Nuggets from the passing parade

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: Nuggets from the passing parade - Centrist Dem: Age of House leadership a problem - Audible: need some ice for that burn? - The fox says: five stars 

NUGGETS FROM THE PASSING PARADE  
We don’t want to alarm you, but Labor Day is in 17 days. Now take a deep breath and go get some more sweet corn… As you wait for the water to boil, how about some pre-weekend political nuggets for an appetizer?

Much of the overheated analysis the trial of Paul Manafort on tax evasion and corruption charges has centered on what the potential verdict could mean for the larger efforts of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into other Russia-linked skullduggery in American politics. If jurors were to acquit President Trump’s former campaign chairman on all 18 counts it would certainly be a setback for Mueller and would give the president another talking point. But a couple of things to remember: The president can turn out talking points like Dunkin’ does donuts so whatever happens, he’ll call it a win. And second, Manafort is facing potentially even more serious peril in his other federal criminal trial set to begin next month in the District of Columbia. We say it so often that we imagine you are well and truly tired of it, but here we go again: Rushing to judgements in matters like the Mueller probe is strictly a bad idea. Let the matter play out and do your best to be fair-minded, skeptical and patient in the meantime.

- We had to laugh at word that jurors asked to be excused early on Friday from their deliberations because one juror had a previous engagement. We remember covering trials with judges like Jim Stuckey and Irene Berger back in Kanawha County, W. Va. where such a request in a high-profile trial would have guaranteed the jury a one-way ticket to sequestration for the weekend eating cheap pizza in a motel room. Sheesh.

As he left for the weekend, the president seemed pretty pleased with what he hath wrought with his move to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. And it definitely hits a lot of good notes for Trump, since it 1) stokes partisan enmity, 2) causes odd contortions in his detractors and 3) gives him a symbolic way to swat at the investigation into his campaign. The question now is whether this will be like other such Trump gambits, like his ill-fated commission to prove right his claim that he actually won the popular vote. On those jobs, Trump does some follow up trolling but basically lets the matter drop. The blowback he’s gotten from serious people in the intelligence community would stand as a strong caution against further moves. One would suppose that the current CIA director and others would reinforce the idea that further political gamesmanship on national security is unwelcome.

Speaking of executive inspirations that lead to administrative hangovers, Trump’s much ballyhooed military parade in Washington is going to be postponed until at least next year citing cost overruns. If the Pentagon keeps kicking the can on this, they will kick it too close to 2020, by which point it would be a $90 million re-election campaign kickoff. The whole business is pretty cringey whenever they might do it since there’s no ostensible excuse other than giving the president the chance to glory in martial might. But doing so less than a year from re-election would be a big no-no. 

A source said to be close to Trump told the preferred destination for White House whispers, Axios, that Trump’s increasing use of executive authority isn’t alarming because he’s not inclined “to do anything that erodes separation of powers — at least, nothing that exceeds the historical rate at which executive power has expanded.” Talk about defining deviancy down for the imperial presidency! That would be like a fat man saying that he won’t eat anything to cause him to gain weight – at least nothing to gain weight faster than a busload of Weight Watchers refugees at a smorgasbord. If executive power continues to grow at the same pace it has since the 1930s, the legislative branch will be a comment box at the end of the White House driveway before too long. 
  
Race watchers say much about the track records of endorsers. Rep. Suzy Creamcheese, D-Pa., lost her primary so that must mean that her backer, Sen. Joe Madadatz, shows less clout for 2020 and so forth. And there’s value in that, to be sure. Plus, candidates can lessen their own capital by backing losers. Just look at where the current president has and hasn’t endorsed in recent months. But don’t forget the real purposes of endorsements for the endorsers. First, it can have positive clout connotations when right. It also builds a network of allies across the country. But maybe most of all, endorsements send powerful messages to activist voters. It can speak far louder than words in telling potential supporters who you mean to be. To that end, we give you. Sen. Kamala Harris and her pick of Deidre DeJear for Iowa secretary of state. DeJear is African-American, like Harris, yes, but she’s also a young businesswoman. It’s a pick that reinforces Harris’ brand but also broadens it.  

Do you remember that time Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court? Yeah, the Nats fan. Anywho…  While you’ve been watching all of the n-word accusing, clearance stripping, parade cancelling, ostrich jacket photographing, American greatness denying falderal Kavanaugh’s popular support has improved markedly. The latest poll from Quinnipiac University shows support for Kavanaugh’s nomination up four points from last month. Some of this is to be expected as Republicans grow more familiar with the nominee’s name, but it is certainly evidence that the Democratic effort to paint him as some extreme choice hasn’t drawn much water so far. We’ve said before and say again: The major challenge for Democrats will be finding a way to climb down from opposition that neither jeopardizes red-state senators nor the ambitions of 2020 aspirants sitting in the Senate now. In baseball, they call it an intentional walk…

THE RULEBOOK: LOOK AT US NOW
“A strong sense of the value and blessings of union induced the people, at a very early period, to institute a federal government to preserve and perpetuate it.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 2

TIME OUT: IT’S A GAS
Smithsonian: “Armed with the latest technology of the day and observations made by other Western astrophysicists, [Pierre Jules César Janssen] was determined to pry open the secrets of the galaxy. On August 18, 1868, Janssen managed to do just that. He became the first person to observe helium, an element never before seen on Earth, in the solar spectrum. At the time, though, Janssen didn’t know what he’d seen—just that it was something new. The mid-1800s was an exciting time to peer at the heavens. A new instrument called a spectroscope was upending the field of astronomy. Similar in design to a telescope, the spectroscope worked like a super-powered prism, dispersing light into measurable wavelengths. An early model had allowed physicist Joseph Fraunhofer to observe the sun in the early 1800s, but he was puzzled by black lines interrupting the normal colors. These black lines were named for Fraunhofer, even though he didn’t understand what they were. That knowledge would come several decades later, with German researchers Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen.”

Flag on the play? -
 Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 41.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -11.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 0.2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 44% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 56% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 50% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 41% approve - 51% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average:
 41.4 percent
Democratic average: 48.2 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 6.8 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 0.2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 52% Dems - 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 51% Dems - 42% GOP; Pew Research Center: 46% Dems - 39% GOP; IBD: 45% Dems - 45% GOP; NPR/PBS/Marist: 47% Dems - 40% GOP.]

CENTRIST DEM: AGE OF HOUSE LEADERSHIP A PROBLEM
Roll Call: “The chairman of the centrist New Democrat Coalition wouldn’t say Friday whether he would back Nancy Pelosi for House Democratic leader but he did vocalize an issue with the current leadership team. ‘The fact that our top three leaders are in their late 70s — I don’t care who those leaders are — that is in fact a problem,’ Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes told CNN. Pelosi, 78, has said she plans to run for speaker again if Democrats win the majority in November. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, 79, and Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, 78, are interested in running for speaker should Pelosi fail to get the votes. Himes, 52, who chairs the 68-member New Democrat Coalition, declined to say whether he’d support Pelosi for speaker. … Still, Himes noted that Pelosi has a strength that recent Republican speakers, including Paul D. Ryan and John A. Boehner, have not demonstrated — an ability to keep her caucus together and pass major legislation such as the 2010 health care law.”

Meet the ‘Trump Democrat’ who is changing the game -
 Fox News: “A Democrat seeking a U.S. House seat in deep-red West Virginia bills himself as a ‘Trump Democrat’ -- even though he has claimed the president ‘hasn't done s---,’ backs a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and opposes a border wall. Richard Ojeda, an Army veteran and state senator who’s been branded as a ‘JFK with tattoos and a bench press,’ initially captured attention after revealing that he voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. He’s now running against Republican Carol Miller in West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, which President Trump won by nearly 50 points in the 2016 presidential election. Yet a poll from June indicates that Ojeda's message of populism – including support for the coal industry and hopes of seeing Trump succeed as the president – has resonated with potential voters, putting him in a 6-point lead against Miller.”

Nevada House race a hot one -
 Roll Call: “Republicans are largely on defense this cycle, but a new GOP poll shows they have a potential pickup opportunity in Nevada’s 4th District. Two former lawmakers are facing off for the open seat in suburban Las Vegas: Democrat Steven Horsford and Republican Cresent Hardy. The internal poll for the Hardy campaign and the National Republican Congressional Committee showed Horsford and Hardy in a dead heat. Both candidates were tied at 41 percent, with 17 percent of those surveyed undecided, according to the polling memo provided first to Roll Call. The poll only tested Hardy and Horsford, and not any of the four third- or no-party candidates who will be on the November ballot. Horsford won the newly created seat in 2012, but was unseated by Hardy two years later. Hardy, in turn, also only served a term before losing in 2016 to Democrat Ruben Kihuen, who is retiring amid sexual harassment allegations.”

Barr goes on attack as formerly safe seat threatened - 
NYT: “[Andy Barr] finds himself in one of the country’s most competitive midterm races against a first-time candidate, Amy McGrath, a Democrat and a former Marine combat aviator whose life story made an instant connection with voters. That has transformed the race into a tossup in a district that Mr. Barr won by 22 percentage points only two years ago. The incumbent is, by many measures, a good fit for the state’s Sixth Congressional District, moving seamlessly among the country club and horse industry elite in Lexington and in the more rural areas that reach Appalachia. ‘The hallmark of my representation is accessibility,’ said Mr. Barr, 45. But the dark tones that advertising in the Lexington media market took on last week attest to a different kind of campaign brewing. The ads are similar to ones Republicans have used around the United States, trying to paint Ms. McGrath, 43, as ‘too liberal’ for the district and a tool of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader. Mr. Barr’s ad also shows Ms. McGrath calling herself a ‘feminist’ and saying that she voted for President Barack Obama.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
California GOP gubernatorial nominee Cox clarifies: Waiting in line at the DMV is not worse than the Holocaust - KXJC

Michigan House Democrat apologizes for racist slurs against rival - Detroit Metro Times

Je t’aime mon Quebecois! N.Y. GOP buys bus ticket to Montreal for Cuomo - CBS News

Trump poised to add new restrictions on Medicaid Politico

AUDIBLE: NEED SOME ICE FOR THAT BURN?
“We have the same number of super bowl championships as you.” – Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., responding to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Klobuchar attempted to mock South Dakota for not having an NFL team.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

This weekend, Mr. Sunday will sit down with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., retired Admiral Mike Mullen and White House Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney. 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
“I just do not understand how this works and how you come up with these numbers. I find your results very demoralizing. Why do you want President Trump to look bad? Everyone I know loves President Trump and likes what he is doing.  He is the best president this country has had in my lifetime. I am 72 and have a very good and long memory. Please clear this up for me. PS. I love seeing what you have to say when you are on Fox.” – Esther Keleman Walsh, Saint Johns, Fla.

[Ed. note: We certainly do not wish to demoralize you or anyone else, Ms. Walsh! And living in such a pleasant corner of Florida as you do, I would imagine demoralization would be hard to come by. But our job here is to tell it like it is, or at least as we see it, without fear or favor. This is going to be a rough year for Republicans and it will take something on the order of a miracle for them to save the House. The Senate looks more promising for your team, but overall the GOP is in a tight spot. Parties that have unified control in Washington usually face headwinds, and this year it’s shaping up to be quite a gale. The same president who evokes such deep affection from you and your friends evokes equally deep antipathy from others. It’s a highly combustible atmosphere. But I promise that whatever happens, we will strive to be clear-eyed and impartial in our telling.]  

“I’m sure you are aware, but perhaps not everyone is, that John Jay was making reference to Brutus speaking to Cassius from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 4 [Federalist 64 from Wednesday’s note]. The full quote is: ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life, Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.’ Brutus is urging Cassius to attack Octavian now while their forces are strong, before Octavian can build up his forces. They waited and eventually lost to Octavian. Both Brutus and Cassius later committed suicide. It’s always been one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes. I’m sure there is a point to be taken here – I’m just not sure what it is.” – Pat Conroy, West Lake Hills, Texas

[Ed. note: Good show, Mr. Conroy! Maybe it’s what Geoffrey Chaucer reminded us long before Shakespeare’s day: “Time and tide wait for no man.”]

Share your color commentary: Email us at 
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

THE FOX SAYS: FIVE STARS 

FOX59: “A ‘beloved’ taxidermy fox stolen from a popular restaurant in downtown Indianapolis has been returned. Thursday, St. Elmo Steak House tweeted that Winston the fox arrived alone in the backseat of an Uber, ‘safe and sound!’ Earlier in the night, the restaurant said the fox was taken from its 1933 Lounge last Friday night. The restaurant posted surveillance footage that shows the perpetrators nabbing the fox. The restaurant even offered a $250 gift card to anyone who provided information that led to the safe return of the ‘beloved friend.’ The restaurant said if the perpetrators brought him back unharmed, no hard feelings, they would celebrate his return with a round of drinks on the house. Along with surveillance video, St. Elmo also jokingly edited a photo of Winston onto a bottle of its sauce, saying it was ‘actively evaluating all tactics’ to assist in his safe return.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“To be doing every day what you enjoy doing is rare. Rarer still is to be doing what you were meant to do, particularly if you got there by sheer serendipity. Until near 30, I’d fully expected to spend my life as a doctor. My present life was never planned or even imagined.” – Charles Krauthammer writing in the National Review, December 18, 2009.  

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.