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On the roster: German lessons - Biden denies assault allegation in first comments - States move to reopen, but slowly - House Dems seek $1 trillion for states, cities - Same, same
Welcome to your eighth Friday of the corona quarantine.
We know it seems like a long time, but it’s still been three weeks shorter than Kim Kardashian’s first marriage and two weeks shorter than combat operations in the Spanish-American War.
For some of you, today marks the beginning of a period of new possibilities, though it’s all very tentative and the messages are decidedly mixed. For example, Pennsylvania will allow shoppers back in stores in so-called “yellow phase” counties, which sounds about as appealing as liver disease.
Enjoy shopping for new spring espadrilles, but OMG DON’T DIE…
As we have often talked about before, the process of re-opening will be more gradual and tentative than the closure was. That’s because the closure required a collective agreement among Americans coast to coast: We would pen ourselves up to prevent the uncontrolled spread and the potential for outbreaks in individual hot spots to overwhelm medical resources.
Americans will surely long debate that decision, but don’t forget that part of the reason it was so appealing to leaders from the president on down, as well as among citizens, was its simplicity. Like the old threat color-coding system in the early days of what we then called the “Global War on Terror,” it was inclusive, engaging and uniform at a time of high national anxiety.
Coming out will be different. It’s about individuals and localities and their comfort levels with not only the potential for infection, but also the new social protocols in the era of viral anxiety.
Poor Mike Pence is a great case study. President Trump’s line is that ordinary Americans should wear masks when they conduct their business with others, but that he would not because it would be unseemly for him to do so, especially when he meets “presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens.”
This is made easier by the fact that Trump is in one of the world’s thickest bubbles. Nobody can get anywhere within sneezing distance without first being tested.
So following his boss’ doctrine, when Pence decided to visit the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota this week, he went barefaced, despite the facility’s obvious policy and the fact that every human being other than him whom he encountered wore a mask. It looked ridiculous. The doctrine of good-for-thee-but-not-for-me failed him.
When Pence did a campaign-style stop Thursday at a GM plant in Indiana operating under the federal order to produce ventilators, he was in a mask and goggles just like everyone else. But the original question remained: If it’s not safe enough for you to be there without these protections, did you need to make the trip?
America will be a nation of Pences in the weeks ahead. What precautions will be necessary? What precautions will be demanded by social pressure? If extensive precautions are necessary, is it worth the risk and hassle? It took time to adjust to life in a world where we realized terrorism could reach us. This will take time, too.
Germany is emerging as one of the great international success stories from the pandemic. And while the Teutonic affinity for social order is surely a big part of the reason, it’s worth considering the course of our Continental cousins.
Despite being among the nations most afflicted by infection from the virus, Germany has managed an extraordinarily low death rate – far better than Spain, Italy, Britain and even the U.S. New daily cases have been trending down since early April and forecasts look good.
Germany has done all that while imposing some of the lightest restrictions on economic activity among developed nations battling the virus. They locked down schools, stores and restaurants for 40 days, but never closed most factories. Germany has nearly doubled the U.S. per-capita testing rate. And while there are concerns as the lockdown was lifted this week, optimism prevails.
Germany had great infrastructure, especially on matters relating to health, but also because of its approach to politics. The Germans are serious about their federalism and found that a state-based solution worked best. And even within the states, leaders sought to devolve decision making to the local level.
But the other saving grace has been the German aversion to the kind of brain-dead partisanship that has taken hold here. For obvious reasons, nationalism and partisanship are both unwelcome among most modern Germans. As the crisis presented itself, German politicians placed a premium on local authority as well as cooperation and consensus building.
The WSJ details the success story in Germany’s industrial heartland of Baden-Württemberg where rival Greens and members of the ruling center-right Christian Democratic Union have been sharing power since the last elections. It’s remarkable to any American who has observed how we have nationalized and politicized our response.
We have many state-level success stories to be proud of, similarly marked by cooperation and care. But history will record how both nationalism and partisanship undercut our response.
Perhaps Germans are more careful with these things because unlike us, they do not take liberal democracy and good government so much for granted.
THE RULEBOOK: UGLY TRUTH
“It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it…” – John Jay, Federalist No. 4
TIME OUT: IT’S GONNA BE MAY
The Writer’s Almanac: “In the Celtic British Isles, May Day was celebrated as the festival of Beltane… On the eve of Beltane, people lit bonfires [and] blessed their animals by taking them between bonfires before leading them to their summer pastures the next day. It was a day to walk around the property lines and assess your land for the summer season, to mend fences. Women washed their faces with the spring dew so that they would stay beautiful, and there was dancing, tournaments, parades, feasting, and general revelry. … May trees, or Maypoles, were set up covered in rowan or hawthorn flowers as a blessing… and villages would compete with each other to see who could produce the tallest maypole. Young couples went off into the forest to spend the night together and came back the next day with flowers to spread through the village. A young woman was crowned May Queen, and she would ride naked on horseback through the village.”
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TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 45 percent
Average disapproval: 49.8 percent
Net Score: -4.8 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.6 points
[Average includes: PRRI: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; IBD: 44% approve - 44% disapprove; Gallup: 49% approve - 47% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk University: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 46% approve - 51% disapprove.]
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BIDEN DENIES ASSAULT ALLEGATION IN FIRST COMMENTS
Fox News: “Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday denied allegations of sexual assault leveled against him by former Senate staffer Tara Reade, personally addressing the claims for the first time more than a month after she went public with the accusations. ‘They aren’t true. This never happened,’ Biden said in a written statement put out by his campaign. ‘While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.’ Further, Biden called for the secretary of the Senate to ask the National Archives to ‘identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document.’”
Biden OKs Archives search, not personal papers - Fox News: “Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday called for a search of the National Archives for any records that might pertain to allegations made against him by former Senate aide Tara Reade — but refused to approve a similar search of his senatorial papers, which are currently stored at the University of Delaware and sealed from the public. … But Biden, in the interview, was pressed on his refusal to approve a similar search of a massive trove of papers from his three-plus decades in the Senate that he donated years ago to the University of Delaware. Biden maintained that the trove would not contain personnel files. ‘There is nothing, they're not there ... The material in the University of Delaware has no personnel files ... but it does have a lot of confidential conversations’ with other officials, like the president and foreign dignitaries, Biden said.”
Susan Page: Biden's denial was unequivocal. That doesn't mean he's put this issue to rest. - USA Today: “In the interview, Biden needed to tackle the accusations personally and directly. He did that, in words that left him no wiggle room – stating flatly that it didn't happen, not that he didn't recall, or that this might the result of some sort of misunderstanding. His request to the secretary of the Senate to order a search of his personnel records conveyed his confidence that he had nothing to hide. Biden also needed to square his denials with the standards of the #MeToo movement, including the assertion by some that women who come forward with accusations of harassment deserve to be believed. … Fairly or not, her allegations carry particular peril for Biden because his brand is empathy.”
STATES MOVE TO REOPEN, BUT SLOWLY
Fox News: “America is slowly but surely reopening for business. The start of May saw more than a dozen states relaxing lockdown measures that were imposed as the coronavirus pandemic began spiraling out of control on U.S. soil. As of Friday morning, the U.S. had more than a million coronavirus cases and more than 63,000 deaths. President Trump announced a plan on April 16 to reopen the country in three phases, based on the severity of the outbreak in each state or region. And several states believe they meet the criteria to get the ball rolling after a month of shuttered shops, restaurants and people cooped up at home. While states like Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee began relaxing rules earlier in the week, these states followed suit as of Friday to varying degrees: [Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Illinois , Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.]”
Labor groups seek May Day shutdown of essential businesses - NPR: “Employees at many online retailers, grocery store chains and package-delivery services are planning labor actions Friday to protest what they describe as unsafe working conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while others, put out of work by the disease, are using May Day to demand an end to stay-at-home orders they say are ruining livelihoods and irreparably harming the economy. Meanwhile, nurses at scores of hospitals across the country plan to take to the streets to protest a lack of personal protective equipment; and independent truckers, fed up with low freight rates, plan a congestion-inducing ‘slow roll’ in their rigs through parts of Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and other major cities. The May Day protests come as the country is on edge, with more than 1 million confirmed infections and some 63,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 and after weeks of stay-at-home orders that have put a fifth of the nation's workforce out of a job, while employees deemed essential risk exposure to the novel coronavirus just by showing up to work.”
GOP lawmakers, Whitmer clash over Michigan’s virus order - AP: “The Republican-led Michigan Legislature refused Thursday to extend the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration and voted to authorize a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s authority and actions to combat the pandemic. The governor, unfazed, responded with orders stating under one law that an emergency still exists, while declaring a new 28-day state of emergency under another law. The declarations are important because they are the foundation for Whitmer’s stay-at-home measure, which will remain in effect through May 15, and other directives aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. … Whitmer accused GOP lawmakers of ‘putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk. I’m not going to let that happen.’ The legislative pushback came as hundreds of conservative activists, including some who were openly carrying assault rifles, returned to the Capitol to denounce her stay-home order.”
Questions mount over Trump son in law’s medical supply plan - Bloomberg: “A program created by Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has airlifted millions of gloves, masks and other coveted coronavirus supplies into the U.S. from overseas -- but it isn’t clear who’s getting them and at what price, or how much private-sector partners are earning through the arrangement. Kushner’s ‘Project Airbridge’ provides transportation via FedEx Corp. and others for supplies that medical distributors, including McKesson Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc., buy from overseas manufacturers, mainly in China. Once a supplier’s goods arrive in the U.S., the companies must sell half the order in government-designated hotspots. They sell the rest as they see fit. The U.S. government provides the air transportation for free, to speed the arrival of the products. The six distributors keep the profits, if any.”
HOUSE DEMS SEEK $1 TRILLION FOR STATES, CITIES
Bloomberg: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday states and cities alone are seeking as much as $1 trillion in aid in the next coronavirus relief package, a figure that may be tough to reach as Congress juggles demands to bolster the economy. Pelosi said state governments are still finalizing their request but have so far sought $500 billion, while local governments have a similar figure. Lawmakers also are considering other proposals including another round of cash payments to taxpayers, expanded unemployment insurance, assistance to renters and wider broadband access. ‘State and local, I talked about almost $1 trillion right there,’ Pelosi said at her weekly news conference. ‘We are not going to be able to cover all of it, but to the extent we can keep the states and localities sustainable, that is our goal.’”
Dems’ push for broadband expansion gains traction - Roll Call: “House Democrats on Thursday renewed their push for an $86 billion broadband expansion, arguing that if the coronavirus pandemic stretches into next fall, students without internet access risk being left behind if schools remain closed. Party leaders said some of the broadband and distance learning money could be tacked onto the next round of COVID-19 relief, which House Democrats are in the process of assembling. ‘If we are going to experience ... another round of this virus, our children are apt to be out of school again next year,’ said House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., who is chairman of the House Democratic Rural Broadband Task Force. ‘And if that were to happen, the only way you can have online learning is with broadband.’ … Democrats appear likely to see support from across the aisle. Speaking hours later, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy acknowledged that ‘broadband is a very good discussion,’ as part of the next pandemic relief package.”
Test shortage means not all Senators can be swabbed - Politico: “The Capitol’s attending physician said Thursday that coronavirus tests will be available for staffers and senators who are ill, but not enough to proactively test all 100 senators as the chamber comes back in session, according to two people familiar with the matter. In a conference call with top GOP officials, Dr. Brian Monahan said there is not sufficient capacity to quickly test senators for coronavirus — a contrast with the White House, where any people meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are tested for the disease. Monahan said test results in the Senate will take two or more days, while the White House has rapid testing. The Senate is scheduled to reconvene on Monday after more than a month away, bringing as many as 100 senators from across the country. Roughly half the senators are 65 or older and at increased risk for the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Big money donors are pressuring Biden to not pick Warren for VP - CNBC
GOP begin considering convention changes - NBC News
Results of internal poll have Georgia Republicans worried about 2020 - AJC
Former Rep. Katie Hill gets involved with special election for her seat with ad, PAC funding - Politico
Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines begin mandating passenger face masks - Politico
AUDIBLE: OKAY THEN
“I don’t need a lecture or a speech.” – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response to a reporter who asked Pelosi whether Democrats had a different “standard” for Biden than for Kavanaugh.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
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
“Isn't forcing nursing homes to admit covid19 positive persons directly equivalent to the English, knowingly, giving smallpox infected blankets to the Indians? Where is the outrage?” – Don Sanislo, Auburn, Wash.
[Ed. note: I assume you are referring here to edicts in California, New York and New Jersey intended to protect the younger, healthier members of the population but that appear to consign the elderly to a grim fate. I don’t know enough about the risks and considerations to answer your question. But I do think historians may one day look back at American history since the Second World War as a history of our struggle with health care. As science and technology have allowed us to defy history and increase the life expectancy for Americans by nearly 50 percent, we have been ill-equipped ethically, economically and culturally for the change. And since there’s nothing Americans hate talking about quite as much as aging and death, these questions -- and very often the elderly themselves -- get ignored. As we contemplate things that will be different in a world more aware of the dangers of infectious disease, I certainly pray that one of those things will be about how we treat the elderly. Not every family and not every patient is suitable for caring for at home, but I can certainly foresee an acceleration of our already encouraging return to an earlier model of multi-generational family households.]
“Perhaps I’m being too cynical, but it looks like the upcoming presidential election will pit an unapologetic narcissist against a semi- senile sex offender. In a country of over 300 million people, is that the best we can do? Thanks for your daily newsletter, it makes me feel better informed.” – Jim May, San Diego
[Ed. note: I’m not sure which candidate you think is which in this scenario, Mr. May, but I’m sure many Americans would agree with your sentiment whichever way you played it. I often marvel at the fact that anyone other than hardcore partisans vote at all. I have joked that our current political process is like two guys micturating in a pool and then asking voters to join them for a swim.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
Quartz: “While animals all around the world have relished the chance to reclaim land as humans recede into their homes during the pandemic, one Japanese aquarium says that the lack of people is actually posing a problem for animals in captivity, specifically eels. The Sumida Aquarium, which is housed in the Tokyo Skytree tower, noticed that its hundreds of tiny spotted garden eels have started acting oddly, such as burrowing into the sand when aquarium workers pass by the tank. … In response, the aquarium is launching a three-day ‘emergency event’ starting on May 3, known as the ‘face-showing festival,’ with the goal of ‘not forgetting the existence of humans.’ It is inviting people to call the aquarium’s dedicated account through an iPad or iPhone, and once connected, people are asked to wave or call out to the eels (but not too loudly) for five minutes at a time, during two time slots a day.”
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“My very best friend. Hmm. Before I give you the answer, I will remind you what Harry Truman once said, ‘If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.’” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) during a question and answer session after a speech at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on Nov. 4, 2013.
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.