**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Hillary just won’t leave democrats alone - Time Out: It’s what you’re wearing ear to ear - Moderates seek more spending in bid to save TrumpCare - Heartburn for GOP in final vote on big spending bill - Actually, never mind
HILLARY JUST WON’T LEAVE DEMOCRATS ALONE
Democrats should be even more exhausted of hearing from and about Hillary Clinton then we are of writing about her – and that’s saying a lot.
The twice-failed presidential candidate is inflicting herself anew on the woebegone party she helped put asunder. It is again about her embittered response to last year’s surprising defeat, this time in the form in a truly weird back-and-forth with FBI Director James Comey.
Clinton was pressing her sour grapes at a women’s forum where she told the audience that she would have won the election if only it had been held two weeks prior. Her reasoning is that the late collapse in her support was due to Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of the criminal investigation into the former secretary of state’s mishandling of classified information.
Clinton has a point here. The torrent of negative coverage and the unhappy reminder of her tendency toward ethical misconduct was a quarterback sack for a campaign that was already warming up its end-zone dance. Maybe if Comey hadn’t said anything, she would have pulled off a narrow victory instead of suffering a narrow defeat.
And if a frog had wings it wouldn’t bump its backside when it hopped.
Clinton’s former Democratic Senate colleagues felt obliged to take up her cause today with Comey in his routine testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Their unsubtle inference was that the FBI director had acted maliciously.
Comey explained that he saw he had no choice. If Clinton had won, as almost everyone, including her opponent, thought she would, concealing the presence of new information about potential criminal charges against her would have been a catastrophe.
Comey could have easily imagined the moment when now-President Clinton is found to have willfully violated laws governing the handling of state secrets or, potentially something even worse, and that Comey had kept it from the voting public.
As it would turn out, none of that would be a problem for the FBI director. The discovery of the new emails that led to Comey’s outburst led to nothing of interest to the case and, of course, Clinton is not president.
No doubt, Comey was a terrible scourge to Democratic aspirations in 2016. His initial announcement that Clinton was a liar, but not in a way he thought could be prosecuted, was sort of the worst-case scenario.
It was a damning political indictment, but without a criminal indictment, Democrats were still stuck with the more-damaged candidate who would turn out to be their worst nominee in generations.
That, combined with Comey’s yes-no-maybe-so October surprise, did enormous damage to her already damaged brand. So did the Russian-backed hackers who stole embarrassing emails related to Clinton’s campaign and then provided them to an anti-American website.
But dare we ask: At this point, what difference does it make?
Clinton might be right that she might have won if the election was held earlier or if Putinists hadn’t hung her dirty laundry in the breeze. But she also might have won if she hadn’t mishandled state secrets or if she hadn’t gorged herself on Wall Street honoraria or had an ethically rank family foundation or had no campaign message other than calling her opponent a misogynistic bigot or had not run a bloated, out-of-touch campaign organization or had actually campaigned in the upper Midwest or… well, you get the idea.
The point being: She did lose, and in a humiliating fashion to a candidate she reportedly sought to encourage to get into the race, believing him so stupid and crass that he was a sure loser.
That Clinton is still complaining and that she and her family, after a failure of such magnitude, would continue to impose themselves on a shattered Democratic Party is all of the evidence one would ever need of their solipsism and boundless self-regard.
Decency would compel most politicians to have mercy on a party they failed so lavishly. Clinton couldn’t even summon the same level of circumspection as Al Gore, who despite heroic levels of ego, was at least ashamed enough to grow a beard after he lost.
Former President Barack Obama is treading lightly around the edges of politics, at least so far. Like his predecessors, Obama is trying to hold himself at some remove from the day-to-day discourse.
Clinton, however, can summon no similar tack or grace in her defeat, lamely declaring herself part of the “resistance” to her former rival, now the president. Clinton is also launching a political action committee.
It is hard to say how many Democrats are still “with her,” but it is increasingly apparent that it will take concerted effort and conscious action on the part of the party to expel her and her deposed royal house.
It is sad to say, but the kind-hearted impulse among Democrats to console their former nominee in her defeat would only lay the groundwork for the defeats of the future.
THE RULEBOOK: NEW AND IMPROVED
“The truth is, that the great principles of the Constitution proposed by the convention may be considered less as absolutely new, than as the expansion of principles which are found in the articles of Confederation.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 40
TIME OUT: IT’S WHAT YOU’RE WEARING EAR TO EAR
The Atlantic: “… there’s an interesting line of research that helps explain outliers on the other end of the spectrum, too: Specifically, Americans and their stereotypically mega-watt smiles. It turns out that countries with lots of immigration have historically relied more on nonverbal communication—and thus, people there might smile more. … Places like Canada and the United States are very diverse, with 63 and 83 source countries, respectively, while countries like China and Zimbabwe are fairly homogenous, with just a few nationalities represented in their populations. After polling people from 32 countries to learn how much they felt various feelings should be expressed openly, the authors found that emotional expressiveness was correlated with diversity. In other words, when there are a lot of immigrants around, you might have to smile more to build trust and cooperation, since you don’t all speak the same language.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
MODERATES SEEK MORE SPENDING IN BID TO SAVE TRUMPCARE
Bloomberg: “A key GOP holdout on the party’s health-care bill said Wednesday that he would back the measure, saying he thinks an amendment he proposed may be enough to win passage in the House later this week. Representative Fred Upton of Michigan told reporters at the White House after a meeting with President Donald Trump that he’s ready to vote for the bill once a new amendment he helped devise is added that would boost funding for people with pre-existing conditions. … Republican Representative Billy Long of Missouri, another holdout, also said he’s ready to back it. … Upton’s amendment would provide $8 billion over five years to reduce premiums and other costs for those with pre-existing conditions who have a gap in coverage and reside in states that received waivers from some of Obamacare’s requirements under another provision in the bill.
HEARTBURN FOR GOP IN FINAL VOTE ON BIG SPENDING BILL
AP: “House Speaker Paul Ryan sought to assure conservatives on Wednesday that a massive government-wide spending bill is a win for President Donald Trump and Republicans, citing ‘a really good down payment’ on rebuilding the military and ‘the biggest increase in border security in a decade.’ Ryan told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that the most important win for Republicans was breaking loose from former Democratic President Barack Obama's edict that increases in defense spending be matched with equal hikes for nondefense programs. The House is scheduled to vote on the bipartisan $1.1 trillion measure Wednesday afternoon. It is a product of weeks of Capitol Hill negotiations in which top Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi successfully blocked Trump's most controversial proposals, including a down payment on the oft-promised Trump Mexico border wall, cuts to popular domestic programs, and new punishments for so-called sanctuary cities.”
[Byron York says that a hidden provision in the package jacks up the number of Visas for low-wage foreign workers.]
Trump net job-approval rating: -8.4 points
Change from one week ago: +1 point
White House, Kremlin accounts of Trump Putin call don’t match up - NYT
Read this: Daniel Krauthammer meditates on what nationalism should and shouldn’t be in American politics - Weekly Standard
Former acting AG Sally Yates to testify on her warning about Michael Flynn - AP
Donald Trump, television producer - Axios
Ugh: Commerce Secretary Ross jokes that Syria strikes were ‘after-dinner entertainment’ - Variety
Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan proposes bill to break up 9th circuit - Wash Times
“It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election.” – Director James Comey said today during his hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“The Schumer-Reid-Pelosi-Warren Democratic Party will, beyond peradventure, kill the legislative filibuster the next time they have a Senate majority and it suits them to do so. There is zero chance that Democrats will reward Republican forbearance on the filibuster question by sticking to it in the future. Insofar as this is true, the Republicans are simply inane to uphold the filibuster now. It is a Senate rule whose reliability has been killed, and the Republicans cannot do anything about it. Their only sensible alternative is formally to bury the filibuster while they can get some benefit of doing so – now.” – Charles W. Baird, Reno, Nev.
[Ed. note: It sounds a little Leninist for my liking, Mr. Baird, but I certainly take your point. Certainly political self-interest would decree that Republicans smash and grab as much as they can. But I doubt that would make for better laws or a better country. Imposing large initiatives without bipartisan support is a bad idea. Embracing that practice because doing it the right way has become too hard is not a reflection on the rule but rather the inadequacy of our leaders. You may know my penchant for repealing the 17th Amendment, but whatever it is that we do to fix our system should not be about making it easier for narrow majorities to wield more power. But that’s certainly not the way we’re heading so maybe you are right – the GOP should pig out on power now and enjoy it while they can.]
“With the high cost of health care insurance for many people, along with high co-pays, perhaps the best health care plan would be for people to pay their individual doctors out of pocket. If government wants to make something mandatory they could mandate purchase of Catastrophic Health Care Insurance to cover unexpected medical problems that are costly. There are people who become overwhelmed because of health care problems or just lack of income, but certainly we can figure out a way to help those people without penalizing everyone else, and for many Obamacare IS a penalty.” – Eleanor Korf, Glendale, Ariz.
[Ed. note: The stated aim of ObamaCare was to provide health insurance for an estimated 28 million Americans who lacked coverage. One of the problems was that many of them didn’t actually want coverage, at least at any fair price. The real issue was finding a way to provide coverage to those individuals who wanted but could not afford a policy but who were too well off to qualify for Medicaid. States were offered the chance to bump up income limits for the welfare program, which resulted in about 11 million people getting coverage. Then came the subsidies for individuals who don’t get health insurance through their employers, which covers perhaps 10 million more. All of this comes at a hefty price and with massive disruption for the rest of sector. Figuring out a more affordable or effective way to do it is likely to bedevil both parties for many decades to come.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
ACTUALLY, NEVER MIND…
AL.com: “A Cullman woman who stomped through a car windshield yesterday told a TV station that she prayed about what to do. Barbara Emily Lowery, 24, said to ABC 33/40 after thoughtful prayer and a night of thinking, she knew smashing the window wasn't a good idea... but she did it anyway. Lowery was arrested Monday around 11 a.m., after police received a call about a disturbance in a furniture store parking lot off Cherokee Avenue. … Lowery didn't resist arrest. A video, taken by a bystander, shows Lowery standing on the hood of a car stomping on the windshield, and then smashing through the car's sunroof. The windshield was completely destroyed. ABC 33/40 reported Lowery decided to smash the windshield after a man, who she believed to be her boyfriend, was cheating on her. The TV station said another source claimed the two were not in a relationship, but Lowery said she did not want to give out ‘his personal business.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The Clintons have taken victimhood to a new scientific height. They're sort of the experts. The entry in the dictionary should start with them.”
– 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.