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On the roster: What will we make of our moment? – I’ll Tell You What: A grumbling appendix – Graham set to squeeze fellow GOPers with show vote – Q Poll: Warren ahead, but worries about electability – A pumpkin spice float
WHAT WILL WE MAKE OF OUR MOMENT?
Periods of political upheaval can be wonderful things. Needed changes once deemed politically impossible suddenly become realities. Old superstitions and their totems can finally be discarded.
But it’s never all good.
The tumult of the first half of the 1970s is instructive. After that period, which included the resignations of the vice president and then president over corruption and abuses of power, Washington ushered in much-needed ethics reforms. Congress cracked down on payola for members and mandated financial disclosure for itself and the other two branches.
But that same era resulted in the birth of the modern political primary system that wreaks increasing damage on the republic cycle after cycle. Getting rid of smoke-filled rooms may have decreased the power of party bosses, but has introduced more demagoguery – both fanatical and fantastical – to our public life.
Like last-call shots of Fireball, microwave burritos and men in skinny jeans, it sounded like a good idea at the time.
As the parties clash this time in Washington, we don’t know what the era to come will bring. Which will be the positive changes to laws and attitudes born from this era of political chaos unseen four decades? Which will be ones that linger like a Fireball hangover?
With this in mind, consider the offering from today’s WaPo: “The Constitution isn’t the cure for President Trump. It is the cause.” by Shira Lurie, a history professor at the University of Toronto who formerly taught at the University of Virginia.
We encourage you to read her piece to get a fuller understanding of the argument, but her basic effort is to caution those involved in the struggle to either oust or constrain President Trump by constitutional means are simultaneously deepening our esteem for our flawed founding charter.
“Democrats can and should seek a constitutional remedy to remove Trump,” she writes. “But we need to confront the idea that a president who lost the popular vote by millions, deceives the public, attacks the press and does not have the confidence of the majority of Americans may not be a distortion of the constitutional order, but a feature.”
We wondered whether to even call attention to the piece lest we be guilty of that version of straw man argument that The Dispatch’s David French has delightfully dubbed “nut picking.” That’s when you find a fringe character from an opposing point of view and drag them forward to suggest that some far-flung idea is really mainstream.
Lurie is not in the political mainstream. In fact, she acknowledges it by expressing concern that Democrats are expressing excessive reverence for the Constitution.
“Worshiping the Constitution as a sacred text is not patriotism, it’s fanaticism,” she warns. “We can continue to pray to it, but it won’t save us. It is high time to address the anti-democratic foundations of American government.”
But we fear that the bipartisan reverence for our founding is actually pretty surficial these days. Leaders in both parties are closer to Lurie than she knows.
When the executive branch shows absolute contempt for the clearly stated powers of the legislative branch in a letter that sounds like it was dictated by Huey Long from a balcony you don’t get that good ol’ separation-of-powers tingle.
When Democratic presidential candidates willy-nilly offer proposals that ignore not only those same separations but doing so using the kind of cheap demagoguery that defies the principles of both the Constitution and the Declaration, one doesn’t feel the gentle breezes of a return to Madisonian democracy.
Our era will produce substantial change for the generations to come. Whatever shape that takes, we would do better to avoid the mistakes of the past and use our era to strengthen, not diminish, the Constitution that has seen us through this and all of our previous crises.
THE RULEBOOK: NEED TO KNOW YOUR STUFF
“Ignorance will be the dupe of cunning, and passion the slave of sophistry and declamation.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 58
TIME OUT: DEMOCRATIC DUNGAREES
Atlantic: “If you want to sell clothes in America, it helps a lot if buyers think your product is cool. Jeans have a backstory that any marketer would kill for. ‘Denim first became popular in the 1920s and 1930s in tandem with the rise of Hollywood,’ explains Emma McClendon, an associate curator at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, who orchestrated a denim retrospective at the museum in 2015. … Over the years, the cuts and washes changed, but denim’s position as a relatively democratic element of the wardrobes of stylish, influential people didn’t. … In the past, only one or two styles of jeans were “cool” at a given time. … Now denim inventory is as infinite as the internet itself. Fast-fashion retailers update their selections constantly, which means that nearly every type of denim is available simultaneously. Depending on whom you ask, the big thing right now might be mom jeans.”
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DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 27.6 points (↓ 0.6 from last wk.)
Warren: 24.8 points (↓ 1.6 from last wk.)
Sanders: 14.6 points (↑ 1.2 from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 6.4 points (↑ 0.2 from last wk.)
Harris: 4.8 points (↑ 0.4 from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, CNN, Fox News, IBD and Monmouth University.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 41.4 percent
Average disapproval: 55.6 percent
Net Score: -14.2 percent
Change from one week ago: ↓ 2.4 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 58% disapprove; CNN: 42% approve – 57% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Fox News: 43% approve – 55% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 45% approve – 51% disapprove.]
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I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: A GRUMBLING APPENDIX
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss their concerns over the first ever Russia-Africa Summit, they react to the most recent Monmouth University Poll, and find out why Dana almost had to cancel the podcast taping this week. Plus, Chris looks at Presidential legacies in trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
GRAHAM SET TO SQUEEZE FELLOW GOPERS WITH SHOW VOTE
AP: “GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top ally of President Donald Trump, is introducing a resolution condemning the Democratic-controlled House for pursuing a ‘closed door, illegitimate impeachment inquiry.’ Graham announced the move Thursday and says the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, is a co-sponsor. Graham plans a Thursday afternoon news conference. The nonbinding resolution gives Senate Republicans a chance to show support for Trump at a moment when Trump is urging his GOP allies to get tougher and fight harder for him as the House impeachment probe gathers momentum. Many Senate Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach amid the House impeachment inquiry. Rather than commenting on the substance of the probe, they are united in complaining that the House is taking depositions from witnesses behind closed doors.”
Some senators are keeping impeachment thoughts to themselves – Politico: “[Susan Collins] is among a group of senators from both parties who are increasingly citing their role as possible jurors in an impeachment trial. They argue that as impartial jurors, they shouldn’t make any foregone conclusion — especially about a scandal that could force Trump out of office. … Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee agrees, saying jurors shouldn’t be ‘running around announcing their decision until they’ve heard the arguments.’ … The reserved nature of Republicans like Alexander, who is retiring, and the moderate Collins suggests some in the president’s own party are legitimately open to Democrats’ arguments — an ominous sign for Trump… It also has the added side benefit of excusing senators from the noisy, day-to-day chaos of the president’s investigation by Congress.”
Dems prepare to go public with probe – WaPo: “House Democrats are preparing to move their largely private impeachment inquiry onto a more public stage as soon as mid-November and are already grappling with how best to present the complex Ukraine saga to the American people. Over the past three weeks, a parade of current and former Trump administration officials have testified behind closed doors, providing House investigators with a compelling narrative of President Trump’s campaign to extract political favors from Ukrainian officials. … Among the witnesses Democrats hope to question in open session are the acting ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr., and his predecessor, former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Both are seasoned diplomats who, in earlier House testimony, effectively conveyed outrage over a White House plan to withhold much-needed military aid from Ukraine…”
Wisconsin sees increase in support for impeachment – Marquette University: “A new Marquette Law School poll of Wisconsin registered voters finds that 46 percent think that there is enough cause now for Congress to hold hearings on impeachment of President Donald Trump, while 49 percent say there is not enough cause and 5 percent say they do not know. In April 2019, 29 percent said there was sufficient reason for impeachment hearings and 65 percent said there was not. The April poll was completed after Attorney General William Barr’s letter describing the Mueller report but before the report was publicly released. Earlier, in January 2019, 33 percent supported and 59 percent opposed hearings.”
The Judge’s Ruling: Loyalty to the Constitution – This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano questions President Trump’s relationship to upholding the Constitution: “After a weekend of torrential criticism, Trump announced that he had changed his mind and said he would not host the G-7 meeting at the Miami area resort. Yet, in the process of doing so, he characterized the Emoluments Clause as ‘phony.’ Who knows what he meant by phony? The clause is in the Constitution and it means what it says. Yet, whatever Trump meant by phony, it constituted at least a disparagement of the Constitution he has sworn to uphold and at worst a threat to ignore clauses he can disparage. This is most unusual and potentially dangerous, and it raises the question: Can the president lawfully enforce only the clauses of the Constitution with which he agrees and ignore those with which he disagrees? In a word: No.” More here.
Q POLL: WARREN AHEAD, BUT WORRIES ABOUT ELECTABILITY
Quinnipiac University: “Senator Elizabeth Warren has opened up a lead in the Democratic primary race after being locked in a tight race with former Vice President Joe Biden for several weeks, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Warren receives 28 percent of the vote among Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic, while Biden gets 21 percent. Sen. Bernie Sanders gets 15 percent, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets 10 percent, Sen. Kamala Harris is at 5 percent and Sen. Amy Klobuchar is at 3 percent. No other candidate tops one percent. … Biden is still viewed as the candidate who has the best chance of winning against Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election… In today’s poll, Biden gets 42 percent, but this is down from 48 percent in the October 14 poll… Warren comes in second on this electability question with 20 percent, followed by Sanders at 14 percent.”
Biden really slipping in fundraising pack – Politico: “Joe Biden’s campaign is drawing more support from big-ticket donors than any other candidate in the race — yet he still can’t match his rivals’ cash flow. Biden has raised $20.7 million from contributions of at least $500 — $1.5 million more than his nearest competitor, despite entering the race later than all of them — thanks to the former vice president’s strong connections and goodwill among the traditional donors who have long financed the Democratic Party. … But it’s been nowhere near enough to make Biden the leader of the fundraising pack. In fact, his big-dollar dominance, and his reliance on those donors, is more evidence of how quickly small-dollar donations have become the most important component of political fundraising in a sprawling, fractured Democratic race. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg are all outraising Biden, and stockpiling cash significantly faster than him, on the back of major support from online donors that Biden has been unable to build.”
Tim Ryan bows out – NBC News: “Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, ended his long-shot presidential campaign after months of struggling to find a footing in the crowded Democratic field. Ryan announced his decision to end his campaign in a video to supporters, stating he would run again for his House seat. He isn’t throwing his support behind anyone in the 2020 field at this time, his campaign told NBC. ‘I got into this race in April to really give voice to the forgotten people of our country: the workers who have been left behind, the businesses who have been left behind, the people who need health care or aren’t getting a quality education, or are saddled by tremendous debt,’ Ryan said. ‘I’m proud of this campaign because I believe we’ve done that. We’ve given voice to the forgotten communities and the forgotten people in the United States.'”
Moderators announced for November debate – NBC News: “The fifth Democratic presidential primary debate in Georgia will have four moderators, MSNBC announced on Wednesday — and all of them are women. Moderating the Nov. 20 event, which is being co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, will be Rachel Maddow, host of ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ on MSNBC; Andrea Mitchell, host of ‘Andrea Mitchell Reports’ on MSNBC and NBC News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent; Kristen Welker, NBC News’ White House correspondent; and Ashley Parker, a White House reporter for The Washington Post. The debate will likely feature a smaller lineup of candidates than the dozen who qualified for October’s debate in Ohio — only eight candidates have qualified for the debate stage so far, according to an unofficial NBC News tally. It will also be shorter than the three-hour October debate — it’s scheduled to air from 9 to 11 p.m. ET.”
BORIS JOHNSON LAUNCHES BID FOR DECEMBER ELECTION
Fox News: “Boris Johnson will launch an attempt to hold a general election in Britain on December 12 to ‘get Brexit done.’ The British prime minister will attempt to convince members of Parliament to formally back the bid on Monday, but he will need the support of two-thirds of the House of Commons. Britain’s next scheduled election is not until 2022. Johnson’s move comes after his Brexit bill was finally passed earlier this week, but lawmakers defeated his request to push through the legislation in a three-day timetable, saying it didn’t provide enough time for scrutiny. He said he expected the European Union to grant an extension to his October 31 deadline, likely to be to the end of January. The EU is expected to give its verdict on an extension on Friday. The prime minister said the Dec. 12 date will give lawmakers time before the election to scrutinize his Brexit bill. Under his plan, Parliament would remain working until Nov. 6, when campaigning would start.”
Conservatives seek to bolster Mulvaney after rocky week – Politico
House passes election security bill Wednesday – AP
House panel opens investigation into Rep. Katie Hill improper relationship allegations – WaPo
National Archives to investigate Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross’ use of private email – Politico
Doug Jones, the most vulnerable freshman senator, couldn’t care less – Politico
“Back in 2015, his city roiled by unrest, by day the congressman was here in the Capitol working and leading in these hallways of power. But every night he rode the train back home and walked the neighborhoods, bullhorn in hand, encouraging unity and peace. Here’s what he said: ‘Let’s go home. Let’s all go home.’ Now our distinguished colleague truly has gone home, home to his Father’s house.” – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his condolences for Rep. Elijah Cummings as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol Thursday.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Without asking you to necessarily weigh in on the ‘wisdom’ of same (unless of course you want to), I have two ‘technical’ and hypothetical impeachment questions: If a president is impeached and IS convicted in the Senate, is he/she eligible to run for re-election? (Somewhat similar situation to Marion Barry in Washington, D.C.) If a president is impeached but is NOT convicted in the Senate, could the House vote to re-impeach the president the next day (perhaps even ad infinitum) in a political ground hog day?” – Dave Wittnebert, Seneca, S.C.
[Ed. note: Most certainly, Mr. Wittnebert. President Trump could be removed from office and seek the presidency a second time, and he could be acquitted in the Senate and be re-impeached. But you’d have to think either scenario would be vanishingly rare. We talk often about impeachment being a political, not legal proposition. But that applies to its aftermath, too. If Trump becomes such a boat anchor that Senate Republicans feel obliged to cut ties with him, it will be because he is too great a political liability/embarrassment. If he is let off by the Senate, House Democrats will move urgently to pivot away from what will almost certainly be a somewhat embarrassing anti-climax.]
“I’m doing a bit of head scratching over what I see as competing information. By this I mean that I’m seeing President Trump’s approval rating on a swift downhill slide and at the same time I’m hearing that the Democrats are hand-wringing over whether they have a candidate that can defeat him in 2020. Who needs to be more concerned?” – Neil Klapthor, Evans, Ga.
[Ed. note: The one who’s trailing a year from today! I kid, I kid… mostly. The past three weeks have been brutal for Trump, partly because of Democrats’ closing ranks and prosecuting their impeachment with vigorous determination. But it’s mostly been self-inflicted. Will the trend continue? Almost certainly not. It may get worse for the incumbent over time if further revelations drive a wedge between Trump and the GOP or it may get worse for Democrats because their own penchant for infighting will re-emerge. I suspect it will probably be quite a bit of both. But there are other considerations, particularly the health of the economy in the first two quarters of 2020. Given how much farther this river runs, it’s probably best to sail with the current for now and enjoy the view. We won’t find out who’s going over Niagara for a while yet.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
A PUMPKIN SPICE FLOAT
WTVC: “Around this time of year, most people take to carving pumpkins. But a farmer in Cleveland, Tennessee took things one step further. Justin Ownby grew a massive pumpkin that weighed 910 pounds… But he was not satisfied merely by its ornamental delights that enhance the season. Ownby’s wife Christin Ownby shared video with WTVC that shows Ownby hollowed out the pumpkin, and converted to a buoyant watercraft that he tested on his farm’s pond. A second video has someone off camera asking him to do his impression of ‘Washington crossing the Delaware!,’ and Ownby stands up as the pumpkin submerges under the sudden weight. Ownby says Justin used a seed to grow the pumpkin that came from a record-breaking pumpkin grown in Tennessee that weighed more than 1,700 pounds. … Christin Ownby says the pumpkin remains floating in the pond at last check, saying ‘It will make a great snack for the catfish!’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“When I was growing up, I thought ‘gyp’ was simply a synonym for ‘cheat,’ and used it accordingly. It was only when I was an adult that I learned that gyp was short for gypsy. At which point, I stopped using it. … Why? Simple decency. … It’s a question not of who or how many had their feelings hurt, but of whether you want to associate yourself with a word that, for whatever historical reason having nothing to do with you, carries inherently derogatory connotations.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Oct. 17, 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.