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On the roster: A fitting finale for the House of Clinton - Time Out: Secret love in Motown - New ethics cloud for Trump transition - Trump’s trillion-dollar men - Srsly bro?
A FITTING FINALE FOR THE HOUSE OF CLINTON
Looked at one way, Hillary Clinton is something of a tragicomic figure.
Her blighted presidential political career is hapless even by comparison to history’s worst candidates. Somewhere, Hubert Humphrey is feeling a little better about it all. What more would you need to know about Clinton than this: her final distinction as a candidate was to having the most faithless presidential electors ever.
Well, they did tell us that she’d make history…
What takes us from tragedy to farce on this, though, is that Clinton’s unhappy historical footnote came in an attempt to hurt Donald Trump.
A handful of Democrats were wedded to the idea of getting 37 Trump electors to flip, and thereby throw the contest to the House of Representatives. In the end, Trump lost two while Clinton lost five.
It was amazing, then, that Clinton’s spokesman, Brian Fallon, had the chutzpah to scold the faithless Clinton electors referring to their behavior as “some kind of coup.”
One of the backers of the electoral revolt was Fallon’s old boss, erstwhile Clinton campaign chairman, John “The Phisherman” Podesta. Podesta had argued that electors should receive a classified national security briefing on the extent of Russia’s efforts to influence the campaign, an obvious effort to prejudice them against voting for Trump.
To have a spokesman complaining about unseemly coups after the gambit failed is a little too rich. After all, Clinton herself and her top spokespeople had been reinforcing the message on Russian involvement, seemingly hourly, for the past two weeks.
In the end, it not only backfired on Clinton, but robbed her of an opportunity to restore some luster to her name. Many prominent Democrats spoke out against the Electoral College shenanigans, urging Democrats to support the system even when they didn’t support its result.
Clinton passed on the chance to be an advocate for republican virtues and defender of democratic ideals in favor of hoping maybe she might be able to shoplift a term in the White House.
It’s sort of like the Clinton campaign jumping in on the Wisconsin and Michigan recounts only to actually find votes for Trump in Wisconsin and then accidentally expose widespread irregularities in the mostly Democratic precincts of Detroit.
One elector who stayed, ahem, faithful was her own husband, Bill Clinton, who fulminated to reporters outside the statehouse in Albany about the unfairness of the whole campaign.
The former president may have lost a couple of steps since his heyday, but his gift for a triple bank-shot soundbite was still intact.
In one paragraph, he managed to falsely claim that his wife was “vindicated at the end” about her mishandling of state secrets by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and then still manage to pin the blame on “the Russians” and “the FBI deal.”
“She did everything else and still won by 2.8 million votes,” the former president said, and one can just imagine that bony finger when it’s squarely in the face of the assembled press corps.
But she was not vindicated. And she did not win by “2.8 million votes.” She lost by 77.
All of the excuse making. All of the focus on perceived slights. All of the hubris. All of the entitlement. All right there in one Clintonian paragraph.
Whatever history’s eventual verdict on the very eventful life of the 67th secretary of state, 42nd presidential nominee of the Democratic Party and 42nd first lady, part of her story will always be that after an astonishing failure in her second presidential run, she refused to take responsibility for her own failings.
While it might be bad for Democrats to not be facing down the hard truths of their 2016 swan dive, there’s more at stake here than rebuilding a political party.
Republicans like to laugh at Americans who are anxious about the dramatic changes taking place at the beginning of the Trump era. They should, as the song says, “put a little love in [their] heart.”
It’s fun to laugh at anxious people. It makes one feel superior, especially in victory, but the number and magnitude of questions about the stability of our system, even if overstated, reflect a country unsure of itself and its future. After decades of a sustained, bipartisan assault on the institutions that keep America running, lots of people have given up hope that the system could work.
On Monday, Clinton failed a key test. Had she spoken out in favor of the integrity of the electoral process and urged electors to abide by the voters’ wishes, rather than complaining to her donors about Russia’s mischief aimed at her, we might have a little more social capital going into what could be a very tumultuous time.
THE RULEBOOK: LIVING OFF THE LAND
“We may calculate, therefore, that a rich and fertile country, of an area equal to the inhabited extent of the United States, will soon become a national stock.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 38
TIME OUT: SECRET LOVE IN MOTOWN
New Yorker: “Motown was headquartered in Detroit, and so the Motown metaphors are industrial: the record label was a machine, a factory, an assembly line fitting songs together, part by part. But the heart of the company was human, and much of the art it produced can be traced to the exertions of two brothers, Brian and Eddie Holland, and their friend Lamont Dozier. With all due respect to Smokey Robinson, the Motown Sound as we know it was created by Holland-Dozier-Holland…Eddie Holland used to go around asking women for the secrets of their relationships—inner thoughts, hidden hopes, deepest fears. ‘I always thought that females were the most interesting subjects,’ he once said. This goes some way toward explaining why, although H-D-H wrote for almost every classic male Motown act, their most riveting work came with the Supremes, and through the odd instrument that is Diana Ross’s voice.”
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NEW ETHICS CLOUD FOR TRUMP TRANSITION
The Hill: “Donald Trump’s two older sons are reportedly behind a nonprofit that is selling access to the president-elect during inauguration weekend, the Center for Public Integrity reported Monday. The Opening Day Foundation offers access to Trump in exchange for million-dollar donations to ‘conservation’ charities, according to the report. Donors to the ‘Opening Day 2017’ event can get a ‘private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with President Donald J. Trump,’ a ‘multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for 4 guests with Donald Trump, Jr. and/or Eric Trump, and team,’ and tickets to other inauguration events. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the foundation was created on Dec. 14.”
TRUMP’S TRILLION-DOLLAR MEN
WaPo: “President-elect Donald Trump is preparing to create an infrastructure ‘task force’ that will help carry out the ambitious federal spending program he intends to undertake upon taking office, according to several individuals briefed on his plans. Key members of Trump’s team — including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, senior counselor Stephen K. Bannon, senior adviser Stephen Miller and Gary Cohn, whom Trump has tapped to head the National Economic Council — are all involved in the discussions, according to one person familiar with the initiative. The task force head is ‘not Cabinet level,’ this individual said, but would play a critical role in coordinating among federal, state and local officials as well as private investors as the new administration prepares to inject hundreds of billions of dollars into projects across the country.”
AUDIBLE: OH YEAH? SEZ YOU!
“He doesn’t know much. One thing [Trump] does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him.” – Former President Bill Clinton talking to his local newspaper the Hudson Valley of New York.
“[Bill Clinton] ‘doesn’t know much’ … especially how to get people even with an unlimited budget out to vote in the swing states (and more). They focused on wrong states” – Donald Trump’s tweets in response.
Trump dined with Mexican telecom billionaire and NYT heavyweight Carlos Slim over the weekend - Fox News
Poll: Majority of Americans either pessimistic or uncertain about Trump’s presidency - WSJ
Trump Education pick was big donor to some of the Senators in her confirmation hearing - Politico
Gingrich suggests Trump pardon advisers who break the rules - Politico
Obama announces record wave of pardons, commutations - Fox News
Obama used Cold War ‘red phone’ to warn Russia against messing with U.S. election - NBC News
Michelle Obama says she wants to set a good example of welcoming Trumps to White House - CBS News
Where GOP Senators spent big in 2016? Google - National Journal
Portman campaign director Corry Bliss to head two big House PACs - Columbus Dispatch
Sen. Corey Gardner, R-Colo., set to introduce bill next year creating cybersecurity committee - The Hill
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“‘…but every American ought to be concerned about our enemies playing gatekeeper to information available to American voters.’ Very true. Then again, if hackers are finding information relevant to the ‘public interest’ when our own media is disinterested (or worse, covering it up), what can be done?” – Mark Hoffman, Des Moines
[Ed. note: Not to be a stickler, Mr. Hoffman, but we want our press to be disinterested, that is to say, without a rooting interest for any faction. We do often have a problem with an uninterested press, however, especially as it relates to crucial issues. But hacking into private email accounts is not something we want reporters to start taking an interest in. There’s a difference between digging for a story and stealing. The line between legal and illegal is clear even when journalistic ethics aren’t. Let me be a contrarian and say I think we are living in something of a golden age for journalism. No, seriously! There is so much good work being done by so many journalists right now, it is astonishing. Unfortunately, much of it gets crowded out by sensational clickbait and partisan polemists masquerading as newsmen and newswomen. But, as Agent Mulder told us: “The truth is out there.” The challenge for us as citizens and for me as a journalist is to find it. While many people find Twitter to be primarily a space for vomiting bile into the internet, I find it to be the greatest news aggregator I have ever known. Simply by following the journalists whose work I respect I can make a low-cost investment of my time to see a broad spectrum of the great work being done today.]
“As it appears without California the popular vote in the election would have been won by Mr. Trump, I wonder what the view from the other states is on CalExit?” – Jeff Jones, Fillmore, Calif.
[Ed. note: And if he hadn’t struck out all those times, Babe Ruth would have had a better batting average. One supposes that residents of California or New York would feel the same way that you do about them if there were a Texit or Florexit. The thing about the Union is that it’s indivisible, hopefully with liberty and justice for all.]
“Chris, I have never responded to anything ever posted here. However, and I read and enjoy your tome every day, the post [Monday] was above and beyond brilliant both with its prose, and its content. The brilliance exemplified therein has prompted this response. Thank you for your continued efforts, and thank you for the education you provide.” – Mike Myers, Osprey, Fla.
[Ed. note: Sometimes, when I go for a high-altitude aerobatics I end up with little more than motion sickness. Sometimes, it works. I’m glad you though Monday was one of those times. Thank you for your very kind words.]
“‘Sewing chaos’ I think not. Knitting chaos perhaps, crocheting chaos more likely, but sewing chaos, never! Macrame anyone? Keep up the GREAT work! All the best.” – Guy Goodwin, Lecanto, Fla.
[Ed. note: Mr. Goodwin, I think you can tell we were grasping at threads as deadline approached! Thank you for your kind reproof and readership.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
WJW: “The father of two 14-year-old students at Middleburg Heights [Ohio] Junior High School says he was angry when they showed him a photo they snapped of their algebra lesson from earlier this month. It reads: ‘Tony can send 5 texts and 3 nudes in 19 minutes. He could also send 3 texts and 1 nude in 9 minutes. How long would it take him to send one text and one nude?’ … Superintendent Michael Sheppard says the math teacher, Daniel Rapp, was issued a written reprimand. ‘He’s a good teacher, and just in this case used the inappropriate word,’ said Sheppard.”
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 digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.