Dems face big loss, big opportunity with Kavanaugh

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On the roster: Dems face big loss, big opportunity with Kavanaugh - Tim Ryan debates taking on Pelosi - Trump talks up UK ‘turmoil’ ahead of visit - Audible: Sen. McSalty - Knight to Prius 2

DEMS FACE BIG LOSS, BIG OPPORTUNITY WITH KAVANAUGH
Democrats say that they are prepared to mount a fervent, historic effort to keep Judge Brett Kavanaugh off of the Supreme Court, but it’s kind of hard to believe them right now.

Talking about it this morning, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was only able to muster the glum resolution of a man contemplating a vegan hotdog. Mmm Mmm…

It is true that Kavanaugh’s all-but-certain elevation from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to the highest court in the land will be historic. Arguably for the first time since the 1930s, the Supreme Court will have a reliably right-of-center majority. For most of the post-World War II era, the court has been substantially focused on enhancing and shaping federal power in service of progressive policy aims. For the first time in a long time, the newly constituted Roberts court is likely to be more focused on constraining government activities.

Chief Justice John Roberts will become the swing vote and the only points on which he tends to disagree with his fellow Republican appointees is on just how narrowly to define the powers of the court itself.

No project has been more focused or more consuming for Americans in the past 40 years, so this victory will be sweet for them indeed.

Kavanaugh, a bright, thoughtful and richly qualified candidate starts with the presumption that every Republican will sign on to his nomination, which probably means that four or five Democrats from red states will get aboard as well.

Given the anguishing responses from Democrats since Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, they clearly understand how big a deal it is to have this shift toward small government conservatism on the court that has, since the 1950s, been their most successful vehicle for implementing large-scale policy changes.

But the historic nature of the moment does nothing to change the political calculus. President Trump is replacing a Republican appointee for whom Kavanaugh clerked and has apparently also been Kavanaugh’s champion through the president’s nominating process. While some conservatives are grousing that Trump did not shoot the moon with the pick and choose a more boldly conservative choice, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell understood the value of a well-vetted, well-liked nominee for what is going to be a sprint of a confirmation process.

The next term of the court starts in 83 days, which gives the Senate just enough time to push the nomination through. For context, the three most recent appointees to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, were confirmed in 66 days, 87 days and 66 days respectively. A wild confirmation battle like the one that took Clarence Thomas 99 days from nomination to confirmation would not do.

No Supreme Court nominee has ever been rejected by a Senate in the hands of the same party as the president. And with Harry Reid’s nuclear option in hand the chances for defeat or even significant delay appear rather remote.

Though this may sound a little consolation to Democrats in the face of what looks to be a generational setback for the liberal cause, there is opportunity in this moment for the Blue Team.

Schumer and his fellow Democrats do face some challenges in how to run their opposition effort. The loudest voices in his conference, especially those greasing the skids for potential 2020 presidential runs, would profit by being seen as extremists in defense of freedom, while moderates and those facing re-election in red states have lots of incentive to sound reasonable.

Democrat strategy has to take both of these sets of interests into account, which will essentially add up to allowing individual senators to take any rhetorical leaps they like while still trying to hold the line of unified opposition for as long as practical, at which point the defectors will be given hall passes to join the majority backing Kavanaugh.

Along the way, however, all of the scaremongering and doomsday talk will provide marvelous motivations for Democratic base voters and donors heading into the shank of the midterm campaign season.

This nomination may be a generational opportunity for Republicans, but their incipient defeat certainly provides a short-term opportunity for Democrats in their bid to hold Republicans to their current narrow majority in the Senate and take back the House.

Much of what you see over the next 12 weeks will be pure theater staged for the purpose of taking an already electrified Democratic base into new ecstasies of outrage and indignation.

Democrats will use the hearings and coverage around them to push their core issue set for 2018: Republican efforts to roll back taxpayer funded health insurance, perceived threats to minority protections and corruption within the Trump administration.

It’s no wonder that the hearings are unlikely to be either useful or illuminating, but they will be a great opportunity for Democrats to dress up this vegan frankfurter with all the electoral fixings.

THE RULEBOOK: POPULARITY CONTEST  
“If it be true that all governments rest on opinion, it is no less true that the strength of opinion in each individual, and its practical influence on his conduct, depend much on the number which he supposes to have entertained the same opinion.” – Alexander Hamilton or James MadisonFederalist No. 49

TIME OUT: ‘HE THAT TROUBLETH HIS OWN HOUSE…’
On this day 93 years ago, one of the most famous legal brawls in history began. National Humanities Center: “Between 1923 and 1925 four Southern states (Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas) tried, with mixed success, to stop the teaching of evolution in the public schools. In the spring of 1925 Tennessee joined the fray by passing the Butler Act, the strongest bill to that point. This law made it illegal ‘to teach any theory that denies the Story of Divine Creation…’ In early May a Dayton mine manager and a local druggist (the latter also part-time chairman of the schoolbook committee) met with John Scopes, a young high school science teacher, to discuss resistance. … Scopes's friends arranged to have him arrested for teaching the forbidden doctrine. The ACLU quickly assembled its counsel, including the famous trial lawyer Clarence Darrow, a religious agnostic known for defending political and labor radicals. William Jennings Bryan, an attorney, a prominent Presbyterian layman, and three-time Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket, volunteered his services as counsel for the State.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.2 percent 
Average disapproval: 
52.6 percent 
Net Score:
 -11.4 points
Change from one week ago: 
down 0.8 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 41% approve - 56% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; CNBC: 41% approve - 47% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk University: 43% approve - 51% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
41 percent
Democratic average: 48.2 percent
Advantage: 
Democrats plus 7.2 points
Change from one week ago: 
no change 
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; IBD: 48% Dems - 40% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk University: 45% Dems - 39% GOP; CNN: 50% Dems - 42% GOP; Gallup: 48% Dems - 43% GOP.]

TIM RYAN DEBATES TAKING ON PELOSI 
Politico: “Rep. Tim Ryan is considering taking on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi again in November despite previously ruling out the idea — the latest turn in the caucus wide chaos unleashed by Rep. Joe Crowley’s shocking primary loss last month. Ryan, who won one-third of the caucus’ backing in a long-shot bid following the 2016 election, would be the first challenger to emerge against Pelosi in the post-Crowley world. Crowley, the No. 4 House Democrat defeated by progressive insurgent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was seen by many in the caucus as Pelosi’s heir apparent. ‘The Crowley race changed a lot for a lot of us,’ Ryan (D-Ohio) said in an interview Monday. … Ryan’s potential reemergence is just one of the many machinations happening in the Democratic Caucus right now, as Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in New York underscores the growing unrest with Pelosi and the party’s leadership.”

NRCC dumps New Jersey nominee over racist rants - WaPo: “The National Republican Congressional Committee has withdrawn its endorsement of a congressional candidate in New Jersey after reporters dug up offensive comments he’d made about black and Hispanic people. … [Seth Grossman], a former elected official in Atlantic County, was not the party’s first choice to run in New Jersey’s 2nd District. Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R-N.J.) announced his retirement late last year… No strong candidate emerged, and Grossman won the four-way June 5 primary with 39 percent of the vote. Almost immediately, Democratic and liberal groups began digging through his social media and through videos from candidate forums. In one video, Grossman answered a question about how Republicans could reach more diverse groups of voters by saying ‘the whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap, and un-American,’ having ‘become an excuse by Democrats, communists, and socialists, to say that we’re not all created equal.’”

Wisconsin’s Democratic primary for Ryan’s seat turns into a brawl - WaPo: “On Friday, CNN reported that Randy Bryce, the Democratic union organizer running for Congress in Wisconsin’s 1st District, had been arrested for marijuana possession in 1991 and driving under the influence of alcohol in 1998. Bryce owned up to the arrests, and told CNN that he had grown and changed over the past 20 years. But the timing was brutal: Bryce was 48 hours away from debating Cathy Myers, a school board member in Paul D. Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination for the retiring House speaker’s seat. When they met, in front of 200 voters in a high school auditorium, it took Myers just 30 seconds to go on the attack. … The Democratic primary in Ryan’s southeast Wisconsin district, which has been reliably Republican since the party’s 1994 landslide, has quietly become one of the most bitter in the country. Bryce entered the race last June with a viral video ad that made him a left-wing sensation… Myers declared her own candidacy a few days later, and did not become a left-wing sensation.”

Records don’t show business Jacky Rosen has touted - Reno Gazette Journal:“On the campaign trail and in nearly a dozen media interviews, U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., has regularly touted her efforts to build a business after moving to Southern Nevada in 1980. Yet a Reno Gazette Journal review of public records found no evidence that Rosen held a state or local business license for the software consulting shop she’s referenced in interviews with C-SPAN, NBC Reno and other media outlets. Rosen — a Chicago native and political newcomer looking to flip one of the country’s most coveted U.S. Senate seats — ran the unnamed, one-woman operation between 1993 and 2002, according to her campaign. The business served two main clients, Southwest Gas, Rosen’s former employer, and Radiology Specialists, the Las Vegas-based physician group where Rosen’s husband was a partner.”

TRUMP TALKS UP UK ‘TURMOIL’ AHEAD OF VISIT 
Sky News: “Donald Trump has waded in to the chaos engulfing British politics, saying that the UK is in ‘turmoil.’ The US president said it was ‘up to the people’ whether or not Theresa May remained as prime minister. Mrs May is attempting to shore up her position in Downing Street following the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson amid disquiet over her approach to Brexit. Mr Trump insisted he got along ‘very well’ with Mrs May - but he also described Mr Johnson as a ‘friend of mine.’ When asked if the PM agrees with the US president's view that the UK is in ‘turmoil,’ Mrs May's official spokesman said she hopes Mr Trump will have a positive view of Britain following his visit. Speaking as he got ready to leave for a trip to Europe that will see him meet Mrs May at a NATO summit in Brussels and then make his first visit to the UK as president, Mr Trump suggested he could make time to see Mr Johnson.”

Dominic Green: May is done, sooner or later - Weekly Standard: “Theresa May’s hapless government has staggered on for a year since losing its parliamentary majority in the 2017 elections, but the resignation Monday of Brexit minister David Davis and foreign secretary Boris Johnson means that the end is in sight for an unpopular and incompetent leader. In a twist typical of May’s shoddy and inept leadership, she tried to force her cabinet into collective responsibility for a Brexit policy that walked back from May’s own campaign promises and policy statements, only for the gambit to backfire. A vote of no confidence from Conservative MPs is now on the cards, and the sooner the better.”

Carl Bildt: Brexit crackup reveals empty promises -
 WaPo: “The United Kingdom is crashing into the fundamental intellectual dishonesty of its brave Brexit campaigners: No one on the pro-Brexit side had the courage or the competence to explain alternatives to membership in the European Union. Now, after the resignations of lead Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the UK’s political system is degenerating into a furious fistfight between advocates of different bad options. It’s ugly, and it’s likely to get worse. More than two years have passed since the referendum, but Davis had not spent more than four hours in trying to negotiate with his E.U. counterpart Michel Barnier. And the clock is ticking: The UK is supposed to leave the E.U. by March 2019; there has to be an agreement on the exit terms and the transition period before October.”

Allies brace for Trump attacks - 
Bloomberg: “When Donald Trump barrels into Brussels this week demanding that NATO allies boost their defense spending, the response will be: We already are. But for the U.S. president, military budgets are only one line of attack. From ‘easy to win’ trade wars to the system of setting oil prices, Trump is on a mission to rip up the world order and remake it in what he sees as America’s interests. That includes targeting multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the Group of Seven. As Trump prepares to meet with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders studying the president’s tweets would be forgiven for wondering if NATO is next in his sights.” 

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Scalise goes to bat for Jordan amid sex abuse scandal - Politico

‘Insta-Congressman’ takes office to replace Farenthold today - [Austin] Statesman

Hoyer returning to Capitol this week after hospitalization for pneumonia - Roll Call

Son of Bevin’s predecessor looks to take incumbent out in 2019 - Louisville Courier Journal

AUDIBLE: SEN. MCSALTY  
“I married a wealthy guy! And that somehow transforms me into a different person? It’s total bullsh*t.” – Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., talking to Politico about her husband, Joseph Shepard, who is a real estate developer.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris Stirewalt doesn't know the electorate of Arizona if he thinks it's ‘leaning’ toward electing a Democrat to the US Senate! Simple math shows whoever wins the GOP primary August 28th will defeat Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in November. Arizona isn't baby blue or yellow. It's PINK!” – Dan Coben, Chandler, Ariz.

[Ed. note: Now that’s what I call a painted desert, Mr. Coben! I don’t claim the insights you have as a local, but I do know a couple of things. First, Republicans are having a dreadful primary. Second, Arizona is becoming less white and more urban every day, two trends that bode ill for GOP hopes. I don’t think it’s entirely coincidental that the state is currently represented by two of the most maverick-y Republicans in the Senate. The state, like every other, has a political flavor all its own and right now, Kyrsten Sinema seems to be dialed in on that brand.]  

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HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

KNIGHT TO PRIUS 2
WaPo: “Chess is played with life-size pieces on the rooftop deck of an apartment building near Union Station in Northeast Washington. And some people decided to throw them over the roof line, causing damage to vehicles below, according to D.C. police. The incident unfolded sometime Monday evening, police said, at the Senate Square apartment building, a luxury rental in the H Street corridor. The complex near Second and I streets NE has the chess pieces as an amenity for residents. At least three vehicles had windshield damage after the giant chess pieces were tossed over the rooftop and landed below, according to a police report. Police said at least four people were involved. No one was hurt in the incident. The vehicles had about $1,000 worth of damage.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Given their arrogance, pomposity and habitual absurdities, it is hard not to feel a certain satisfaction with the comeuppance that Brexit has delivered to the unaccountable European Union bureaucrats in Brussels. Nonetheless, we would do well to refrain from smug condescension. Unity is not easy.” – Charles Krauthammer writing in the Washington Post, June 30, 2016.

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.