Fox News Halftime Report -- Nerd bracket: Pick your favorite political speech

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Fox News Halftime Report

March 3, 2017
By Chris Stirewalt


On the roster: Nerd bracket: Pick your favorite political speech - Sessions: Russia contacts 'hyped beyond reason' - Russian ambassador met with Dem senators too - Power Play: Asked and answered - Winners, indeed…
 
NERD BRACKET: PICK YOUR FAVORITE POLITICAL SPEECH
Why should the jocks have all the fun this March?

We here at Halftime Report are offering political junkies the chance to get in on bracket-busting fun as we rank the greatest speeches in American political history.

We're asking you, dear readers, to choose your favorites among eight pairings of examples of soaring oratory. You choose your favorites, and we'll tally up the results and reveal a new set of brackets – the elite eight – on Monday.

Remember, a great speech doesn't just sound good, it changes the course of things. Take, for example, Sen. Ted Kennedy's 1980 Democratic convention speech delivered after ceding defeat in his bid to unhorse then-President Jimmy Carter. It was lofty stuff, but came to naught for Kennedy.

Compare that to one of our entries, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the 1963 March on Washington. King ranks as one of America's greatest orators, but the speech was not just beautiful and visionary, but also helped deliver the material success of the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It was a great speech that also helped change the course of history.

Results matter. So as you pick eight favorites from among these pairs, remember the magnificence of the moment as well as the real historical significance.
 
Send your picks to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM before Monday morning to have your vote recorded and feel free to send any thoughts you might have about your selections.

Choose one from each of the following pairings:
 
1)
a) Abraham Lincoln: Second inaugural address (1865)
b) Ronald Reagan: "The Boys of Pointe du Hoc" (1984)
 
2)
a) Martin Luther King: "I Have a Dream" (1964)
b) Teddy Roosevelt: "Man in the Arena" (1910)
 
3)
a) George Washington: Farewell address (1796)
b) Frederick Douglass: "The Hypocrisy of American Slavery" (1851)
 
4)
a) Franklin Roosevelt: "Day That Will Live in Infamy" (1941)
b) Dwight Eisenhower: Farewell address (1961)
 
5)
a) Abraham Lincoln: Gettysburg address (1863)
b) Barack Obama: "Red America, Blue America" (2004)
 
6)
a) Ronald Reagan: "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down this Wall" (1987)
b) William Jennings Bryan: "Cross of Gold" (1896)
 
7)
a) Patrick Henry: "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" (1775)
b) Douglas MacArthur: "Old Soldiers Never Die" (1951)
 
8)
a) John Kennedy: Inaugural address (1961)
b) George W. Bush: Ground Zero bullhorn speech (2001)
 
When you send in your submission to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM, you can just list the corresponding number before the entry. Remember, you should choose just one speech from each of the eight pairings.
 
[Ed. note: A sample entry would look like this: 1a, 2b, 3 a, 4b, 5b, 6a, 7b, 8b]
 
THE RULEBOOK: DON'T WE KNOW IT!
"Specious arguments of danger to the common liberty could easily be contrived; plausible excuses for the deficiencies of the party could, without difficulty, be invented to alarm the apprehensions, inflame the passions, and conciliate the good-will." – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 16

TIME OUT: 'RAREST OF GIFTS'
WaPo: "When the Nazis ripped his family from their home in Poland, Ben Stern survived the ghettos and the concentration camps by never losing faith in human kindness. So now, at the end of his life, the 95-year-old has found an almost perfect antidote to how he was treated by the Nazis: Opening his California home to one of their descendants. His roommate, Lea Heitfeld, is a 31-year-old German student at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, whose grandparents were active and unrepentant members of the Nazi Party…In the evenings, the unlikely pair watch TV together, usually the news. They have dinner together almost every night…They have long conversations about history…and he tells her stories of his life in Poland before the war. Last semester, Stern, who never went to high school or college, audited a graduate class with her, and they walked together to campus every Thursday night. For Heitfeld, Stern's friendship is the rarest of gifts — an insight into human resiliency and compassion."

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

SESSIONS: RUSSIA CONTACTS 'HYPED BEYOND REASON'
Fox News: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Fox News' 'Tucker Carlson Tonight' in an exclusive interview Thursday that conversations between him and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. had been 'hyped beyond reason' by the media and criticism of them was 'unfair.' 'I don't believe anybody that was in that meeting would have seen or believed I said one thing that was improper or unwise,' Sessions told host Tucker Carlson. 'It was really a sad thing to be attacked like that, but I think we've explained it and we intend to move forward.' Sessions spoke to Fox News hours after he recused himself from 'any existing or future investigations' regarding the 2016 presidential campaign. Lawmakers from both parties had pressed Sessions to step away from an ongoing probe into Moscow meddling during last year's race for the White House."

Russian ambassador met with Dem senators too - Fox News: "Democrats were aghast after learning Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice, as a senator, with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. without telling Congress at his confirmation hearing – but it turns out Sergey Kislyak is no stranger to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The longtime Russian ambassador met with seven then-Democratic senators in a single sit-down in 2013, among other discussions – and reportedly was a frequent visitor to the Obama White House."

Russian foreign minister accuses Session's critics of 'McCarthyism' - AP: "Russia on Friday decried the uproar in the United States over Attorney General Jeff Sessions' meetings with the Russian ambassador as a replay of McCarthyism, voicing regret over the lack of any substantive dialogue with Washington. Sessions recused himself Thursday from any investigation into communications between aides to President Donald Trump and Moscow following revelations that as senator, Sessions twice spoke with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 election campaign and failed to say so when pressed by Congress. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov argued that contacts with officials and lawmakers are part of any ambassador's duties."

Agencies grapple with Trump's plumbers - Reuters: "Current and former officials said that in a departure from past practice, access to a classified computer system at the White House has been tightened by political appointees to prevent professional staffers from seeing memos being prepared for the new president."

[Watch Fox: House Speaker Paul Ryan joins "Special Report with Bret Baier" tonight at 6 p.m. ET]

POWER PLAY: YOUR QUESTIONS, ASKED AND ANSWERED
Halftime Report has the most informed, thoughtful readers out there and we love answering your questions. So Chris Stirewalt is here to answer those questions that we haven't had a chance to address yet. One of them could be yours! WATCH HERE.

FBI ARRESTS SUSPECT IN THREATS TO JEWISH CENTERS
Fox News: "A jilted ex-boyfriend is behind at least eight of the scores of threats made against Jewish Community Centers nationwide, plus a bomb threat to New York's Anti-Defamation League, in an effort to harass and vilify his former girlfriend, federal officials said Friday. Juan Thompson was arrested in St. Louis and will appear in federal court in Missouri on Friday afternoon on a charge of cyberstalking, authorities said. There was no information on an attorney who could comment on his behalf."
 
AUDIBLE: MAYBE THAT WOULD EXPLAIN JEB
"I'm not telling you nothing." – Former President George W. Bush to Jimmy Kimmel when asked about UFOs.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
McConnell tells Martha MacCallum he hopes to have ObamaCare replacement 'within next month to six weeks' - Fox News

Eliana Johnson reports on friction between Mattis and some at the White House - Politico

Four names emerge for Trump's Army secretary after initial pick withdraws - Military Times

Hard choices for Trump's EPA ahead of proposed budget cuts - Reuters

Pence used personal email for state business while governor and was hacked - Indianapolis Star

Rubio office in Tampa forced to move over protests - Fox News
 
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Mr. Sunday has all the latest from Washington's power players. 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
"Pretty sure I read elsewhere that, at least at that time, Senator Sessions was a member of the Armed Services Committee, but not the Foreign Relations Committee. You might want to fact check that." – Scott Bauer, Denver

[Ed. note: You are quite right, and we were quite wrong. We regret the error.]

"Love your sense of humor and the West Virginia take on all things. You were the main reason I watched The Kelly File! Regarding 'pizza bones' here in our house in Southern New Jersey we have always referred to the crispy edges that way. The younger generation would always ask 'who wants the bones' on pizza night." – Barb McCarty, Berlin N.J.

[Ed. note: You are very sweet to say so McCarty. I claim no ownership of "pizza bones," but rather, like most of my material, it was lifted from a friend. In this case, Trent Redman whose dog, Bentley, was the beneficiary of our spurned crusts.]

"It appears the novice Trump has boxed in the experienced Schumer. By repeatedly offering to work with the Democrats in the State of the Union Speech Trump gave Schumer and the Democrats a choice, work with Trump and give a compromised success which empowers Trump, or refuse to work with Trump and look peevish and unreasonable which also empowers Trump. Not bad for a 'novice' politician. I am glad to see you more and more in guest appearances on various Fox News shows, they need to make you a regular on the panel for Special Report." – Steve Bartlett, Greevnille S.C.

[Ed. note: That will depend on whether Republicans can get their act together on ObamaCare. Trump seems to intend to use his budget as a governing document, rather than just a wish list. If Republicans can get passed the ObamaCare question and get on to the budget, Trump can start pushing Democrats on not just his massive stimulus spending proposals, but also other issues where he is closer to the blue team on his own party, particularly trade.]

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

WINNERS, INDEED…
Gothamist: "Police arrested a man who got stuck inside the exhaust shaft of an Elmhurst [neighborhood in New York City] bar during an alleged attempt to break into the establishment. The local precinct wasn't impressed: 'Bad choice…A male, was arrested this morning after getting stuck in a vent shaft of a bar overnight while trying to commit a burglary.' Apparently George Romaro, 26, made his way into an exhaust shaft—by 'smashing' the vent's cap— at Winner's Bar in Elmhurst, 82-67 Broadway, after it closed on Thursday morning. A neighbor called 911 when, the Post reports, 'she heard a man's muffled cries and looked out her window to see a hand sticking out of the vent. Police and firefighters showed up to the bar around 11:30 a.m. and found Romero waving helplessly at them when they came upon the vent shaft.' After Romero was freed, he was charged with burglary."

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
"What did Sessions know about remembering the meeting and when did he remember it and why did he not admit to it? That's the question." – Charles Krauthammer reacting to President Trump's speech Tuesday night.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
 

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