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Hillary’s hawks dump on Obama’s ISIS fight

Amb. Paul Bremer reacts to administration's 'weakness' in Middle East amid ISIS surge


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Buzz Cut:
• Hillary’s hawks dump on Obama’s ISIS fight
• Power Play: What kind of coverage does Hillary merit?
• Weekend rumble over NSA pits Paul against both parties
• Walker jumps in EPA fight
• Belgian beatdown

We have been reading a lot lately about the biggest blemish on Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state: the woebegone Libyan rebellion. Clinton was the principle advocate for U.S. military intervention to help Islamist rebels depose strongman Muammar Qaddafi. The results have been dire, but President Obama made clear from the beginning that he was an unwilling combatant – hence “leading from behind” – and has probably been relieved to see so much of the blame circle back to the hawkish Clinton and her coterie. But now it is Team Clinton’s turn.

The Center for a New American Security looks like the foreign policy shop for Clinton’s potential return to the White House. Clinton helped launch it in 2007 and its leadership includes the woman widely expected to be secretary of defense in a Clinton restoration, Michele Flournoy. So it’s not just the ordinary wonk talk when the Clintonite group puts out a damning indictment of Obama’s policy in Iraq and Syria. Clinton herself previously blamed Obama’s inaction in Syria for worsening the crisis, but did so in an oblique way. Now, her foreign policy familiars are making things more explicit saying that the plan is “failing” and “misguided” but potentially “counterproductive.”

While the White House is pushing hard to emphasize the Iraqification of the war effort against ISIS and trying to prop up the Baghdad government and strengthen its military forces, the Clinton-affiliated group is calling for more U.S. boots on the ground and bypassing Baghdad with aid to directly help Sunni provincial groups. In a CNN interview this week, Flournoy, who withdrew from consideration as Obama’s Pentagon boss, said the U.S. has “under-resourced this strategy”

The administration is obliged to respond to such sharp criticism from former officials, and we see here the beginning of the next round in the Clinton v. Obama foreign policy feud. This will complicate Obama’s effort to stay the course on his ISIS containment strategy but also may expose Clinton to liberal anxieties about her more hawkish nature.

A Washington think tank, the Center for a New American Security is “an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies.” Along with CNAS CEO Michele Flournoy, the executive team includes EVP Shawn Brimley, former Obama administration NSC staff member; CNAS President Richard Fontaine and SVP David Romley, both former advisers to Republican Sen. John McCain.

[“We’re fighting a politically correct war. We're fighting a public relations war. We're not really fighting to win that war.  And when you don't fight to win against someone who wants to win, you're not going to win. We're going to lose.” Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., on “The Kelly File” Thursday. Watch the full interview here. ]

Is it appropriate to give Hillary Clinton’s campaign the same coverage as a normal presidential run? Despite her refusal to abide by the norms of access and accountability amid ongoing revelations from the scandals that dog her run, reporters are still providing Clinton a platform from which to make her case.

There is an argument to be made for a prismatic approach in which coverage of the campaign is seen through the controversies themselves. But what about regular horse-race coverage, especially in a one-horse race?

Reporters on Thursday granted Clinton campaign flacks the privilege of extolling their wonderfulness in the form of an anonymous background briefing. Reporters would be allowed to say that Clinton officials said their campaign was going just dandy and that the drumbeat of ethical concerns was pure piffle, but not report the names of the individuals who were doing the piffle touting. Why? We’re not talking about edifying reporters on a foreign policy controversy that might embarrass an ally. We’re talking about the spin and logistics of a presidential campaign.

While attending, hearing out campaign officials and pressing for real information would be one thing, some reporters went right to the kind of gushy account that the campaign was surely hoping for. Does a detail like “Clinton’s staffers described her as happy and glad to be leading her campaign rather than letting her campaign lead her, as was often the case in 2007 and 2008” really require the veil of secrecy? Is that an appropriate privilege for a campaign that is kneecapping the press?

Given her canned events and walling off reporter questions, how should the media be covering Hillary Clinton’s campaign? Periodic misanthrope and columnist Charles Hurt and The Hill’s Kevin Cirilli give Chris Stirewalt their takes. WATCH HERE.

For the people - Tampa Bay Times: “Hillary Clinton brings her presidential campaign to Florida today but average people and reporters won’t have much of an opportunity, if any at all, to see her up close. When her visit was announced last week aides said she would do a public event. Now that seems off the table, but she might go for something small with little notice — a simple reach for a photo or clip on the TV news." A campaign spokesman would not comment on what she may do. Who will get to see her? People with a lot of money. Clintons is fundraising in Miami-Dade, Broward and Orlando.”

State Department cash flowed to Clinton donors - WashEx: “Countries and companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation or paid Bill Clinton heavy fees for speeches saw an increase in State Department activity while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state… A Washington Examiner analysis of Clinton Foundation donors suggests the State Department ramped up its diplomatic activity, foreign assistance and/or investment in countries that gave to the Clinton Foundation and hosted Bill Clinton for high-profile speeches.”

Baltimore activists plan to mar O’Malley’s launch over tough-on-crime policies - Baltimore Sun: “A Baltimore-based group is planning to protest former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s [D-Md.] expected presidential announcement on Saturday, arguing that his policing strategy as mayor is partly responsible for the riots that occurred last month. O’Malley, the former two term governor and mayor of Baltimore has faced questions over his tough-on-crime policies in the city — criticism that was amplified following death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody.”

[O’Malley released a video to supporters today that shows the musical politician, ahem, tuning up.]

If you think Congress is feeling the heat now, consider the scene this last weekend of May in 1932. With a deepening economic depression, many unemployed veterans of WWI demanded that Congress pay out a $1,000 bonus 13 years early. Led by former National Guardsman Walter Waters, the nearly 20,000-member “Bonus Army” began to converge on Washington, DC. They were initially encouraged when the House of Representatives passed the Patman Bill, which satisfied their requests. However, the measure later failed by a wide margin in the Senate. As tempers flared, several thousand veterans that had been camping in vacant federal buildings along the Anacostia River flats, refused to vacate the capital. The protest would end in a violent conflagration. Read all about it and the role of future Gen. Douglas MacArthur from “The American Experience.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve -  45 percent//Disapprove - 50.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction - 29.3 percent//Wrong Track - 62.3 percent

With the NSA’s bulk telephone data collection program set to shutdown at midnight Sunday, the Senate will meet to take a second run at the House-passed Freedom Act, which allows the collection to continue but storing the data with private companies. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and senate security hawks, who want a clean extension of the NSA program, blocked the measure last week and negotiators have been trying to hammer out a face-saving deal during the Senate recess.

[WSJ: “House Speaker John Boehner is so far refusing to come back early from Memorial Day recess before the May 31 hard deadline—cornering Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum. Thus the Senate Majority Leader can either release the House bill, which effectively ends the bulk collection of telephone metadata records and impairs the National Security Agency amid rising global threats. Or he can allow the larger legal architecture of U.S. antiterror defenses to collapse.”]

What happens? - LAT breaks down the timeline of the NSA shutdown slated for Sunday and what happens to data already collected.

Rand standing - Following a ten-hour filibuster over the Freedom Act, the focus again will be on Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and whether or not he will allow the Senate to vote on the measure one last time.  Earlier this week Paul tweeted, “On Sunday, I’m going to fight to END the NSA’s illegal spying program with everything I’ve got.” With the support of nearly 50 civil liberties advocates, including FreedomWorks and the American Civil Liberties Union, Paul is hoping for a repeat performance of last week when the measure failed by three votes.

Despite Sen. Ted Cruz’s, R-Texas, praise last week for Paul’s, “passionate defense of liberty,” Cruz has voiced his support for the measure. In a recent Tweet, Hillary Clinton also called for its passage saying, “Congress should move ahead now with the USA Freedom Act—a good step forward in ongoing efforts to protect our security & civil liberties.” While Paul’s aides say his plans for another filibuster are “TBD,” his supporters are already eagerly snagging Senate Gallery passes in anticipation of another late night.

The ‘capitulating Canadian’ - The super PAC backing Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is taking the gloves off in its latest attack on his GOP rivals. The ad from America’s Liberty PAC, takes a direct hit at Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas calling him a “Capitulating Canadian.”  Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is also blasted for “trying to read your emails while doing donuts in a 1997 Geo Metro.” WaPo got it first.

AP: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican eyeing a presidential run in 2016, says President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants is ‘unworkable.’ Wisconsin will not comply with the president's plan without ‘significant and meaningful changes,’ Walker said. ..In a letter to Obama dated May 21, Walker complained that the proposed rule was ‘riddled with inaccuracies’ and ‘questionable assumptions’ that made it unworkable for his state. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.”

Rubio stakes his claim in Nevada - WaPo: “[Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.] is in the midst of a two-day swing through a battleground he once called home. Among the four early states, Nevada is perhaps the best test case for Rubio’s emerging strategy to present himself as a new kind of Republican… ‘Nevada is going to be an important state for us,’ Rubio said. ‘Obviously, Las Vegas is a place where I have some roots and still a lot of family’… On Friday, Rubio plans to participate in a technology start-up roundtable discussion before heading north to Reno to meet with GOP activists.”

Power Play: High in the middle - Ohio Gov. John Kasich is looming larger as he talks about joining the Republican field, but he’s on the low end of the bubble in the polls. Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt and The Hill’s Kevin Cirilli join Chris Stirewalt to assess Kasich’s prospects. WATCH HERE.

Fox News Sunday: In hot pursuit - As Hillary Clinton has taken a lot of heat for avoiding media questions during her campaign, host Chris Wallace welcomes the only other woman running for president. Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will be his exclusive guest. “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.

Christie moves right again, this time on Common Core - AP: “New Jersey  [Republican] Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday that he is ordering his state to back away from the Common Core school standards that he once championed but that are hugely unpopular among conservative voters across the country… ‘ It’s now been five years since Common Core was adopted. And the truth is that it’s simply not working,’ Christie said in the speech at Burlington County College. ‘Instead of solving problems in our classrooms, it is creating new ones. And when we aren't getting the job done for our children, we need to do something different.’’’

Jeb rallies ‘radical’ education reform - During a Thursday visit to Lansing, Mich., former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., said, “The system we have today is holding us back as a country.”  Bush did not back off his support of the controversial Common Core educational standards and called for “a radical transformation of our education system,” that is child-centered with “robust accountability.”

#mediaBuzz: The press’ popularity contest - Host Howard Kurtz welcomes Republican message maven Mercedes Schlapp, Democratic digital guru Joe Trippi and WashEx’s Susan Ferrechio to dive deep into 2016 coverage. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.

Fox News: “Federal prosecutors indicted former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert Thursday on charges he allegedly hid payments he made to an apparent blackmailer in order to compensate for and conceal “prior misconduct.” The 73-year-old Illinois Republican is accused of structuring the withdrawal of $925,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He is also accused of lying to the FBI about the withdrawals. Hastert was indicted on two counts, both carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine…A spokesman for the lobbying and law firm where Hastert worked in Washington, D.C., told The Associated Press late Thursday that Hastert has resigned his post.”

When it comes to breakfast, you just don’t stand between vacationers in Western Michigan and their waffles. Travelers at America’s Best Value Inn in Pere Marquette Township learned just how seriously some take their first meal of the day when a woman cut the line to the waffle maker. “One lady walked up to another lady and asked if she was in line for the waffle maker thing and the lady never answered her,” Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole told WWJ. “So the first lady went and made a waffle, and when she went to go and take it this other gal tried to take it from her and that started the fight over the waffle.” What then ensued was a breakfast battle royale that resulted in nearly 30 people being ejected from the hotel. “We had two-thirds of our road patrol tied up on this fiasco,” Cole said.

“[Hillary Clinton] has no legacy as secretary of state. I mean, if that’s it, where essentially it was the beginning of a trade treaty where she said it was the gold standard but it means so little to her that she now says I have no idea what’s in it, I don't know how I’m going to end up, tells you what the four years were spent doing and amounts to essentially zero in terms of accomplishment.” – ­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.