Fox News Halftime Report

Not so funny now for Democrats

Strategy Room: David Mercer and Matt Keelen weigh in on President Obama's statement about Trump not wanting to attend intelligence briefings

 

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On the roster: Not so funny now for Democrats - Trump nixes divestment announcement but promises ‘no new deals’ during term - In a blow to Ellison, Perez to run for DNC chairman - Perry to head agency he forgot he wanted to end - Delete your account

NOT SO FUNNY NOW FOR DEMOCRATS
Have you heard the one about the outgoing president who chides his successor for not being diligent enough?

Yeah. He did it on Comedy Central!

Cue the sad trombones because here were are at the moment when President Obama and his fellow Democrats try to get President-elect Donald Trump to obey the norms that Obama has had so much fun violating.

“I think the president-elect may say one thing and do another once he’s here,” Obama said of Trump’s decision to shun daily intelligence briefings. The seriousness of office and all, don’t you know.

It was apparently lost on Obama that he was telling it to Trevor Noah, the host of “The Daily Show,” a satirical newscast that was popular among Democrats when it was hosted by Jon Stewart.

It was also perhaps lost on Obama that the reason Trump thinks he can get away with not having a daily conversation with his intelligence team is that Obama did it first.

This was once, of course, a massive, coronary-inducing issue for Republicans. They ran attack ads for Obama skipping briefings. They savaged the president week after week for being nonchalant about the daily grind of national security.

As Marc Thiessen put it with his typical clarity: “When Obama forgoes this daily intelligence meeting, he is consciously placing other priorities ahead of national security.”

Now, Trump doesn’t take briefings because, as he told Chris Wallace, he’s “like, smart.” While it is certainly something to see Republicans stand gobsmacked as Trump blows raspberries at a convention they once demanded be observed, the real action here is watching Democrats trying to resurrect conventions they helped destroy.

Trump met today with rapper and professional famous person Kanye West. Sources close to West, who’s recent institutionalization for mental illness interfered with his television role as the spouse of fellow famous person Kim Kardashian, told, who else, E! News that West went to meet Trump at the behest of the transition team to discuss his role as “ambassador of sorts.”

Trump met today with other African American celebrities, so one can gather that the figurative ambassadorial role would be to black America.

Democrats would no doubt like to throw their hands up to shout in disgust that this is no way for a man preparing to assume the role as the most powerful person in the world to spend his time. West is unserious, they wish they could say, and unsuitable for a role in public life.

But then Republicans would just show them the picture of Jay-Z in the White House situation room and be all like “Bwhahahahahahahah!”

Again, Trump’s sit-down with West is embarrassing for Republicans who spent much of the last eight years condemning Obama as a celebrity president and a dilettante who enjoyed the trappings of power but not the attendant duties. It looks to be a long eight years for the furrowed-brow caucus.

But as Trump stood there in the lobby of his building showing off West, who said “I just want to take a picture right now,” it was hard not to think of all of the times Democrats defended the president against trading the dignity of the office for celebrity status.

Can it be okay for Obama to mug for selfies at Nelson Mandela’s funeral but not for Trump to parade West before reporters? Can it be okay for Obama to be interviewed by a woman previously most famous for enthusiastically broadcasting herself sitting in a bathtub full of milk and cereal but not for Trump to recruit from professional wrestling for his administration?

Part of the problem in Democrats essential belief that the Republican Party was doomed is that they didn’t sufficiently imagine life under a Republican presidency.

Trump hasn’t held a press conference since July and just cancelled the one he was supposed to have on Thursday. That’s rightly troubling to reporters who worry that Trump is going to freeze out the press and, by extension, accountability.

Democrats say it’s an outrage.

But when Obama cut in half the number of press conferences held by his predecessor in his first term, denied routine access to reporters and asked news agencies to use pictures provided by the White House publicity shop, Democrats said it was no big deal. Obama defined down expectations and now Trump is just polishing them off.

And we haven’t even gotten to the real stuff yet.

Wait until Democrats are faced with Trump’s exploitation of the conventions Obama ruined on executive orders, domestic surveillance, the use of military power and bipartisanship. Democrats will quail and quaver and Republicans will say: “You defended your guy having a ‘kill list’ and killing Americans without trial.”

And probably also: “Bwhahahahahahahah!”

America is well served by the norms obeyed by people in power. The veneer of decency and deference – hypocritical as it may sometimes be – acts as a check on tyranny. Some of the conventions are fussy and outdated, but many, like accountability, the appearance of seriousness and acting deferential to others are enormously important.

Democrats are going to be sorry for much of what Obama did to change the presidency because the punchline is going to be a doozy.

THE RULEBOOK: IDLE HANDS AND ALL…
“So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 10

TIME OUT: TENSION OF TIME
What is time and how is it measured? Hint: it may not be by a clock. New Yorker: “For St. Augustine, writing his ‘Confessions’ in the year 397, time was even simpler: it’s us…Time may seem slippery and maddeningly abstract, but it’s also deeply intimate, infusing our every word and gesture. Its essence, Augustine argued, can be gleaned from a single line of speech: ‘Deus creator omnium.’ ‘God, creator of all things.’ Say it aloud or listen: in Latin, eight syllables, alternating short and long…Yet how do we manage to make this measurement? Its duration can’t be defined until it’s completed, but by then both syllables are gone. ‘Both have made their sound, and flown away, and passed by, and exist no more,’ Augustine wrote, asking, ‘So what now exists for me to measure?’ Here Augustine arrived at an insight so fundamental that it’s taken as a given: time is a property of the mind.”

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TRUMP NIXES DIVESTMENT ANNOUNCEMENT BUT PROMISES ‘NO NEW DEALS’ DURING TERM
NYT: “President-elect Donald J. Trump said late Monday night that ‘no new deals will be done’ by his real estate business while he is in the Oval Office, a promise that appeared meant to address ethical concerns about conflicts of interest between his elected position and his real estate empire. But the move is unlikely to satisfy critics, including the government’s official ethics office, who have said the only way for Mr. Trump to avoid such conflicts is to entirely divest his stake in the Trump Organization. Mr. Trump said on Twitter just after 11:30 p.m. that he would leave his businesses before his inauguration and that his grown sons, Eric and Donald Jr., along with other executives, would manage them. He added, ‘No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office,’ and promised to hold a news conference soon to discuss the plans. Mr. Trump had originally said, in an earlier Twitter post, that he would announce his business plans during a news conference on Dec. 15. But officials with the transition confirmed on Monday that the news conference had been delayed.”

IN A BLOW TO ELLISON, PEREZ TO RUN FOR DNC CHAIRMAN
AP: “Labor Secretary Tom Perez is telling senior Democratic officials that he plans to mount a bid for the head of the Democratic National Committee. Perez, who was urged to run by White House officials, will challenge Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the early front-runner for the post, according to a Democratic strategist familiar with the conversations who requested anonymity to discuss private plans. Ellison has faced mounting opposition from top Democrats, labor leaders and some Jewish groups, who’ve raised questions about his comments about Israel, his defense of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and his commitment to his own party.”

TRUMP GAINS AS RECOUNT ENDS IN WISCONSIN
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Republican President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in Wisconsin was reaffirmed Monday following a presidential recount that showed him defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 22,000 votes. Clerks around Wisconsin rushed to recount nearly 3 million ballots ahead of a federal deadline on Tuesday, but in the end little changed, with Trump adding just 131 votes to his margin…In the end, Clinton gained 713 votes over her previous total, but Trump gained 844. The cost to Stein and her supporters was thousands of dollars for every vote changed.”

Michigan’s recount ends too, but some counties will be audited - Detroit Free Press: “Four days after the Michigan Supreme Court denied a motion to restart a recount of the nearly 4.8 million ballots cast for president in the state, the Board of State Canvassers will meet to go over the lessons learned from the partial recount. One of the chief things learned from the three days of recounting in 26 counties was the sheer number of ballots that couldn’t actually be recounted because of mistakes in the way the ballots were recorded or ballot containers that were improperly secured.”

All about the green - AP: “Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein says she plans to donate any money left over from the $7.3 million she raised to force recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stein said Tuesday that the exact costs of the recounts aren’t known yet, but she expects to have money left over.”

RNC doubles down on electors ahead of meeting Dec. 19 - Politico: “Two RNC sources familiar with the effort said the committee — with the assistance of state Republican parties and the Trump campaign — have been in touch with most of the GOP electors multiple times, and has concluded that only one is a risk to cast a vote against Trump on Dec. 19, when the Electoral College meets.”

[Stahp! - WaPo’s Aaron Blake runs down the margins of meaningless election stats liberals keep citing.]

PERRY TO HEAD AGENCY HE FORGOT HE WANTED TO END
Former Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, has reportedly been tapped to lead the Energy department, but during his 2012 presidential bid, Perry cited the agency as one he wanted to get rid of, but forgot the name during one of the primary debates. USA Today: “The Energy Department is the same federal agency Perry wanted to eliminate — and then forgot to name when asked which departments he would shut down. ‘I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education, and — what’s the third one there? Let’s see,’ Perry said during a Republican presidential primary debate in November 2011.”

GOP SEEKS TO LIMIT RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIONS
The Hill: “Republicans are seeking to put a limit on congressional investigations of Russian interference in the presidential election. In both chambers, leaders have given ownership of the issue to the intelligence committees, which are among the most secretive on Capitol Hill. In doing so, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have united behind the need for Congress to investigate Moscow’s alleged attempt to interfere with the election — but rebuffed calls from Democrats for far broader probes. McConnell on Monday morning also rejected calls from Armed Services Chair John McCain, R-Az., for a select Senate committee, although he expressed support for a separate review of cyber threats from within Armed Services.”

House intel committee seek answers from divided intelligence community -WaPo: “The chairman of the House’s Intelligence Committee is demanding a reckoning from the country’s spy chief for why lawmakers weren’t told about division in the intelligence community over Russian hacking allegations that appeared in recent news reports. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, asking him to explain why lawmakers weren’t told about an apparent disconnect between the CIA and FBI analyses of the purpose behind Russia’s alleged meddling in U.S. elections before reports on the topic appeared in the press.”

AUDIBLE: THE EYES HAVE IT
“Both Trump and Tillerson need to know that Putin is Machiavellian and gets rid of ppl who expose him as such. Both Bush&Obama were hoodwinkd.” – Rep. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeting about the dangers of Vladimir Putin

PLAY-BY-PLAY
ExxonMobil global issues will linger for Tillerson at State - NYT

Conway says Trump sees moving U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem a ‘very big priority’ - WSJ

What Plato told us about #Pizzagate - WaPo

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Perhaps you have commented on this before, but don’t you find it rich that Democrats are apoplectic over the Russians (presumably) interfered in our presidential election after President Obama sent money and staffers to Israel to interfere in their election - namely, to oppose Netanyahu?” – Jonathan Kahnoski, Meridian, Idaho

[Ed. note: This is an era rich in ironies. As we discussed above, the thing about transfers of power is that they reveal hypocrisy like nothing else. Just as Republicans who were once critical of Obama for things they now condone in Trump, Democrats who once ignored Obama’s crasser ways now deplore the same things with Trump. As citizens we should value most the voices who are willing to be, dare I say, fair and balanced.]

“[Monday’s story about men botoxing their scrotum is] just about the weirdest thing I’ve read in your Halftime report. How much more vain can a person get? Unless one is in the porn video industry, I can’t fathom why a normal guy would care? Wow! Hopefully Scrotox is just a NY fad.” – Greg Bruce, Castle Rock, Colo.

[Ed. note: Men try to pretend that we are not even vainer than women, but my as my old granddaddy used to say, every man when he looks in the mirror thinks he’s handsome despite all evidence to the contrary!]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT
BBC: “A company in London has advertised for an emoji translator in what is thought to be the first such job worldwide. The role will involve explaining cross-cultural misunderstandings in the use of the mini pictures, and compiling a monthly trends report. Agency boss Jurga Zilinskiene said emojis were a ‘potential growth area’ as ‘inconsistencies’ had developed in their use. Last year, a UK linguist said emoji was the country’s fastest-growing language…Ms Zilinskiene, head of Today Translations, needed someone to translate diaries into emojis for one of her clients, but could not find a specialist. She says software translations can only go so far and a human translator was needed, so the agency posted an online job advert. She herself speaks Lithuanian, Russian and English and codes in the programming languages Python and C#. With more than 30 applications so far, she is hoping to appoint somebody on a freelance basis by the start of 2017, with the potential for it to become a full-time post.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“If the Democrats go after Tillerson on the Russia ties it will be a delightful festival of hypocrisy.  For 20 years they have been as soft on the Russians as you can come.  And then all of a sudden they have discovered that the Russians are not our friends.  So this is quite a flip-flop.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in you 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.