left since suffering a “butt-kicking” during November’s midterm elections, a shift that may foreshadow only limited cooperation in the coming two years. ‘By any objective standard the president got crushed in this election,’ Mr. McConnell said at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual meeting. ‘So I’ve been perplexed by the reaction since the election, the sort of in your face dramatic move to the left. I don’t know what we can expect in terms of reaching bipartisan agreement.’ Republicans took control of Congress during November’s midterm elections, leaving Democrats without a majority in either chamber for the first time since 2006 and elevating Mr. McConnell to Senate majority leader starting in January…Mr. McConnell said he has no objection to negotiating with the White House and gets along with Mr. Obama. ‘We don’t have any personal problems,’ he said. ‘There is however a deep philosophical difference.’”

[President Obama and Sen. Mitch McConnell are scheduled to meet at the White House this afternoon.]

Boehner’s second step - WaPo: “[House Speaker John Boehner’s] approach would first allow a vote this week on a bill to ban Obama from changing immigration laws. The largely symbolic legislation would be quickly discarded by the Democratic-controlled Senate, but the vote would be seen as a victory by some tea party conservatives, including the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.). The speaker’s decision to embrace Yoho’s bill is a signal to conservatives that he is looking to one of their own as he plots his immigration gambit.”

Rand: Keep it open - “I think shutting down the government won't do any good. We don't have the power until January comes. In January, though, we have the power to write all of the appropriations bills and to, in minute detail, tell the president how the money is to be spent. So we have a great deal of power beginning in January, and we should use all of that, but we shouldn't use it to shut down the government in December. I don't think that will help anybody.” – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on “The Kelly File”. Watch here.

Source: Senate leaders blew off Lee, Vitter - National Review: “Senate Republicans had no appetite for discussing how to thwart President Obama’s executive orders on immigration during the conference’s weekly lunch, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Senator Mike Lee [R-Utah] and Senator David Vitter [R-La.] tried to broach the topic, but were ignored.”

[Sweet Retreat: GOP leaders announced yesterday that they plan to hold a joint retreat with House and Senate Republicans in Hershey, Pa. on January 15 and 16, just days after Republicans assume the Senate majority.]

Goodlatte’s line - New at Fox News Opinion: House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., vows to fight Obama’s immigration power grab: “By allowing five million unlawful immigrants to live and work here through executive action, President Obama ignores the limitations placed on his authority and claims legislative power for himself. These actions threaten to unravel our government’s system of checks and balances and imperil individual liberty…will fight President Obama’s unconstitutional actions and will shine light on and correct the Obama administration’s anti-enforcement policies.”

Soon to be in the minority, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may play the Grinch one more time during the lame duck session’s budget battle. In just 60 seconds, Chris Stirewalt details the holiday calendar crunch, the threat of a shutdown and how Reid could stretch out the last gasp of the 113th Congress. Watch here.

[WaPo: “In 1974, Rankin/Bass released ‘The Year Without a Santa Claus.’…These past few years, Washington has decided to remake the holiday classic. The plot has changed, although congressional leaders have tried to stay loyal to the original. ‘The Year Without a Christmas Recess’ is a story told by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), of the year there almost wasn't a holiday recess.]

Several other news outlets reported Tuesday that Ashton Carter, an academic and former deputy Defense secretary, was about to be tapped for the top job in the wake of his former boss, Secretary Chuck Hagel. But then… nothing happened. CNN reports that “even on Tuesday, as the final touches were putting on the White House plans to announce Carter, still another administration official said the White House was going back one more time to see if there were other possible higher profile candidates.” Woof. The White House is making clear here that it sees Carter as the last chocolate in the box, the cabinet equivalent of a cherry cordial with a thumb dent in the bottom. Even worse, the White House is also quoted as blaming the shaming of Carter on Hagel being unaccommodating in his own termination and not waiting until the administration had found a fourth SecDef.

Under oath - Defense One points out another problem the White House might have with Carter. Since he has loyalties and aspirations that go beyond the final two years, the confirmation hearings could be quite awkward for the president. The primary job in testimony for Team Obama is often to simply defend the president’s action, even if it damages the witness’ credibility. Carter’s confirmation hearings could be an embarrassment if he seeks to show he is independent and willing to push back against the White House on national security.

“The Conversation” dives into the details of why rude comments online are a reality we can’t get away from: “Any verbal exchange – whether a scientific panel discussion, lovers quarrelling in a hallway, or the political hard-talk of a live interview – is a very sophisticated human activity. Besides the intricate relationship between syntax, semantics and phonetics of the language used – itself something that takes years to master – there are all the unwritten conversational rules about turn-taking and reading body language that need to be understood and practiced in order for any exchange of opinion to work effectively. But on social media most of this other stuff is gone, and is part of the reason why the tone online is frequently so rough and unforgiving. This doesn’t make for platforms that are conducive to constructive and reflective deliberation, decision and action. Social media may not just increase asocial behaviour and feelings of loneliness, it may also promote or amplify anti-social behaviour.”

[Tuesday’s Second Cup of Coffee about an unlikely Revolutionary War heroine generated some great feedback from readers. Kathleen Starnes wrote in asking, “Would Lydia Darragh be one of Geo. Washington's Secret Six??” referring to the best-selling book by Brian Kilmeade. There is one mystery lady in the book, but she is unlikely to be an unassuming Quaker like Darragh. So what’s the deal, Brian? Will Darrah make the cut for the sequel? Make it a “secret seven?”]

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 42.3 percent//Disapprove – 53.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27 percent//Wrong Track – 66.7 percent

The Hill: “Sen. Tom Harkin, one of the coauthors of the Affordable Care Act, now thinks Democrats may have been better off not passing it at all and holding out for a better bill. The Iowa Democrat who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, laments the complexity of legislation the Senate passed five years ago. … ‘We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified healthcare, made it more efficient and made it less costly and we didn’t do it,’ Harkin told The Hill. ‘So I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all.’… Harkin’s comments come on the heels of a speech delivered by Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking Democratic leader, last week questioning the wisdom of focusing on healthcare reform in 2009 and the start of 2010. Schumer argued that Democrats should have continued to propose middle class-targeted economic programs in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.”

Ahead of her speech today at Georgetown University, there’s some unhappy speculation for the 2016 Democratic frontrunner. The core narrative of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign is predicated on a choice of devoting her time to family (and fortune) rather than reluctantly take on the world’s most powerful job. A real dilemma or a ploy? While most analysts bet she’s running, the obstacles to a successful bid has given the notion of opting out more traction, or at least more ink. WaPo’s Aaron Blake cites declining approval numbers, along with age, scrutiny of her finances, Benghazi and the questionable assumption that “Obama voters” will transfer loyalties to her. “[Clinton] has to decide whether it's all worth it to run and have basically a 50 percent chance (or less, including the primary) to become the next president. The country is closely divided, and Clinton has long been a polarizing figure.”

[Keep the guessing game going - “Despite a commanding lead among Democrats and the widespread expectation that she’ll run, Clinton is still uncertain about whether to launch a second run for president, according to several people familiar with her thinking told Politico.]

Campaign insists it’s taking threat seriously - Though she holds a huge lead in polls over her potential Democratic 2016 rivals, another facet of the Clinton campaign strategy is to nurture the competitiveness of the race. WaPo: “Backers and allies of Hillary Rodham Clinton are increasingly worried about the threat posed by a motley field of Democratic presidential hopefuls who could complicate, or even derail, a Clinton candidacy in 2016 by focusing attention on her weaknesses. All of the possible challengers are long shots against Clinton and would face a steep climb against the well-known former secretary of state. Many Clinton supporters also say competition would help her by honing her campaigning skills and discouraging the sense of entitlement that damaged her White House bid in 2008… “Longtime Clinton family political adviser Harold Ickes said it would be a mistake to dismiss such challengers and the dangers they pose. ‘[What if] this were 2007 before Obama got into the race and you’d said, ‘Do you think Senator Obama is a threat to Hillary?’ ’ Ickes asked rhetorically. The clear answer, he suggested, is that most would have dismissed Obama as little more than an annoyance.”

While his rivals have been clamoring for the spotlight, 2016 Republican presidential prospect, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been keeping a lower profile. But for Rubio, who has a book due out early next year, flying under the radar lately might well be part of the plan. National Journal lists electability and his ability to garner support across the GOP spectrum among Rubio’s strengths: “The leading contender for the GOP's presidential nomination is polling at a measly 3 percent in two new national surveys testing Republican primary candidates. He wasn't even included in Bloomberg's November poll of likely New Hampshire primary voters. He's been overshadowed by the media’s obsession with brand-name candidates, like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, even though his profile is more compelling than either. But Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is as well-positioned as any Republican to emerge from the crowded scrum of potential candidates—and his strengths are significant enough that many are forgetting what made him a top Republican prospect in the first place.

Carson staffing up - As 2016 potential GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson travels the country delivering speeches, NRO reports, “…his confidants are interviewing a bevy of people, 35 in all, who in a matter of months may be staffing his presidential campaign, in every position from chief of staff to body man…”

Cruz blasts ties Hillary to Obama’s foreign policy - Dallas Morning News: “In the jockeying ahead of the 2016 presidential race, Sen. Ted Cruz [R-Texas] blasted the “Obama-Clinton foreign policy” on Tuesday, taking aim at the current president and the Democrats’ leading contender to replace him. ‘I guess Antarctica is doing OK,’ Cruz joked. In a scathing critique, he asserted that the rest of the world suffers from a lack of American leadership, a vacuum that he said Russia, Iran, China and the Islamic State terror group are eager to exploit. ‘The failures of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy are manifest,’ he said…Tuesday’s speech included numerous references to Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama’s first secretary of state and the presumed Democratic front-runner for 2016…”

Paul says he’s mainstream on foreign policy – WSJ:“Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul [R], who is positioning himself for a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, sought Tuesday to present a fine-tuned approach to foreign policy that he said puts him in the mainstream of the country and his party. Mr. Paul said he sees war as a ‘last resort,’ seeking a middle ground between his party’s traditional defense arm and a libertarian wing skeptical of foreign entanglements. Congress needs to be consulted on military actions and should approve defense budgets that don’t compromise national security or increase the deficit, he said. ‘I’m not going to apologize for this. If I’m ever commander-in-chief, I will not want to take the country to war,’ he told The Wall Street Journal CEO Council’s annual meeting.”

Jeb gets tough on Cuba - Miami Herald: “[F]ormer Florida governor [Jeb Bush] on Tuesday laid out his foreign policy precepts, which closely mirror that of his brother, former President George W. Bush. Bush detailed seven points in all during a speech to the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, where he told the crowd that the United States shouldn’t back away from engaging its friends or enemies anywhere in the world… ‘I would argue that, instead of lifting the [Cuba] embargo, we should consider strengthening it,’ Bush said, calling for free elections, free trade and the release of political prisoners on the communist island….Bush called for more military and cybersecurity spending, strengthening international alliances, robustly criticizing enemies and expanding free trade. He sounded notes of concern with nearly every quarter of the world: Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel.”

One more reason GOP Sixteeners will ditch Common Core - Fox News: “A little-known aspect of Common Core should have students worried about what goes on the dreaded "permanent record," say critics of the national education standard. … The process, set to play out throughout the country in what critics call a ‘womb to workplace’ information system, was originally developed by the Department of Labor and contains information on every U.S. citizen under the age of 26. Most of the information on individuals is collected while K-12 students are in school, and includes names, grades and information such as personality traits, behavior patterns and even fingerprints. The state of Pennsylvania was one of the early adopters of the data mining and contributed to the framework for a nationwide program.”

In its closing ad in the Louisiana Senate runoff, Americans for Prosperity ties Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who voted for ObamaCare, to the law’s architect, Jonathan Gruber. Recently uncovered comments by Gruber suggested that ObamaCare was able to pass with the help of the “stupidity of the American voter.” “ How can Landrieu fight for Louisiana and still support the ObamaCare deception?” The ad asks.

The Daily Mail reports that Canadian lobsters are showing up off the coast of Yorkshire, England, more than 3,000 miles from their natural habitat. The suspected culprits are compassionate but ill-informed cruise ship diners who order them for dinner and ask the wait staff to toss them overboard. Some are being found with elastic bands still around their claws. Their Canadian cousins cannot compete with their European counterparts and rather than saving them the diners are more likely tossing them to their death. Mike Cohen, from Holderness Fishing Industry Group, says, “They won’t last much longer than if the passengers had eaten them for dinner.” This type of transatlantic migration is a developing trend including other sea creatures but experts fear the consequences of diseases wiping out creatures from their natural habitats.”

“Is there anybody who imagines that if Obama vetoes a continuing resolution that doesn't allow the funding of the immigration service for example, that Obama will then withdraw the executive order?” —Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

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.