Fox News Halftime Report -- Can Dems kick the Clinton habit?

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Fox News Halftime Report

April 20, 2017
By Chris Stirewalt

 

On the roster: Can Dems kick the Clinton habit? - Trump readies potential trade fight with China on steel - White House ready to risk shutdown to push 100-day priorities - I'll Tell You What: Epic Battle - Game, set, match… mate?

CAN DEMS KICK THE CLINTON HABIT?
In his 1999 liberal polemic, "No One Left to Lie To," Christopher Hitchens shamed Democrats for vigorously defending and rehabilitating a president and first lady who had so thoroughly betrayed the party and its ideals.

Hitchens enumerated the ways in which he said self-interest and double dealings had been the hallmarks of Clintonism before, during and after then-President Bill Clinton's impeachment for lying about his assignations with a 21-year-old White House intern.

What Hitchens found most galling was the way in which the first couple managed to make themselves ideological martyrs to the very people whom they betrayed.

"Obtuse righteousness is inscribed in every move, physical or political, that the Clinton's make," he wrote. "Neither ever offers -- for all their tin-roof 'humility' -- a word of self-criticism."

The Clintons have been out of the White House for more than 16 years and Hitchens has been dead since 2011, but those words ring as true today as they did then.

Two things stand out about the current effort to rehabilitate and make martyr Hillary Clinton: speed and un-necessity.

Clinton concluded her second failed presidential candidacy just five months ago, having managed to blow an enormous lead against an underfunded, baggage-laden, disorganized rival. She did worse than any Democratic nominee since Michael Dukakis.

A belly-flop of that magnitude ought to take a person more than five months to get over. The fact that she has reemerged as a national political figure in such a short period tells us that Hitchens was on to something way back when.

When it comes to the Clintons and the apportionment of blame, charity definitely does not begin at home.

This episode of "Fixer Upper with Bill and Hillary Clinton" has been thrown something of a plot twist by an emergence of a book about the myriad failings of her campaign. The political press has been salivating over the morsels from "Shattered," by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.

Arrogance, obtuseness, infighting and, most of all, entitlement drip off of the pages. It is a strong indictment of a presidential campaign that has been written in recent memory.

On the other side of the news stand, however, is the face of former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, twisted in a mirthless laugh on the cover of Variety.

The message from the next generation is much the same as that from the previous one: it's not our fault.

The Clintons are certainly right that they were not helped by the FBI investigation into the former secretary of state secrets or Russian hacking and leaking of campaign emails or even, yes, sexism.

But at no time does anyone on "Planet Hillary" seem to accept the fact that the candidate herself had to do with at least two of those things. She is the one who chose to run for president while under criminal investigation. She is the one who helped foster the institutional culture that led to the icky emails. No matter what James Comey and the Russians did, the most recent Democratic nominee will still be remembered as one of the great political choke artists of all time. In 2008, she blamed sexism and the once-in-a-lifetime rise of Barack Obama. In 2016, there was another set of excuses, but basically the same story.

None of this would matter at all if it was not for the fact that Democrats seem to be falling for this stuff again. The reflexive desire to preserve, protect and defend the Clintons even in the face of their failings is, as Andrew Sullivan explained this week, mystifying.

Rather than accepting the unavoidable truth that their nominee was bad at politics, Democrats have devolved into a weird bought of infighting over whether she was to blame or not. This is a party that desperately needs to reconnect with working-class white voters and developing an alternate vision to Trumpism.

The Clintons absolutely will never be able to quit in their quest to return to power. That restraint is simply not within them, now even in another generation. Democrats will have to have a one-sided break up.

Republicans had enough sense in 2016, at least, to realize that another round of Bushes was not a good idea. There was only one thing that most Republicans could agree on in the early going and that was that Jeb Bush was not for them. As was often observed, had the former Florida governor not been the former brother and son of former presidents he might have done much better, but the GOP's self-imposed Bush ban held firm anyway.

The near-future of the Democratic Party may depend on its ability to spurn similar advances from the House of Clinton.

THE RULEBOOK: DOCTOR, DOCTOR
"Such a patient and in such a situation is America at this moment. She has been sensible of her malady. She has obtained a regular and unanimous advice from men of her own deliberate choice. And she is warned by others against following this advice under pain of the most fatal consequences. Do the monitors deny the reality of her danger? No. Do they deny the necessity of some speedy and powerful remedy? No. Are they agreed, are any two of them agreed, in their objections to the remedy proposed, or in the proper one to be substituted? Let them speak for themselves."James Madison, Federalist No. 38

TIME OUT: SYLVIA MOY, R.I.P.
LA Times: "Sylvia Moy, a prolific Motown songwriter who is credited with energizing Stevie Wonder's career with a string of early hits, has died at the age of 78. Moy, who died Saturday at a hospital in Dearborn, Mich., was one of the few — and perhaps the first — female songwriters and producers at Motown Records in the early '60s... Her skills as a songwriter were so apparent and the label's need for new music so dire that record executives convinced her to put her own singing career on hold and focus on songwriting. … One of those artists was Wonder, who'd hit a slump after recording 'Fingertips' as a 13-year-old phenom. Working with songwriter Henry Cosby, Moy helped fix that by composing a string of now-familiar hits for Wonder — 'Uptight (Everything's Alright)', 'My Cherie Amour', 'I Was Made to Love Her' and 'Never Had a Dream Come True.' 'I just believed in him,' she told the Detroit Free Press in 2016."

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

TRUMP READIES POTENTIAL TRADE FIGHT WITH CHINA ON STEEL  
Politico: "The Commerce Department late Wednesday initiated an investigation to determine whether steel imports into the U.S. should be blocked on national security grounds, an administration official said. President Donald Trump will sign a memorandum today directing the department to conduct a speedy investigation and come back with recommendations, the official said. A number of steel industry executives have been invited to the White House for an event with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Representatives from ArcelorMittal, Nucor, U.S. Steel, AK Steel and Timken are expected, along with the president of the United Steelworkers union. China's excess capacity to produce steel is seen as a long-term threat to the U.S. steel industry's viability, but the investigation will not single out any particular country. It also will look broadly at overall steel imports rather than individual steel products, the official said."

GRASSLEY HINTS AT IMPENDING SUPCO RETIREMENT
The Hill: "Sen. Chuck Grassley is predicting that President Trump will get to nominate a second justice to the Supreme Court as early as this summer. The Iowa Republican, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there is a 'rumored' upcoming retirement but declined to say which justice he expects to step down. 'I would expect a resignation this summer,' Grassley said during a Q&A with the Muscatine Journal in Iowa. Grassley added that the president's next Supreme Court nominee would likely come off the list of roughly two dozen names Trump announced before taking over the White House. Trump could be able to make multiple nominations, allowing him to shape the direction of the court for decades. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Grassley would be responsible for shepherding the nomination through the Senate."

WHITE HOUSE READY TO RISK SHUTDOWN TO PUSH 100-DAY PRIORITIES  
Politico: "The White House, under internal pressure to show legislative achievements ahead of the 100-day mark, is gearing up for a government shutdown fight to secure money for a border wall, more immigration enforcement officers and a bigger military, according to White House and congressional sources familiar with the plan. It is a risky gambit. With almost uniform Democratic opposition to nearly all of the Trump administration's spending proposals, the fight could lead to a government shutdown next Friday — the day government spending expires, and right before the 100th day of Donald Trump's presidency. Officials could also strike a one-week compromise, giving them more time for a broader agreement. Congressional Republicans, desperately looking to avoid a shutdown scare, are eyeing a modest increase for border security — perhaps an increase in funding for surveillance technology — and a small uptick in military spending."

Ryan says work continues on ObamaCare replacement - The Hill: "Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Republicans are putting the 'finishing touches' on an effort to revive their ObamaCare replacement bill. 'We're in the midst of negotiating sort of finishing touches, because our members want to make sure that we lower premiums,' Ryan said Wednesday during a question-and-answer session during a trip to London. Talks on the healthcare measure have continued during Congress's two-week recess. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), co-chairman of the centrist Tuesday Group, have said they have spoken to Ryan's office and Vice President Pence about the next steps."

I'LL TELL YOU WHAT: EPIC BATTLE
Dana Perino
 and Chris Stirewalt are back, discussing everything from this week's special election in Georgia to how President Trump, trumped us all with the misplaced warship. Plus, the duo wishes a very happy 14th birthday to America's most-discussed diabetic cat. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

PLAY-BY-PLAY
White House tangled up in Trump's claim about the "armada" The Hill

Sessions Senate replacement faces a full field in bid for full term National Journal 

Trump rewards loyalist Scott Brown with New Zealand ambassador nod - Politico

Move over Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Trump's got Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock - Fox News

4/20, y'all: Poll finds highest support ever for legal pot, opposition to Trump rollback effort - CBS News

AUDIBLE: THEY DIDN'T EVEN HAVE TWITTER BACK THEN  
"It's a clear fact acknowledged by the international community that, for thousands of years in history, Korea has never been part of China." – Foreign ministry spokesman for South Korea, Cho June-hyuck, said at a briefing in Seoul on Thursday in response to reports of Trump claiming Chinese President Xi Jinping told him, "Korea actually used to be a part of China."

FROM THE BLEACHERS
"The Republican Party is showing that they have no guts.  The Democrats are so far off the rails that the GOP has a golden opportunity if they will get off their ideological horse.  If they don't then they will get what they deserve.  Trump is at least trying to do something while the rest of the politicians sit on their hands and complain.  Don't pin this on Trump.  It's the GOP mouthing words while showing they are no better than the Democrats.  They are all in it for themselves." – Michael Johnson, Fairfield Glade, Tenn.

[Ed. note: Political parties are poor repositories for ideologies. As we have often discussed in this space, a political party is designed to win elections, not carry forward an ideological point of view. Issues come and go and so do philosophical trends. The two shape each other and, in turn, shape the national discussion and the parties themselves. But… there are limits. Ultimately a party's success depends on building coalitions of voters based on their preferred policy objectives. There are many Republicans who believe in Trump as a person and a leader, irrespective of his views. In Trump they trust. There are others who would oppose anything Trump suggested, feeling it tainted by association with a man they detest. But for most voters who choose Republican candidates, it is based on a belief that it is a party that favors smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation and a strong national defense. If policies deviate too far from those norms, the coalition cannot hold. The work that Trump has as the leader of his party is to help forge a coalition that not only can produce results in the short term, but last for more than one election.]

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

THE JUDGE'S RULING: POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explores the nexus between self-government and surveillance: "What if those who pull the levers of power in the intelligence community are so far removed from the voters that they don't know and don't care what the voters think?" More here.

GAME, SET, MATCH… MATE?
Reuters: "The score of a televised professional tennis match in Florida was love-15 when the apparent sounds of a woman in the throes of lovemaking interrupted it Tuesday night. The competition, at the Sarasota Open in Florida, briefly stalled after a woman could be heard shouting, 'Oh, yes!' according to a video posted on YouTube. One of the two bemused American players, Mitchell Krueger, whacked a tennis ball far out of bounds toward the source of the racket, which the TV commentator said came from a nearby apartment. Spectators laughed along, particularly when the sounds grew even louder as player Frances Tiafoe readied a serve. 'It can't be that good!' Tiafoe yelled toward the noise. A woman spectator at that point jokingly urged a young boy to place his hands over his ears, the video showed."

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
"The fact that the most popular politician among Democrats of course is Bernie Sanders, who will be 78 in 2020, gives you an idea of the extent of the devastation Obama has left behind in the Democratic Party." – Charles Krauthammer on "Special Report with Bret Baier."



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