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• Obama builds hamster wheel for GOP on ISIS
• Union friction poses dangers for Dems ahead of 2016
• City of Independence set for Hillary coronation
• Gotcha: Dems pounce on Walker dodge on evolution
• ‘Happy birthday Princess’
OBAMA BUILDS HAMSTER WHEEL FOR GOP ON ISIS
The White House has made it clear that President Obama doesn’t think he needs an authorization from Congress to continue his limited air war against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria. Rather, the president would prefer to get congressional approval to send a message to allies and the enemy. As his brief remarks in support of his request reinforced, the requested authorization is seen by the administration as a procedural nicety, not a necessity. Democrats are already dropping, and more will follow. There is little chance that the president or congressional leaders will do much to force their own members into painful votes. The task of passing the president’s request will fall to – and bedevil – the Republican leaders who support military action against ISIS. The measure is already angering Republicans who see little reassurance about what they believe is a halfhearted war effort. And Obama has all but made clear that the status quo will persist at least as long as he is in office.
“What does he mean by defeat? I got degrade. What does he mean by defeat? Kill every last one of them? Is he talking about containment?” –Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., on “The Kelly File” Watch here.
Painful position - The president has got Republicans over a barrel, much in the same way that President George W. Bush had the advantage over Democrats in obtaining the current congressional authorization back in 2002. Republicans may not like what’s in Obama’s plan, but face enormous political consequences for not supporting the commander in chief at a time of war. And since Obama argues he doesn’t need the approval, there’s little leverage available to Republicans. The Constitution empowers the legislative branch to stop a president from fighting by denying funds for a war, but makes no provision for forcing a president to fight. After weeks of agonizing back and forth negotiating with themselves, Republicans will eventually have to accept something close to the initial gauzy request. At that point, Obama will happily drop it in his desk drawer and proceed as if it had never happened.
“The disaster that is Libya is now a breeding ground for terrorists and also a breeding ground for armament. I really do blame Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya for creating a lot of the chaos that is now spreading throughout the Middle East.” –Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on “America’s Newsroom” Watch here.
Squeaky wheel - Aside from distracting and dividing Republicans, the authorization move has another political advantage for the president: It inculpates the GOP in his unpopular war strategy. Without an authorization vote, Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates are free to deplore Obama’s war strategy. And that’s been good politics. In the latest Fox News poll, 73 percent of voters say President Obama does not have a clear plan to defeat ISIS, an increase of 9 percent from September when the air strikes began. 60 percent of voters believe that US ground troops will be necessary to defeat ISIS, a gain of 9 percent since September. But after they eventually sanction the war, Republicans will have far less to say about its conduct. Obama has built the perfect hamster wheel to keep Republicans spinning on foreign policy for months to come.
Ah, memories - Politico: [In his book, former top adviser to President Obama David Axelrod] characterizes the five weeks before the debate as a tense period, with the president having trouble boiling his answers down to sharp, succinct sound bytes and rejecting or ignoring constructive criticism. ‘Openly disdainful of the artifice the process demanded of him, he refused to indulge us by rehearsing his answers again and again until he had memorized them,’ Axelrod writes. After the final practice session the night before the big debate, Obama snapped at Axelrod after his adviser told him, ‘there’s some stuff we need to clean up.’ ‘[Motherf-----’s] never happy,’ the president said, storming off.”
THE JUDGE’S RULING: PRIVACY CLAIMS A FARCE
Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano examines privacy rights ahead of President Obama’s visit to California to tout new Internet and data regulations he has proposed. “If the terms and meaning of the Constitution could be changed by the secret whims of those in the executive branch into whose hands they have been reposed for safekeeping, of what value are they? No value. In such a world, our Constitution has become a worthless piece of paper.”
Don’t miss it - Former CIA and NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden will take on Napolitano in a Feb. 27 debate at CPAC entitled “Privacy Versus Security: Striking a Balance Between Civil Liberties and National Security.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
It was a cold February afternoon in 1924 that a young Broadway composer, George Gershwin debuted his concerto, ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’ Just after the New Year, Gershwin, his brother Ira and lyricist Buddy DeSylva were playing billiards when a notice in the New York Tribune caught their attention. A concert of new American music was going to be performed by Paul Whiteman and his Palais Royal Band on February 12. The article also said, “George Gershwin is at work on a jazz concerto.” This was news to George as his musical, ‘Sweet Little Devil,’ was opening in three weeks. Whiteman convinced Gershwin that all he had to do was create the piano score and Whiteman’s arranger, Ferde Grofé, would be able to orchestrate the rest. While traveling between Boston and New York for musical rehearsals, Gershwin sketched out the score. The completed work made it on time for the concert with its composer as soloist in front of a packed house including musical luminaries composer Rachmaninov, violinist Fritz Kreisler and conductor Leopold Stokowski .
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.6 percent//Disapprove – 50 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 35.3 percent//Wrong Track – 56.4 percent
UNION FRICTION POSES DANGERS FOR DEMS AHEAD OF 2016
City Journal’s Stephen Malanga explores the deepening rift between government worker unions and the remaining industrial unions. He says a series of struggles on the state level reveal the scope of the conflict: “This trend has become starkly visible in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker’s 2011 bill, Act 10, reduced collective bargaining rights for many public-sector workers, making him AFSCME’s Number One target in the 2014 elections. Among other efforts to boost the economy, however, Walker signed legislation that streamlined mining regulations, hoping to encourage outside investment. Every Democrat in the Wisconsin legislature opposed the bill on environmental grounds, but blue-collar unions like the Wisconsin Pipe Trades and the Milwaukee Building and Trades Council recognized its potential to create jobs for their members, and got behind it. … Walker wound up winning an impressive victory against Democratic challenger Mary Burke; even more telling, exit polls found that, three years after Act 10, 52 percent of Wisconsin voters had an unfavorable view of government unions.”
Union rips Obama’s ‘perverted’ pipeline process - The Hill: “The president of a top building trades union is accusing Democrats of ‘perverting’ the process for considering the Keystone pipeline. Just before a vote in which the House is expected to approve the pipeline, Terry O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers' International Union of North America [LIUNA], charged that President Obama and Democrats are out of line with not approving Keystone…‘To back up his expected veto, the president has correctly stated that there is ‘a well-established process in place’ to consider approval of major infrastructure projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline,’ O'Sullivan said. ‘What he didn’t say is that he and too many job-killing Democrats have perverted that process.’ Obama has repeatedly urged Congress not to circumvent the process, and to let the State Department continue its review of the project.”
CITY OF INDEPENDENCE SET FOR HILLARY CORONATION
USA Today: “Philadelphia has been chosen as the site of the 2016 Democratic convention, the national party announced Thursday. The Pennsylvania city beat out finalists Columbus, Ohio; and New York.”
More Dem jitters about Hillary hiding - WSJ: “Many of those close [presumptive Democratic 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton] believe that the former secretary of state can wait as long as she wants and is best served by delaying her entry in the 2016 race. At this point, an announcement is most likely to come between April and July, people familiar with the matter say…Some Democrats worry that if Mrs. Clinton coasts to the nomination without much of a fight, she might be rusty when she squares off against her Republican opponent in debates…Some fundraisers backing Mrs. Clinton say it is tougher to draw large financial commitments from donors until Mrs. Clinton formally jumps in.”
Bogus, dude - National Journal: “On Wednesday, the group Run Warren Run, which is fighting a quixotic campaign to convince Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016, released a much-hyped poll ‘Huge Opening for Elizabeth Warren in Iowa and New Hampshire,’ a press release from Democracy for America, one of the groups supporting Run Warren Run, crowed. …In this case, the Run Warren Run poll includes a string of ten leading questions that paint Warren in an exceedingly favorable light…”
[Vice President Joe Biden visits Des Moines today.]
GOTCHA: DEMS POUNCE ON WALKER DODGE ON EVOLUTION Bloomberg: “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declined to say whether he believes in evolution during an appearance in London aimed at boosting foreign-policy credentials ahead of a possible 2016 bid for the Republican presidential nomination. ‘I’m going to punt on that one,’ he told his interviewer after a speech on free trade Wednesday to about 200 people at the Chatham House think tank, which focuses on international affairs. ‘That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other,’ said Walker, 47. ‘I’m here to talk about trade, not to pontificate on other issues’”
Jet lag - Walker, the son of a pastor, later took to Twitter to explain he holds the mainstream view among American Christians: @ScottWalker: “Both science & my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God. I believe faith & science are compatible, & go hand in hand.”
[Listen to Fox: 2016 GOP hopeful former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum joined Brian Kilmeade on the “Kilmeade and Friends” radio show to discuss the pressures facing candidates when discussing their faith on the campaign trail. Listen here.]
Jeb’s buggy tech launch - US News: “For Jeb Bush, who’s trying to build his brand (and a potential presidential candidacy) as a tech-savvy, 21st-century Republican … this week’s had a few epic fails. On Monday, the man who called himself Florida’s ‘first eGovernor’ released a trove of emails he wrote and received when he held office there from 1999 to 2007, an effort to show transparency, and, arguably, how thoughtful he was when conducting state business…Before publishing the emails to the web, his team forgot to redact the senders’ personal information. …That same day, Team Bush announced it had hired Ethan Czahor as its chief technology officer, the guy in charge of tweets, email and all things digital for the presumed candidate’s campaign in waiting. All good, until Buzzfeed noticed some unusual activity on Czahor’s Twitter feed. A couple of clicks and a trip into the Wayback Machine later, and Buzzfeed had a scandal: Czahor was erasing a bunch of Tweets that smacked of homophobia and misogyny.”
S*#t candidates say - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is hosting a “Reboot Congress: Get S*#T Done,” event sponsored by conservative tech incubator Lincoln Labs. Featured speakers include Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Friendly competition - They have been political allies for 20 years and seem to have a lot of respect for each other, but what is the story behind the relationship Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush? The Washington Post takes a look.
Perry picks pollster - Houston Chronicle: “Former Gov. Rick Perry’s likely 2016 presidential campaign continued to take shape Wednesday with the addition of Republican pollster Greg Strimple. Strimple, president of Idaho-based public opinion firm GS Strategy Group, is joining Perry’s team as a senior adviser as the former governor lays the groundwork for a second bid for the White House…He has also worked for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.”
Kasich tests waters in South Carolina - WaPo: “Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a long-talked about potential Republican presidential contender, will travel to South Carolina next week to promote his hawkish brand of fiscal politics in one of the GOP primary’s early voting states…Kasich’s two-day swing, Feb. 18-19, will feature private meeting with state legislative leaders and party officials, according to Rob Nichols, the governor's spokesman. Kasich is also scheduled to hold a news conference.”
Chi-Town Chatter - Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., is delivering the keynote address at the Schaumburg County Lincoln Day Dinner tonight in suburban Chicago.
BIZZARO: OREGON GOVERNOR TEETERS
The Oregonian: “Gov. John Kitzhaber, facing a whirlwind of speculation that he would be soon leaving office, on Wednesday afternoon said he ‘has no intention of resigning. I was elected to do a job for the people of this great state and I intend to continue to do so,’ Kitzhaber said hours after rumors about his future spread quickly, fanned by Secretary of State Kate Brown's abrupt early return from a conference in Washington, D.C. Brown, who would become governor if Kitzhaber resigns, left a meeting of the secretaries of state association that she was presiding over to return to Portland…Kitzhaber has faced growing pressure from investigations into consulting contracts obtained by his fiancée Cylvia Hayes.”
BOB SIMON, R.I.P.
60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon died Wednesday in a car accident in New York City. CBS News: “‘It's a terrible loss for all of us at CBS News,’ 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager said…Bob was a reporter's reporter. He was driven by a natural curiosity that took him all over the world covering every kind of story imaginable,’ Fager said. ‘There is no one else like Bob Simon. All of us at CBS News and particularly at 60 Minutes will miss him very much…’ Over a 47-year career at CBS News, Simon earned more than 40 major awards, including 27 Emmys, believed to be the most ever earned for a field reporter and four Peabody Awards.”
‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRINCESS’
Would the greatest love letter of all time really begin: “We get old and get used to each other?” It depends on what comes next and who wrote it. A survey of 1,000 people by British insurance company Beagle Street asked participants to rank a selection of love letters. The options included swelling prose and passionate paeans from the likes of John Keats, Napoleon Bonaparte, Earnest Hemmingway and Ludwig van Beethoven. But what touched readers most was a rough-hewn note written by Johnny Cash from a tour stop in Denmark to his wife June in 1994 for her 65th birthday. The couple had been married for 26 years by then, but he wanted his woman to know he still meant business: “Maybe [we] sometimes take each other for granted. But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.” Just like Cash’s music, the raw honesty and straightforward message was a winner.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[President Obama] proposes here a strategy, although of course there are no details, in which he announces this is going to be for three years. He doesn't have to withdraw in three years but what is the purpose of putting a time limit on it in any way?…What you do is you say we are going to fight the war if you want an end date on it, until ISIS is defeated.” – 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 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 FoxNews.com. 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.