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On the roster: What Republicans can learn from the Tory tumble - Power Play: Battle of the glasses - Sessions pushes back on Comey testimony - Ossoff shatters another fundraising record - Awwwww…
WHAT REPUBLICANS CAN LEARN FROM THE TORY TUMBLE
The rule for political parties is the same as for people: First, know yourself.
Britain’s Conservative Party managed a face-plant of heroic proportions Thursday by misunderstanding its own voters. American Republicans should take note.
The bold but not unreasonable assumption on the part of Prime Minister Theresa May and her closest advisers was that their party could capitalize on the stunning success of the vote for leaving the European Union. May hoped to transform that energy into a doughtier majority that would give Tories a stronger hand not only going into the negotiations around Brexit but provide a comfortable ruling coalition for years to come.
That is not what happened.
May might hang on for a time as prime minister, but her miscalculation will probably prove deadly to her premiership. Whether members of her own party stage a revolt as strife overtakes the narrow majority she’s seeking to form with Ulster Unionists or Conservatives are tossed out in the next election, losing on a bet as big as this one will have dire consequences.
America is blessed not to be burdened with a parliamentary system of government.
Our Founders chose a republican system that provides terms in office as long as six years so that leaders are not constantly pitched about on the stormy seas of public sentiment.
We complain about the “permanent campaign” but our leaders have at least some time to try to govern between elections. The real work of government happens in those magic moments between the votes. But even so, our system does not afford the opportunity to ignore public sentiment altogether.
Republicans are in a tight spot. They are trying to create a new coalition that blends fiscally conservative suburban elites with small-town and rural populists. These are two of the main stressors in American political dynamics dating back far before anybody even know what a suburb was. The question both parties have often asked and have very seldom answered with lasting satisfaction is how you fit a pitchfork into a golf bag.
May and her party wrongly assumed couple of things. First, that the Brexit voters would not only turn out in force but that they would also stick tight to the party championing their cause. But second, they also wrongly assumed that the nationalistic impulses that weakened their Labour rivals would remind intact.
Not only did supporters of the all-but-vanished pro-Brexit UKIP Party spilt their votes between Conservatives and Labour, but the once-robust Scottish nationalist movement died like the dirge of a bagpipe. Its members reverted to form and voted Labour.
In the Tory dream, Labour would remain hopelessly divided over the issue of Scottish independence and downscale voters who embraced Brexit would stick around to keep May and her party in power.
As Republicans contemplate their own difficult moment they can first be very happy that there are no snap elections taking place anytime soon. But they can also take heed of the fact that their British counterparts failed in an endeavor that of which the GOP is currently struggling.
How do Republicans fuse the angry populist, nationalist sentiments of Trumpism with the Republican base of college-educated suburban voters? Trump may have been the American Brexit, but will the next election be the movement in the party’s undoing?
Republicans are currently following a two-track approach in which congressional GOPers are proceeding as if George W. Bush or some other conventional Republican was in power. Conservatives take delight in policy successes on key issues like the courts, financial and other regulations and, potentially, big-ticket items like cutting taxes and ObamaCare benefits.
Meantime, the Red-hatted tribune of the people, President Trump, is trapped in some terrible soap opera in which he and his administration plunge from crisis to crisis. You can’t look away, but it’s hard not to cringe.
As a result, neither constituency of the Republican Party is getting what it wants.
Conservative country clubbers face a policy future that is uncertain at best. The populists who voted Republican for the sake of Trump aren’t getting the swamp-draining satisfaction they wanted, either.
Democrats are in bad shape, but not as bad as their Labour counterparts in Britain who are led by a guy who makes Bernie Sanders look like Ben Sasse. If Jeremy Corbyn can take May to the ropes, don’t underestimate what Democrats could do in 2018 and 2020.
Republicans cannot choose between the suburbs and the sticks but must instead meet the interests of both groups as best they can.
As they have discovered with ObamaCare, Trump’s Twitter followers don’t have much interest in right-wing social engineering in the shape of entitlement reform. But Team MAGA has found out that radical foreign policy ideas are dead letters with the rest of the party.
On areas of impasse such as these, the feuding cousins of the GOP will have to probably agree to disagree.
But on areas where there is agreement between the factions or at least disinterest on one side, they should proceed at a furious pace if they want to hold on to enough of this new, balky coalition to not end up hung out to dry like May and the Tories.
The GOP is the same coalition it was on Election Day 2016, two widely divergent groups warily eyeing each other over a narrow swath of common interests. Pretending that party loyalty will cover the current problems forgets just how uneasy this alliance really is.
THE RULEBOOK: FAR AND WIDE
“The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 48
TIME OUT: LET’S STICK TO LAND SPORTS
NatGeo: “In 1997 Patrick de Gayardon donned a webbed nylon suit and leaped, it’s believed, from Norway’s Kjerag Mountain. The rush of air inflated the suit’s three wings, allowing him to glide. This first modern wingsuit transformed BASE jumping: named for launch points building, antenna, span (bridge), and earth. Previously, BASE jumpers descended vertically with parachutes. In wingsuits pilots can perform daring horizontal stunts such as flying through rings of fire and narrow rock formations. But wingsuit pilots are much more likely to die. The first recorded fatality from a wingsuit BASE jump was in 2002; it has since become one of the world’s most lethal sports. … In 2017 a company called Next Level introduced the first curriculum for progressing from skydiving to BASE jumping to wingsuit flying. ‘We can’t save the people who want to take maximum shortcuts and get maximum praise from their peers after sharing a video of themselves,’ says Matt Gerdes, the co-founder of Squirrel wingsuits. ‘But at least now they can’t say that they didn’t have a choice.’”
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HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
Trump net job-approval rating: -19 points
Change from one week ago: -2 points
POWER PLAY: BATTLE OF THE GLASSES
It has been a Comey filled week, so what better way to give yourself a break than through a news and trivia quiz?! We welcome two glasses wearing rookies, Fox News contributor
Richard Fowler and Fox Business Network’s Kennedy to the game this week. Who will take home this week’s new prize? And yes, we said new prize. WATCH HERE
SESSIONS PUSHES BACK ON COMEY TESTIMONY
Politico: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions disputed aspects of fired FBI Director James Comey's attention-grabbing testimony Thursday evening, denying that he remained silent in the face of Comey's complaint about improper interventions with the FBI on the part of President Donald Trump. … In his appearance Thursday, Comey said he didn't remember precisely what Sessions did… [Ian Prior] said Sessions stepped back solely because of the prominent role he played in the Trump campaign. ‘Given Attorney General Sessions’ participation in President Trump’s campaign, it was for that reason, and that reason alone, the Attorney General made the decision on March 2, 2017 to recuse himself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States,’ the spokesman said.”
Comey handed Mueller a fat case file on Trump - Politico: “But the ousted FBI director gave Robert Mueller plenty to work with as the special counsel investigates whether the president or his allies committed any crimes. … Mueller himself may not have been surprised by Comey’s much-anticipated Senate testimony since he’d already been briefed on what would be said. But with Comey’s story now widely aired publicly, it did give lawmakers, as well as veteran prosecutors and defense attorneys, a chance to reflect on what Mueller is now working with as he gets started on a probe that essentially has an unlimited budget and all the time he needs to go in whatever directions he needs to.”
What they’re saying
“But thanks to Mr. Trump’s own actions, the cloud darkened considerably on Thursday and now seems likely to hover over his presidency for months, if not years, to come. …While delivered in calm, deliberate and unemotional terms, Mr. Comey’s testimony on Thursday was almost certainly the most damning j’accuse moment by a senior law enforcement official against a president in a generation.” – Peter Baker in the NYT.
“What if all the painful drama over Donald Trump and Mike Flynn and Hillary Clinton and Russians wasn’t really due to Donald Trump or Mike Flynn or Hillary Clinton or Russians? What if the national spectacle the country has endured comes down to one man, James Comey?” – Kim Strassel in the WSJ.
“President Trump also had the constitutional authority to order Comey to end the investigation of former national security adviser Mike Flynn. He could have pardoned Flynn, as Bush pardoned Weinberger, thus ending the Flynn investigation, as Bush ended the Iran-Contra investigation. What Trump could not do is what Nixon did: direct his aides to lie to the FBI, or commit other independent crimes. There is no evidence that Trump did that.” – Alan Dershowitz in WashEx.
OSSOFF SHATTERS ANOTHER FUNDRAISING RECORD
AJC: “Democrat Jon Ossoff reported another unprecedented fundraising haul Thursday in the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, collecting an additional $15 million in roughly the last two months in a contest that’s already the most expensive of its kind. So vast that the report filled about 58,000 pages, Ossoff’s fundraising shattered the quarterly record he set earlier this year, when the former congressional aide astonished the political world by collecting more than $8.3 million. All told, he’s raised about $23.6 million in a quest to flip the suburban Atlanta district. Republican Karen Handel, his opponent in the June 20 runoff, has yet to report her fundraising totals. It was not immediately clear how much of Ossoff’s donations came from outside of the district, which stretches from north DeKalb to east Cobb, but his last report showed only about 1 in 20 contributions were from Georgia residents. His campaign said the average donation was $20.49.”
Ossoff widens lead over Handel - AJC: “An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll released Friday shows Democrat Jon Ossoff has a 7-point edge over Republican Karen Handel in the nationally-watched race to represent Georgia’s 6th District. The poll of likely voters has Ossoff leading Handel by a 51-44 margin ahead of the June 20 runoff. About 5 percent of voters are undecided. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.”
Report: Kushner to meet with Senate Intel Committee staffers - NBC News
House passes financial regulation rollbacks - USA Today
New solutions, new problems for GOP ObamaCare cuts in Senate - Politico
Gowdy to lead powerful Oversight Committee - Roll Call
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
On deck for this Sunday, Chris Wallace sits down with RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and Sen. Jack Reed D-R.I., to talk all things Comey. 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.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Don't you think it is a little early for any side to declare victory since at least three people (Rogers, Coats, and Comey) will be testifying behind closed doors and we will not know what they will say there? I want to know if Trump really has tapes of the meetings. If he does, then they will confirm or refute what Trump claims.” – Donna Korman, Arlington, Texas
[Ed. note: It’s waaaaaay too early to declare anything in the matter of the investigation into Russia’s involvement into the 2016 election. The good news is that we may have answers sooner than expected since the signal from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller is that they are marking time in months and not years. We may have some satisfaction on the subject before the Christmas decorations go up. The hearing, like the one on Thursday, are brief peaks into the much larger world below. I remain optimistic that, aside from the most unhinged partisans, we will have some definitive answers about this enormously vexing question.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
BBC: “Gavel the puppy was facing a tough change when he flunked out of police dog academy for being too sociable. Instead of tackling hardened criminals, the German shepherd pup liked to meet strangers, and police in Australia felt he ‘did not display the necessary aptitude for a life on the front line’. Luckily, he had been fostered at the official residence of the Queensland governor since he was six weeks old. So the governor gave his four-legged friend a brand new job. … Citizens are assured that everything he lacks in crime-fighting aggression, he now makes up for in his duties of welcoming guests and tour groups to the grounds of Queensland's Government House. He also partakes in special ceremonial occasions - and the job comes with a custom-made uniform featuring the state emblems of Queensland. ‘We hope Gavel's with us for a long, long time into the future,’ Governor [Paul de Jersey] told 7 News Brisbane.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Here's the central question: if you thought this was obstruction of justice when Trump was asking you to drop the Flynn thing, why didn't you resign? Why didn't you even bring it up with the president or anybody in Justice? Anyway, this is a man, I don't know if cowardly is the right word. But he sure has post-facto integrity.” –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.