**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: How politicians killed consensus – Team Trump tries to get back on message – Trump allegedly rented space to Iranian bank with terror ties – Data Dive: Must-win North Carolina – Must’ve been a seriously funky flip flop
HOW POLITICIANS KILLED CONSENSUS
The death of American political consensus did not come all at once, but the body is sure cold now.
How cold? Cold enough that some in the campaign of a major party nominee for president are rooting today for Russian hackers and an America-hating fugitive from a Swedish rape charge.
Welcome to 2016, the end of the consensus.
We should remember, of course, that the broad consensus that dominated the Pax Americana of the post-World War II era was something of an anomaly, anyway.
The basic idea was that Americans fundamentally agreed on what the point of our collective endeavor was and what the parameters for normal discourse were.
You have no doubt heard the pendulum analogy in which a swing to the right creates the energy for a swing to the left, and so on. The consensus was the clock in which the pendulum hung.
Born of the solidarity of the Second World War, nurtured by the decades-long shared purpose of the Cold War and facilitated by astonishing economic success, the consensus spanned the far left to the far right bridging along some points of basic agreement.
First was the idea of America as the indispensable, exceptional nation. One could argue that this part of the consensus started to die with the Vietnam War, but American exceptionalism was a central tenet of both parties’ views until relatively recently.
The final death of that part of the consensus probably came in 2003 with the struggle over the invasion of Iraq. That debate will stand for generations as the acid test on the question of America’s role in the world.
The second part of the consensus was the idea that opportunity and growth were good things.
This piece of the consensus is still somewhat intact, but only so far as that all people, from Tunisia to Tucumcari, want more opportunities to create better lives for themselves and their descendants.
How much of a role government should play in creating those opportunities has been a matter of intense, pitched battle for not just the period of postwar consensus but stretching back to the beginning of the 20th century.
But there was always agreement that growth and opportunity was the point.
That part of the consensus begins to break down as an increasing number of Americans began to question whether more was better. An affluent nation – the most affluent in the history of humankind – channeled Peggy Lee and asked “is that all there is.”
Stripped of the ordering concept of a common Abrahamic faith and suffering from the cultural equivalent of type 2 diabetes, many Americans began to ask whether getting ahead was really winning.
Whether you mark it to the publication of “Silent Spring,” or some other hallmarks of American Fabianism, the movement against the economic definition of “the American Dream” swung in hard over the last 20 years.
Americans still love money and still worship success like ancient Israelites at the hooves of Apis, but as an organizing principle of a culture, it ain’t what it used to be.
In what will certainly be the last presidential contest featuring two Baby Boomer candidates, we see the end of the order that created and sustained their generation.
In 2004, Republicans implicitly questioned the patriotism of Democrats who criticized the Iraq war. Democrats’ counterclaim was that the president had lied to start a war for the benefit of himself and his cronies.
Five years later, Democrats explicitly questioned the patriotism of Republicans who opposed the president’s domestic agenda. The argument was that the GOP hatedPresident Obama so much that they would rather harm the country than help him.
Republicans, of course, returned the favor by accusing the president of trying to intentionally hobble the United States. Some, like the party’s current nominee, even claimed that Obama might have been born in Kenya and may have been a secret Muslim.
And now, we have Republicans rooting for Kremlin-backed hackers to pry out humiliating details about Democrat Hillary Clinton. These Kremlin rooters excuse their position on the grounds that the criminal justice system is corrupt and that the FBI is little more than a political tool of the president.
Goodwill is as dead as Latin.
The degree of credulity which Julian Assange is being afforded would be baffling to a visitor from even the very recent past.
Assange became famous for convincing an emotionally unwell Army private to commit treason by stealing and releasing classified information.
His work almost certainly led to the deaths of Afghans who aided U.S. forces there and unknown and unknowable damage to U.S. operations elsewhere.
Transparency in diplomacy and foreign policy has never been a thing. It has never been seen as desirable given the fact that countries lie to each other constantly. It’s how the world works. Imagine if all of America’s duplicitousness in the Cold War or any conflicts of the past were revealed.
There is no such thing as an honest war or honest diplomacy.
Assange has lived for five years under the protection of a Central American strongman, whose embassy in London has provided sanctuary for Assange against a Swedish rape case. And his platform, and presumably funding, is provided by Vladimir Putin’s government.
A fugitive with a hard anti-American bent and funded by America’s number one geo-political foe seems an unlikely figure to have a substantial rooting section in America.
How he or his organization could be seen as trustworthy purveyors of information, especially national security information that cannot be verified is perhaps the greatest testament yet to the end of the American consensus.
The easy way out here is to try to explain this all by excessive partisanship or ideological rigidity. But that’s not what’s going on here.
Instead, we are witnessing the consequences of an unraveling culture.
Our current president questioning the patriotism of his adversaries has produced a bitter harvest. One of the candidates to replace him centered his campaign on an implicit allegation of treason. All of this requires the absence of common purpose and shared belief.
How dear a price we pay for the death of a consensus that stretches back to Pearl Harbor is unclear. It depends on what can be erected in its place – whether a new housing for the political pendulum can be constructed.
The work of this election seems to be the final destruction of the order in which Clinton and Trump were born, raised and in which they thrived.
The desperately needful work of the country beginning the day after the election will be figuring out what will take its place.
THE RULEBOOK: BUCK STOPS HERE
“But one of the weightiest objections to a plurality in the Executive, and which lies as much against the last as the first plan, is, that it tends to conceal faults and destroy responsibility.” – Alexander Hamilton, “Federalist No. 70”
TIME OUT: WHAT MAKES A GOOD CHILDREN’S BOOK
New Yorker: “The conundrum of the ‘good’ children’s book is best embodied by the apparently immortal—or maybe just undead—series ‘Goosebumps,’ by R. L. Stine. ‘Goosebumps’ is a series of horror novellas, the kid’s-lit equivalent of B-horror movies. It’s also one of the most successful franchises in the business, selling over three hundred and fifty million copies worldwide—which is a ludicrous, almost obscene, number. And here’s a secret from the depths of the publishing industry: neither marketing nor publicity nor movie tie-ins can move three hundred and fifty million copies. The only way to sell that many copies is if millions of kids actually and truly want to read the books. The conclusion is obvious: ‘Goosebumps’ books are good, right?”
[Ed. note: Friday’s “Time Out” provided a link for readers interested in supporting hyperbaric chamber therapy for veterans with PTSD and brain injuries. The correct link to donate is here.
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions
Average of national head-to-head presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +2.2 points
[Polls included: Fox News, Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, Bloomberg and WaPo/ABC.]
Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +1.6 points
[Polls included: Fox News, Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, Bloomberg and WaPo/ABC.]
TEAM TRUMP TRIES TO GET BACK ON MESSAGE
After a taxing week, the Trump campaign is trying to get off defense today with a fresh round of counterclaims against Hillary Clinton for personal corruption. The gambit comes in the wake of the revelation of Trump’s peculiar income tax arrangement.
“We’re going to start paying a lot more attention to how they made their money and how, if Hillary Clinton were to win the White House, it would be doing nothing more than hanging a big ‘for sale’ sign in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” said Trump senior communications advisor Jason Miller.
On Sunday, the Trump campaign was focused more on defending Trump’s tax and business history, which the NYT reported Saturday night could have allowed him to pay no federal income taxes for close to two decades because of a nearly billion dollar business loss in 1995.
Trump surrogates like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tried to spin Trump’s tax record as a positive. Giuliani called Trump a “genius” and compared him to Winston Churchill.
This came after a wild and rambling speech from Trump on Saturday where he took 25 minutes to read a nine sentence statement because he kept breaking from the script to go off on tangents, including questioning Clinton’s “loyalty” to her husband.
“Hillary Clinton’s only loyalty is to her financial contributors and to herself,” said Trump adding, “I don’t even think she’s loyal to Bill, if you want to know the truth.”
The effort to turn the tax discussion into a positive for Trump was also complicated by Trump’s past attacks on others who he said were not paying their fair share by exploiting tax laws, including Mitt Romney.
Things were looking wobbly enough that Republicans began to wonder whether Trump would be able to recover from his post-debate week, which included a bitter, public feud with a former beauty pageant winner.
But with two days without an eruption from Trump and the campaign back on a more disciplined message, the consequence of the tax story looks less dire for the Republican nominee.
Trump allegedly rented space to Iranian bank with terror ties – NY Post: “Donald Trump’s real estate empire rented New York office space to an Iranian bank with links to terror and the theocracy’s nuclear program, according to a published report Monday. The Trump Organization purchased the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue in 1998 and inherited Bank Melli as a tenant, according to documents reviewed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Center for Public Integrity. Bank Melli remained a Trump tenant until 2003 — four years after the US Treasury Department labeled it an organ of Tehran. The US has accused Bank Melli of helping gain sensitive material for nukes in the country and sneaking money to Iran’s terror-linked Revolutionary Guard.…Trump’s campaign declined comment on the Bank Melli issue.”
DATA DIVE: MUST-WIN NORTH CAROLINA
Once a Republican stronghold, North Carolina has emerged as the key swing state for 2016. In this week’s episode of “Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What,” the data dive segment was devoted to how a changing Tar Heel State could alter the outcome in 2016. In 2008, the state shocked the GOP by going for Barack Obama, but then flipped back to a win for Mitt Romney by a slim margin in 2012. So who will sway these voters in 2016? WATCH HERE.
PEAK VEEPNESS: FAITH FIGURES GREATLY FOR KAINE, PENCE
Kaine’s connection to ‘good Marxist’ priest draws scrutiny – Daily Beast: “[Rev. James Carney] described himself as ‘a good Marxist,’ dedicated to helping fight ‘the guerilla war for the liberation of Honduras.’ In 1973, he renounced his American citizenship and became a Honduran citizen. The Honduran government expelled him from the country in 1979, so he moved across the border to Nicaragua, and Kaine met with him shortly after that.”
Pence walks tightrope on Trump, faith – Indianapolis Star: “To some people who know and appreciate Pence’s deeply spiritual side, his selection as the running mate for Republican presidential nominee Trump was seen as something of a mixed blessing. In style, if not substance, the faith-on-his-sleeve Pence seemed a stark contrast to the brash real estate mogul and twice-divorced reality TV star…It’s been a performance that’s drawn approval from people who have watched Pence from his days as a Catholic altar boy to his career as an evangelical culture warrior.”
[Kaine brings in more money than Pence – The Hill
: “Pence is credited with helping to rake in about $10 million for the Trump Victory Fund, a joint account with the Republican National Committee… Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, has brought in at least $27 million for the Democratic nominee, according to Politico.”]
SUPREME COURT BEGINS ITS TERM WITH DEADLOCK IN MIND
USA Today: “Justice Antonin Scalia will be missing when the Supreme Court opens its 2016 term Monday, but his influence lives on in the cases the court has granted, denied and delayed. Before Scalia’s death in February, the justices agreed to hear some of the most controversial cases on its calendar affecting insider trading, class action lawsuits and government ‘takings’ of private property. Those are issues the conservative jurist cared deeply about — but without his vote, the odds of his side winning are longer.”
AUDIBLE: NOT FAKED BAKED
“One hug [from me] and he was toast.” – President Obama in an interivew with New York Magazine talking about hugging Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.
Clinton gets bump in new Va. poll – Christopher Newport University
Johnson makes a play for second place in N.M. poll – Albuquerque Journal
Courtroom claim: Christie administration officials considered trading 9/11 artifacts for endorsements in presidential race – NYT
Obama trashes GOP in exit interview – NY Magazine
Trump’s D.C. hotel defaced with Black Lives Matter graffiti – NYDN
LeBron James endorses Clinton - Akron Beacon Journal
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I’d like to see Evan McMullin mentioned in one of your Halftime Reports. I want to think his candidacy is not completely inconsequential, especially in light of some polls showing him pulling a higher percentage than Stein. (Then again, my wishful thinking hasn’t gotten me very far in this election cycle). Thank you for your insightful reports, nonetheless. I always look forward to reading them.” – Elizabeth Beach Kol, Dallas, Texas but residing in Ilsan, South Korea
[Ed. note: Ms. Kol, you are so kind to write and we hope your travels bring you back to your Texas home soon. McMullin could be consequential in the election in that he may end up denying Hillary Clinton needed votes in swing states. Donald Trump should be rooting for both McMullin and libertarian Gary Johnson who seem to be mostly soaking up support from traditionally Republican voters who otherwise this year would be reluctantly backing Clinton. Given his limited ballot access and low vote share, McMullin seems like less of a force than Johnson, who is on the ballot in all 50 states. But we will take heed! Our eyes will be peeled for his role in shaping 2016.
“Chris, I support Donald Trump because of his intuitiveness and common sense. Having said that, I believe we are at the point where it really doesn’t matter who wins the election. America is at its ‘Roman Empire’ moment because now, what is ‘wrong’ is ‘right’, and vice versa. No morals/ethics, forced by PC leftists and MSM, equals no country.” – Wayne Gadow, Amory, Miss.
[Ed. note: You sound almost as gloomy as I do today, Mr. Gadow! But really, I’m not pessimistic about the future of the country regardless of what happens in November. I still believe that America is Americans not its politicians and government. But I do believe you are on to something when you talk about culture vs. politics. Politics descends from culture not the other way around. A broken political system, as I wrote about this morning, is the consequence of a broken culture and lack of shared purpose. I, for one, believe that this period of disruption and dislocation will give way to something new and greater still. The seeds of our next triumph are being sown this very day.
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
MUST’VE BEEN A SERIOUSLY FUNKY FLIP FLOP
BBC: “A woman has scared away a salt water crocodile, which was swimming towards her and her dog, by slapping her flip-flop at it. Crocodile enthusiast Lundon Anlezark, who filmed the incident, said: ‘I don’t think she realised how dangerous this kind of behaviour is.’ It is thought that are at least 120 crocodiles in this stretch of the East Alligator River, in Kakadu National Park. The last fatal attack there was in 1987.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily “Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including “The Kelly File,” “Special Report with Bret Baier,” and “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.