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• Bergdahl deal highlights Hillary’s pickle on Obama doctrine
• Boehner scores victories on budget, Medicare
• About-face: Rand calls for big Pentagon buildup
• How ‘bout a Fresca? Jeb’s Judge Smails problem
• She’s an animal after last call
BERGDAHL DEAL HIGHLIGHTS HILLARY’S PICKLE ON OBAMA DOCTRINE
President Obama has evidently committed himself to using the remaining 22 months of his presidency to permanently alter the trajectory of U.S. foreign policy. Trading five Islamist commanders for a single soldier now accused of deserting his comrades is something the administration still says was a good move. It sounds kind of crazy to say, but put it a larger context. While the president has worked against the idea of “creative destruction” in the American economy, he’s been an enthusiast for the idea when it comes to foreign policy.
For example, Saudi Arabia and Iran fighting a proxy war in Yemen under the shadow of a potential nuclear arms race is something any of Obama’s recent predecessors would have sought to avoid. This administration, however, maintains that the president’s policy on Yemen has been a good one. Some of this is just spin, but much of this attitude stems for a belief that the current wreckage and destruction in the region constitute “bumps in the road” that leads to stable, free societies. It’s a long shot, to say the least, but it’s not of much political consequence to the president. Democrats and Republicans alike are afraid to withhold funding for his war efforts and unable to force him to act differently. But what about his designated Democratic successor?
Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes ride on many things, but arguably none so much as her ability to defend the Obama doctrine. She has praised the Bergdahl prisoner swap. She will have to keep on praising it, even as the defendant’s trial proceeds – even as we hear more stories about the subsequent actions of the enemy fighters released or of the American lives lost and objectives squandered in the search for the alleged deserter. The same goes double for the nightmare that followed the Libyan regime change she helped author. That is her main legacy as secretary of state. But her obligation to the Obama doctrine also applies to the disastrous courtship of Vladimir Putin and the nuclear deal with Iran. Clinton will nudge Obama on Syria, where she previously argued unsuccessfully for attacking the despot the U.S. is now aiding against a more virulent foe, and on the rupture of U.S.-Israeli relations. But the presumptive Democratic nominee will mostly have to think of new ways to sell her old boss’ policies. That includes trading accused deserters for Taliban commanders.
[“The fact that this administration began these discussions essentially conceding that they’re going to allow enrichment to go forward with the Iranians just shows you that they don’t have the same level of concern that I think I and Senator [Marco Rubio, R-Fla.] and many others out there have, that a nuclear Iran is a problem for the entire world, not just for Israel.” – Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt Wednesday.]
The Judge’s Ruling - Observing that a public unwilling to challenge government’s fixation on spying is silently amending its Constitutional right to privacy, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano writes:“[N]othing will destroy our personal liberties more effectively than the government refusing to honor them and Americans sheepishly accepting that. And without freedom, what are we?”
BOEHNER SCORES VICTORY WITH BUDGET, MEDICARE PLAN
After a long winter, House leaders are having a happy spring. They passed, improbably, a budget with ease on Wednesday. The House today is expected to advance a bill that would end the annual kabuki dance of delaying scheduled cuts to Medicare from the Clinton-Gingrich budget deals of the 1990s. It’s a big win for Speaker John Boehner who touts the deal in a National Review op-ed: “We know that more and more seniors have been losing access to their doctors because of Medicare rules. If enacted, this bill will permanently replace one of Washington’s most infamous budget gimmicks, SGR, with a more stable system that rewards quality and innovation. In doing so, not only will we reassure seniors that they can count on Medicare and continue to see their own doctor, but we will also put in place a stronger Medicare program for Americans who are trying to care for elderly parents….This would be the first real entitlement reform in nearly two decades, and that’s a big win for conservatives.”
Much less fun than the name implies - Lots of yeas and nays but little legislation on tap today as the Senate holds it’s politically charged “vote-a-rama.” Hundreds of amendments have been teed-up in an effort by the parties to make their opponents across the aisle look bad by forcing Senators to go on the record on controversial issues. Roll Call takes a look at the marathon ritual’s effort to generate attack-ad fodder.
[Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel has the latest on the budget debate live from Capitol Hill]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Author Charles Leadbetter asks a question of growing significance as Americans looks for new ways to help loved ones suffering with dementia from Alzheimer’s: Are you more than your memories?: “The notion of an embedded identity takes us into much more fertile territory when it comes to considering meaningful care for dementia sufferers. It implies that the main challenge is to work imaginatively and empathetically to find common ground, creating conversational topics and cues that help make connections with people, despite their failing memory…[I]t helps if we see that people with dementia are still involved in the struggle all of us are involved in, to make and remake ourselves, to find and assert who we are, even as we change and cast aside parts of who we once were – jobs, relationships, hairstyles…Instead of squeezing people with dementia into complicated systems designed for people who can remember who the President is, we should find kinder, less judgmental ways to be with them.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.3 percent//Disapprove – 50.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.4 percent//Wrong Track – 60.4 percent
ABOUT-FACE: RAND CALLS FOR BIG PENTAGON BUILDUP
Time: “In an olive branch to defense hawks hell-bent on curtailing his White House ambitions, the libertarian Senator [Rand Paul] introduced a budget amendment late Wednesday calling for a nearly $190 billion infusion to the defense budget over the next two years—a roughly 16 percent increase….The move completes a stunning reversal for Paul, who in May 2011, after just five months in office, released his own budget…slashing the Pentagon, a sacred cow for many Republicans. Under Paul’s original proposal, defense spending would have dropped from $553 billion in the 2011 fiscal year to $542 billion in 2016… But under Paul’s new plan, the Pentagon will see its budget authority swell by $76.5 billion to $696,776,000,000 in fiscal year 2016.”
[[Charleston, S.C.] Post Courier: “[Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky.] presidential kickoff in South Carolina is set for April 9 in front of the aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point, according to his in-state supporters. The U.S. senator from Kentucky will visit two days after his formal kickoff in his home state.”]
First lady audition - NH Journal: “Kelley Paul, wife of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, has scheduled her own visit to New Hampshire on ‘tax day,’ April 15… Rand Paul is expected to visit the state on April 8, the day after he announces for President, and will appear, along with 16 other announced or potential candidates, at NHGOP’s ‘First-in-the-Nation Republican Leadership Summit’ in Nashua on April 17 and 18.”
HOW ‘BOUT A FRESCA?: JEB’S JUDGE SMAILS PROBLEM
WashEx’s David Drucker takes a look at Jeb Bush’s effort to make inroads with younger voters: “That has included outreach to young professionals and millennials, led by Bush’s son, Jeb Bush Jr., 31. The [Right to Rise] PAC recently completed a round of fundraisers focused on courting young professionals, with events held in Chicago, Miami and New York… The competitive GOP field includes several potential top contenders in their 40s and early 50s…. In this group, the 62 year-old Bush stands out as an elder statesman. But political pollsters and demographers who study the data note that while age might help politicians forge connections with the young cohort, generational similarity is not determinative. Voters ages 18-34 want details.”
Religious right balking at Bush? - NYT examines how the religious right is seeking to unify behind a more conservative alternative to Jeb Bush.
[Listen to Fox: Jeb Bush will join Brian Kilmeade on “Kilmeade and Friends” at 11:30 am ET. ]
Today - Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., will be joined by his father, former president George H. W. Bush, mother Barbara, and former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, at a fundraiser in Houston.
SMALL DONORS MEAN BIG BUCKS FOR CRUZ
Fox News has confirmed that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas., raised nearly $1 million in his first day of campaigning. Nearly 95 percent of the donations received were donors giving $250 dollars or less. Following Cruz’s Monday appearance on the “The Kelly File,” the Texas senator raked in in 952 donors who contributed $70,486. US News has more.
KASICH’S TOUGH SALES PITCH: MORE WELFARE SPENDING
Fresh from a two-day swing in New Hampshire, Ohio governor and potential 2016 contender John Kasich is touting a brand of conservatism that is at times at odds with party orthodoxy, CNN reports. “Kasich’s case for a fiscal conservatism that is rewarded by a greater human experience as much as a surplus budget is essential to his potential candidacy, where many conservative voters may criticize his decision to expand Medicaid in his state by accepting federal money made available through Obamacare. The former House Budget Committee chairman -- who has been barnstorming the country trying to get enough states on board to ratify a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution -- says fiscal conservatism can't simply be about getting the ledger sheet to show a surplus. It must also be about applying that available money to the right kinds of programs to help socioeconomically disadvantaged Americans help themselves to a brighter future.”
[Kasich continues his Northeastern swing today with a stop in Maine to push for a balanced budget amendment.]
For real? - Howard Kurtz wonders if Kasich’s presidential hopes, that are gaining a lot of media attention, are simply all talk.
WITH ESTABLISHMENT BEHIND JEB, CHRISTIE ADOPTS HARDER LINE ON IMMIGRATION
New Jersey Star Ledger: “Gov. Chris Christie [R-N.J.] is supporting Texas and other states suing the federal government over President Obama's amnesty program for unauthorized immigrants. Christie this week joined governors in three states — Texas, Louisiana, and South Dakota — in a court brief opposing the federal government's request to implement executive orders, according to court documents. The lawsuit stems from court proceedings initiated by 26 states after Obama announced wide-reaching executive actions on immigration in November. New Jersey and the governor did not join the lawsuit. Rather, the governor opted to weigh in with the court arguing Obama's policies should not take effect.”
[Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., hosts a luncheon in Houston with developer and restaurateur Ray Washburne and Texas oilman Paul Lloyd.]
PERRY TALKS ABOUT HIS COLLAR’S COLOR
Former Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry’s, Rick PAC, is debuting a Web ad highlighting his recent stops in Iowa. Perry appears in the ad saying, “We long for someone in this country who has the experience to take America on a different path than it is on today.”
SHE’S AN ANIMAL AFTER LAST CALL
British pub owners Ian and Vicky Taylor-Ross are suffering the consequences of their choice for a guard animal after they discovered it had an affinity for alcohol. The couples’ micro pig, Frances Bacon, is proving to be a “loveable menace” after she was caught stealing scraps left behind at the bar and becoming somewhat of a lush. Now, they are warning patrons to not let Frances near their drinks. “She’s lovely - definitely our favorite regular. We’ve had to bar her from having any beer though,” Ian Ross told the BBC. “She managed to nick a pint or two and then started butting into people. But we’re keeping a closer eye on her now and that won’t happen again.”
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 11:30 a.m. ET, click 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.