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On the roster: A fearsome time for Democrats - Iowa Dems sort through wreckage - Trump aims for ‘optimistic’ State of the Union - But it was his favorite hoodie
A FEARSOME TIME FOR DEMOCRATS
DES MOINES, Iowa — Fear, like all emotions, is neither good nor bad. As with each of the others, what matters is the proportion and disposition.
Fear, which author Frank Herbert called “the little death,” can be one of the great destroyers. It can lead us to a kind of paralysis and then resentment, anger and eventually hate. We don’t hate anything we don’t first fear.
However, fear has its place. If we fear the consequences of our actions, we make better choices. Fear isn’t a good permanent mindset, but in healthy quantities and as a motivator to constructive behavior, fear can be a wonderful thing.
When reason fails us, sometimes fear can see us through for a time. The people who climb into tiger enclosures, voice opinions on their wives’ outfits or eat gas station tuna sandwiches would all benefit from a modicum of fear.
Which, of course, brings us to the Democratic Party on the day after it was mauled by a tiger of its own.
It will take a long time to know how badly the Iowa Democratic Party damaged itself, its state’s privileged (and lucrative) place in American politics and public confidence in the nominating process overall.
It will take less time to know which candidates the state party harmed by botching so badly its caucuses. When the party eventually, sheepishly reports the results — assuming it ever does — we’ll see who would have been the most helped by an Iowa bounce. Not that anyone will take the results seriously, but it will be interesting as an academic matter.
What will matter, though, is how Democratic primary voters in the other 49 states feel about their party’s position and what it needs to do next.
Democrats started the pre-primary process at the end of 2018 with seemingly no fear. There was no evident doubt that President Trump would be brushed aside in a righteous rejection, so Democrats were almost entirely focused on what kind of replacement they would like to have.
The lemmings who followed Bernie Sanders off of a cliff onto the jagged rocks of single-payer health care, the unbearably woke dudes who became intersectionality-obsessed walking man buns, the free college peddlers who forgot that most Americans don’t have college degrees and that adults over 45 vote at a rate more than 20 points higher than those under 30 — none of those people were thinking about how hard it might be to unseat an incumbent president in an era of peace and prosperity.
They were instead thinking of how to most effectively suck up to the loudest, most active constituencies inside the Democratic Party. With everybody and Bill De Blasio running, it seemed like a good idea at the time. You can’t blame people for being ambitious.
But elections are more about voters than they are about candidates. And Democratic voters were very much in a mood to be choosy, which made them especially susceptible to such blandishments. Since they were constantly told Trump might not even serve out his term and was certainly doomed in November if he did, why worry about how to appeal to his voters? Republicans had won with a radical in 2016, so why shouldn’t they embrace radical change themselves?
It certainly wasn’t all of the Democrats. A sizable chunk — especially those who live in red states or who are old enough to understand political reality — held off for dear life to the wheezing engine of Joe Biden’s locomotive. But it was always the radicalizers who were choosing the route.
So where have they driven the party?
Here’s a snapshot of the first half of this week: In the aftermath of crashing their nomination kickoff like the Graf Zeppelin Hindenburg, Democrats will get to sit on their hands while Trump commands a night of prime time coverage in which he will, in monarchical splendor, glory in his great deeds. On Wednesday, the Democrats’ onside kick off an impeachment that will come to a predictable end under the cleats of Mitch McConnell’s flying wedge.
The Iowa debacle is a direct result of the radicalizers’ work. The extra complexities of the night were the demand of Sanders and his supporters for more direct democracy and less old-fashioned caucus horse trading. Iowa could barely handle it the old way, let alone with three counts and a buggy app.
The impeachment fizzle is similarly a sop to the radicalizers. Democratic leaders knew they couldn’t hold back the flood once Trump publicly bragged about leaning on foreign governments to dig up dirt on Biden’s son’s global buck-raking initiatives. Just months before an election began, Democrats trudged into the trenches of an unwinnable battle rather than face a mutiny in their own ranks.
Had more Democrats been in possession of an appropriate dose of fear about the election, these are not things that would have happened.
But now, they will be afraid.
What seemed impossible a year ago — that Donald Trump, the bully, braggart and blowhard they saw condemned around the clock in their preferred news outlets — is presiding over a growing economy and the country is at peace. He is the odds-on favorite to win in November.
Their own party looks like the wreck of the Hesperus. They couldn’t figure out how to run a caucus, couldn’t manage an impeachment and can’t figure out who to nominate. They’ve got weak frontrunners being chased by relative unknowns with a multi-billionaire media mogul waiting on Super Tuesday to wreck the whole thing all over again.
But as we said, in the right proportion and duration, fear can be a good thing.
The last time the Iowa Caucuses did not matter for Democrats was in 1992. It was the candidacy of favorite son, then-Sen. Tom Harkin, not nincompoopery, that obviated the contest then. But the effect was the same. New Hampshire was the first contest that really mattered.
Something else was similar. Democrats had a healthy fear about losing the general election. President George H.W. Bush was still popular and Ross Perot’s candidacy was but a twinkle in Larry King’s eye.
Harkin and other liberals preaching that old-time New Deal gospel worried Democratic voters. After three straight drubbings at the hands of Ronald Reagan and then Bush, Democrats were looking for something different. They found that in a moderate Southern governor, Bill Clinton.
Are Democrats sufficiently worried about their current condition to bail on their left-wing aspirations and find somebody who can compete in the Rust Belt and in suburbs across the country?
Maybe or maybe not. But if this week hasn’t set their knees to knocking, nothing will.
IOWA DEMS SORT THROUGH WRECKAGE
Fox News: “The morning after a technical meltdown delayed the reporting of the Iowa caucus results – causing chaos in the political world -- the Iowa Democratic Party blamed the debacle on a ‘coding issue’ in its reporting app and pledged to release the caucus results ‘as soon as possible.’ The party -- under the gun and facing the possibility that Iowa could lose its cherished half-century hold spot kicking off the presidential primary and caucus nominating calendar -- stressed Tuesday morning that the debacle ‘did not impact the ability of precinct chairs to report data accurately.’ They claimed to have now fixed the issue. ‘We have every indication that our systems were secure and there was not a cybersecurity intrusion. In preparation for the caucuses, our systems were tested by independent cybersecurity consultants,’ Iowa Democratic Party, or IDP, chairman Troy Price spotlighted in a long-awaited statement. Hours after the presidential campaigns and reporters pleaded for information on the massive confusion, Price explained that ‘as precinct caucus results started coming in, the IDP ran them through an accuracy and quality check. It became clear that there were inconsistencies with the reports.’”
Candidates claim victory anyway, head to New Hampshire - Fox News: “A lack of results in the Iowa caucuses didn’t stop the upper tier of the Democratic presidential candidates from pre-emptively declaring a strong finish and moving on to New Hampshire. … Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign took aim at the pending results, questioning the veracity of the eventual final numbers. And Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign released their own incomplete numbers early Tuesday morning, which showed Sanders leading his rivals. That move was followed a couple of hours later by the Pete Buttigieg campaign… Sen. Amy Klobuchar of neighboring Minnesota was the first of the White House contenders to come out and tout her momentum coming out of Iowa. … Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts started her speech by noting ‘it’s too close to call.’”
Bernie out in front in Granite State - Boston Globe: “Days ahead of the nation’s first presidential primary, Senator Bernie Sanders has opened up a six-point lead over former vice president Joe Biden, according to a new Boston Globe/WBZ-TV/Suffolk University poll of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters. Sanders, the Vermont independent who captured a convincing victory in New Hampshire four years ago, garnered 24 percent in the survey, buoyed by strong support from younger voters and independents. Biden took 18 percent. Senator Elizabeth Warren had 13 percent, followed by former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, at 11 percent. The rest of the field was in single digits, while 12 percent of those surveyed said they were undecided eight days ahead of the Feb. 11 vote. … Sixty-four percent of Sanders voters say their minds are made up ahead of the primary, the highest share for any of the top tier of candidates.”
THE RULEBOOK: ANSWERING THE CALL
“WHEN the people of America reflect that they are now called upon to decide a question, which, in its consequences, must prove one of the most important that ever engaged their attention, the propriety of their taking a very comprehensive, as well as a very serious, view of it, will be evident.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 2
TIME OUT: SOCIAL NETWORK
History: “On February 4, 2004, a Harvard sophomore named Mark Zuckerberg launches The Facebook, a social media website he had built in order to connect Harvard students with one another. By the next day, over a thousand people had registered, and that was only the beginning. Now known simply as Facebook, the site quickly ballooned into one of the most significant social media companies in history. … Over the course of his sophomore year, Zuckerberg built what would become Facebook. When it launched on February 4, he and his roommates were glued to their screens, watching as an estimated 1,200-1,500 of their fellow students signed up for their site within its first 24 hours of existence. From there, Facebook expanded rapidly, moving to other Boston-area schools and the rest of the Ivy League that spring. By the end of the year, the site had 1 million users…”
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DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 27.6 points (↓ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 22.4 points (↓ 0.4 points from last wk.)
Warren: 14.2 points (↓ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Bloomberg: 8.4 points (↑ 1 point from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 6.2 points (↓ 1 point from last wk.)
[Averages include: NBC News/WSJ, IBD, Quinnipiac University, ABC News/WaPo and Fox News.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 45 percent
Average disapproval: 51 percent
Net Score: -6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 1.2 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 49% approve - 50% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 46% approve - 51% disapprove; CBS News: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; IBD: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve - 52% disapprove.]
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TRUMP AIMS FOR ‘OPTIMISTIC’ STATE OF THE UNION
Fox News: “President Trump will deliver an ‘optimistic, inspirational, forward-looking’ State of the Union address on the eve of the Senate's final impeachment vote, according to presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, who quipped that ‘success is the best revenge.’ In an exclusive phone interview with Fox News from Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, Conway previewed the president’s State of the Union by touting the administration’s efforts over the last year, and teasing that many of his statements will end with the word ‘winning.’ … The president’s State of the Union address slated for Tuesday night comes amid the impeachment battle on Capitol Hill. The Senate is expected to hold its final impeachment vote the following day on whether to remove the president from office or to acquit him of the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.”
Economy expected to be a main point - AP: “A portrait of a robust U.S. economy is sure to take center stage Tuesday night when President Donald Trump gives his third State of the Union address. It is an economy that has proved solid and durable yet hasn’t fulfilled many of Trump’s promises. Nine months before the election, the economy keeps growing steadily if only modestly. Unemployment is at a half-century low. And consumers, the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, continue to spend. Average pay is rising faster than when Trump took office three years ago, with the largest percentage gains now going to lower-wage workers. Some research has found that this trend, which began in 2015 before Trump’s election, partly reflects higher state minimum wages.”
Gallup: Trump approval at all time high - Gallup: “President Donald Trump's job approval rating has risen to 49%, his highest in Gallup polling since he took office in 2017. The new poll finds 50% of Americans disapproving of Trump, leaving just 1% expressing no opinion. The average percentage not having an opinion on Trump has been 5% throughout his presidency. Trump's approval rating has risen because of higher ratings among both Republicans and independents. His 94% approval rating among Republicans is up six percentage points from early January and is three points higher than his previous best among his fellow partisans. The 42% approval rating among independents is up five points, and ties three other polls as his best among that group. Democratic approval is 7%, down slightly from 10%.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will vote to acquit Trump - Politico
Pergram: Roberts, the Senate establish a new precedent during Trump’s impeachment trial - Fox News
Melania Trump to headline fundraising events for Trump 2020 - Politico
AUDIBLE: YA BURNT
“Two billionaires? Who's the second one?” – Mike Bloomberg’s response to CBS News when asked whether people want to see two billionaires fighting on Twitter.
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BUT IT WAS HIS FAVORITE HOODIE
Cincinnati Enquirer: “A Northside man was arrested early Monday morning after authorities said he called the police more than 25 times to get help looking for a lost hoodie. Harves Gardner, 32, faces a felony charge of disrupting public services. Police said Gardner requested police assistance and officers responded. ‘When police arrived (the) defendant only wanted rides around town to find his hoodie that he lost,’ officers reported. Police said Gardner was highly intoxicated and officers told him to go back to bed, but he continued calling and gave different locations for the police to respond.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Trump had just cut through the grandees like a hot knife through butter. … The strongman cometh, it was feared. Who and what would stop him?” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on March 23, 2017.
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.