Fox News Halftime Report

The political establishment shouldn't be cheering

Chris Stirewalt

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On the roster: The political establishment shouldn’t be cheering - Dems set to seize on ignored warnings about Flynn - Trump now set to make his mark on lower courts - Senate set to start ‘from scratch’ on health insurance - School takes tardiness seriously

There is much celebration on the American left today about the defeat of French nationalist Marine Le Pen in the past weekend’s elections.

Following the dual shocks of Brexit and Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, Western Liberals were feeling rather snakebit. Had Le Pen somehow overcome a pre-election polling deficit of more than 20 points to have defeated Emmanuel Macron, you would have seen something of a collective nervous breakdown.

But she lost, as predicted, and from Paris to Manhattan to Washington to San Francisco a mild shudder of pleasure met the result. This is not entirely unlike the response to the various stumbles and ongoing foibles of Trump and his fellow Republicans in Congress.

They should be more circumspect in their satisfaction.

As former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told USA Today, “The rise of nativism is having an impact on the politics, even if the candidates aren't winning.”

Nativism or nationalism or Trumpism or however you refer to the various forms and the varying degrees of the same energy has always been with us but, as Rice points out, the backlash against globalism is not just intensifying but succeeding.

In one sense, this is the way that liberal democracies are supposed to work. After a generation moving toward a world without borders arranged around the idea of technological innovation, the old guard remerges to try to yank the wheel in the other direction. This forces those across the political spectrum to at least pay attention.

Do you suppose that Macron will take for granted French attitudes about immigration or Islam? Do you think that Democrats will be so cavalier about opposing border security? Do you think that Republicans will ever be blithe again about free trade?

Even when, like Le Pen, the messenger carries some unsavory ideological baggage or, like with Trump, struggles to articulate or execute some of the concepts, that doesn’t mean that some of the underlying concepts themselves are not reasonable.

It’s not racist to want controlled immigration. It’s not isolationist to want trade policies to represent national interests. It’s not nativist to care about your culture.

In our system, it often requires jumps and lurches to move in new directions. Thought of another way, the bipartisan American political establishment had to go pretty deep into neglecting the concerns of voters to create a moment where they became willing to take a chance on a novice politician like Trump.

Looked at that way, the current moment of nationalistic fervor is something like a market correction on Wall Street and nothing to worry about.  

But what if it is something else?

Le Pen is defeated, but the concerns of her voters are not. Trump is struggling to put his agenda into place but the economic and cultural anxieties that made him president are with us still.

Western political elites are making a dangerous habit of thinking about these voters as some sort of disease that needs to be eradicated. A generation ago, politicians like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair saw these voters and their concerns as fertile ground for their parties’ futures. These days Clinton’s wife and many in Western politics treat the people who voted for Trump or Le Pen as at least closet bigots in need of reeducation.

Unless and until the political establishment can come to treat these voters with the dignity and respect they deserve we will continue to see the institutions on which we rely under assault.

And believe us when we say that if these frustrations remain unaddressed, the next assault will be more brutal than the first.

“How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation? The means of security can only be regulated by the means and the danger of attack.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 41

The Atlantic: “Over the past 150 years, food companies and marketers in other parts of the world have taken eating in a more visually thrilling (if a little disorienting) direction. They have used dyes to alter mass-produced foods—sometimes to make them less ‘natural’-looking (see: cakes with bright-blue icing), sometimes to make them more ‘natural’-looking (pickles made greener to fit with consumers’ expectations). Both intentions are, upon further inspection, sort of strange. The first one is odd because it’s not entirely clear, even to researchers, why anything with some abnormally bright colors would be appetizing at all, given that when, say, the color blue appears in nature, it’s often a sign of spoilage or poison. And the second is a paradox: How could a food be made to look ‘more natural’ by virtue of artificial additives?”

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AP: “Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is testifying before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. … [President Trump] moved to distance himself from his former adviser's troubles Monday, tweeting that it was the Obama administration that gave [Michael Flynn] ‘the highest security clearance’ when he worked at the Pentagon. … In a second tweet, Trump said Yates should be asked under oath ‘if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers’ soon after she raised concerns about Flynn with White House counsel Don McGahn on Jan. 26. Yates is expected to testify that she warned McGahn that Flynn's contacts - and the discrepancies between what the White House said happened on the calls and what actually occurred - had left him in a compromised position, according to a person familiar with her expected statements.”

[And they’re just getting started. Politico talked to multiple Democrats in Congress who said they expect investigations into Russian inference to last into next year’s campaign cycle.]

Trump said to have soured on Flynn replacement McMaster - Bloomberg: “For the Washington establishment, President Donald Trump's decision to make General H.R. McMaster his national security adviser in February was a masterstroke. … But inside the White House, the McMaster pick has not gone over well with the one man who matters most. White House officials tell me Trump himself has clashed with McMaster in front of his staff. On policy, the faction of the White House loyal to senior strategist Steve Bannon is convinced McMaster is trying to trick the president into the kind of nation building that Trump campaigned against. Meanwhile the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, is blocking McMaster on a key appointment.”

NYT: “Having filled a Supreme Court vacancy, President Trump is turning his attention to the more than 120 openings on the lower federal courts. On Monday, he will announce a slate of 10 nominees to those courts, a senior White House official said, the first in what could be near monthly waves of nominations. The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, said the nominations were a vindication of a commitment Mr. Trump made during the campaign … The administration continues to draw on lists of 21 potential Supreme Court nominees, put together with the help of the conservative Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation that Mr. Trump issued during the campaign.”

Trump refugee ban faces tough hearing in appeal - 
WashEx: “The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday will examine a ruling that blocks the administration from temporarily barring new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It's the first time an appeals court will hear arguments on the revised travel ban, which is likely destined for the U.S. Supreme Court. … While the 4th Circuit was long considered one of the most conservative appeals courts in the country, it moved to the center under President Barack Obama, who appointed six of the 15 active judges. Now, nine judges are Democratic appointees and five judges are Republican appointees.”

AP: “President Donald Trump urged Senate Republicans on Sunday to ‘not let the American people down,’ as the contentious debate over overhauling the U.S. health care systems shifts to Congress’ upper chamber, where a vote is potentially weeks, if not months, away. Some senators have already voiced displeasure with the health care bill that cleared the House last week, with Republicans providing all the ‘yes’ votes in the 217-213 count. They cited concerns about potential higher costs for older people and those with pre-existing conditions, along with cuts to Medicaid. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican whose vote will be critical to getting a bill to Trump’s desk and who voiced similar concerns, said the Senate would not take up the House bill. ‘The Senate is starting from scratch. We’re going to draft our bill, and I’m convinced we will take the time to do it right,’ she said.”

McConnell reaffirms 51-vote threshold -
The Hill: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Saturday that the Senate does not expect any help from Democrats as it tries to pass legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare. ‘We don’t anticipate any Democratic help at all, so it will be a simple majority vote situation,’ McConnell told The Associated Press.”

Health insurers prepare huge rate hikes amid Washington uncertainty - Vox: “Some health insurance plans selling on the Obamacare marketplaces are planning steep 2018 rate increases, in part to account for the uncertainty over how the Trump administration will administer the law. The administration has been aggressively ambiguous about key policy issues, like whether it will enforce the health care law’s individual mandate or pay out insurance subsidies aimed at the lowest-income Obamacare enrollees.”

Obama weighs in - Politico: “Barack Obama on Sunday night called on members of Congress to exercise the ‘political courage’ to not repeal Obamacare — his first public comments about the law since the House voted to repeal it on Thursday, and a rare entry into the current political debate since leaving office. ‘I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what’s politically expedient, but doing what, deep in our hearts, we know is right,’ Obama said…”

[Take a look at the latest Hill calendar in relation to Trump's agenda by Axios]

Trump net job-approval rating: -8.8 points
Change from one week ago: -0.6 points

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill targeting sanctuary citiesFox News

Reasons to be skeptical about the Comey effect - NYT

Here are 20 Democrats who might be running for president - FiveThirtyEight

Tiffany Trump will start at Georgetown Law in the fall - Daily Mail

Eric Trump denies claim by famed golf writer James Dodson that Trump bragged about Russian backers for golf coursesWBUR

“Like this guy, this congressman, you might as well say, ‘Well, people don't starve because they don't have food.’ What the f*** is that?” – Sen. Kamala Harris D-Calif. speaking at a forum in response to a comment by Rep. Raul Labrador R-Idaho who said, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

“Much has been made by Democrats that passage of the AHCA will doom R's to future minority status. Little mention is made of the more likely prospect that the measure will die in the Senate. If that happens and the PPACA continues its precipitous fall into ins. co. withdrawals from states and higher premium costs in the fall, I think voters will remember who is who in their calculations and Democrats will end up suffering more in the short term come the general Congressional elections in 2018.” – Joe Guyton, San Antonio, Texas

[Ed. note: It is very true, Mr. Guyton, that this version of the Republican cuts to ObamaCare will not make it through the Senate, but I suspect something will. The reason is the one you describe: the drought of insurance carriers in ObamaCare exchanges and skyrocketing premiums in others. It is tempting for Republicans to think that if some of the 22 million Americans in the independent insurance market are either left without coverage or forced to buy unaffordable policies this fall that somehow Democrats will suffer the blame. But, that’s not how this works. Even if Republicans had done nothing at all, failing to act in the face of the failure of the government program wouldn’t wash. Most Americans are satisfied with their health coverage and generally don’t think much about their premiums. But as Democrats learned when ObamaCare forced millions off of their existing policies, it doesn’t take that many sad stories to create political consequences. Republicans, including the president, who have mused about the political utility of these harmed individuals have made the political blame game even easier for Democrats.]  

“Quick question: are the members of congress and federal employees still covered by very special health insurance other than our brand new (yet to be finalized )?” – Ruth Maroscher, Circleville, Ohio

[Ed. note: The approximately 2 million civilian employees of the federal government are covered under various forms of health insurance mostly under the umbrella of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Tax payers and beneficiaries spend more than $40 billion each year on through the FEHBP. There’s no serious discussion on changing the system that is widely considered successful and cost-effective. But as you alluded to, since 2014, members of Congress and their staffs have been excluded and most obtain health insurance through an ObamaCare exchange, with the federal government directing its health-insurance benefit payments through the exchanges, rather than through a traditional insurance policy. It’s unclear whether the proposed cuts to ObamaCare would touch members or many of their staffers, but concurrent legislation moving alongside the cuts package would make clear that any changes to the law apply to Congress as well.]

“The sentence, ‘We should remember, of course, that war bonds were not historically for war expenditures, per say, but rather for general revenues for the government and, of course, to fight wartime inflation,’ doesn’t sound right to me.  I was there at the time and bought war bonds.  They were explicitly advertised for the war effort.” – Robert Love, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

[Ed. note: You are quite right, Mr. Love! The advertising campaigns for WWII war bonds were explicitly about the war effort, but that didn’t limit the uses for that money once the government had it. The United States spent what would be today more than $4 trillion on the war – Happy V-E Day, by the way – but that didn’t mean that domestic expenditures ceased. Understood in the same concept of growing a victory garden or using ration books, everything was really part of the same war effort.]  

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WANE: “A school bus slammed into a home after colliding with another vehicle south of downtown Fort Wayne early Monday. Police were called around 9 a.m. Monday to a home at 2911 Broadway, near the intersection with Home Avenue just south of downtown Fort Wayne, on a report of a crash. Dispatchers told NewsChannel 15 a Fort Wayne Community Schools bus crashed into a home there and was lodged in the structure. According to investigators, the bus collided with a black sedan. The car was reportedly headed north on Broadway and drifted left of center, and the southbound bus struck the car. The car was left with heavy damage. No children were on the bus, dispatchers said. Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman said the bus driver was not hurt. The driver of the car was also not injured, but police issued a citation.”

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 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.