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On the roster: Dems hooked on their feelings - Allies bristle, Russians cheer as Trump calls NATO ‘obsolete’ - Trump promises ‘insurance for everybody’ - Team Trump may boot reporters from White House - You’re doing it wrong
DEMS HOOKED ON THEIR FEELINGS
Perhaps the best early harbinger of Donald Trump’s political success was a picture of a bumper sticker that circulated widely on social media in the summer of 2015.
It read: “Donald Trump 2016/F*** your feelings.”
One of the things Trump’s supporters liked most about their candidate was his ability to provoke outrage among detested classes. A candidate who can simultaneously mortify the Republican establishment, the press, social justice warriors and Europeans was bound to find a receptive audience in many quarters of the GOP.
As his Republican adversaries soon learned, outrage is pure plutonium for Trump’s nuclear reactor. Now, Democrats are proving even slower to understand the physics.
So far, a couple of dozen Democrats have announced they are boycotting Trump’s inauguration, a protest spurred in part by the president-elect’s nasty feud with civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.
Lewis said of Trump the same thing he had said 16 years ago of then-President-elect George W. Bush, declaring the incoming Republican president not legitimately elected.
Trump, as predictably as the sun rising in the east, took to Twitter to attack the iconic congressman. Trump said Lewis should not be talking about the election results, but should be focused on his “crime infested” district and that Lewis was, of course, “Sad!”
And for good measure, Trump did it just ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The response was a predictable tsunami of umbrage and Washington nearly drowned in waves of moral outrage. A trillion pixels were murdered considering the question, including an Atlanta Journal Constitution front page that actually responded to Trump’s allegations about crime in metro Atlanta.
We know the cycle well by now. Someone says something unflattering about Trump, Trump hits back with a disproportional response and then journalists spend days sorting through the social media wreckage.
Much less discussed, as a result, were Trump’s proposals on health insurance, controversial appointments, the validity of Russian efforts to co-opt Trump or how exactly he’ll prevent his family business from turning into a Republican version of the Clinton Foundation.
That is not to say that Trump issues these attacks as strategic diversions. No slight, seemingly no matter how small, escapes notice of the president-elect.
A famous congressman calling him an illegitimate chief executive was certainly bound to get a response. And remember, that what actually blows the rest of the news away isn’t the unkind thing that Trump said, but rather the reaction to it.
In essence, the story became about the hurt feelings of Lewis and members of his party. Without them, the story would have been dead within hours.
Democrats have been obsessed with the question of “normalizing” Trump and have vowed to decry his very existence for as long as they have breath in their lungs. And it adds up to a whole lot of hot air.
Always remember the Al Czervik rule when it comes to Trump: you are either with the lovable slobs at the caddy shack or with the stuck up snobs at the clubhouse. Trump thrives on the offense taken by elites and enforcers of behavioral codes.
It is unthinkable to many Americans who grew up in the Civil Rights era that someone would so crassly dismiss such an honored figure from the movement. But if you look at it through the lens of the Czervik rule, Trump is just calling out stuffy, old Washington.
That’s why Trump insulting a civil rights icon for negligence on crime is pure ambrosia for Core Trumpists. It is perfection.
It’s not working so well for Trump in the sense that his overall approval numbers are getting lower and lower. Trump will unquestionably enter office as the least liked new president of the modern era and the damage he does now to his relationship with key voting blocs and lawmakers will linger.
But he will become the president on Friday and has a chance to steamroll through his agenda. His ultimate success or failure will depend on how that agenda fares.
Rather than discussing hurt feelings, Democrats should be singularly focused on attacking Trump’s policies and administration if they want results. Being offended does not grant politicians special status in the minds of voters. In fact, complaining about Trump’s crummy comments or boycotting the inauguration manages to make them look even smaller.
We all get it: Trump says mean and provocative things on social media and in interviews. Stipulated. Now what? Should half of the country remain emotional hostages to his provocations?
The most urgent work for Democrats right now is precisely to normalize Trump so they can fight him in the normal space of governance rather than the utterly abnormal world of endless outrage.
Maybe somebody ought to get a copy of that bumper sticker and pin it up at the DNC.
THE RULEBOOK: FOR THE PEOPLE
“Duty, gratitude, interest, ambition itself, are the chords by which [the House of Representatives] will be bound to fidelity and sympathy with the great mass of the people.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 57
TIME OUT: DIVIDED LOYALTIES
As the nation honors Martin Luther King Jr. today, the LAT looks back at the issue that ultimately divided King from his most powerful ally, then-President Lyndon Johnson: “King had previously publicly expressed some concerns about the [Vietnam] war, but Johnson posed a major strategic conundrum. Johnson had been one of King’s greatest allies in Washington and had helped shepherd through Congress the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Democratic president also had championed antipoverty programs, another of King’s signature causes. But the growing war also had come under Johnson’s leadership. … The speech was refined, and on April 4, 1967, in front of a packed audience at the Riverside Church, King called the war ‘an enemy of the poor’ that was swallowing the nation’s young men and its resources for antipoverty programs like a ’demonic, destructive suction tube.’”
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ALLIES BRISTLE, RUSSIANS CHEER AS TRUMP CALLS NATO ‘OBSOLETE’
Radio Free Europe: “Moscow has welcomed U.S. President-elect Donald Trump calling NATO ‘obsolete’ as key NATO ally Germany reacted with concern to his remarks. Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on January 16 that ‘NATO is indeed a vestige [of the past] and we agree with that.’ … Germany, one of the United States' closest NATO partners, expressed concern over Trump's remarks. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said ‘this is in contradiction’ with what Trump's nominee to lead the Pentagon, James Mattis, said during his Senate confirmation hearing last week. Mattis on January 12 called NATO ‘the most successful military alliance probably in modern history, maybe ever’ and said Russia poses a threat to it. … The U.S. president-elect's comments about NATO came as Trump also suggested that he may offer to end some economic sanctions against Russia in return for a deal to reduce nuclear arms.”
Trump blasts CIA director over criticism of Russia threats - Fox News: “President-elect Donald Trump blasted outgoing CIA Director John Brennan on social media Sunday after Brennan said Trump does not have a ‘full understanding’ of Russia’s power and threat to the world. ‘I don’t think he has a full understanding of Russian capabilities and the actions they are taking on the world,’ Brennan told ‘Fox News Sunday.’ …Trump responded with a two-tweet message that criticized the CIA's record under Brennan and questioned whether the director had leaked a dossier of unverified allegations that Russia spies had obtained compromising personal and financial information about Trump.”
TRUMP PROMISES ‘INSURANCE FOR EVERYBODY’
WaPo: “President-elect Donald Trump said in a weekend interview that he is nearing completion of a plan to replace President Obama’s signature health-care law with the goal of “insurance for everybody,” while also vowing to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices in Medicare and Medicaid. Trump declined to reveal specifics in the telephone interview late Saturday with The Washington Post, but any proposals from the incoming president would almost certainly dominate the Republican effort to overhaul federal health policy as he prepares to work with his party’s congressional majorities.”
TEAM TRUMP MAY BOOT REPORTERS FROM WHITE HOUSE
The Hill: “The White House Correspondents’ Association Board said Sunday it will continue to support the briefing room being open to all reporters who request access.In a statement released Sunday afternoon, WHCA President Jeff Mason said he is meeting with incoming press secretary Sean Spicer on behalf of the organization’s members to ‘try to get more clarity on exactly what’ the Trump administration is suggesting regarding media access to the White House…President-elect Donald Trump’s team is reportedly considering evicting the press corps from the White House. Instead, the press corps may work out of the White House Conference Center, near Lafayette Square, or in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House, Esquire reported. ‘There has been no decision,’ said Spicer on Sunday, adding ‘there has been some discussion about how to do it.’”
AUDIBLE: ALL THE PRESIDENT-ELECT’S MEN…
“That is a garbage document.” – Bob Woodward on “Fox News Sunday with ChrisWallace” talking about the dossier and whether it should have been included as part of the intelligence briefing given to Trump.
Trump’s Scottish golf resort to continue with expansion despite promise to halt new or pending deals -The Guardian
In 22 Ohio counties, Trump clinched the highest percentage of the vote for any Republicans in history -Columbus Dispatch
Monica Crowley forgoes Trump administration position amid plagiarism claims - WashTimes
Fox News contributor and radio host Laura Ingraham contemplates Va. Senate bid - WashEx
Colorado Republican congressman leaves town hall after constituents get in an uproar over ObamaCare - Denver Post
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Do you think President-elect Donald Trump will insist on genuine federal government -run Voter ID sometime soon? There is absolutely no doubt it is critically necessary.” – Roger Carlson, Calimesa, Calif.
[Ed. note: Welllllll… However necessary you might think it, putting such a plan in place would likely require a constitutional amendment. The conduct of elections is explicitly a matter for the states. When President Obama recently designated state election systems as “critical infrastructure” for the purposes of cybersecurity quite a few folks objected, saying it was an encroachment and smacked of the feds establishing oversight of one of the core constitutional functions of the states. That said, an amendment requiring unified, federally approved identification to vote could be added to the Constitution. The practical challenge, though, would be getting 34 states to ratify the measure. Democratic states would object, certainly, but so too might some conservative states distrustful of federal meddling.]
“Chris, I wonder if anyone knows the costs of buildings full of clerks, secretaries, managers, supervisors and lots of desks, phones, computers, etc. that are required to ‘administer’ Obamacare? Medicaid as a replacement would put these ACA folks out of work and fill GSA auctions with lots of great bargains. Reduction in government spending?” – Bill Zeigler, Shelton, Wash.
[Ed. note: Would that savings we so easily obtained! ObamaCare – if we understand it as subsidies for insurance policies – is mostly administered by the states through “exchanges.” Much like Medicaid itself, the money flows from taxpayers to Washington and then from Washington to state welfare agencies for distribution. In the previous fiscal year, the federal government paid out something on the order of $532 billion for Medicaid through the states. That compares to total outlays of about $110 billion for ObamaCare subsidies. It wouldn’t be as simple as rolling that money over, though. First, ObamaCare users are already paying part of their own insurance costs while Medicaid is free. So costs would go up quite a bit. The other part is that ObamaCare is essentially administered by the private insurance companies that participate while Medicaid is essentially an insurance provider itself. Recipients get treatment and providers file claims with the government. It is a bureaucratic nightmare that produces enormous waste and often results in low-quality care. Alas, your proposal would probably add, not subtract desks and costs.]
“Just read Thursday’s column. ‘BCE’ rather than ‘BC’ is not ‘political correctness.’ Though I am a minister who considers himself an academic, I accept this because a decent Christian will be sensitive — and charitable — to those who are not. It is, largely, an academic issue but where Jews and those of other non-Christian religions are concerned, what is the harm in respecting the differences? The number is not changed. The only thing worse than ‘political correctness’ is ‘my way is the only right way.’” – John A. Johnson, Tucson, Ariz.
[Ed. note: As might be expected, parson, you show kindness and deference with your approach. It is a thing to be admired. My argument against euphemisms generally is that they obscure and mislead. When it comes to our language, there is an endless struggle between the forces of clarity and those of obfuscation. And sometimes, like this one, the issues involve culture. Deference is a good thing when we exchange an unflattering term for one that is kinder. Teaching children not to say “gypped” out of deference for our Roma brothers and sisters is a good thing. Referring to the descendants of indigenous people by their tribes rather than as “Indians” is good too. And in both of those examples, offense is replaced by clearer, more accurate language. But I fail to see why it is helpful to continue to mark history from the birth of Jesus of Nazareth but then calling it something else. As I mentioned the other day, we don’t need to rename the days of the week because they descend from the names of Norse and Roman gods. In the case of “BC” and “AD,” the case is even stronger since they are not simply named in honor of Jesus but are explicitly pegged to His birth. Using a euphemism that obscures a clear understanding of history might be called for if the name were hostile or pejorative, but that’s not the case here. Certainly, taking a “my way is the only right way” approach to life is uncharitable and counterproductive. But we don’t disrespect differences when we preserve clear language and historical context.]
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YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG
AP: “Authorities say a man accidentally was shot while trying to help kill a buffalo at a south-central Kansas meat-processing business. The Reno County Sheriff's Department says Duane Helms of Moundridge was wounded in the leg shortly before 12:30 p.m. Friday at Yoder Meats in Yoder. Authorities say Helms was assisting a Yoder Meats employee in trying to shoot a buffalo so the animal could be butchered. The sheriff's department says a Yoder Meats employee with a rifle was atop a ladder, trying to shoot a buffalo confined in a trailer, when the animal turned, jarring the ladder and knocking the employee off balance. That's when the rifle discharged, shooting Helms. The department did not immediately disclose Helms' medical status Saturday.”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report 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.