The question of Columbus Day: Was it worth it?

By Chris Stirewalt

Published October 06, 2017

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On the roster: The question of Columbus Day: Was it worth it? - Power Play: Bacon fresh - Trump reportedly nixed fix for Iowa ObamaCare victims - Trump expected to seek middle way on Iran deal - Aggressively autumnal 

THE QUESTION OF COLUMBUS DAY: WAS IT WORTH IT?
As Christopher Columbus lay dying in May of 1506, history’s most famous explorer did not know the magnitude of his discovery. 

Broken physically and mentally from his four transatlantic trips, Columbus was thought mad by his great patrons, King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I

Columbus had been stripped of his title and briefly jailed in Hispaniola six years earlier. No hero was he.

At age 54 and just 14 years after stumbling upon the New World, Columbus would die shunned and impoverished – a failure. Just like him, Columbus’ contemporaries had no idea what he had truly found. 

We look back now at the discovery of the Americas as a certainty. We now compare Columbus to Viking settlers who, hugging the coast of Greenland, made their way to North America much sooner. And what about South Pacific wayfarers who island hopped all the way to what is now Chile long before Columbus was born?

If discovery was inevitable, then who cares which guy in a funny hat found it first? 

Columbus Day has been taken up by Italian Americans as their spot on the calendar to celebrate their cousin’s historic achievement and their own gifts to American culture and life. But, Columbus has about to do with modern Italian-American accomplishments as St. Patrick has to do with corned beef and cabbage. 

But Columbus Day is also about something else: A serious question for Americans, one with which we increasingly struggle: Was it worth it? 

For most of America’s history, that question was quite simple. The new birth of freedom and beacon of hope for all the oppressed peoples of the world came as a result of Europeans’ discovery of the New World. Yay, Columbus! [Insert your flag emoji here.]

We have our nation’s capital is in a federal district named to honor Columbus. So are several cities and one prestigious Ivy League university. The concept of “Columbia,” honors the man himself, yes, but more significantly the concept of the new beginning in the New World that followed his discovery.

Celebrating that beginning with names, fairs and holidays makes sense for people who see themselves as heirs to the gifts of freedom and opportunity America provides. Never forget that a big part of America’s original understanding of itself is that we were freed from the tyranny, privation and bloodshed that dominated Europe for centuries. To be Columbian was to be free of that toil.  

But now we are not so sure. 

This weekend’s festivities will be marred by protests and, potentially, the kinds of ugly confrontations that have surrounded monuments to members of the Confederacy. 

It’s pretty easy to answer in hindsight that the Confederacy wasn’t worth it, but are we as a culture ready to say that the European discovery, colonization and conquest of the New World wasn’t worth the price? 

The wholesale slaughter of indigenous peoples, especially by Columbus’s Spanish benefactors stands out as a moral odium even in the history of a species that has committed many. 

Looking back, as we compress the centuries between Columbus’s arrival and, say, the Battle of Wounded Knee, we are confronted with a slow-motioned genocide in which European settlers dehumanized and destroyed less technologically sophisticated native peoples. 

It may have been warfare, but it was of the un-American kind: Conquest.

And what about the other misdeeds done by recipients of the Columbian gift? Slavery, oppression of women, environmental degradation and, well, you get the idea…

Should we really celebrate a discovery that led to those things? 

Many Americans have traded one kind of unsophistication in which their country could do no wrong for another kind of unsophistication in which their country has done no right. 

Part of the reason for sustained assault on Columbus Day, remembrances of the Founders and other venerations of past glories is the belief among a small but growing minority that America is truly rotten and that all of the pride that came before was just a lie to cover up these deeper sins. Historical relativism has made monsters out of many heroes, none more so than Columbus.

The question posed by Columbus Day isn’t so much about the admiral himself or La Conquista, it’s about whether you think that what is America today is worth the unquestionable suffering that followed his arrival. If the world had it to do over again, would we?

Those who will protest or deface monuments this weekend pretty clearly have their answer. But what about the rest of the country? Are Americans so sure anymore?

Those who still see the nation as “the last best hope of earth” would tell you yes, that the New World would go on not just to rescue the Old World but that the American experiment it produced has been the greatest engine of freedom in history – an empire of liberty with the whole world as its beneficiary. 

They would say that the freedom we enjoy may not have been the fruit of the virgin birth depicted in the gauzy remembrances of centuries past, but it was worth the pain that came from bringing it into the world. 

This split on this question ought to be of particular interest to those desperate to re-unify a nation that seems to be splitting at the seams. You can’t bring together people around the work of a shared life when a significant number wish you had never been born.  

THE RULEBOOK: SYMMETRY AND BEAUTY 
“The several departments of power are distributed and blended in such a manner as at once to destroy all symmetry and beauty of form, and to expose some of the essential parts of the edifice to the danger of being crushed by the disproportionate weight of other parts.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 47

TIME OUT: A LOW-SLUNG STRAIGHT LINE? GEE THANKS   
Pew Research Center: “Generation X has a gripe with pulse takers, zeitgeist keepers and population counters. We keep squeezing them out of the frame. This overlooked generation currently ranges in age from 34 to 49, which may be one reason they’re so often missing from stories about demographic, social and political change. They’re smack in the middle innings of life, which tend to be short on drama and scant of theme. But there are other explanations that have nothing to do with their stage of the life cycle. Gen Xers are bookended by two much larger generations – the Baby Boomers ahead and the Millennials behind – that are strikingly different from one another. And in most of the ways we take stock of generations – their racial and ethnic makeup; their political, social and religious values; their economic and educational circumstances; their technology usage – Gen Xers are a low-slung, straight-line bridge between two noisy behemoths.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -16 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.4 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: BACON FRESH
Chris Stirewalt welcomes two new players to Power Play this week and it’s a house divided! Fox News Channel’s own Shannon Bream and Doug McKelway face off. Who takes home the bacon (scented air freshener)? WATCH HERE

TRUMP REPORTEDLY NIXED FIX FOR IOWA OBAMACARE VICTIMS      
Des Moines Register: “Iowa officials said Thursday evening they still hadn’t heard whether the Trump administration will approve or deny a ‘stopgap’ plan to stabilize the state’s health insurance market, despite a national report that the president told his administrators to reject it. The Washington Post reported that President Trump told a top human-services administrator in August to reject Iowa’s plan. The proposal was made by Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen, who is a fellow Republican. … The Post, citing anonymous sources, said the president told Seema Verma, who oversees health care programs, to reject the Iowa plan. The story noted several other ways in which the Trump administration has blocked steps to shore up markets functioning under the Affordable Care Act, which the administration wants to repeal.”

Administration guts Obama birth control mandate - Fox News: “The Trump administration on Friday announced a major rollback of the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate, granting what officials called ‘full protection’ to a wide range of companies and organizations that claim a ‘religious or moral objection’ to providing the coverage. … Under the existing policy, churches and houses of worship were exempt, while religious-affiliated groups that object had to allow a third-party administrator or insurer to handle birth control coverage. The 2014 Hobby Lobby decision expanded exemptions to for-profit ‘closely held’ corporations. But under the new policy unveiled Friday, the Trump administration is expanding the protections to any nonprofit group, non-publicly traded company, or higher education institution with religious or moral objections -- and making the third-party provision optional for groups with ‘sincerely held’ religious beliefs.”

TRUMP EXPECTED TO SEEK MIDDLE WAY ON IRAN DEAL
WaPo: “President Trump is expected to announce next week that he will ‘decertify’ the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress, people briefed on the White House strategy said Thursday. … But Trump would hold off on recommending that Congress reimpose sanctions, which would constitute a clearer break from the pact, according to four people familiar with aspects of the president’s thinking. The decision would amount to a middle ground of sorts between Trump … and many congressional leaders and senior diplomatic, military and national security advisers, who say the deal is worth preserving with changes if possible.”

How Cotton trumped the generals - Weekly Standard: “Having failed to receive the decertification option from his own team, Trump called Senator Tom Cotton and put him on speakerphone. The president asked Cotton to make the case for decertifying the Iran deal. Cotton took five minutes and walked Trump and his team through the case… Trump left the phone call, and the meeting, even more convinced that his decision that morning – to decertify – was the right one. When he had reluctantly recertified in April, he had made clear that he didn’t want to do it again and had instructed his team to provide him with a wide range of options. They didn’t.”

Pompeo rumored as a potential replacement for T-Rex - Axios: “Trump advisers and allies are floating the idea of replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, age 53 — someone who's already around the table in the Situation Room, and could make the switch without chaos. [Axios is] told that Trump is quite comfortable with Pompeo, asking his advice on topics from immigration to the inner workings of Congress. Pompeo personally delivers the President's Daily Brief, making him one of the few people Trump spends a great deal of time with on a daily basis. Pompeo is one of the few in the administration who knows how to convey tough news to the president, and how to push back without turning DJT off. … Trump doesn't see Pompeo as a showboat.”

Stormy weather: Trump offers cliffhanger - 
WaPo: “As President Trump posed for a formal photo with his top military commanders and their spouses in the State Dining Room at the White House on Thursday evening, Trump pointed to the leaders gathered around him and asked the small group of reporters standing before him: ‘You guys know what this represents?’ ‘Tell us,’ shouted out one of the reporters unexpectedly summoned to witness this photo session. ‘Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,’ the president replied. Reporters asked the president what he was talking about, what storm was coming. ‘Could be the calm before the storm,’ he said a second time. Earlier in the evening, the White House communications team had told reporters that the president would not make any more appearances that day — but then, around 7:10 p.m., those who happened to still be at the White House were summoned to the State Dining Room to briefly witness the photo-taking session.”

NRA CALLS FOR REVIEW ON ‘BUMP STOCKS’
Fox News: “The National Rifle Association … called Thursday for a federal review of so-called bump stocks and suggested new rules might be needed for the device apparently used by the shooter in Sunday’s massacre. ‘The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,’ the NRA said in a written statement. Bump stocks can be used to effectively convert semi-automatic rifles to fire so rapidly as to simulate an automatic weapon. … The Obama administration’s ATF gave its seal of approval to selling the devices in 2010… On Thursday, the NRA called on the ATF to review that assessment. … ‘Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.’”

NRA rival group attacks, says disabled shooters need bump stocks - Fox News:“Gun Owners of America, a nonprofit lobbying group, announced its opposition Thursday to any such restrictions. ‘Gun Owners of America opposes a ban on bump stocks,’ Executive Director Erich Pratt said in a statement, noting that the Obama administration’s ATF allowed the devices ‘to help gun owners with disabilities fire their weapons.’ Pratt added, ‘Any type of ban will be ignored by criminals and only serve to disarm honest citizens.’ He said it’s ‘sad to see some Republicans quickly call for a vote on gun control.’”

House gun rights caucus leader: ‘horrible idea’ - 
WashEx: “The Republican leader of the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus blasted the National Rifle Association's stance on how the federal government should deal with ‘bump stocks,’ and said it's a recipe for the Trump administration to search for new gun restrictions in the law where there are none. ‘I think it's a horrible idea, to ask the ATF to contort existing law,’ Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., told the Washington Examiner on Thursday.”

Two Americas: Maps reveal depth of political divide on guns - NYT: “In every state but Vermont – perhaps the most liberal state in the country, but one where Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, often support gun rights – voters who reported living in a gun-owning household overwhelmingly backed Donald J. Trump. The opposite is true for voters who said they did not live in a home with a gun. In all but one state that could be measured, voters overwhelmingly preferred Hillary Clinton. (The exception was West Virginia; not enough data existed for Wyoming.)”

DEMS FLEE DISGRACED MEGA DONOR WEINSTEIN

NYT: “Congressional Democrats on Thursday began giving away some of the thousands of dollars in campaign contributions they had received from Harvey Weinstein, a wealthy Hollywood producer, moving to distance themselves from him… Senators Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Martin Heinrichof New Mexico and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts each said they would transfer money to charity in amounts equal to donations they had received from Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Leahy was planning to donate $5,600, Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Heinrich $5,400 and Ms. Warren $5,000. Some of them were planning to give to groups that advocate for women who are the victims of domestic violence. … Mr. Weinstein has for decades been a generous contributor to liberal candidates and causes, and in recent years has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to some of the most prominent Democrats in the country…”

Deep ties to Obama, Clintons - WashEx: “But the two most notable recipients of Weinstein's political donations are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, whose daughter interned with the producer's company earlier this year. Since 1995, Weinstein donated more than a dozen times to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, though most of his cash went to Hillary. At a June 2016 fundraiser Weinstein hosted in his Manhattan home, an estimated $1.8 million was raised for Clinton's presidential campaign. … According to its website, Weinstein has contributed at least six figures to the Clinton Foundation as well. In 2012, Weinstein bundled a hefty $679,275 for President Obama's re-election campaign. …Weinstein visited the White House 13 times while Obama was in office. Nine of those trips involved meetings with President Obama himself.”

Sonny Bunch: ‘Shorter Harvey Weinstein: ‘I’m a Liberal, Maybe Gimme a Pass?’’ -Free Beacon: “[Weinstein’s statement on the abuses] is grotesquely brazen. Because it's so transparently obvious what Harvey Weinstein is saying here: ‘Guys, I'm a liberal, I'm going to go after the NRA, I'm going to make a movie that's about how terrible Trump is, I'm giving money to liberal causes, whaddaya say about maybe giving me a pass here, huh?’ I would be flabbergasted by the brazenness of it all if I hadn't just read several thousand words about him trying to get well-known actresses to give him rubdowns in the nude…”

Late night show hosts duck - Daily Beast: “Jimmy KimmelJimmy FallonSeth MeyersJames Corden, and Stephen Colbert all seemingly passed on the Weinstein news, both in their monologues and interviews with movie-star guests—Corden and Fallon have appeared in Weinstein films…”

TRUMP BOOSTS GILLESPIE IN ATTACKS ON HISPANIC GANGS

Politico: “President Donald Trump, weighing in on the hotly contested race for governor of Virginia, said Thursday night that the Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, was ‘fighting’ for violent street gangs. In a tweet, Trump accused Northam of ‘fighting for the violent MS-13 killer gangs & sanctuary cities.’ Trump added an endorsement for the GOP candidate: ‘Vote Ed Gillespie!’ Northam’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Northam has led Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, in recent polls for the race in Virginia, which holds its statewide election in off years. The two are vying to succeed Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is ineligible to run for re-election because Virginia law prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms. Trump’s tweet appears to parrot a recent Gillespie attack: In TV ads he has accused Northam of supporting so-called sanctuary cities, municipalities that limit their cooperation with the federal government on immigration issues.”

Meet the candidates: Who are Northam, Gillespie? - Fox News: “Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam are duking it out in next month’s gubernatorial race in the Old Dominion. Just one of two states electing governors this year, Virginia is a swing state contest viewed as a possible referendum on Trump's first year in office. Northam leads Gillespie by more than 5 percentage points in Real Clear Politics’ latest polling average. Trump lost to opponent Hillary Clinton by about 5 points in Virginia during the 2016 presidential election. Here’s a look at the candidates…”

Establishment fave in Missouri Senate race sought approval from Bannon - 
Politico: “The Republican establishment pick to take on Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill quietly reached out to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon last week — the latest step taken by concerned Republicans to counter Bannon’s threats to wreak havoc across the Senate landscape in 2018. Two Republican sources said Attorney General Josh Hawley, a soft-spoken 37-year-old with an Ivy League pedigree who is expected to officially announce a run soon, called Bannon late last week, after The New York Times reported the Breitbart leader was targeting Hawley for defeat in Missouri’s GOP Senate primary.”

Bannon boosting tax cheat Grimm’s post-prison House bid - NY Post: “Convicted tax cheat Michael Grimm huddled with President Trump’s former chief strategist Steven Bannon in D.C. Wednesday in a bid to reclaim his old congressional seat and oust his successor, Republican Rep. Dan Donovan. Grimm’s campaign spokesman Michael Caputo released a photo of the ex-congressman with Bannon in a tweet that said, ‘Game on#MAGA [Make American Great Again–Trump’s campaign slogan]. ‘Strap in fellas.’ Asked about the meeting, Caputo said, ‘We spent the afternoon at the Breitbart Embassy strategizing with Steven and his team, outlining how we will work together on this race.’ Asked if Bannon offered his support to Grimm, Caputo said, ‘Everything is on the table.’”

House of horrors: Tim Murphy’s office caused concerns before scandal - Politico: “Rep. Tim Murphy, a staunch anti-abortion advocate, thought he could withstand the media furor that engulfed him after reports that he’d encouraged his extramarital lover to end her apparent pregnancy. He was wrong. Just one day after announcing he would retire after the 2018 election, Murphy reversed course and told Speaker Paul Ryan he was resigning effective Oct. 21. Murphy’s abrupt decision ended a 15-year career on Capitol Hill in a shocking manner. … Ironically, Murphy’s swift collapse came not because of text messages he sent to a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair, encouraging her to have an abortion as first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday. In fact, fears among senior Republicans about a potential wave of negative stories on how Murphy ran his congressional office were what ultimately pushed him out the door.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
 
Mnuchin charter jet costs tally up to $800,000 NYT

Big companies step back from anti-Trump charities Fox News

September saw first monthly job losses since 2010 - Fox Business

Social media heads to testify before the House on Nov. 1 about Russia - Reuters

California officially becomes a ‘sanctuary state’ - NPR

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter D-N.H., will not run in 2018 - Concord Monitor

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

This weekend, Chris Wallace sits down with CEO of Wynn Resorts Steve Wynn to discuss hotel security after the Las Vegas massacre. 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: YIKES 
“The average user won’t notice anything at all. Really, the only way to pick up on that is to do forensics on the phone.” – Security expert Bill Marczak commenting on a Politico report on White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s phone was hacked.  

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Can you speculate about why pro-second amendment folks in and out of congress are not suggesting far larger penalties for crimes that involve the presence and/or use of a firearm? To make the point, why not make any criminal offense accompanied by a gun a minimum of 10 years (or 25) without the possibility of parole and any crime resulting in death by a firearm, punishable by a certain and swiftly carried out execution of the person convicted of the murder? It seems to me that if ‘people kill people with guns’ then swift, certain, and dire consequences for acts involving the presence and use of guns would be the most logical response, not attempting to disarm everyone. Your thoughts?” – Eric Hutchins, Santa Barbara, Calif.

[Ed. note: Enforcement is a matter of serious consideration as it relates to gun violence, but probably not for mass shootings themselves. There’s a great deal of research into the deterrent effects of harsh penalties, including capital punishment, on the commission of murders. Though the results are somewhat mixed, the broad conclusion seems to be that murderers are either acting in thoughtless passion of the moment or are aware of the potential consequences and discount them. Where enforcement could be effective is on existing firearms laws. Tougher enforcement of the gun laws already on the books might discourage those who put weapons into the hands of unsuitable recipients.] 

Share your color commentary:
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AGGRESSIVELY AUTUMNAL 
USA Today: “The pumpkin spice craze may have gone a little too far this time. A high school in Baltimore was evacuated Thursday afternoon over an odd smell that prompted fire and hazmat officials to arrive on campus. The source? A pumpkin spice air freshener, fire officials told local media. At around 2:30 p.m., students noticed a ‘strange odor’ on the third floor, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School said in a statement on its website. ‘It was a smell that they certainly weren’t used to,’ School president Bill Heiser, who was not on campus during the incident, told The Baltimore Sun. ‘It appeared to be getting stronger.’ Students were evacuated shortly after and the Baltimore fire department’s hazmat team entered the building. Several students and staff were evaluated by EMTs, and five were taken to the hospital as a precaution, the school said.”

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.

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