Tribalism and triumphalism

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**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**On the roster: Tribalism and triumphalism – Biden hits Texas airwaves with corona-centric spots – Republicans look for outdoor options for convention – White House set to concede fight on extending benefits – CockamamieTRIBALISM AND TRIUMPHALISMIf Democrats had to start their nominating process all over again now, would Joe Biden be able to repeat his performance?We were mostly bullish on Biden’s chances all along because we knew how strong the desire was among Democrats to seek a safe candidate who could win back blue-collar white voters for the party.Woke Twitter could say all it wanted to about revolution, but the consistent support for Biden among the party’s demographic bulwarks – African-American voters and women – told the real story. Having been stunned by 2016’s loss, Democrats were utterly risk-averse.But that was before – before President Trump’s very terrible 2020 really got underway, before coronavirus crippled the economy and before weeks of racially fraught civil unrest.It was also before Biden opened up a 10-point lead on Trump without a big campaign or even leaving his house much at all. Trump’s self-destructive behavior and his bloated, back-biting campaign did all of Biden’s work for him.Democratic leaders are still doing their best to tamp down irrational exuberance about a November tsunami, the strong indication is that many Democrats are again ready to let it rip.   It isn’t just the members of the blue team that are talking about winning back the Senate and expanding the House majority, it is what they’d like to do with it. And as they have in every time of national turmoil for the past 90 years, the talk is of “transformative” change in the mode of the New Deal.Biden himself is trying to stay ahead of the parade, offering today an ambitious climate agenda that includes emission-free electricity in 15 years, $2 trillion in spending and, you guessed it, a New Deal-style program in which the feds would hire workers for environmental projects.Now, this isn’t that much more radical than the kind of corporate environmentalism of the Obama administration. As Trump promised goodies for his supporters in coal and petroleum, Biden offers boosts for solar panel makers etc.But, coming as it does after the publication of a proposal from the committee that drafted the peace treaty between him and Bernie Sanders, one starts to wonder how able Biden will be at staying generic in a race where “anyone but Trump” has so far proved very effective indeed.That’s the funny thing about a big lead in politics. Not only is it hard to maintain voter motivation when it looks like a done deal, it gets harder to explain to ideologues why now is not the time for big, bold strokes.One presumes Biden will offer this and other policy provisions to the Democratic left between now and the party’s convention next month. His obvious hope being that after uniting the party, he will be free to press his considerable advantages with the moderate suburbanites and Rust Belt working class to knock out Trump.But after four years spent mostly holding the line against its most radical elements, the Democratic Party could end up being a victim of its own success if party members decide that it’s in the bag.THE RULEBOOK: GET IT TOGETHER “It was remarked in the preceding paper, that weakness and divisions at home would invite dangers from abroad; and that nothing would tend more to secure us from them than union, strength, and good government within ourselves. This subject is copious and cannot easily be exhausted.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 5TIME OUT: WOMBATS ARE WEIRD Independent: “It is a biological curiosity that has perplexed scientists and fascinated the internet. Now researchers believe they have solved one of the animal kingdom’s smelliest mysteries: how wombats produce cuboid poo. The podgy marsupials’ six-sided portions of dung are unique in nature. And they produce them prolifically, depositing between 80 and 100 cubes each night. Wombats’ distinctive defecation has an important function, allowing the animals to pile their feces high to mark their territory and communicate through scent. The pellets’ flat sides mean they can be placed prominently on logs and rocks without rolling away, making them more likely to catch the eye of a mate. But scientists have always been uncertain how wombats – which have circular anuses – fashion their feces into their unusual shape. Now, a team of US mechanical engineers and Australian biologists believe they have flushed away any doubt.”Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.SCOREBOARDNATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGETrump: 41.4 percentBiden: 51 percentSize of lead: Biden by 9.6 pointsChange from one week ago: Biden no change in points; Trump no change in points[Average includes: IBD: Trump 40% – Biden 48%; Monmouth: Trump 41% – Biden 53%; CNBC: Trump 41% – Biden 49%; USA Today/Suffolk: Trump 41% – Biden 53%; NPR/PBS/Marist: Trump 44% – Biden 52%.]BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS(270 electoral votes needed to win)Toss-up: (109 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Iowa (6)Lean R/Likely R: (180 electoral votes)Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)[Full rankings here.]TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCEAverage approval: 40.8 percentAverage disapproval: 56.4 percentNet Score: -15.6 pointsChange from one week ago: ↑ 0.6 points[Average includes: IBD: 39% approve – 56% disapprove; Monmouth: 41% approve – 54% disapprove; CNBC: 43% approve – 57% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 40% approve – 58% disapprove; NPR/PBS: 41% approve – 57% disapprove.]WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT? You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!BIDEN HITS TEXAS AIRWAVES WITH CORONA-CENTRIC SPOTSThe Hill: “Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will tell Texans in his first general election TV ad in the Lone Star State that they are tougher than the coronavirus pandemic. ‘I’m thinking of all of you today. I know the rising case numbers is causing fear and apprehension. People are frightened,’ Biden says in the minute-long ad. ‘They’re especially worried about their parents, their grandparents, loved ones who are most at risk.’ The former vice president also says: ‘This virus is tough, but Texas is tougher.’ Biden also calls on viewers to take safety precautions recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, like wearing a mask in public spaces, socially distancing and more to slow the spread of COVID-19.”Biden gets serious about courting Latino voters – Politico: “Dogged over his relatively weak support among Latinos in both the primary and general elections, Joe Biden is conducting a massive turnaround campaign, hiring a rash of Hispanic operatives, spending $1 million in Spanish-language outreach and, this week, signing one of the nation’s top pollsters in the field, Latino Decisions. A raft of recent general election polls shows Biden with a solid lead nationwide and in many battleground states. He’s already leading among Hispanic voters. But if Biden can get the same level of support and turnout as Hillary Clinton did in 2016 — while continuing to do better than she did among black and white voters — he’s all but guaranteed to win the crucial battlegrounds of Florida and Arizona, which would effectively deny President Trump a second term. ‘There’s a huge opportunity,’ said Matt Barreto, Latino Decisions co-founder and pollster who also worked for Clinton’s campaign, adding it ‘did an okay job’ with Latino turnout and support levels.”REPUBLICANS LOOK FOR OUTDOOR OPTIONS FOR CONVENTIONNYT: “With coronavirus cases surging in Florida, Republicans are planning to move the three nights of their national convention taking place in the state from an indoor arena to an outdoor venue in Jacksonville… It’s still unclear how many people will be allowed to attend the events, people familiar with the discussions said Tuesday. Officials decided on Monday night to shift the events of Aug. 25, 26 and 27 out of the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, where the indoor program was scheduled to take place, including Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech on the final night. The two outdoor options they’ve been examining are near the arena, the people familiar with the discussions said. But officials remain uncertain about whether there will be restrictions to prevent people from being too close to one another. The decision to move the activities outdoors was made after a meeting that Mr. Trump held with political advisers on Monday evening.”McSally cuts into Kelly’s lead – OH Predictive Insights: “After a summer of dismal polling numbers, Martha McSally has stanched her slide and now finds herself trailing Mark Kelly 52-43. This 9-point deficit represents a narrowing of the race from her low watermark in May when the Republican Senator trailed the former astronaut by 13 points. The July Arizona Public Opinion Pulse (AZPOP) – a monthly survey conducted by OH Predictive Insights of likely Arizona voters – also found McSally with lower-than-expected support from a constituency she will rely upon to win re-election: registered Republicans. The poll found that McSally only earned the support of 4-in-5 GOP voters, with Mark Kelly taking 12 percent. Conversely, Kelly earns more than 90 percent of registered Democrats compared to McSally’s 6 percent. Voters not affiliated with either major party favor Kelly 59-32 over McSally.”WHITE HOUSE SET TO CONCEDE FIGHT ON EXTENDING BENEFITSWaPo: “Senior Trump administration officials have begun signaling their willingness to approve a narrow extension of the enhanced unemployment benefits helping tens of millions of jobless Americans hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. In less than two weeks, the federal program that provides a $600-per-week increase to unemployment benefits will expire. Many economists warn the disappearance of this enormous federal stimulus, created in March, could hinder the economic recovery and deprive millions of Americans of a vital financial lifeline. More than 30 million people are collecting what many recipients say is a crucial pillar of financial support right now. ‘We’d basically have to choose between paying bills and eating,’ Erin Walker, 48, who was furloughed from her job as a dining manager at a college campus near Summerville, S.C., at the end of April, said about the looming expiration of the benefits.”Hinky bailout data raise doubts – Bloomberg: “A Bloomberg News analysis shows that the data for Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling more than $521 billion released on July 6 are riddled with anomalies. Although the maximum PPP loan for a one-person enterprise is $20,833, more than 75,000 loans listing one job retained have higher amounts — including 154 showing $1 million or more. The PPP was designed to keep employees of small businesses on payroll during the pandemic. Out of almost 4.9 million loans, the number of ‘jobs retained’ is zero for 554,146 and blank for 324,122. Seven loans list negative job numbers. Conversely, almost a thousand entries show 500 jobs for loans under $150,000, which is mathematically doubtful given that the aid is based on 2.5 times a firm’s average monthly payroll. In 209 of those cases, it implies an average monthly salary of $4 or less per employee. Taken together, those figures call into question the job numbers in one out of every five PPP loans.”School funding looks like a stumbling block – AP: “President Donald Trump’s push to reopen schools is being complicated by a split within his ranks over how to do it, with some advisers advocating for a massive federal expenditure to make campuses safe as Congress compiles the next COVID-19 relief bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday that schooling will be a priority in the coming package. Senate Democrats have proposed a $430 billion education stabilization plan. But the Republican leader has not said how much Congress is willing to spend, wary of high-dollar outlays that will run into resistance from GOP senators. … House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday that Congress needs to show Americans the country will ‘put children first’ by ensuring enough money to make campuses safe. Democrats already approved $100 billion for education in the Heroes Act, which is stalled in the Senate.”Orange County officials urge schools to go in-person, no restrictions – The Orange County Register: “While school districts across California are choosing remote learning to start the school year, the Orange County Board of Education is going a different route. On Monday night, the conservative-leaning board voted on its own guidelines for schools: a return to the old ways, before the coronavirus pandemic. That means on-campus instruction. No face masks. No keeping 6 feet apart. The lone dissenting vote was Trustee Beckie Gomez, also the only board member to wear a mask during the meeting. The board has no power to direct any of Orange County’s 27 school districts to follow its guidelines, which are in direct opposition to those issued by the Orange County Department of Education, state public health officials and others.”Trump retweets ‘Love Connection’ host’s attack on CDC – NY Post: “Former game show host Chuck Woolery is not having a ‘Love Connection’ with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Woolery’s Sunday night Twitter rant about ‘outrageous lies’ surrounding the coronavirus pandemic is going viral — and racking up over 20,000 shares and 50,000-plus likes — thanks to a retweet by President Trump. ‘The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying,’ Woolery, 79, wrote Sunday night on Twitter. ‘The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it.’ Apparently having caught the POTUS’ attention, two more tweets from the original ‘Wheel of Fortune’ host received presidential endorsements, including Woolery’s opinion on schools reopening during a pandemic.”TEXAS, MAINE AND ALABAMA VOTE TODAY NYT: “Three states with vastly different electoral profiles are holding primary elections on Tuesday: Alabama, Maine and Texas. The marquee contests include a Republican primary runoff for Senate in Alabama in which President Trump is pursuing a personal vendetta; a Democratic primary for Senate in Maine whose winner will take on the only Republican from New England in Congress; and runoffs in Texas for the Democratic Senate nomination and two Texas House districts that are expected to be tossups in November. Most of the polls in all three states will close at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Some early returns are likely to come in soon after that, but full results will take longer. … In any other year, under any other president, Jeff Sessions is the kind of Republican who would have a clear shot at winning a Senate seat in Alabama. He is experienced and deeply conservative and has built up good will with voters over decades in public office. But a runoff election [today] with Tommy Tuberville, a former college football coach and political newcomer, could be the end of a career in Republican politics that began when Mr. Sessions was still in college…”PLAY-BY-PLAYInflation jumped in June – WSJRoss Douthat: 10 theses about cancel culture – NYTWill massive farm subsidies ever end? – PoliticoHasta la vista, eh: U.S. to keep limits on Mexico and Canada border crossings – PoliticoAUDIBLE: TIMES THE SQUARE ROOT OF PI DIVIDED BY A WOOKIE“Everyone in the media wants to act like it’s some big deal that Susan Collins and Lamar Alexander aren’t going to the convention. The reality is the number of delegates craving the octogenarians and septuagenarians of the Senate are surely lower than the number who have purchased their third Star Wars costume.” – Rep. Matt Gaetz scoffing to the NYT about the growing list of Republicans skipping the party’s convention.FROM THE BLEACHERS“‘What will help solve the problem is an attitudinal shift in which voters line up for institutional reforms for the way we select nominees and conduct the business of government.’ Hear, hear! But just how would you propose this to be possible?  In the first place, Americans under 40-50 years old are pathetically ignorant of how our institutions operate (or fail to do so), after decades of our education system having abandoned meaningful history and civics teaching, and at the college level, replaced that with ideological absolutism mostly from the left which has long disliked (if not hated) our system.  Second, what the public does know is mostly being fed by a mainstream media which, besides its ideological bias, is motivated by profit to sustain a state of constant conflict.  And third, with both parties now entirely in the control of extremists who only field like candidates, how can moderates even obtain a forum for our ideas let alone any hope of fielding candidates which would lead said reforms? I would very, very much like to see the solution you prescribe. But I just don’t see how it can be done.  A dismal outlook for sure, but if history is any guide, major attitudinal shifts with accompanying institutional change typically are only the result of revolution, for good or (mostly) worse.” – Dennis Gallion, Griffin, Ga.[Ed. note: If your point, Mr. Gallion, is that we will need to suffer more and worse consequences from the status quo before there is sufficient public appetite for change, then I agree entirely. The periods of large-scale institutional change in America – think of the 1930s and 1970s – happened during or following periods of massive disruption. Not unreasonably, voters tend to resist big changes until absolutely necessary. On the other hand, the changes are already happening. There’s a riot of experimentation going on as states fiddle with ranked-choice voting, nonpartisan primaries, killing caucuses and other innovations. We may look back on this as a year of sea change if such measures gain momentum in years to come. As for how Congress works, the problem is that it works only too well for those members whose main concern is keeping their gigs. We saw a public revolt in favor of term limits a generation ago that politicians had to work very hard to squelch. I can certainly see that making a comeback. In fact, I think the chances of us seeing quite a bit of constitutional amending in the coming decade are growing. History is like the course of a river. You can’t see it when you’re on its banks, and we are most assuredly right on top of the river these days.]Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.COCKAMAMIEWAFB9: “In a federal lawsuit filed in June, a man who identifies himself as the pastor of Holy Fights Ministries sues the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office and district attorney over a state ban on cockfighting. The lawsuit says pastor Lloyd Plumbar’s arrest by deputies on cockfighting charges and the district attorney prosecuting him violate his constitutionally-protected religious freedoms. ‘Reverend Plumbar, Holy Fight Ministries and its congregation hold the sincere religious belief that cockfighting represents that while they strive for CHRIST, they have a necessary symbolic physical manifestation, an epiphany through the fighting cock, a religious mandate of the struggle between good and evil, a struggle for life or death for the Salvation of the soul, and thus cockfighting is an integral and essential part of their religious faith,’ wrote attorney Jim Holt. The lawsuit cites scriptures that detail humans having ‘dominion’ over animals. It further argues cockfighting within the church won’t spill out into a public issue, citing the religious exemption given to peyote users.”AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“I know there are surveys that say that most Native Americans aren’t bothered by [the name Redskins]. But that’s not the point. My objection is not rooted in pressure from various minorities or fear of public polls or public scolds. … Why? Simple decency. I wouldn’t want to use a word that defines a people — living or dead, offended or not — in a most demeaning way.” – 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.