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On the roster: Booker and the woke brigade endanger Dems’ chances - Time out: For West Virginia, for the Union - I’ll Tell You What: Chew on that - Buttigieg faces struggle with black voters at home - Yinz guys need to stop lettin’ gators aht dahntahn


You could hardly have a more perfect encapsulation of the challenge the Democratic Party faces at what should be its greatest moment of opportunity in more than a decade.  

The leading contender for the party’s presidential nomination was explaining to donors how far down the rat hole of partisanship American politics has crawled. To show how far we’ve gone, Joe Biden talked about how 40 years ago he had even found ways to work constructively with some of the last of the red-hot segregationists in the Senate, James Eastland of Mississippi (in office 1943 to 1978) and Herman Talmadge of Georgia (in office 1957 to 1981).

Biden’s unmistakable point: If he and his fellow younger Democrats who abhorred segregation could find ways to collaborate with even men like these that it shouldn’t be so difficult to work with Republicans today on other issues. The odiousness of the views of Eastland and Talmadge was the point. 

“Talmadge was one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys. Well, guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got it finished,” Biden said, according to the account of a reporter at the event. “But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don't talk to each other anymore.”

As Biden might say, c’mon, folks.

Biden’s bragging about his abilities a consensus builder sent an instant thrum through the central nervous system of the political press. Here it was, at last. 

Biden has marched on undiminished in the polls after banging into several liberal tripwires. He’s a hair sniffer! He supported the Hyde amendment! He’s cozy with the rich and powerful! Through it all, though, voters didn’t seem to care or even notice. But here is the shibboleth of shibboleths: Racial sensitivity. 

Cory Booker is running a candidacy so woke that when he was asked by the NYT what his favorite comfort food is he said, “When you’re a vegan, that means lots of veggies on the go.” *sobs inwardly*

But despite such painfully correct postures as those, Booker has been losing the woke Olympiad so far, with others taking quicker, deeper offense than he. But here was the perfect opportunity for him, a black senator running on a platform of explicit nostalgia for the Civil Rights movement. And here’s the Democratic frontrunner… well, not exactly praising segregationists and certainly not condoning segregation. But not, according to a limited, second-hand pool report, condemning them strongly enough. And working with them 40 years ago? Well that just tears it.

Booker couldn’t say Biden was a racist but he could say, with no apparent sense of irony that what Biden had said was “problematic.” Booker told CNN that what Biden said “an African American man could find very offensive.” Yes, especially if that African American man was trailing Biden massively among African American voters and getting skunked in must-win South Carolina.

Another African American man, Rep. Jim Clyburn, the most powerful Democrat in early-voting South Carolina, was not so troubled. 

“I worked with Strom Thurmond all my life,” Clyburn told Politico. “You don’t have to agree with people to work with them.” Or, as he told McClatchy, “If I had only worked with people who opposed segregation, I never would have worked with people who were not my color.”

A phalanx of African America politicians stepped forward to say that Biden’s message was a good one: Achieve the greatest good you can, however you can, as soon as you can. 

But Booker is not of that mind. He is part of a new generation of politicians who, like Beto O’Rourke second guessing the liberal bona fides of the Obama administration (lawlz), seem to believe that their predecessors were not confrontational enough, not rigid enough and not aggressive enough in dealing with resistance to change.

That dovetails with views held by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the 1-percenter from New York, who holds that those who have qualms about unlimited legal, elective abortion on demand are tantamount to the segregationists of yore. The other point of view is “not acceptable” anymore.

The left is now very much about regulating speech and thought. It is not enough to have ended segregation, you must abolish segregationists themselves. Biden’s mistake was that he spoke of these men as people. Rotten, mean people, yes. But still people. The correct answer is only to refuse to acknowledge those you think rotten, except to shout them down. 

This is a major problem on the right, too. Whether or not one should even be polite with those with whom one disagrees is actually treated as a serious matter of discussion in what passes for the conservative intelligentsia today. But practically speaking, it all adds up to quite a lot more trouble for Democrats. 

Do you know who thinks political correctness has gone off the rails? Every single major demographic group in American politics. According to our poll and others majorities of Democrats believe that political correctness has led to people being “too censored” in their speech. Among Democrats, 72 percent said leaders make mistakes because of these concerns. 

Booker needs something to juice his lagging candidacy, but it seems unlikely that he’s going to find it in haranguing Biden for “problematic” speech. What he might do, with the help of a cheering political press corps, is drag Biden down. Maybe make him grovel, begging forgiveness for being problematic.

In this scenario, Biden would emerge as the bloodied, battered nominee who had been made to atone for his many past sins – as Booker put it, that he had been given “a lesson.”

The lesson many younger Democrats seem to have missed from 2016 is that successive cycles of garment-rending outrage over problematic speech do astonishingly little to shape voter attitudes. How many millions of dollars and hundreds of hours did the 2016 Democratic nominee spend trying to stoke and target outrage over her opponent’s near-constant offenses against social norms? What good did it do?

This note remains agnostic about Biden’s chances. He’s 76 years old, gaffe prone and is obviously suffering from dysfunction in his campaign. He’s going to have to debate some serious contenders who are nimble and bright and he’s going to have to survive day after day of coverage like this.

But, whomever the Democrats nominate, if the party allows Booker and the woke brigade to turn the nominating process into a dragnet of speech policing it will dramatically diminish their chances of prevailing next year.   

“…the security to the society must depend on the care which is taken to confide the trust to proper hands, to make it their interest to execute it with fidelity, and to make it as difficult as possible for them to combine in any interest opposite to that of the public good.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 66

In the closing days of 1862, Abraham Lincoln faced deep division in his cabinet on the constitutionality of granting statehood to West Virginia. The 55 western counties of Virginia left their mother state when she left the Union, but there was strong sentiment in Washington for their reunification after the war. Lincoln hashed out his own thinking on the subject in an internal memo that would not become public until long after the deed was done on June 20, 1863. 

It reads in part: “We can scarce dispense with the aid of West Virginia in this struggle, much less can we afford to have her against us in Congress and in the field. Her brave and good men regard her admission into the Union as a matter of life and death. They have been true to the Union under very severe trials. We have so acted as to justify their hopes and we cannot fully retain their confidence and cooperation if we seem to break faith with them. … The division of the State is dreaded as a precedent. But a measure made expedient by war is no precedent for times of peace. It is said that the admission of West Virginia is secession and tolerated only because it is our secession. Well if we call it by that name, there is still difference enough between secession against the Constitution and secession in favor of the Constitution.” 

We are proud to say 156 years later that our greatest president’s confidence was well-placed. Happy birthday, West Virginia. 

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Trump job performance
Average approval
: 44.4 percent
Average disapproval: 51.8 percent
Net Score: -7.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 2 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 41% approve - 50% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve - 55% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 49% approve - 48% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 53% disapprove.]

You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!

This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss what President Trump will have to do to win another term, where the persuadable Democratic voters are and Chris shares his latest McDonald's experience: What happens when the soda machines are down. Plus, Dana's got election trivia for Chris. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

WaPo: “In recent weeks, Pete Buttigieg had emerged as the surprise success of the 2020 presidential campaign. … Then came bad news from South Bend, the town Buttigieg leads as mayor. A white police officer had shot and killed a black man early Sunday. Buttigieg canceled several days of campaign events … to ‘be with the South Bend community,’ in the words of a campaign spokesman. Instead of showcasing Buttigieg’s ability to lead through a crisis, however, the shooting is exposing what has long been considered an Achilles’ heel of his candidacy: his frosty relationship with South Bend’s black residents. … The shooting has handed Buttigieg the first significant challenge of his charmed campaign. To allies, his decision to leave the campaign trail and then hold two days of private meetings signals deliberate, considerate leadership. But to detractors, including many of South Bend’s black activists, his actions show that he still doesn’t get it.”

He hasn’t won over Hollywood yet either - Politico: “Before he paused campaign activities to remain in South Bend, Indiana, reeling from the officer-involved shooting death of a 53-year-old black man, Buttigieg was scheduled to trek to Los Angeles for a fundraising swing… For many of these influential [Hollywood] donors, this will be their first ever chance to contribute to a viable gay presidential candidate… As historic as Buttigieg’s candidacy might be, a number of Hollywood’s most prolific LGBTQ donors aren’t ready to commit to him exclusively just yet. Many of Hollywood’s influential base of bundlers and donors are backing multiple candidates, spreading their money around, contributing to other politicians with whom they have longtime relationships and who have their own long track record on LGBTQ issues, like Kamala Harris and Joe Biden.”

Bennet shares political reform plan - Politico: “[Sen. Michael] Bennet, a 2020 presidential candidate, is out with a plan to fix that system he once ranted about. Bennet is calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists, a prohibition on political gerrymandering and a push for ranked choice voting. Bennet is also supporting a laundry list of long-desired Democratic reforms, including automatic voter registration, D.C. statehood and greater transparency around super PAC fundraising and spending. Many of his proposals are already popular with other Democratic presidential candidates. But Bennet says he’s setting himself apart by putting these plans at the center of his campaign, arguing that reforming the American government is essential…”

Poll finds Dem voters prefer younger candidates - Roll Call: “Two of the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, will be inching toward their 80th birthdays come Election Day. …[Pew] found that the age of presidential candidates is important to potential Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters and that they prefer their candidates younger, specifically in their 40s, 50s and 60s. The Pew survey, conducted early last month, found that 47 percent of Democratic voters say the best age for presidents is their 50s. If he were to win next year, Biden would be 78 upon taking office in 2021. Sanders would be 79. The percentage of Democratic or likely Democratic voters who said the optimal age for a president is someone in their 70s: 3 percent.”

Monmouth University: “President Donald Trump suggests he is open to accepting dirt on his political rivals from foreign sources. A key aide is called out for violating the Hatch Act – for a second time. Surely, this must be the week that finally puts a dent in Trump’s polling numbers? Not a chance, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll. The president’s job rating, reelection backing, and support for impeachment are all pretty much where they have been over the past year. … While the vast majority of Americans certainly view the current administration as unconventional, very few are surprised by how Trump has behaved over the past two years – and that is a key reason for the stability in his poll numbers. Trump’s overall job rating stands at 41% approve and 50% disapprove, which is similar to his 40% to 52% rating in May.”

Republicans worry about House campaign arm - Politico: “The House GOP campaign arm is under fire from Republicans who are growing increasingly anxious about the party’s plan to win back the chamber in 2020. Republicans still don’t have an answer to Democrats’ online fundraising behemoth ActBlue. GOP leaders are bickering behind closed doors. The head of recruitment has decided to retire. And some rank-and-file lawmakers are starting to express alarm about the party’s strategy as the campaign ramps up. So National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer tried to do damage control at a private caucus meeting Wednesday, arguing to GOP lawmakers that the campaign arm was on firm ground and any suggestions of turmoil were being fabricated by Democrats and the press. … The Minnesota Republican dismissed a POLITICO report of a clash over fundraising between him and Rep. Liz Cheney, the no. 3 House Republican.”

This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold double jeopardy rule: “Terance Gamble, who had once been convicted of robbery in Alabama, was stopped by a Mobile, Alabama, policeman who claimed Gamble was driving a car with a damaged headlight. … When the search revealed a loaded handgun, Gamble was arrested and his constitutional odyssey began. … Isn't double punishment profoundly un-American and clearly unconstitutional? In a word: Yes. … Why should you care about this? You should care because repeated attempts to convict are hallmarks of tyrants. Yet the Supreme Court, in an obeisance to textualism -- the literal adherence to the words of a document no matter the outcome of that adherence -- ruled that the Fifth Amendment only prohibits the re-prosecution for the same offense, not for the same crime; and Gamble's behavior was actually two crimes, one state and one federal, not two offenses.” More here.

Senate votes to block Trump arms deal with Saudi Arabia WaPo

Second Maggie Hassan aide sentenced after hacking senators - Politico

Congressional leaders and White House staff make no progress in budget talks - WSJ

Trump administration threatens layoffs in fight to eliminate Office of Personnel Management Fox News

“You’re welcome. Which one?” – Sen. Mitt Romney’s response to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema who said, “we’re all just moving into [Romney’s] house,” during a heated debate over the effects of delayed paychecks

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WSJ: “With its densely wooded hillsides, Pittsburgh abounds in wildlife, including deer, raccoons, opossums and woodchucks. Until recently, however, the city’s police department wasn’t used to dealing with alligators. When the first one was found, sunning itself on a trail near the Monongahela River on May 18, the 3-foot reptile was a novelty. The second specimen, found by a man walking his dog in the Beechview neighborhood June 6, seemed like an odd coincidence. That gator, about 5 feet long and hissing with apparent ill humor, was captured with considerable perplexity and exertion by several officers. When a third gator was found two days later—a 2½-footer lounging on a front porch in the Carrick district.”

“One measure of human moral progress — amid and despite the savageries we visit upon each other — is how we treat the innocent in our care.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing for the National Review on May 8, 2015.

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.