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On the roster: Elizabeth Warren is doing it wrong - The Rulebook: Pragmatic much? - Trump stays on the attack against federal courts - Pentagon considers renting space in Trump Tower - John Lithgow could not be reached for comment
ELIZABETH WARREN IS DOING IT WRONG
Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave her underwhelming re-election bid a shot in the arm with a high-profile attack on her colleague from Alabama, Jeff Sessions.
The Massachusetts senator was booted from the marathon debate over Sessions’ appointment to be attorney general for quoting a 1986 letter from Martin Luther King’s widow, Coretta. The letter calls Sessions “reprehensible” for his prosecution of a civil rights activist on voter fraud charges.
Do not waste your time on the question of whether Senate rules permitted Warren’s silencing. After all, she got exactly what she wanted. Spend your sympathy elsewhere.
Warren was ready to go with a social media livestream and a hashtag, #LetLizSpeak, to make the most of the moment. But, press coverage of the event still must have surpassed even her wildest expectations, including doozies like this one. Not since Wendy Davis’ trod the aisles of the Texas state Senate in pink Mizuno tennis shoes has the political press been so agog about legislative maneuvering.
In the end, this will matter about as much as Davis’ 2013 filibuster or her fellow Texan Ted Cruz’s “Green Eggs and Ham” moment of the same year.
Democrats who already hated Sessions and thought him racist will feel virtuous and develop new depths of admiration for a woman they already adored. Republicans will despise her more fully, and most people just won’t care.
But if this is the direction Warren and her party are heading, President Trump can remain in his bathrobe, or whatever loungewear the White House claims he prefers, content in the knowledge that 2020 will be a shoo-in for him.
American liberalism was for most of the 20th century arranged around the idea that the purpose of government was to help poor and working-class people do better. The lions of the left were Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, all of whom put economic issues first in their pitches to voters.
Clinton’s mantra in 1992 was “It’s the economy, stupid,” and that is exactly why liberalism was ascendant of most of the past century.
Barack Obama understood this too. People talked an enormous amount about race and identity politics surrounding Obama’s two successful campaigns, but not him.
Yes, he repeatedly engaged on those issues while in office, but as a candidate, he knew to always bring the topic back to the daily concerns of ordinary voters: prosperity and peace.
Obama’s designated successor did not learn that lesson, even though she is married to one of its greatest practitioners. Think about this for a moment: Hillary Clinton lost to a celebrity billionaire of New York on the issue of economic populism. Woof.
Clinton’s campaign was a perfect reflection of the state of her party today. It was a crusade against racism and sexism that left little room to discuss the plight of ordinary people.
Americans hate racism, by and large. Sexism too. But, people trying to pay the bills, keep health insurance, educate their children and stay safe have other priorities than what a relatively obscure politician from Alabama did 30 years ago.
Remember, it was just 50 years ago that it was illegal in parts of the country for people with different amounts of melanin in their skin to marry. We celebrate the golden anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia this year. Or rather to say we should be celebrating it.
For many Democrats this Black History Month and every month of 2017 will be an opportunity to discuss not how far a country that memorialized human chattel slavery in its Constitution has come in regards to race, but rather by finding racism everywhere.
Just as Republicans see the threat from Islamist terrorism as an always intensifying, never abating menace, Democrats see racism under every rock. They are so wedded to the concept, that they would not even allow the first African American president any respite on the subject.
Republicans saw how these kinds of social issues play out as they struggled to maintain a House majority in the 1990s. As the moral majority thundered about sexual misconduct and godlessness, Bill Clinton preached the most popular gospel of them all: prosperity. The sin is different for Democrats today, but the attitude is very much the same.
Those few Democrats willing to work with Trump on his domestic agenda are dubbed “moderates” by the press and, presumably, their fellows. But there is nothing moderate about what red-state Democrats are saying these days about Trump and the economy.
Spending gobs of money on federal jobs projects is not a conservative concept in the least. Trump has successfully stolen the core issue of the Democratic Party – economic populism via federal intervention – and made it his own.
He was only able to do it because Democrats weren’t minding the store.
Warren is shaping up to be very much the Democrats’ Cruz: a hero of political junkies who enforces the ideological boundaries for her party’s base. And that is unfortunate for the blue team.
Before the Massachusan declared herself heir to King’s legacy, she was one of the best in her party at assailing the corrupt relationship between big business and big government. It may have been an old message, but as Trump proved, pummeling fat cats and the “elite” is always good politics.
Senators like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota may simply be responding to the cruel arithmetic of their states’ electorates, but they are not “moderate” in any real sense.
They are, in many ways, New Deal Democrats, just like their Republican president.
THE RULEBOOK: PRAGMATIC MUCH?
“Is it not time to awake from the deceitful dream of a golden age, and to adopt as a practical maxim for the direction of our political conduct that we, as well as the other inhabitants of the globe, are yet remote from the happy empire of perfect wisdom and perfect virtue?” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 6
TIME OUT: IDENTITY SHIFT
Smithsonian Magazine: “It was originally a European tradition, not ours. But in 1780, needing a more formal way to send former Continental Congressman Francis Dana from France to Holland, Benjamin Franklin used his own printing press to create a new document. The single-sheet letter, written entirely in French, politely requested that Dana and his servant be allowed to pass freely as they traveled for the next month. Franklin signed and sealed the page himself and handed it off to Dana, creating one of the first known U.S. ‘passe-ports.’ …[In] almost every other aspect, the modern 32-page, eagle-emblazoned booklets bear little resemblance to Franklin’s makeshift bit of ambassadorial decorum. The differences hint at the profound shifts…that produced a document that came to play a much larger role in American life than originally intended. It’s the story of how a few pieces of paper came to produce new answers to the question ‘who are you’”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions
TRUMP STAYS ON THE ATATCK AGAINST FEDERAL COURTS
AP: “President Donald Trump is tweeting that if he loses the pending court case over his travel ban, the country ‘can never have the security and safety to which we are entitled.’ The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is weighing the appeal of Trump’s executive order on immigration, including a temporary travel ban on those from seven Muslim-majority countries. The appeals court challenged the administration’s claim that the ban was motivated by terrorism fears, but it also questioned an attorney’s argument that it unconstitutionally targeted Muslims. The president tweeted early Wednesday, ‘If the U.S. does not win this case as it so obviously should, we can never have the security and safety to which we are entitled. Politics!’”
PENTAGON CONSIDERS RENTING SPACE IN TRUMP TOWER
NYT “The Defense Department may rent space in Trump Tower, where President Trump lives part time, raising questions about a potential conflict of interest because taxpayer dollars could be going directly to his business interests. An official said the move might be necessary to support the day-to-day operations for the president and his staff. ‘In order to meet official mission requirements, the Department of Defense is working through appropriate channels and in accordance with all applicable legal requirements in order to acquire a limited amount of leased space in Trump Tower,’ Lt. Col. JB Brindle, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement Tuesday night. The statement said the space was ‘necessary for the personnel and equipment’ that would support Mr. Trump at his residence in the building, on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.”
AUDIBLE: DID SOMEBODY REQUEST NEW EDITION?
“I am beseeching everybody to cool it down.” – Kellyanne Conway in a protracted and heated exchange with Jake Tapper Tuesday concerning the Trump administration’s relationship with the media.
Alabama governor said to be leaning toward state Attorney General Luther Strange to replace Sessions if confirmed - Politico
McCain spearheads effort to restrict Trump on Russian sanctions - Roll Call
Vulnerable red state Dems Manchin, Heitkamp, Tester to visit White House Thursday - Politico
Dems under pressure to oppose Trump, but could risk 2018 wins as a result - AP
The nine Senate Dems who say Gorsuch deserves an up-or-down vote - NRO
Trump may be breaking Dem stronghold on unions - Politico
Trump says Nordstrom treating Ivanka ‘so unfairly’ by pulling her merchandise from shelves - WashEx
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Why would the Democrats and the MSM ever make a big deal out of Andrew Puzder hiring an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper. This is the height of hypocrisy… well OK that never stopped them before. But to what end do they oppose Puzder through an anti-immigration stance?” – Randy Lariscy, Marietta, Ga.
[Ed. note: Never be afraid to stand up for hypocrisy, Mr. Lariscy! If we cede our agency on questions of right and wrong to partisan victories then we are merely empty vessels for the whims of political organizations arranged around the idea of winning, not ideas. Whether or not you particularly care about the hiring habits of your president’s cabinet secretaries is up to you. Democrats and Republicans will take shifting views on the subject depending on the party in power. But as citizens, we should make up our own minds. If it is an issue that matters to you, don’t reject those joining your view out of political expediency. Welcome them, but view them warily.]
“…[Y] ou say that the Constitution gives the President ‘enormous powers’ on immigration. Where? There is no mention of immigration at all in the Constitution. The courts have defined Article 2, section 8 of the Constitution that mandates Congress to make a ‘uniform act of naturalization’ as being immigration but it mandates Congress, not the President…” – Raoul Lowery Contreras, San Diego
[Ed. note: As we heard in arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, there is little debate over the scope of presidential powers. As the Supreme Court ruled in 1950 “the exclusion of aliens is a fundamental act of sovereignty inherent in the executive power.” This descends not from explicit language in the Constitution granting the president purview over immigration policy, but rather his extraordinary powers as it relates to national security. As courts have ruled in regard to former President Obama’s order relating to illegal immigrants who came to the United States as minors, though, Congress has a substantial role to play in this regard. The president cannot contravene the laws duly established in relation to immigration, but there is no check on him enforcing the ones on the books. You are very right that Article II does give Congress the authority to determine how citizenship works, but for those who are not citizens, the Constitution doesn’t apply in this case. That’s why, as we discussed Tuesday, the heart of the legal issue as it relates to Trump’s ban is not about refusing entry to foreigners, but rather the administration’s view of those already granted permanent legal status.]
“There are no requirements to become a Supreme Court Justice, not even qualification as a lawyer. Dems are now opposing the nomination of superbly qualified Judge Gorsuch for admitted narrow partisan reasons. He might one day be that all powerful swing Justice. So, is our Constitution really just a piece of paper that no one, no longer, need take seriously or think of as being SUPREME in any meaningful sense?” – Herbert L. Caplan, Chicago
[Ed. note: We ought not be surprised that when we increase the value of something that the conflict over attaining it similarly increases. History records many monumental Supreme Court decisions, but it has only been in the post-Warren Burger era that the court shifted from being a remedy for insoluble constitutional conflicts to being a super legislature. As Congress intentionally devolved its own authority on issues ranging from abortion to the power to make war, the other branches happily picked up the slack. But there is reason to believe that is changing, and Gorsuch is part of that story. Conservatives hated Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision on ObamaCare, hoping that the Bush appointee would slit the throat of the law they hated. But Roberts stunned Republicans by ruling that it was not the Supreme Court’s job to rescue America from bad laws. He explicitly stated that the remedy for those dissatisfied with ObamaCare was at the ballot box. One can argue that the law cost Democrats first the House then the Senate and ultimately the presidency. Gorsuch is very much a believer in “judicial humility” that seeks to transfer power back to Congress… whether they like it or not.]
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JOHN LITHGOW COULD NOT BE REACHED FOR COMMENT
ABC News: “In the iconic 1984 film ‘Footloose,’ a small town’s youth are at odds with lawmakers who uphold a local law banning dancing and rock music. Well, fast forward 32 years to the present -- and to reality -- and a similar situation has unfolded in Henryetta, Oklahoma. The city of approximately 6,000 people -- located about 90 miles east of Oklahoma City -- has a law on the books that was unknown to most of its residents, until a Valentine’s Day dance was recently scheduled -- then scrapped. Apparently, dancing is not permitted within 500 feet of a church, according to a city ordinance, and the dance was slated to be held at a venue just 300 feet from a church, the Henryetta Church of Christ. So, to the dismay of lovestruck toe-tappers, the dance would be illegal. … City council will consider abolishing the ordinance during its February 22 meeting, Clason said.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I think [the judges in Trump’s case on the refugee ban] were sort of doing what is not in their purview. They are supposed to judge whether or not the president exceeded his authority. It’s a very hard case to make, but they probably will find he did.” – 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 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.