But why, Bernie?

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

On the roster: But why, Bernie? - Poll: 6-in-10 Americans disapprove national emergency - Klobuchar stays in the center in town hall - Team Trump adds to 2020 campaign staff - Love your passion


Not to be churlish, but what’s the point of Bernie Sanders, anyway?

His special purpose was plain in 2016. The Clinton machine had succeeded in clearing the field of all but the marginal, weird and obviously self-promotional, e.g. Lincoln ChaffeeMartin O’Malley and Jim Webb

Sanders, a 73-year-old self-described socialist from Vermont with no record of substantive achievement in a 25-year career in Congress and a Brooklyn accent that could break glass, was certainly all of those things. But he also was the only one running to Hillary Clinton’s left. 

Had Elizabeth Warren or another left-wing icon known how terribly weak Clinton really was and sought the Democratic nomination, we would probably today remember Sanders with the same urgency that we now do for Chaffee and his metric momentum.

But he was the only game in town for Democrats who frankly found Clinton to have been a corporate sellout in her career and whose fundamental message was “I’m with her.” That was basically a shorter way to say: Get in, sit down and shut up.

Clinton was still disliked by the Democratic “netroots” that had united online to defeat her 2008. When Sanders made those voters the centerpiece of his campaign, it was a natural partnership. They had beaten her before with a longshot candidate, why not do it again?

It would have been like if Mitt Romney had managed to clear the GOP field in 2012 of all but Ron Paul. (Imagine the debates!) There’s always a reservoir of opposition against any presumptive frontrunner, but when the base is really unhappy there’s so much more water behind the dam. And in Sanders’ case, he was the only course for the water to follow.

As they did with nudging Donald Trump into a run, the Clintons’ overcooked the strategy on the 2016 primaries. She was so afraid of a repeat of 2008 that she engineered a whole new headache: A low-wattage, two-person duel against a candidate with unlimited fundraising and nothing to lose in sticking around for the end.

Some top-tier candidates this time around have embraced what sounded like antediluvian liberalism when Sanders offered it in 2016. This was not the technocratic, multi-ethnic, public-private, European-style stuff of Barack Obama, but rather the old-fashioned steel-desk liberalism of the 1940s and 1950s. This was Adlai Stevenson in a parka. So the assumption among those looking for a way to cut through the crowded 2020 field is that it was Sanders’ policies that made him a contender. 

If backing “the green dream, or whatever they call it” is the price to play the game, so be it. Universal, free college? Fine. The end of private health insurance? Check.  

But all of that forgets that ideology wasn’t what propelled Sanders as much as a resistance to Clinton. He didn’t trounce her in states like West Virginia because of his platform, per se, but rather because he was fighting against established power.

Like Trump the right-wing cultural populist, Sanders, a left-wing economic populist, offered to achieve the defeat of the corrupt establishment by his very election alone. A vote for Sanders wasn’t necessarily a vote for socialism as much as it was a vote for a retro-revolution. And just like with Trump, older, whiter, less affluent voters were the most keenly connected. Make America 1957 Again.

So now what?       

There are other less-anachronistic-sounding choices for left-wingers. Warren may have missed her moment in 2016, but she still makes a better choice for the same voters who had to pick Sanders before. 

But even worse, Sanders doesn’t have an establishment candidate to target. As Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrote in the New Yorker: “That sensation of revolution was more powerful than ideology alone. It is also less durable.”

A cynical view would hold that Sanders and his consultants are happy to return to the fountain of cash they found in the deserts of the 2016 primaries. And if it wreaks havoc on the party, so be it. Sanders, after all, isn’t a Democrat. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to like the party he’s running in.

A more benign explanation is that Sanders is just being Sanders. Like he’s been doing since he ran for the mayoralty of Burlington 40 years ago, he just goes places and talks about socialism with lots of hand gestures. Sometimes the cameras show up and the money pours in, sometimes nobody cares. But that’s never stopped him before.  

“Money is, with propriety, considered as the vital principle of the body politic; as that which sustains its life and motion, and enables it to perform its most essential functions.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 30

BBC:Nicolaus Copernicus was born on 19 February 1473 in Thorn (modern day Torun) in Poland. His father was a merchant and local official. When Copernicus was 10 his father died, and his uncle, a priest, ensured that Copernicus received a good education. … While a student at the University of Bologna he stayed with a mathematics professor, Domenico Maria de Novara, who encouraged Copernicus' interests in geography and astronomy. … [His uncle] died in 1512 and Copernicus moved to Frauenberg, where he had long held a position as a canon, an administrative appointment in the church. This gave him more time to devote to astronomy. … Copernicus' major work ‘De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium’ (‘On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres’) was finished by 1530. Its central theory was that the Earth rotates daily on its axis and revolves yearly around the sun. He also argued that the planets circled the Sun.”

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

Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -12.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 3.6 points 
[Average includes: Fox News: 46% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve - 52% unapproved; CNN: 42% approve - 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 57% disapprove.]

NPR: “More than 6-in-10 Americans disapprove of President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency so he can build barriers along the U.S border with Mexico, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds. Nearly 6-in-10 also don't believe there is an emergency at the southern border and that the president is misusing his presidential authority. They also believe that his decision should be challenged in court. … Republicans and Trump supporters are firmly with the president, while Democrats and independents disapprove. These numbers slightly outpace, but are largely reflective of, the president's overall approval rating. … So, to sum up: Not many beyond his base like this; it's unprecedented; and Americans are very polarized. That's been the story of the Trump presidency so far. Trump has done little to move beyond his base, and that theory of politics – revving up the base and not winning over the middle – is going to be tested in 2020.”

Sixteen states file lawsuit against Trump - Politico: “A coalition of 16 states filed suit on Monday to block President Donald Trump’s effort to fund his border wall by declaring a national emergency, calling it a ‘flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles.’ The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, is the third in a string of legal challenges already launched against Trump’s use of emergency powers since he announced the move during a meandering White House news conference on Friday. Public Citizen, a liberal advocacy group, filed a suit late Friday in the District of Columbia on behalf of three Texas landowners who would be impacted by the construction of a wall along the border. And Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics has filed a motion against the Department of Justice demanding that the agency provide documents pertaining to the legal justification of the president’s emergency declaration.”

Politico: “Sen. Amy Klobuchar placed herself firmly in the center lane of the Democratic primary on Monday, calling popular progressive policy platforms ‘aspirational,’ and declining to fully commit to them. The Minnesota Democrat called the Green New Deal ‘aspirational’ and said that Medicare-for-all is ‘something we can look to in the future,’ during a CNN town hall hosted in Manchester, N.H., on Monday night. On free four-year college, Klobuchar said: ‘No, I am not for four-year college for all.’ Klobuchar, who launched her presidential bid earlier this month, is pitching herself as pragmatic Midwesterner who won’t over-promise liberal policies to primary voters. The three-term senator carefully calibrated her answers on several progressive platforms — expressing support without fully committing to them. But her tell-it-like-it-is centrism could prove problematic for a Democratic primary electorate that has drawn further to the left.”

Obama gives advice, but still no endorsement for 2020 - NYT: “A secret meeting of former President Barack Obama’s financial backers convened in Washington early this month … [T]he group interviewed an array of 2020 presidential candidates and debated whether to throw their wealth behind one or two of them. Mr. Obama had no role in the event, but it unfolded in his political shadow: As presidential hopefuls like Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Sherrod Brown auditioned before them, the donors wondered aloud whether Mr. Obama might signal a preference in the race, according to three people briefed on the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity. David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s former chief strategist, told the group they should expect no such directive. Mr. Axelrod confirmed in an interview that he briefed the gathering, recalling: ‘They asked me about Obama endorsing. I said, ‘I don’t imagine he will.’’”

Warren proposes wealth tax funded universal child care plan - Bloomberg: “Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren proposed a universal child care plan that would limit American families’ expenses to 7 percent of income regardless of how many children they have in care -- paid for by a tax on the ultra-wealthy. The Massachusetts senator’s plan, unveiled Tuesday on Medium.com, would make child care free for families with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level, or less than $51,500 for a family of four. Other families would pay up to 7 percent of income, depending on how much they earn. The proposal marks the latest policy entry into a 2020 contest that features scores of progressive Democrats competing over how best to mitigate income inequality and expand the economic safety net for working families.”

WSJ: “President Trump added a new round of senior-level hires to his re-election team, continuing an early push to build out his campaign and preserve a clear path to the Republican nomination in 2020. The new hires include a trio of roles in media relations, positions that hold outsize importance for a president who turned lessons from his reality television career into billions of dollars in free media during his 2016 race. Those media aides are communications director Tim Murtaugh, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and strategic communications director Marc Lotter, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence whose duties will include overseeing the campaign’s surrogates on news and social media, according to people familiar with the situation, who said the hires will be announced later Tuesday.”

Schultz stresses in letter to supporters he won’t be a ‘spoiler’ - Axios:Howard Schultz tries to turn electability back on Democrats in a letter to supporters today, pledging that he is committed to making sure an independent run for president would do ‘nothing to re-elect Donald Trump.’ … ‘As I’m sure you’ve seen,’ Schultz writes, ‘there have been some skeptical and even downright angry comments from party activists and inside-the-Beltway pundits in the press and on social media. Others have expressed genuine fears that an independent candidate could help re-elect President Trump.’ ‘I hear and respect this overriding concern, and have repeatedly promised that I will not be a spoiler. I am committed to ensuring that I will do nothing to re-elect Donald Trump. I mean it.’ ‘Will the eventual Democratic nominee be the party’s own version of a spoiler?’ Schultz writes in the letter, which is being emailed to supporters and pushed through social media.”

Voter fraud hearings underway in North Carolina - WTVD-AP

Pergram: ‘George Washington's Farewell Address to be read on Senate floor in annual tradition’ - Fox News

Rosenstein will leave Justice Department next month - CBS News

Trump considering new candidates for UN job - Bloomberg

Ryan Streeter: ‘Cheer up. Despite national gloom, we're actually pretty happy with our lives and neighbors.’ - USA Today

“Sorry, I’m just trying to get some ranch.” – An Iowan said as she tried to pass Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand who was addressing a crowd at a bar in Iowa City.

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

UPI: “Police breaking up a late-night drag racing session in Britain ended up seizing an unusual vehicle -- a speedy tractor. Amesbury Police said they responded to a report of drag racing motorcycles in Wiltshire and ended up discovering the bikes were racing against a New Holland T6 175 tractor. Police said the tractor was found to be running on red diesel, a duty-free fuel allowed to be used strictly for agricultural purposes. ‘Rather unusual stop for team 1 tonight,’ police tweeted. ‘Tractor stopped after being reported for drag racing motorbikes!’ ‘Vehicle was seized as the driver couldn't prove he was insured and was driving on red diesel,’ the tweet said.”

“I don't really care what a public figure thinks. I care about what he does. Let God probe his inner heart. Tell me about his outer acts.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Jewish World Review on Oct. 18, 1999.  

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.