Fox News Halftime Report

Norks put Trump in a pickle

Chris Stirewalt

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On the roster: Norks put Trump in a pickle - Power Play: Didn’t we almost have it all? - Ryan pushes back on Trump-Dem deal on dreamers - Trump backs Strange, but Trump’s PAC backs Moore - Hard pass

NORKS PUT TRUMP IN A PICKLE
The most politically helpful part of President Trump’s foreign policy so far has been that he has mostly neglected or failed to execute its most unpopular provisions. 

Dire predictions that were, to be fair, predicated on Trump’s own statements haven’t panned out and, in many cases, have turned into praise rather than condemnation. 

A troop surge in Afghanistan, maintaining the Iranian nuclear deal, a re-escalation of what was formerly known as the “Global War on Terror,” cordial relations with Mexico and Canada, a staunch commitment to NATO, a doughty disposition toward Russia and a good rapport with his European counterparts are not things people would have considered a punch list for the first eight months of the “America First” presidency. 

Most surprising to those who have followed Trump’s long, public life and brief rise to power has been the caliber of the people who he has chosen for his foreign policy and national security teams. Much of this squad could have been picked by either George W. Bush or Barack Obama

This not only pleases the broad, bipartisan establishment, but it puts to ease many in the majority of voters who have consistently held in surveys that Trump is a hothead. As Trump arrives at the U.N. General Assembly next week, he comes as a pleasant surprise not just to other world leaders but to Americans, many of who expected a foreign policy of equal chaos to Trump’s domestic agenda.

It is true that many of Trump’s earliest and most vigorous supporters don’t like these turns toward conventional globalism. The same noisy minority that is currently inconsolable over Trump’s embrace of amnesty for young adults who came to the United States illegally as minors was previously in a lesser uproar about Trump maintaining core policies of his predecessors. 

But these voters have no place to go right now and probably won’t in 2020, either. Their dampened enthusiasm for the ever-changing nature of Trumpism may be consequential in midterms and the quadrennial general election, but the president has, for the time being, decided to trade in his original ride for a more luxurious model. 

Who knew that the easiest path to a popular foreign policy was in failing to live up to your campaign promises? 

But there’s one area where low expectations and a preference for stability in world affairs do not help Trump: North Korea. The totalitarian state is unquestionably out of hand.

This is now unlike the previous, extortionist, flare-ups we’ve seen from Pyongyang in which saber rattling nets some additional food shipments, a case of Courvoisier for the dictator and a visit from Dennis “The Worm” Rodman.

One of the reasons presidents don’t really resort to the kind of rhetoric that Trump fired off about North Korea starting in the opening weeks of his term is because it tends to limit a leader’s options later on. 

History will recall always Obama’s complicity in the genocidal slaughter of Syria because he declared a “red line” in the country’s civil war, and then failed to act. Once the American president promises consequences, the world generally expects the planet’s lone superpower to deliver. 

We have reached a point of crisis with North Korea as that country not only refuses to comply with demands of the entire international community but now flouts direct threats from the United States by firing missiles through the air space of our most important regional ally, Japan. 

While Trump’s national security team has worked hard to undercut the president’s hottest rhetoric about North Korea, Trump has still managed to create an expectation of consequences, both internationally and among his constituents here at home. 

It does not look good for Trump or the United States to have a tin-pot dictator of a starving nation flipping him the bird, via ICBM. 

The trouble is there are no good options in North Korea, save the possibility of brokering a deal with China to reunify the Korean peninsula under the government in Seoul. Trump or one of his successors may be able to pull that one off someday, but for now it sounds far-fetched. 

It is rare that a foreign policy predicament penetrates domestic politics. One of the privileges of being an apex power is not having to worry too much about what’s happening in every backwater state in the world. But this crisis has pretty clearly crossed over to a matter of concern for ordinary voters. 

Finding a solution that does not end in nuclear war, a massive U.S. invasion force or an open-ended nation-building endeavor would be a test for any administration, but it is taking a fuller measure of Trump’s because of his own words. 

THE RULEBOOK: STRETCH TO FIT 
“The SAFETY of the people doubtless has relation to a great variety of circumstances and considerations, and consequently affords great latitude to those who wish to define it precisely and comprehensively.” – John JayFederalist No. 3

TIME OUT: WIFFLE SCIENCE 
Atlantic: “Wiffle balls wouldn’t be possible without the ubiquity of plastic. In postwar America, lab-synthesized plastics flooded consumer markets once they were no longer needed for wartime duties… The first Wiffle-ball prototypes were made by cutting holes into the plastic packaging for Coty perfume. Today’s mass-produced Wiffle balls begin life as polyethylene pellets, melted and injection-molded into hemispheres that are then pressure-sealed together. The asymmetric flow field caused by the Wiffle-ball holes might yield the same result as does the effect on a spinning baseball. … Unlike a baseball, air can flow through a Wiffle ball. Our results suggested that some airflow is captured within the ball, and that this captured air creates a ‘trapped vortex’ effect that also induces a force on the ball. This effect can either compete with or complement the asymmetric pressure distribution outside the ball due to the perforations.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -19 points
Change from one week ago: up 0.4 points

[President Trump’s score is determined by subtracting his average job disapproval rating in the five most recent, methodologically sound public polls from his average approval rating, calculated in the same fashion.]

POWER PLAY: DIDN’T WE ALMOST HAVE IT ALL?
Chris Stirewalt
 welcomes two new players to Power Play this week! Fox News contributor Gillian Turner and the WaPo’s James Hohmann step up to the plate. Together they’d be a great team, but how did they perform separately? WATCH HERE

RYAN PUSHES BACK ON TRUMP-DEM DEAL ON DREAMERS
Politico: “Speaker Paul Ryan is impaneling an informal working group of moderate Republicans and immigration hard-liners to find a solution for so-called Dreamers that the House GOP conference can support. The Wisconsin Republican has said he doesn’t want to punish the nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as minors by their parents, through no fault of their own. But he also believes that codification of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Donald Trump will end in March, must include fortified border security and heightened immigration enforcement. The adhoc group will be tasked with coming up with solutions for all those issues that could be supported by a majority of the majority. A source familiar with its creation said it was just one part of a larger look at the matter. GOP leaders, for instance, will also continue conversations with Democratic leaders.”

Recent hurricanes cause Feds to consider DREAMer deadline delay - Politico: “The Department of Homeland Security is ‘actively considering’ delaying a looming deadline for so called-Dreamers to renew their status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a Justice Department attorney said at a court hearing Thursday, according to attendees and a government official. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett Shumate cited the hurricanes that recently hit Texas, Florida and nearby states as grounds for the potential delay to the Oct. 5 deadline, while noting that no final decision had been made, an official said. Word of the possible delay came as a federal judge signaled that he might postpone the cut-off date unless the Trump administration acted first, attendees at a Thursday court hearing said.”

TRUMP BACKS STRANGE, BUT TRUMP’S PAC BACKS MOORE
WashTimes: “Roy Moore is surging in the Republican primary runoff in Alabama’s special U.S. Senate election, threatening to upend the GOP establishment. Mr. Moore, the former chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, holds a lead over Sen. Luther Strange in the latest polling, and won the backing this week of a political action committee that boosted President Trump in last year’s campaign. But the endorsement by Great American PAC is all the more stunning because Mr. Trump has endorsed Mr. Strange in the race – adding another layer of intrigue to a GOP contest that has been all about who is going to be most loyal to the commander-in-chief. Things got messier Thursday after the Strange campaign released a poll, conducted by the super PAC tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, showing Mr. Moore leading by a single percentage point…”

Gillespie exploits Confederate sympathies in gubernatorial run - National Review: “Ed Gillespie, the veteran GOP politico, is running for governor of Virginia. He was born and raised in New Jersey — but he knows his territory, obviously. He is running, at least in part, on the monument issue: the retention of Confederate monuments. He recently sent a mass e-mail headed ‘Save Virginia’s Statues.’ He said that his opponent had ‘promised to do everything he can to remove Virginia’s Confederate monuments and statues if he is elected governor.’ The issue must poll well for Gillespie and the GOP. The Democratic nominee is Ralph Northam, currently the lieutenant governor. He says that he recently discovered that some of his ancestors owned slaves. The Virginia GOP issued a tweet — alleging that Northam ‘has turned his back on his own family’s heritage in demanding monument removal.’ After a backlash, the party deleted the tweet, and apologized for it.”

Harris has Feinstein’s back for reelection, ‘100 percent’ - 
Politico: “In a robust defense of Dianne Feinstein, her embattled Democratic colleague, Sen. Kamala Harris said Thursday that she would back the state’s senior U.S. senator ‘100 percent’ should Feinstein decide to run again in 2018, calling her a tireless fighter for ‘California values.’ ‘I am a strong supporter of Dianne, and if she decides to run again, I will be front and center in supporting her — and for lots of good reasons,’ Harris told POLITICO on Thursday. ‘I may not agree with her on everything. But I admire and respect her.’ … Harris’ impassioned defense came a day after a new poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies indicated that Feinstein’s job approval rating had fallen 9 points in recent months to 50 percent, with 36 percent now disapproving of her job performance.” 

Continetti:
 ‘Democrats follow Bernie Sanders off a cliff’ - Free Beacon: “Senators Harris, Booker, Gillibrand, and Warren, who in addition to cosponsoring the bill may soon be fighting each other, as well as Sanders, for the Democratic nomination, are generals re-enacting the last war. They saw how well Sanders did against Clinton, they have marched in the anti-Trump ‘resistance’ movement, and they want to inoculate themselves from accusations of ideological heresy. … What the copycats forget is the future in politics is never a straight-line projection of the present, much less of the bizarre circumstances surrounding the 2016 Democratic primary. ‘Medicare for All’ might strike Warren & co. today as legislation worthy of support for reasons both moral and self-interested. In time, however, palling around with Bernie Bros may become a liability.”

HARVARD DROPS MANNING AMID BACKLASH 
Fox News: “The dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government has announced that the school has scrapped a plan to make convicted WikiLeaks leaker Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow, but still plans to have her speak at its vaunted Kennedy School. Douglas W. Elmendorf stressed that Manning is still invited to talk with students and then host a forum where she would be asked ‘hard questions’ about her story. He said the school never had any intention to honor her or endorse ‘any of her words or deeds.’ ‘I apologize to her and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard ... for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation,’ he wrote. ‘... we are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow—and the perceived honor that it implies to some people—while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum,’ Elmendorf wrote.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY 
Ben Shapiro calls out antifa as Berkeley protests fizzle - The Hill

Read this: ‘How much can the youth vote actually help the Democrats?’ - NYT

California passes bill requiring presidential candidates to release tax returns - The Hill

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
This weekend Chris Wallace welcomes National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster to discuss the president’s upcoming United Nations debut. Plus, Mr. Sunday will discuss the current state of DREAMers with Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill. and Sen. Roy Blunt R-Mo. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

[Ed. note: Many congratulations to Chris Wallace for his newly announced contract with the Fox News Channel. I have been privileged every day that I have had him for a colleague and am so glad that the condition will persist for many years to come!]

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

AUDIBLE: DUUUUUUUUUUUDE…

“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana … without properly delving into the weeds … the federal government strains… To be blunt…I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act. …join Senator [Brian] Schatz and me in our joint effort… I have high hopes that this bipartisan initiative can be a kumbaya moment for both parties.” – Sen.Orrin Hatch, an 83-year-old member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, in a statement announcing his sponsorship of a measure supporting medical marijuana.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Republican’s (and their leadership) not following through on their promises are the only ones to blame for President Trump talking to Democratic leadership. They really don’t like that guy. By the way, what is Comprehensive Immigration Reform? No one seems able to give specifics on what that actually entails.” – Mark Hoffman, Des Moines, Iowa

[Ed. note: The good thing about politics, Mr. Hoffman, is that no one ever has to take responsibility. Some truly statesman like figures are willing to find fault in themselves before they cast it on others, but the current crop in Washington, from the president on down, is not really down with that. Trump can blame anyone he wants for advancing legislation similar to that he savaged his 2016 rivals for supporting. I don’t care, because I generally don’t care whom politicians blame. It is almost always dishonest and nearly universally self-serving. What matters now is whether this deal can result in actual legislation. I’m about 50/50 on the proposition that this can actually pass. But I cannot wait to see how it all plays out. As to your question about “comprehensive immigration reform,” this is Washington jargon for a deal that includes amnesty and enforcement.]

“There are an infinite number of models, analyses, etc. of society. All have some truth to them but almost none offer anything like a practical solution. I am sad to say that your "Big Stupid" formulation meets both these criteria. What’s worse, I am worried that you and your staff are more interested in publishing compliments for your formulation than proposed solutions. I am certain that this is not the case, but I voice the concern to emphasize the larger point. If you are not going to venture a practical solution or offer an analysis that leads to one, at least solicit both from your readers. My best shot (unsolicited and unpublished when made previously) is for conservatives to demand that all federal funds for research, etc. at colleges and universities be tied to faculty that is balanced (diverse) in its points of view. That is, there should be as many conservatives and centrists on a college’s faculty as left wing liberals. Is this the perfect solution? Maybe, maybe not. The point is, let’s get beyond simply parroting the left’s denigration of the right and the large numbers of American citizens that have been ill served by the American educational system K through college. Let’s get to achievable (if not immediately practical) solutions to turn this around. If we don’t then well-intentioned columns like yours amount to little more than choosing to fiddle for Romans while Rome burns.” – Eric Hutchins, Santa Barbara, Calif. 

[Ed. note: If by “staff,” Mr. Hutchins, you mean Brianna McClelland, then have no fear. Aside from helping me provide all of this baling wire for you and your fellow readers every day, she also helps keep me honest. I have said before that I don’t see myself in the solutions business. I acknowledge it is a cop-out but I think, in large part, a necessary one for the purpose of journalistic remove. But on this topic, I am unabashed in my proposed solution. Americans must demand better of their schools, their communities and themselves. There may be some billionaire that would like to fund another national constitutional education project, and it might help. But the only way that this gets better is when human beings in large numbers declare the status quo unacceptable. As for your suggestion that the federal government dictate the curricula of every university that receives federal funds (which is to say all of them), I will stand in staunch opposition. If we want to talk about constitutional literacy, it would hardly seem appropriate to engage in conduct far outside the prevue of the federal government under the Constitution to do so.]

“The answer to the ‘Big Stupid’ may be a simple as a national Civics test requirement to graduate from High School. Tie it to federal dollars and Voila! No need to come up with a new test - just give High School Juniors the Citizenship test administered to new Americans. Then those who fail have a year to get up to speed to retake the test. 12th grade Civics will re-emerge (this class was a fact of life when I went to High School - EVERYONE had to take it to get out).  Then every year publish the pass/fail rates for every school in the land.” – Patsy FieldsAliso Viejo, Calif.

[Ed. note: I love this! But I’m afraid you’ll have to take out the word “national.” The Department of Education has been a pretty thorough failure for most of its existence. That’s not because of incompetent leadership, necessarily. That’s because the mandate under which the agency toils is essentially impossible. As we learned during the painful imposition of Common Core standards, parents and local administrators despise federal mandates and do their best to defeat them whenever possible. I’m afraid re-teaching Americans about their government is going to be house-to-house conflict. This is a movement that members of both parties should want to get behind and one that is obviously necessary. School district by school district and school by school let this movement build strength, change hearts and inspire young souls.]

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HARD PASS
KTLA: “Like a mix between a shark and an earthworm ripped from someone’s nightmares, the mystery sea creature that washed ashore in Texas during Hurricane Harvey appears to have been identified. Preeti Desai, social media manager with the National Audubon Society, tweeted photos of the fanged, faceless body after finding it on a beach in Texas City, which lies along the Gulf Coast near Galveston. Desai posted the photo with the challenge, ‘Okay, biology twitter, what the heck is this??’ She also noted that there was a drinking straw in one of her photos, giving people an idea of the creature’s size. Answers on Twitter ranged from ‘the monsters in ‘Tremors’ to ‘mystery alien,’ but there were also plenty of serious guesses. … The answer finally came from Dr. Kenneth Tighe, a biologist with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, who believes it is a fangtooth snake-eel, also known as a ‘tusky’ eel.”

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.