**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Trump’s 100-day cram session - Congress extends shutdown deadline for one week - Trump warns of major military action against NoKo - Power Play: What’s French for giant rabbit? - Cue the end zone dance
TRUMP’S 100-DAY CRAM SESSION
A lot of fun is being had at the expense of President Trump for his observation that being the commander in chief is harder than he expected.
In an interview with Reuters, arranged to highlight what he sees as his accomplishment of 100 days in office, Trump said, “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”
And surely he is right about the challenges of office. Just as he is reaching his first milestone moment, the president got news that the economy is slowing and that last-dash hopes of pushing through his health insurance plan had vanished.
Meantime, he and his foreign policy team are scrambling for a way to prevent a war on the Korean peninsula, and effort complicated by U.S.-China relations on a host of other issues.
The natural response among the president’s critics to Trump’s admission that he misapprehended the nature of the office is to mock him as a fool.
They do so at their own political peril.
When Trump was figuring out how to run for president, he did a lot of things wrong. But he was quick to learn and quick to adapt and in so doing managed to keep his improbable bid not just alive but thriving.
You may or may not approve of the tactics he used to win the nomination and the presidency, but you cannot say that he did not figure out the game.
The president’s defenders are busy trying to find a way to depict his first 100 days as a success. That is a mostly wasted effort since the entire purpose of the 100-day concept is about getting Congress to advance a legislative agenda. There is no way to say he did that.
But what he can say is that he understands the presidency and the issues he faces in a way he did not before.
Observe the exchange in the interview Trump granted the WaPo in which he explains how he reversed himself on NAFTA.
“I was all set to terminate,” Trump told the paper. “I looked forward to terminating. I was going to do it.”
Trump was going to do his enthusiastic terminating at a campaign rally in Harrisburg, Pa. on Saturday night. It would be hard to imagine anything more 2016-vintage Trump than blowing up a key trade treaty at a rally packed with thousands of red-hatted Rust Belt supporters.
But he didn’t do it.
His reason was that his new agriculture secretary, Sonny Purdue, explained to him how damaging such a move would be to farmers. Trump dropped the idea then and there.
Now, you might call this government by caprice or believe that Trump is swayed by whomever he spoke to last.
But if we pull back and look at his decisions so far, there’s a pretty clear direction here: normality.
During the presidential transition, some Democrats said that it was important not to “normalize” Trump. The concern was that if news organizations, lawmakers and even the outgoing president treated Trump as legitimate then his bad behavior would be legitimized too.
But maybe instead of Trump being normalized, he is becoming more normal.
You can call it moving left if you want, but it would probably be more accurate to say that Trump’s moves and reversals reflect not an ideological direction but simply a broader base of understanding.
There are no doubt many things that the federal government does, and keeps doing, for no good reason. But when it comes to long standing pieces for the U.S. foreign policy portfolio, things are generally the way they are for a reason.
If trade war with China is a good thing, somebody would have probably tried it a long time ago. If Russia was a reliable partner, one of the previous presidents probably would have found a way to make that happen. If NATO was obsolete, someone would have backed away from it. If NAFTA really was killing American jobs, Trump’s Democratic and Republican predecessors might have had something to say about it.
Being president is hard and the demands it places on every man to hold the title are enormous. America does not have the problems it does for a lack of trying on the previous occupants of the Oval Office.
Trump once mocked his predecessors as “dumb.” One doubts he would make the same claim after only a little more than three months riding this particular tiger.
Rather than laughing at Trump’s surprise at the challenges of office, Democrats should instead be nervous that he might, after a fashion, learning how to do the job.
[Watch Fox: On the eve of his 100th day, Donald Trump sits down for an exclusive interview on “The First 100 Days with Martha MacCallum.” Tune in at 7 p.m. ET]
THE RULEBOOK: $20 TRILLION, IN FACT
“But two considerations will serve to quiet all apprehension on this head: one is, that we are sure the resources of the community, in their full extent, will be brought into activity for the benefit of the Union; the other is, that whatever deficiences there may be, can without difficulty be supplied by loans.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 30
TIME OUT: JK, LOL
Author Megan Garber reconsiders Neil Postman, the professor and critic behind the 1985 book “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” in light of the new dominance of irony he predicted. The Atlantic: “Postman today is best remembered as a critic of television: That’s the medium he directly blamed, in Amusing Ourselves to Death, for what he termed Americans’ ‘vast descent into triviality,’ and the technology he saw as both the cause and the outcome of a culture that privileged entertainment above all else. But Postman was a critic of more than TV alone. He mistrusted entertainment, not as a situation but as a political tool; he worried that Americans’ great capacity for distraction had compromised their ability to think, and to want, for themselves. He resented the tyranny of the lol. His great observation, and his great warning, was a newly relevant kind of bummer: There are dangers that can come with having too much fun.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump net job-approval rating: -9 points
Change from one week ago: +4.2 points
CONGRESS EXTENDS SHUTDOWN DEADLINE FOR ONE WEEK
USA Today: “With just hours left until a government shutdown at midnight, Congress passed a stopgap funding bill Friday that will keep the government open for another week. House members voted 382-30 to approve the legislation, which gives lawmakers until midnight on May 5 to try to reach a compromise on legislation to fund the government through the rest of fiscal year 2017, which ends Sept. 30. The Senate approved the weeklong funding bill by voice vote Friday, and President Trump has said he will sign it into law. ‘The fact that we are here again at the last minute just trying to keep the government open is sad,’ said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. ‘Once again, we have a manufactured crisis at the edge of a cliff.’ … The shutdown would have taken effect Saturday — Trump's 100th day in office — unless Congress acted.”
But TrumpCare vote nixed - WaPo: “Despite pressure from the White House, House GOP leaders determined Thursday night that they didn’t have the votes to pass a rewrite of the Affordable Care Act and would not seek to put their proposal on the floor on Friday. … The failure of Republicans to unite behind the new health-care measure was a blow to White House officials, who were eager to see a vote ahead of President Trump’s 100-day mark. Congressional leaders were more focused this week on securing a spending agreement, according to multiple people involved in the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk publicly.”
Why are there still not enough votes for health care reform? - WashEx’s Byron York explains the truth that many Republicans simply don’t want to: “About a week after the first Obamacare repeal failure, a House Republican, speaking privately, said the difficulty in passing the bill was not a parliamentary problem involving the complexities of the Senate and reconciliation. No, the lawmaker said, ‘It is a problem that we have members in the Republican conference that do not want Obamacare repealed, because of their district. That's the fundamental thing that we're seeing here.’”
TRUMP TO ATLANTA FOR NRA CONVENTION AND HOUSE RACE FUNDRAISER
AJC: “President Donald Trump returns to Georgia on Friday for the first time since his election with a whirlwind visit that includes a speech to the National Rifle Association’s convention in downtown Atlanta and a fundraiser for Republican Karen Handel’s campaign for Congress. Scores of protesters are ready to welcome the president with demonstrations across town targeting the Republican’s embrace of the gun rights group and eager to remind him of the disparaging remarks he made in January about Atlanta. Trump’s arrival comes at a fraught time. A day shy of the 100-day mark in his presidency, Trump faces sagging approval ratings. His keynote address to the NRA — he will be the first sitting president to address the group since Ronald Reagan — also comes as Georgia wrestles with a controversial proposal to expand gun rights.”
TRUMP WARNS OF MAJOR MILITARY ACTION AGAINST NOKO
Reuters: “U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday a major conflict with North Korea is possible in the standoff over its nuclear and missile programs, but he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute. ‘There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,’ Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview ahead of his 100th day in office on Saturday. Nonetheless, Trump said he wanted to peacefully resolve a crisis that has bedeviled multiple U.S. presidents, a path that he and his administration are emphasizing by preparing a variety of new economic sanctions while not taking the military option off the table. ‘We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult,’ he said.
Tillerson tells UN NoKo ‘the most pressing security issue in the world’ - The Hill: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday called on the United Nations to tighten pressure on North Korea to dismantle its weapons programs, warning that a failure to do so could have ‘catastrophic consequences.’ ‘For too long the international community has been reactive in addressing North Korea,’ Tillerson said at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. ‘Those days must come to an end. Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences.’”
Fox News poll: Voters support military action against NoKo nukes - Fox News: “It will take military force to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, a majority of voters believe… Fifty-one percent say that U.S. military action will be required to keep the rogue nation from continuing its nuclear weapons program, while 36 percent think diplomacy alone can stop it. By a 53-39 percent margin, voters favor the U.S. using military force to keep North Korea from making further advancements on nukes.”
POWER PLAY: WHAT’S FRENCH FOR GIANT RABBIT?
This week’s “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt” news quiz was one for the books. In the closest scored game yet Chris stumps our players from talk of a giant bunny to the numerous republics of France. We welcome the newest addition to the Fox News Washington team, Ellison Barber, who faced the most fearsome Power Player of them all, Charles Hurt. WATCH HERE
Trump: ‘I'm a nationalist and a globalist. I'm both.’ - WSJ
McCarthy says House vote on NoKo sanctions next week - Politico
Trump to reverse Obama environmental policies beginning with Arctic offshore oil drilling - Politico
Michael Warren examines what President Trump’s past days tells us about future days - Weekly Standard
Ahead of election, head of Marine Le Pen’s party steps aside over Holocaust controversy - France 24
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
After the first 100 days deadline, now what should Americans expect? Fox News Sunday anchor extraordinaire Chris Wallace sits down with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to discuss the next 100 days. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
AUDIBLE: ORDER A STRIKE… ON YOUR THIRST
“Everyone does get a little nervous when I press that button.” – President Trump said in an interview with the Financial Times when the reporter jokingly asked whether the red button on his desk was the “nuclear button.” The president used the button, actually an intercom, to order soft drinks for himself and his guest.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I think every voter should be able to pass the citizenship test to qualifying to vote. I know that my dad, who was born in 1885 and only went to school for 4 years knew more about our government than most voters today. I graduated from high school and we had civics and government classes and I try to stay informed. … I agree, the biggest problem today is ignorance and they don't want to discuss issues. They just want to protest. I guess they get paid to do that.” – Barbara Hucker, LaCrosse, Ind.
[Ed. note: It is delicious to think of how our country would be different if our citizens had to meet the same requirements for civics knowledge that immigrants do. But as you know, I’m sure, disenfranchising voters for being ignorant of their country and its system is probably a non-starter. But it does raise the issue of voting as an inherently good thing. Public officials and celebrities are always urging people to get out to vote. Low voter turnout is decried as a reflection of apathy. But, we are not helped by people who are unaware of the issues or candidates blindly going to vote based on specious criteria. If you don’t know anything about the people running for Congress in your district or whether or not the school bond is good or not, maybe you should stay home. There is nothing wrong with sitting out an election if you do not care enough to do at least a cursory job of preparing to make a good choice.]
“While reading your comments about ‘ignorance’ I was drawn to reply: You can’t fix stupid; but can you define it? (Most people can define it but only, insofar, as it perpetuates their own beliefs.) Said another way: Beauty fades but stupid stays. Seems appropriate to say about politics, eh?” – Carla Ball, Kahoka, Mo.
[Ed. note: More than appropriate, Ms. Ball! There is debate on whether or not Americans are getting more stupid, but there is no argument on the blossoming flower of ignorance in our midst. Part of the problem is the degree to which people are proud of not knowing. The death of expertise as a sought-after characteristic has been remarkable to watch.]
“I love the Federalist quotes. They are thought provoking. Too bad we don’t stop and think! Voltaire, a generation or two before Hamilton, Jay, and Madison across the pond, was attacking the French establishment and church said; ‘It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.’ I wonder what he would say today now that the pendulum has swung in the other direction and the church is under attack by the new ‘established authorities’. … They are infecting the nation with anarchy and are too arrogant to recognize the harm they are doing to our Republic by ignoring our foundation. Truth is not malleable when it doesn’t fit our wishes.” – Craig L. Cox, Dallas
[Ed. note: I take a slightly different view, Mr. Cox. I think that for American Christians, the less hospitable atmosphere may end up being a good thing. If we think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his treatise, “The Cost of Discipleship,” we are reminded that it is only when discipleship comes at a price that adherents are aware of its value. The bland civic religion of the United States for most of our history was an inclusive mix of Judeo-Christian values. And it was helpful from a social and economic perspective to be a part of that club. The time may come when that is no longer the case, if it even still is. If the price of discipleship is going up, then perhaps, so is its value.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
CUE THE END ZONE DANCE
Fox Sports: “T.J. Onwuanibe wanted to announce the Baltimore Ravens’ first-round pick at the NFL Draft, and the 14-year-old who has been battling a rare brain cancer got his chance Thursday. The eighth-grader got an intro from Commissioner Roger Goodell, a nice ovation from the Philadelphia crowd, and then totally fell into his role, dropping a righteous fist pump as he announced that his favorite team had selected Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey with the 16th overall pick. Onwuanibe, a Maryland native who roots for the Ravens, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in 2015 but is now in remission. The Make-A-Wish Foundation heard his desire to attend the draft and worked with the Ravens to arrange to send him. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh delivered that news to him just last week.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“As a result of pressure by the United States, in two occasions, over the last ten days, when you might have expected a new nuclear test. We were all expecting it, it didn't happen, that was a dog that didn't bark.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland 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.