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On the roster: Some political coronavirus questions to consider – I’ll Tell You What: Bernie double or nothing – Pelosi holds tight grip on next stimulus plan – Trump to have call with nation’s governors – To your health
SOME POLITICAL CORONAVIRUS QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Maybe first of all, we should remember that it’s only been a week that most people have really been living differently.
The electorate has barely begun to digest the most dramatic change in how Americans live and work since at least Sept. 11, 2001. We are still at the very front end of things.
So before you start making guesses about November, just consider that almost no sane person would have predicted eight months ago anything like the events of the past seven days.
Last July would you have gone with, “Joe Biden declared the Democratic nominee by acclamation in mid-March after the remaining primaries have been indefinitely scrapped because of a public health emergency?” We’d buy a whole raft of Boston coolers (at a reasonable social distance) for the man or woman who picked that particular square on the political tipboard.
We’ve only been having even a minor national discussion about coronavirus and contagion for less than two months, about the time that the administration in relatively modest tones announced a public health emergency to shut off travel from China.
It was only three weeks ago that President Trump was completely blowing off the idea of mass infection. There would, he said, be fewer than 15 cases by the end of February, “down to close to zero.”
The first death in the U.S. was a nursing home in the Seattle suburbs on Leap Day. In the following two weeks, world markets started to buckle under the pressures of disrupted international commerce and what was increasingly an absolute shutdown of Europe.
But while there were certainly early American adopters on coronavirus closures, it was only after the president gave his speech last Wednesday that things really got wild.
Having watched him heave his way through that one – and the White House hazmat fact-check mop up after – institutional leaders of the corporate, academic and cultural kinds realized that the federal cavalry was still trying to get astride its mounts.
That’s what, in part, gave us the two historic days that followed. Without a clear message from the public sector, the privates took command. Human resources and risk management executives from Miami to Seattle started implementing the protocols that they have been obediently writing, re-writing and improving for decades – while being studiously ignored by most of their colleagues.
Regular America was not prepared for compliance. It went down hard.
In a WSJ/NBC News survey taken between Wednesday and Friday of last week, 78 percent of respondents said that the virus had changed their lives either not at all or in “only a small way.” What do you think those numbers would look like today, one week later?
Whatever they took away from Trump’s speech, the shared sentiment seems to have been with the president’s hot mic moment before he began.
When the National Collegiate Athletic Association closes March Madness at a cost to itself (and the scholarship money it pays out) of nearly a billion dollars after its massive insurance policy, you know the sauerkraut is getting pretty sticky – and everybody did know it.
That’s the kind of institution that still has extra-governmental powers, even in this frayed society. When the NCAA and its peers like Disney theme parks, Little League baseball and the dense network of professional associations and organizations that shut down gatherings, social pressure for precautions intensified throughout the day Friday and into the weekend.
Americans, many of whom had been skeptical just days before, jumped into action.
The churches that closed their doors Sunday, the families that took a loved one in trouble to safety and the supervisors who stayed all night so that their crews could go home have probably done far more to prevent losses from this epidemic than anything the federal government will ever do.
By Monday, the shutdown wave was just climbing toward its apogee. On Wednesday, they shuttered the auto plants.
The word from governmental entities up and down the line was, ahem, uneven as leaders tried to catch up.
As a note of Appalachian origins, we’d like to thank West Virginia’s governor, Jim Justice, for being extremely on brand with his misguided Monday encouragement to the Mountain State and its fourth-oldest population in the nation that, “if you want to go to Bob Evans and eat, go to Bob Evans and eat.”
But in this time of panic, not even the crispy deliciousness of country-fried steak in sawmill gravy was exempt. Justice ordered all the restaurants in the state close for sit-down service the next day.
Now, a week and a day after the Oval Office speech, America and its leaders are very different. Trump has gone from aggressive virus minimizer to self-described “wartime president.” Democrats are trying to sound supportive (if only grudgingly so). And voters are stuck at home contemplating collapsed retirement funds and wondering what fresh freak-out is next.
So it’s safe to say that we don’t know much, if anything, about the medium-term political consequences here. We wouldn’t even feel much confidence talking about the short term.
But we do have questions.
The biggest being: How long will these massive shutdowns go on? That, of course, depends on how successful the shutdown will be at minimizing the spread of the illness.
Will this be like the 1979-80 energy crisis was for Jimmy Carter or will it be, as Trump hopes, an opportunity to wield wartime powers and enjoy wartime national unity?
Will Democrats be able to hold a convention at all? Will the disrupted nomination process deprive Joe Biden of the traditional “win bonus?” Can Biden even scratch his way into the national discussion?
Will the smothered economy and imploded financial markets starve campaigns of cash as donors cinch their purse strings?
Will state election officials conclude that mail-in voting is the only prudent course as they prepare ballots this summer, especially if there are serious concerns about an autumn flare up? What does that do to voter participation?
Will Trump be long deprived of his mass rallies, the centerpiece of his re-election campaign?
Will this be like the other crises of our young century and increase the national appetite for governmental intervention or will this further erode confidence in government to the point that large-scale programs become unappealing?
Once we start getting some answers to these, then we can get back in the business of forecasting. Until then, we’ll be watching and waiting.
THE RULEBOOK: SHOCKER
“IT IS not a little remarkable that in every case reported by ancient history, in which government has been established with deliberation and consent, the task of framing it has not been committed to an assembly of men, but has been performed by some individual citizen of preeminent wisdom and approved integrity.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 38
TIME OUT: VIVA LAS VEGAS
History: “In an attempt to lift the state out of the hard times of the Great Depression, [on this day in 1931] the Nevada state legislature votes to legalize gambling. Located in the Great Basin desert, few settlers chose to live in Nevada after the United States acquired the territory at the end of the Mexican War in 1848. … [In 1864] during the Civil War, Nevada was hastily made the 36th state in order to strengthen the Union. At the beginning of the Depression, Nevada’s mines were in decline, and its economy was in shambles. In March 1931, Nevada’s state legislature responded to population flight by taking the drastic measure of legalizing gambling and, later in the year, divorce. Established in 1905, Las Vegas, Nevada, has since become the gambling and entertainment capital of the world… In the first few decades after the legalization of gambling, organized crime flourished in Las Vegas. Today, state gambling taxes account for the lion’s share of Nevada’s overall tax revenues.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
ESTIMATED DELEGATES FOR DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION
[Ed. note: 1,991 delegates needed to win]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43.8 percent
Average disapproval: 51.8 percent
Net Score: -8 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.4 points
[Average includes: NPR/PBS News/Marist: 43% approve – 50% disapprove; NBC News/WSJ: 46% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve – 54% disapprove; CNN: 45% approve – 52% disapprove.]
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I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: BERNIE DOUBLE OR NOTHING
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss how the Coronavirus has impacted the economy, the 2020 presidential election and what post-Coronavirus life will look like. Plus, hear what happens when an erroneous tweet throws Dana and Chris into hysterics. Plus, Chris faces down New York Times bestseller trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE
PELOSI HOLDS TIGHT GRIP ON NEXT STIMULUS PLAN
Politico: “House Democrats are drafting a new stimulus bill to address the coronavirus pandemic — legislation designed as their counter-offer to a trillion-dollar package currently being assembled in the Republican-controlled Senate. On a private call Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi directed her leadership team and committee chairs to begin further efforts to address the looming economic disaster caused by the growing coronavirus crisis. The House Democratic plan will incorporate proposals from several panels and is expected to include additional unemployment insurance payments, expanded Medicaid coverage, an airline rescue package, relief for homeowners and renters, support for small businesses, and additional food security measures, according to Democratic lawmakers and aides. … Each House committee will submit their own plans to Pelosi, who will compile a large-scale relief package in the coming days. Pelosi and her top deputies plan to review the ideas with Democrats — who are working from their districts this week — on a conference call Thursday afternoon.”
Mnuchin: Coronavirus stimulus plan could deliver $3K to family of four – Roll Call: “The emerging $1 trillion aid package intended to help weather the COVID-19 economic storm appears likely to deliver $1,000 to every U.S. adult, plus $500 per child, according to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and a GOP senator involved in the drafting. ‘So for a family of four, that’s a $3,000 payment,’ Mnuchin told Fox Business on Thursday morning, adding that he thinks the checks would be sent within three weeks of enactment. ‘That may change in negotiations with Democrats, but that’s the priority right now,’ Mitt Romney of Utah said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, confirming the basic structure of the plan under discussion. Mnuchin said a second round of checks in the same amount would go out six weeks later if economic conditions haven’t improved and the ‘national emergency’ Trump declared last week is still in effect. Mnuchin said most households wouldn’t have to worry about venturing outside to the bank to cash their checks and risk virus exposure: ‘It’s really money direct-deposited, most people.’”
Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ben McAdams first lawmakers to test positive – Fox News: “Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., on Wednesday became the first member of Congress to announce that he has tested positive for coronavirus, saying he had been stricken with a fever and headache this weekend. Shortly afterward, Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, said he too had tested positive after developing ‘mild cold-like symptoms’ Sunday evening. The 45-year-old told constituents he first learned the test result Wednesday. As the news broke, Republican whip Steve Scalise, R-La., issued a statement announcing he would go into quarantine, although he said he did not currently have any symptoms. … Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., said she would also self-quarantine, although she had no symptoms, because last week she ‘participated in a small group meeting with a colleague who has since tested positive for COVID-19.’”
The Judge’s Ruling: Freedom in a Time of Madness – This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains Coronavirus fear, our freedom and the Constitution: “The Contracts Clause of the Constitution prohibits the states from interfering with lawful contracts, such as leases and employment agreements. And the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the states from interfering with life, liberty or property without a trial at which the state must prove fault. The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment requires just compensation when the state meaningfully interferes with an owner’s chosen lawful use of his property. Taken together, these clauses reveal the significant protections of private property in the Constitution itself. … Why is this happening? Throughout history, free people have been willing to accept the devil’s bargain of trading liberty for safety when they are fearful. We supinely accept the shallow and hollow offers of government that somehow less liberty equals more safety.” More here.
TRUMP TO HAVE CALL WITH NATION’S GOVERNORS
Politico: “The nation’s governors are going to be talking to President Donald Trump and VP Mike Pence today at 2 p.m. here are the five things they are going to ask from Trump and the federal government: 1) They want the government to dedicate at least half of the supplemental funding directly to states and for the W.H. to provide quick action on waiver requests. 2) They want increased access to personal protective equipment, masks, test kits, extraction kits and to quicken the production of life-saving equipment like ventilators. 3) Support Title 32 — which allows governors to call National Guardsmen to active duty, with the approval of the president. 4) They want guidance on the implementation of the Defense Production Act — they want to know what the administration is prioritizing. 5) Allow more time for completion of the Census and REAL ID.”
Trump: FDA making anti-malaria drug available for virus – Fox News: “President Trump announced Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is making experimental drugs — including those used for treating malaria — available as part of the ongoing effort to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. Trump announced at a White House press briefing that chloroquine, a drug designed for use in malaria, has been FDA approved and will be made available by prescription ‘almost immediately.’ He said it was one of a number of antiviral therapies to limit the symptoms of the virus that the administration is trying to get to Americans as quickly as possible. … Addressing potential safety concerns, Trump noted that it had been used previously in treating malaria, ‘so we know if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody.’ He said it had shown ‘very encouraging’ early results. He also said another drug, remdesivir, would be made available to Americans as well by the process of ‘compassionate use.’ He said it would remain to be seen whether it would help combat the crisis.”
Sanders to head home to Vermont, will reassess campaign – WaPo
Tulsi Gabbard suspends long-shot campaign, endorses Biden – Fox News
Bill Weld drops quixotic primary bid against Trump – NYT
When it comes to Election Day in November, only Congress can change the date – WSJ
Report: State Department moves toward advising against all international travel – Fox News
AUDIBLE: SAME THOUGH
“Will work for donuts.” – The phrase on the t-shirt Jeb Bush sported in a video about social distancing with his granddaughter, per the NYT.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I took note of the comment by Mr. Jim Hain [in Wednesday’s Halftime Report] concerning preparations for the lean times. My time spent in the previously esteemed Boy Scouts of America organization pursuing the Eagle Badge gave me cause to never forget the Scout Motto… Be Prepared. Worked pretty well for Mr. Joseph in Genesis 41, as well. Hope we can begin to buy into that practice both collectively as a nation and individually as citizens. Thanks for the daily commentary!” – Steve Smith, Cleveland, Ga.
[Ed. note: I know I have recommended it before on other platforms, but I’m not sure that I have said so here: Yuval Levin’s new book “A Time to Build” speaks directly to your observation, Mr. Smith. We live in an era where Americans tend to prize institutions that are performative – ones that provide a stage for individual recognition – rather than institutions that are formative – like the Boy Scouts of America help shape us as good people, good citizens and good Americans. When the chips are down, we’re not looking at the popinjays prancing about, we are looking at those people who were deeply, meaningfully shaped by worthwhile institutions.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
TO YOUR HEALTH
Garden & Gun: “Durham Distillery [in North Carolina] has engineered a clever solution to help keep Triangle-area restaurants clean and ease diners’ minds: a readily available, locally-made sanitizing liquid strong enough to kill viruses on contact, including COVID-19. Last week, Melissa and Lee Katrincic, owners of Durham Distillery, which makes Conniption Gin … [wanted to help their community.] The answer was close by. Durham Distillery has an active permit with the state-run Alcohol Beverage Control commission (ABC), which allows the couple’s company to buy corn-based ethanol at 95% alcohol by volume. That permit, coupled with Lee Katrincic’s experience from his twenty-four-year tenure as a pharmaceutical chemist, gave the company both the ability and the means to create the cleaner earlier this week. Mixing their ethanol with distilled water brings the solution down to 70% alcohol by volume, matching levels recommended for sanitizing solutions by the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization. So instead of producing gin, the distillery has temporarily switched focus to producing their cleaning solution.”
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The arguments for and against the filibuster are so well-known to both parties as to be practically memorized.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on April 6, 2017.
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.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.