Obama can't resist partisanship in terror speech

President's address on San Bernardino shooting, terror threats


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Buzz Cut:
• Obama can’t resist partisanship in terror speech
• 2016 GOP Power Index: Carson reaches terminal velocity
• Power Play: Hatch lays out ObamaCare repeal
• Not the kind of super PAC attention he was hoping for
• Lick your own Putin!

President Obama
’s critics can at least be happy that in the wake of the San Bernardino attack, he is at least talking about weapons. That has to be an improvement on his call for global warming regulations in response to the Islamist raid on Paris last month.

One supposes he could have urged Americans to enroll in ObamaCare or to cut out fatty foods as a rebuke to evildoers. At least gun control is about guns.

But in the broader sense, the president’s call for restrictions on firearms sales in the wake of the attack is of the same nature as his Paris posture: Using the attention generated by terrorism to push his domestic agenda.

It has long been said that the president is much more interested in domestic policy than foreign policy and it’s certainly no mystery what his priorities are for his final 13 months in office: global warming and gun control.

So is he being cynical in exploiting national attention to plump for his legacy projects?

Maybe he was just looking for a way to explain why he was going to Paris just two weeks after the attack for an unrelated purpose – more of an excuse than an exploitation. Or maybe he really believes that the two issues are connected. But even if you grant the president the assumption of sincerity in his global warming response to Paris, it still looks pretty tacky.

What about his crusade for gun control measures? Three years ago, Obama promised to do “everything in [his] power” to end mass shootings. He also made clear that he saw regulations on firearms the cornerstone of that effort.

It hasn’t worked. There have been more people killed in mass shootings in the three years since that speech than in the three years before the slaughter that precipitated it. Even many Democrats have ignored the president’s call for new gun laws.

Part of the problem has been that the laws proposed – particularly the demand for background checks on private sales – would not have prevented the Newtown, Conn. school massacre or many, if any, of the subsequent killings.

If you propose a controversial law in response to a tragedy, the law ought to at least have been able to have been effective in that case.

And on that count, the president’s call for banning gun sales to those 700,000-or-so Americans who aren’t allowed to fly on commercial planes comes up similarly short. “If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun,” the president said.

But the killers in California apparently weren’t on the “no-fly” list. They were deemed safe to travel.

The hope among Democrats seems to be that by winning any new restriction of gun sales, even if small or simply symbolic, they can start to build momentum for other, larger restrictions.

Or perhaps the president is simply out of ideas when it comes to domestic terror attacks. There have been at least three substantial attacks by Islamists in the U.S. on his watch and it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be more.

But given the way that the president structured his Sunday night address, it’s hard not to think that he saw a political opportunity in tragedy and hoped to steer national fear and outrage toward his desired outcome. After speaking as commander in chief for five minutes – strong, reassuring, non-partisan – he shifted in topic and tone to rebuke his political rivals for alleged Islamophobia and support for gun rights.

It was almost as if he couldn’t resist trying to make the most of the moment. Like they say: Never let a crisis go to waste.

Hillary still says no to term ‘radical Islam’ - Fox News: “Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton declined Sunday to say that a ‘radical’ form of Islam is behind terror attacks connected to the Islamic State and other such attacks committed by fringe members of the Muslim religion. ‘I don't want to do that because, No. 1, it doesn't do justice to the vast numbers of Muslims in our own country and around the world who are peaceful people,’ she told ABC’s ‘This Week.’”

‘The nature of freedom’ - Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., went to San Bernardino to record his response to President Obama’s remarks: “This is not about workplace violence. This is not about global warming or gun shows. This is not about income inequality. This is not about kids from broken homes, as tragic as that is. This is not about anything we have done wrong. This is about who we are. This is about the nature of freedom.”

WaPo: “Inside an old aircraft factory [in Nebraska], behind the glass windows of a pristine laboratory, the lost crew of the USS Oklahoma rests on special tables covered in black foam…They are the unidentified remains of hundreds of sailors and Marines who perished 74 years ago Monday, when Japan launched a surprise air attack on Hawaii and plunged the United States into World War II…Over the past six months, with a fresh mandate from the Defense Department, the bones were exhumed from a cemetery in Hawaii and most were brought to a new lab here, where scientists have begun the task. The goal is to send the men home… The Oklahoma’s loss of life at Pearl Harbor — a total of 429 sailors and Marines…Thus far, the DPAA has made seven identifications, a spokeswoman said last week. But officials are still reaching out to family members, and no identifications have been publicly announced.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.0 percent//Disapprove – 51.2 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 28.4 percent//Wrong Track – 63.0 percent

Ben Carson
seems to have reached terminal velocity -- the maximum speed at which any object (or candidate) can fall.

In his case, the force of gravity is his unreadiness to address broad-spectrum national security issues at the exact moment the Republican electorate focuses on that subject. What is slowing his collapse in national polls is the wellspring of good feelings voters continue to have about Carson.

Unfortunately for Carson, his current rate of descent would have him out of the race in two months. The question now is whether the one-time frontrunner has a second act within him. Four years ago, Newt Gingrich returned from an initial collapse  had a The Carson campaign has emphasized that its high spending rate was devoted to more than just raising additional funds from small-dollar donors, and that there was a real organization in the making. The next few weeks will reveal whether that really was the case.

Carson’s loss in this week’s Power Index is Jeb Bush’s gain. There is still no apparent path to the nomination for the former Florida governor who boasts the second highest unfavorability rating among Republicans, better only than Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Bush has been on a media blitz with both advertisements and interviews, but has yet to see material gains. And now Bush has to worry about the growing specter of a Chris Christie renaissance as the New Jersey governor hugs New Hampshire voters tighter than Jerry Jones in a skybox.

In the top-tier, Donald Trump again shows the value of intense support. As the Quinnipiac University poll out last week shows us again Trump enjoys the highest share of voters who say they have made up their minds of any candidate. There may be serious constraints on Trump’s broader appeal within the party but among his voters there is no one but him. 

1) Ted Cruz; 2) Marco Rubio; 3) Donald Trump [+1]; 4) Carly Fiorina [-1]; 5) Jeb Bush [+1]; 6) Ben Carson [-1];

On the radar - Chris ChristieJohn KasichRand PaulMike Huckabee and Rick Santorum

[Watch Fox: Chris Stirewalt joins “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson” in the 2 p.m. ET hour with the latest on who’s up and who’s down in the 2016 Power Index.]

What would you say? - Give us your take on the 2016 Power Index. We will share the best and brightest with the whole class. Send your thoughts to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM

Rubio ad hits the Hawkeye state today - Fox News: “Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio ‎is releasing a new TV ad in the crucial early voting state of Iowa ahead of the White House aspirant’s return to the Hawkeye state this week…The ad uses portions of Rubio’s presidential announcement speech in Miami, last April -- and focuses on his generational argument…”

Rubio, Carson run best against Clinton - A new MSNBC/Marist poll finds Rubio, Carson run best against Clinton. Cruz, Trump run the worst in the general election matchups.

Cruz launched his ads over the weekend - Sen. Ted Cruz launched two 30-second ads in Iowa over the weekend. One features the endorsement from the state’s Rep. Steve King, and the other on building a stronger defense against ISIS. The ads are part of a two-week buy that includes digital and radio.

[Wins Minnesota straw poll - Star Tribune: “Cruz, of Texas, finished first among 14 Republican candidates in the poll of 283 influential party activists.”]

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, gives Chris Stirewalt his first reaction to the successful gambit by Senate Republicans to advance a measure to repeal ObamaCare, a cause Hatch has championed since the law was passed. While Obama will surely veto the measure, Hatch says that there will be real repercussions – particularly if the GOP can pull off a presidential victory in 2016.Hatch, the longest-serving Senate Republican and chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, discusses where the road goes from here. WATCH HERE.

Pro-GOP group America Rising is having some fun with Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet who the group says posted unedited shots of himself campaigning in what seems to be an attempt to indirectly coordinate with outside groups making ads on his behalf. Bennet is a vulnerable incumbent Democrat, and has been vocal opponent of outside money in campaigns.

America Rising took him up on the offer to use the video to make an attack ad targeting the Bennet on his support for ObamaCare, which is blamed for huge insurance coverage disruptions in the state, and the president’s now infamous “if you like it, you can keep it” pledge.

“Sen. Bennet is apparently soliciting Super PAC assistance and America Rising is happy to help get the facts out about his record,” said America Rising Press Secretary Amelia Chassé said in a statement. “Sen. Bennet betrayed the people of Colorado when he repeated President Obama’s lie that Americans could keep their doctor under Obamacare.”

Reuters: Russians gathered on Saturday in the city of St Petersburg for a chocolate fair with one rather special guest. Russian President Vladimir Putin was in attendance, except this Putin was made of chocolate. A St. Petersburg sculptor, Nikita Gusev, was commissioned to fashion the life-size sculpture for the Chocolate Fair. ... Organisers said the Putin sculpture was to be the main attraction at the fair but warned there would be no touching, licking or biting allowed. … One of those in attendance, St. Petersburg resident Yelena, found it all rather amusing. “Unfortunately in real life there are many people who want to lick him and even more [when he is] in chocolate form. You understand what I am talking about. We have a lot of people who like to lick the authorities.”


Woody Allen said showing up is 80 percent of life. In that sense, he showed up, finally appeared to address the issue. I think that counts for something. As to the substance and tone, I think it's a complete failure.” – Charles Krauthammer responding to President Obama’s remarks on last week’s terrorist attack in California.

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.