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On the roster: Dems grow uneasy with their new moralism - The Rulebook: Thucydides, FTW - Warren stumbles again on native heritage question - Outlook brightens on a deal after Trump speech - You know you’ve got a bad lawyer when…
DEMS GROW UNEASY WITH THEIR NEW MORALISM
It’s tough to be in the moral majority.
Republicans wasted multiple chances a generation ago as the strictures of cultural conservatism narrowed the party’s political flexibility. Voters who might otherwise have been keen on GOP messages about economic growth and national security were put off by what seemed to some as excessive religiosity.
The pinnacle moment came on Dec. 19, 1998 when, in the same day, House Republicans impeached the Democratic president for covering up his affair with a White House intern and also discarded the Republican who was about to assume the speakership, Bob Livingston, for his own dalliances.
This came after the outgoing speaker had already been unhorsed for his own ethical failings. Republicans unleashed the refiner’s fire of moral judgement and found their own dross rather than just the Democrats’.
Now the parties have changed lanes and Democrats’ misery is multiplying. Republicans have become much more comfortable with moral relativism for the sake of political advancement while Democrats are engaging in successive purges.
The secular, civic religion in the Democratic Party and among liberal Americans today is substantially arranged around anti-racism and feminism, most recently manifested in the #MeToo movement.
And the pieties of that secular faith are entrapping Democratic politicians more than Republicans, and Virginia is at the center of the conflagration.
Six months ago you would have said that it was unthinkable that in the Old Dominion, which was clearly moving away from the Republican Party and going from purple to solid blue, Democrats are in a position where their pieties threaten their hold on power.
We are now having to seriously talk about a scenario in which the speaker of the house, a Republican, or the president pro tem of the Virginia Senate, also a Republican, might rise to power if this goes a certain way. It’s shocking to even imagine.
What makes it more shocking is that the cause of the current crisis is because the commonwealth’s attorney general as a college student wore blackface when he performed at a party dressed up as the rapper Kurtis Blow… during the Carter administration.
(If you had the artist behind “The Breaks” on your bingo card for what would be the cause of outrage this week, congratulations.)
Because Democrats had already demanded the resignation of the governor, who wore blackface to impersonate Michael Jackson in the 1980, can you let the attorney general remain?
Even more challenging is the case of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. The animating idea of the #MeToo movement is that in situations where you have “he said, she said” that the woman would be heard, taken seriously and not publicly shamed. Fairfax did exactly the opposite to his accuser, whom he and his team described as “very interested” in him and as either malicious or crazy.
You have a woman who, like Christine Blasey Ford with Brett Kavanaugh, is a professor and an established professional with a solid track record. Whatever you think of the credibility of the allegations, she seems to be a credible person. But Fairfax tried to shut her down before a fair hearing.
How hard he went against her at the beginning showed that not only had he not learned the lessons about this new era, but that Democrats have not thought through the ramifications. If women are to be treated equally in these situations, there will be generational consequences. That was the whole idea.
Fairfax may not know it yet, but he is finished.
So there are some seriously wondering if Democrats shouldn’t just turn Virginia over to the Republicans because two of the state’s top elected officials wore blackface to school parties to impersonate African American musicians.
Mind you that these are two men with no record of racism and, in fact, clear records of working against such the scourge. Herring is an ultra-liberal Democrat who has been a crusading anti-racist, including, oops, his own demand for the governor to resign.
(Imagine the moment when Herring recalled or was informed that yes, he too had performed in blackface. Woof.)
There is an object lesson here for the Democratic Party nationally If this is how their 2020 primary goes, with this sort of garroting down the line, killing off one another for personal transgressions, it will all but guarantee Republicans hold the White House.
Republicans are only too happy to exploit the weakness and apparently feel few qualms about their own hypocrisies. Hearing Virginia Republicans say the elected attorney general should resign over a Kurtis Blow impersonation from 1980 would be sad if it wasn’t so funny. The new standard for the GOP is that Dems must live by the rules they created, but Republicans can ignore such demands because they do not follow the Democrats’ faith.
Democrats could ignore the moral outrage over Clinton’s many failings because it was “just sex” and only the Bible beaters were upset about people having sex. What prudes. Now, some Republicans can say they don’t believe in #MeToo or don’t believe that racism is still a major part of the American experience. What a bunch of snowflakes, amirite?
Meanwhile, Democrats will be locked in a cycle of political violence over a real or perceived apostasies from this secular faith they now hold dear.
THE RULEBOOK: THUCYDIDES, FTW
“Had Greece, says a judicious observer on her fate, been united by a stricter confederation, and persevered in her union, she would never have worn the chains of Macedon; and might have proved a barrier to the vast projects of Rome.” – Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Federalist No. 18
TIME OUT: STARTING OUT BEHIND IN THE COUNT
On this day 124 years ago, Babe Ruth, the greatest baseball player the game has ever known, was born in Baltimore. It was not an easy climb. How Stuff Works: “Because they simply were unable to handle their oldest son, in 1902, Ruth's father, mother, and a Justice of the Peace filed the form that legally labeled the seven-year-old George Ruth Jr. ‘incorrigible and vicious...beyond the control’ of his parents. He was committed to the St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys and legally removed from his parents' care, becoming a ward of the Xaverian Brothers who operated the school. On Friday, June 13, George Ruth Sr. took his tearful son by the hand and delivered him to St. Mary's. The youngster begged to return home with his father… George Ruth Jr. would spend most of his next 12 years inside the walls of St. Mary's. When he left for good, it would be because he had signed a professional baseball contract.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 39.8 percent
Average disapproval: 56 percent
Net Score: -16.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 42% approve - 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 57% disapprove; Monmouth University: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Gallup: 37% approve - 59% disapprove.]
WARREN STUMBLES AGAIN ON NATIVE HERITAGE QUESTION
USA Today: “Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren is facing further fallout from her past self-identification as Native American after the Washington Post on Tuesday published a copy of her 1986 State Bar of Texas registration card on which she listed her race as ‘American Indian.’ The Post said it obtained the document, which was filled out by hand and signed, through an open records request, and that the Massachusetts Democrat's office did not question its authenticity. It is dated April 18, 1986. According to the Post, it is the first record from Warren's past where she made her claim of Native American heritage in her own handwriting, which proves she was directly responsible for the dubious identification. Warren had previously declined to answer if she or an assistant had filled out the forms where she made the claim. ‘I can’t go back,’ Warren told the Post. ‘But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.’”
Klobuchar expected to announce presidential bid - AP: “Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota signaled on Tuesday she could become the next Democrat to enter the presidential contest, teasing a major announcement on Sunday in Minneapolis. ‘Come to Boom Island in Minnesota ... and you’ll find out,’ she told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. ‘Then you’ll find out my decision.’ She didn’t offer further details about whether the event would serve as a formal campaign launch. If she enters the race, Klobuchar would likely use her Minnesota roots to make a strong play for the Midwest. The region backed Democrats in presidential contests for decades, but slipped away in 2016, playing a critical role in President Donald Trump’s victory. … Underscoring her focus on the Midwest, Klobuchar already plans to visit neighboring Iowa, home to the nation’s leadoff caucus, later this month.”
Beto: Decision by the end of the month - Bloomberg: “Beto O’Rourke, the former U.S. House member from Texas who gained a national following during his unsuccessful bid for the Senate, told Oprah Winfrey in an interview Tuesday that he plans to decide on whether to run for the Democratic presidential nomination by the end of February. ‘The serious answer is really soon,’ he said. ‘Before the end of this month.’ The conversation, recorded in New York City for broadcast Feb. 16, was between two Americans famous enough to be known by just their first names. The interview took place as ‘draft Beto’ efforts are playing out in early nomination voting states to try to encourage him to get into the race.”
Tim Ryan, perennial Pelosi foe, now toys with 2020 run - Fox News: “Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who raised his national profile several years ago with an unsuccessful leadership challenge against Nancy Pelosi, could soon join the growing field of Democratic presidential candidates. In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Ryan said he is considering launching a White House bid, though he has not yet made a firm decision. ‘I’m still looking at it,’ Ryan told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Tuesday. ‘I don’t have a time frame just yet.’ Ryan added that the already-crowded field of Democratic candidates doesn’t dissuade him from taking the leap. ‘I think the more ideas we have out there the better,’ Ryan said.”
OUTLOOK BRIGHTENS ON A DEAL AFTER TRUMP SPEECH
Politico: “Congressional dealmakers working to stave off another devastating government shutdown said they believe a breakthrough is in reach, following a closed-door Wednesday briefing from Border Patrol officials. Conference committee negotiators tasked with crafting a border security funding plan said the bipartisan talks took a turn for the better during the meeting. The 17 lawmakers finally began a substantive policy and funding debate, ticking through a three-pronged approach to boosting border security spending on detection technology, agents and barriers, according to several members who attended the briefing. ‘I would say we’ve got a much better chance today than we had Monday to reach some kind of resolution on this,’ said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) after the briefing. ‘We’re dealing in substance now — something we haven’t done before.’ … Shelby said negotiators will ‘know in the next few days’ whether a bipartisan compromise on border security is achievable.”
Dems get a contender to take on Graham in S.C. - McClatchy
Pompeo mum on possible Senate run in talk to Kansans - Kansas City Star
Trump announces second Kim summit on Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam - Fox News
House intel committee postpones Michael Cohen testimony to Feb. 28 - Fox News
Former Michigan Rep. John Dingell in hospice care - AP
AUDIBLE: COLD PRESSED
“It was a slap in the face with an olive branch.” – Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., describing to reporters the mixed messages in President Trump’s second State of the Union Address.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Since the President’s approval is “underwater”...that is negative; does an overall increase make the negative number bigger or smaller? … The math is simple if the president’s approval numbers are positive, but I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon. Thanks for clearing that up for me (and maybe others?)” – James Kinney, Hoschton, Ga.
[Ed. note: That’s why we keep it simple, Mr. Kinney. We say the president is either “down” or “up” from the week before. Down is bad, up is good.]
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YOU KNOW YOU’VE GOT A BAD LAWYER WHEN…
KJRH: “The Rogers County [Okla.] Courthouse closed early Monday due to bed bugs. Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton said a lawyer came up to a third-floor courtroom with bugs falling out of his clothing. ‘Hard to imagine someone doesn't know, you know that some bed bugs are crawling all over them, certainly in abundance,’ Sheriff Walton said. Courthouse officials had a meeting and decided to close the courthouse at noon until the bed bugs were gone. ‘I was told the individual that had them also shook his jacket over the prosecutor’s files,’ Sheriff Walton said. Mike Clarke, head of security for the Rogers County Courthouse, said the attorney was non-responsive to the situation. ‘I don't even think he cared,’ Clarke said. Exterminators were called to the 90,000 square foot building and were prepared to work through the night to get rid of the pests. Employees and others treated themselves as a precaution.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“What distinguishes Trump Derangement Syndrome is not just general hysteria about the subject, but additionally the inability to distinguish between legitimate policy differences on the one hand and signs of psychic pathology on the other.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 8, 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.