Ari Fleischer weighs in on President Trump’s visit to St. John’s church after it was burned

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: Trump focused on means rather than ends  Amid unrest, pandemic voters head to polls – Kansas GOP set for Senate brawl – Baseball tussles over number of games – Zippy

TRUMP FOCUSED ON MEANS RATHER THAN ENDS
A wily, old golfer with a swing as crooked as his arthritic knuckles took the tee on a short, steeply downhill par-3. He reared back and launched his ball into the center… of a tree just off the green.

Then the ball appeared, bouncing down a long branch before plopping onto the middle of the green and rolling into the cup for a hole-in-one eagle. His younger playing companions went wild with scoffing and scorn at his good luck.

The old man turned around grinning and said only this: “They don’t ask how, they just ask how many.”

We are prone here to encourage optimism in times of trouble by pointing out how Americans have extricated themselves from similar or worse circumstances in the past. It is our editorial position that this “last best hope of earth” is resilient in the face of adversity and capable of future greatness still unimagined.

But, man, we are in dark days now.

With our national resolve already badly weakened by a toxic kind of partisanship and resentment, we face a pandemic that itself divides along the same political lines and an economic catastrophe unknown since the days of the Bonus Army and the Dust Bowl.

As the nation fights for its life, literally and economically, we see the reemergence and intensification of the kind of racial unrest that has visited us with regularity for at least the past six years. Since the clashes in Ferguson, Mo. police brutality, lawlessness, ugly confrontations, like the ones in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017, and murder have become facts of American summertime life.

It is a particular cruelty that this summer’s unrest began at exactly the moment that citizens were just starting to venture back into public and commerce. Perhaps the frustrations of lengthy lockdowns exacerbated frustrations between the groups in confrontation. At the very least, this unrest robbed many Americans of the emerging hope for a return to normality.

Imagine the frustrations of the residents and merchants in cities long paralyzed by quarantines awakening to shattered glass and news of curfews.

Whatever silver linings there may be in the terrible troubles of 2020 will not change the basic understanding among voters in this election year that things cannot go on as they are. If ever there has been a moment of national malaise in the United States, this is surely one.

The Republicans seeking to maintain the presidency and Senate while taking control of the House say that the way out will be rough, but that roughness cannot be avoided. Violence must be met with violence on the streets of America’s cities. Harsh realities of life and death must be confronted to revive the economy in the presence of a persistent coronavirus.

The Democrats seeking to obtain the presidency and Senate while maintaining control of the House say that the way out is through social justice. Protests, even those that turn violent, must be recognized as cries for help, and root causes like institutional racism and economic inequality must be addressed to stop the cycle. As for the economic damage done by quarantines, it must be subordinated to public health concerns and softened by massive relief spending.

It’s hard to imagine how these points of view could be more different. Though both sides claim to want the same things – justice, peace, health and prosperity – the means they favor seem almost antithetical.

But that is how partisans and ideologues tend to see things.

The millions of Americans who voted for Barack Obama and then Donald Trump did not suddenly undergo radical ideological transformations. In fact, these voters tend to be the least ideological of all. In a political system increasingly dominated by activists, these are the de-activists. They do not obsess over political news and may view voting as an unpleasant necessity.

They will vote for a liberal or a conservative, a white candidate or a black candidate, a man or a woman. But they will always choose the candidate who can get the job done to the benefit of voters like them. 

Trump and his party are embracing “law and order,” and attacking Democrats who they say are soft on lawless rioters. Trump is threatening to do what George H.W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson did before him and send regular military forces into American cities to keep the peace. This show of strength, like Trump’s march across Lafayette Park, is intended to reassure voters anxious about civil unrest.

But as both Bush and Johnson discovered, such actions can just as easily undercut public confidence in a president as they can to strengthen. If things are bad enough to send in the 101st Airborne, then things must be pretty bad indeed. So bad that voters might crave a change in direction.

The truth is that for persuadable, non-ideological voters it doesn’t matter how a president delivers good outcomes, only that those outcomes are obtained. The three presidents of the post who failed to win re-election – Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford – were not bounced out because of their policies per se, but because voters demanded a change of direction.

The riots and economic slowdown of 1992 were not Bush’s fault, inflation and Watergate were not Ford’s failings nor was the energy crisis of 1979 and 1980 Carter’s doing, but voters shoved them aside anyway.

Republicans believe that Trump’s tough stuff will resonate with voters, but that misses the point. What will resonate with voters are good results, however they are obtained. Peaceful cities, healthful people and a rebounding economy matter for the voters Trump needs, not his methods. But if we’re in a mess, these voters won’t give Trump a break because he looks like a tough guy amid the ruins.

It won’t matter in November how the ball got on the green, just that it went in the hole.

THE RULEBOOK: THINK ABOUT IT
“Is it an unreasonable conjecture, that the errors which may be contained in the plan of the convention are such as have resulted rather from the defect of antecedent experience on this complicated and difficult subject, than from a want of accuracy or care in the investigation of it…” – James MadisonFederalist No. 38

TIME OUT: *CHEF’S KISS*
NYT: “Despite pioneering lavish modernist cuisine at El Bulli restaurant in Spain, the chef Ferran Adrià’s cookbook ‘The Family Meal: Home Cooking With Ferran Adrià’ embraces restraint. … The book tackles approachable meals using limited ingredient lists, a topic not often associated with Michelin-starred restaurants but one that is ever popular with home cooks — and practiced now with renewed fervor. The simplicity of Mr. Adrià’s omelet is its charm: Using just eggs, potato chips and olive oil, it evokes the flavors of a labor-intensive tortilla Española but takes only minutes to assemble and cook. Mr. Adrià encourages cooks to use the best-quality potato chips and eggs available, but the recipe works with any chips you may have, even flavored ones. The tortilla’s execution may take some practice, but it’s straightforward: Whisk eggs until light and aerated, fold in the chips until slightly softened, then cook in a slick of olive oil in a nonstick skillet.”

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

SCOREBOARD 
PRESIDENTIAL POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes) 
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43.4 percent
Average disapproval: 52.6 percent
Net Score: -10.2 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.8 points
[Average includes: ABC News/WaPo: 45% approve – 53% disapprove; American Research Group: 40% approve – 57% disapprove; Fox News: 44% approve – 54% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 42% approve – 53% disapprove; CNN: 46% approve – 51% disapprove.]

WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT?
You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. It’ll be the same behind-the-scenes look at your favorite political note, only from their remote locations during this unprecedented time. Click here to sign up and watch!

AMID UNREST, PANDEMIC VOTERS HEAD TO POLLS
AP: “Voters are being asked to navigate curfews, health concerns and a sharp increase in mail balloting on Tuesday as elections take place from Maryland to Montana. Four states were originally scheduled to vote in April but delayed their contests because of the coronavirus outbreak. Pennsylvania offers the day’s biggest trove of delegates and represents a high-profile test case for Republicans and Democrats working to strengthen their operations in one of the most important general election battlegrounds. … Joe Biden needs to win 89% of all delegates at stake on Tuesday to formally clinch the nomination, but his role as his party’s clear presidential nominee is not in danger should he fall short. … Those voting Tuesday include the District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Dakota. Another state holding primary elections, Iowa, chose its presidential nominee early in the year and focused on other offices.”

Protests lead to surge in Dem donations – NYT:  “The mass protests that have swept the nation in recent days to express outrage at the death of George Floyd have been paired with a flood of financial donations, as hundreds of thousands of Americans have opened their wallets to give to charitable groups, community bail funds and Democratic candidates. The Minnesota Freedom Fund, which pays bail for those who cannot afford it and received online support from some celebrities, took in a remarkable $20 million in a matter of days — so much that its website was now encouraging donors to give elsewhere. A GoFundMe memorial fund established by Mr. Floyd’s brother had raised more than $7 million from more than a quarter-million contributors. And on ActBlue, the central online hub that processes money for Democratic candidates and causes, Sunday was the single largest day of giving in all of 2020, with donations of $19 million, according to a New York Times analysis of the site’s donation tracker.”

GOP worries Trump attack on mail voting may dampen turnout – NYT: “[As] eight states and the District of Columbia vote on Tuesday in the biggest Election Day since the coronavirus forced a pause in the primary calendar, it is clear that Mr. Trump’s message has sunk in deeply with Republicans, who have shunned mail ballots. Republican officials and strategists warned that if a wide partisan gap over mail voting continues in November, Republicans could be at a disadvantage, an unintended repercussion of the president’s fear-mongering about mail ballots that could hurt his party’s chances, including his own. In Pennsylvania, Iowa, Indiana and New Mexico … a higher share of Democrats than Republicans have embraced mail-in ballots. ‘If the Republicans aren’t playing the same game, if we’re saying we don’t believe in mail-in voting and are not going to advocate it,’ said Lee Snover, the Republican chair of Northampton County in Pennsylvania, ‘we could be way behind.’”

Republicans spending tens of millions to fight mail-in voting – WaPo: “President Trump’s persistent attacks on mail-in voting have fueled an unprecedented effort by conservatives to limit expansion of the practice before the November election, with tens of millions of dollars planned for lawsuits and advertising aimed at restricting who receives ballots and who remains on the voter rolls. The strategy, embraced by Trump’s reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee and an array of independent conservative groups, reflects the recognition by both parties that voting rules could decide the outcome of the 2020 White House race amid the electoral challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Helping drive the effort is William Consovoy, a veteran Supreme Court litigator who also serves as one of Trump’s personal lawyers. Consovoy’s Virginia-based law firm is handling a battery of legal actions on behalf of the RNC, several state GOPs and an independent group called the Honest Elections Project, which is connected to a Trump adviser.”

KANSAS GOP SET FOR SENATE BRAWL
Politico: “Mike Pompeo isn’t running for Senate — officially. After months of speculation and cajoling from senior Republicans eager to protect a Senate seat in deep-red Kansas, the secretary of state did not stage a last-minute entrance ahead of Monday’s filing deadline. Now, Republicans face a divisive and crowded August primary in the race to replace retiring Sen. Pat Roberts, threatening the GOP’s near-century long winning streak in Kansas Senate races. Republicans are on defense across this year’s Senate map, and a competitive race in Kansas this fall would be costly as the party fights to retain control of the chamber. … The concern from national Republicans centers around Kris Kobach, the controversial former Kansas secretary of state who lost the state’s gubernatorial race in 2018 by 5 percentage points. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has opposed his candidacy from the outset, a rare intervention to try to head off a candidate Washington Republicans see as a drag on the party.”

For House seat, too – Kansas City Star: “Dennis Taylor, a former Brownback cabinet official, joined the Republican race for Kansas’ 2nd congressional district on Monday, promising a more moderate alternative to incumbent Rep. Steve Watkins and challenger Jake LaTurner. At the same time, former state Rep. Tom Love jumped into the large Republican field fighting to take on Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids in the 3rd congressional district. The late entry of the two men, just before the noon Monday filing deadline, could further fracture the GOP primary electorate while Democrats build support for their favored candidates in both races. In the 2nd district, Taylor splits up what had been a head-to-head matchup between Watkins and LaTurner, the current state treasurer. In the 3rd district, Love’s late entry expands the number of GOP candidates to five in a district that’s a top priority for national Republicans.”

Kennedy hectors Markey in first debate – Boston Globe: “In the midst of mounting national crises, Senator Edward J. Markey and Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III reemerged on the debate stage Monday, their sights trained on seemingly different targets: Kennedy going after the incumbent he’s trying to unseat and Markey going after President Trump. Kennedy, 39, leaned into the generational divide between himself and the 73-year-old Markey, arguing that the state needs to move on from the ‘same folks’ who’ve made decisions the last 50 years. Markey, for the most part, sidestepped attacks from his opponent and focused his fire on Trump. Markey repeatedly cited his pushback against Trump, denouncing the Republican as racist and negligent in his response to the coronavirus pandemic. He also offered a laundry list of ways he said he’s led on the virus response and helped specific communities in the state, from Longmeadow to the state’s coastal communities.”

Utah Republican hopeful fight over masks and more at debate – The Deseret News: “The four Republicans running in this month’s 4th Congressional District primary to take on Utah’s only Democrat in Congress, Rep. Ben McAdams, sparred during their first debate Monday over issues including the city’s response to a protest that turned violent and how the COVID-19 pandemic is being handled. State Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan; former NFL player Burgess Owens; former KSL Newsradio host Jay Mcfarland; and nonprofit CEO Trent Christensen said little about McAdams during the hourlong debate held without an audience in the PBS Utah studios at the University of Utah. The candidates did, however, offer different views about how far government should go, starting with Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s decision to issue a curfew Saturday that lasted until Monday morning in the wake of riots against the death of a man at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.”

Hickenlooper faces ethics probe over use of jets as governor – The Denver Post: “Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission voted Monday to subpoena U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper, a move that will force him to testify Thursday about private jet trips he took as governor. The five-person commission voted unanimously at a special meeting to issue the subpoena, rejecting the arguments of Mark Grueskin, Hickenlooper’s attorney, who said a virtual hearing in the case would violate his client’s due process rights. ‘If we didn’t have all the problems we have in the world right now, I would prefer an in-person hearing,’ said Commissioner William Leone. ‘Who wouldn’t? It is a preferable format. But I don’t have any confidence at this point that the parties will ever be able to agree on a time or a procedure for an in-person hearing.’”

Progressives pick primary challenger for vulnerable Eliot Engel – NY Daily News: “Two progressive challengers to longtime Democratic New York Rep. Eliot Engel teamed up on Monday, three weeks before the primary for the Bronx and Westchester seat. Candidate Andom Ghebreghiorgis announced he was dropping out of the June 23 primary for the 16th Congressional District and endorsed Working Families Party pick Jamaal Bowman. ‘With the election almost upon us, the reason why I entered the race hasn’t changed. I have faith that Jamaal can deliver a progressive win and unseat Rep. Engel,’ Ghebreghiorgis said. ‘He’s a fellow Bronx educator whom I respect. I’m proud to stand with the Working Families Party in making the final push to send Jamaal to Congress.’ Ghebreghiorgis positioned himself to the left of Bowman, but both men have worked in education and are first time candidates in their bids to unseat the 16-term incumbent Engel. The alliance, first reported by NY1, was brokered by the Working Families Party.”

BASEBALL TUSSLES OVER NUMBER OF GAMES
AP: “Baseball owners and players have reverted to form — the type displayed over the past half-century during eight work stoppages filled with salary squabbles. Players proposed to resume the sport in the coronavirus pandemic with a 114-game regular season and full prorated salaries, leaving each player with approximately 70% of what he had been slated to earn. That proposal was made Sunday, five days after Major League Baseball’s plan for an 82-game season with additional pay cuts that would leave each player taking in 23-47% of his original pay, with the highest earners accepting the biggest cuts. MLB claims an additional $640,000 would be lost with each extra regular-season game played. The union has said it doesn’t believe those calculations and asked MLB for more economic documents and data. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred discussed the next move with owners on Monday.”

Trump coronavirus testing czar to step down – NPR: “The Trump administration’s testing czar announced Monday that he will be leaving that position in mid-June. Adm. Brett Giroir told a meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS that he will be ‘demobilized’ from his role overseeing coronavirus testing at FEMA in a few weeks and going back to his regular post at the Department of Health and Human Services. An HHS spokesperson confirmed the plan for Giroir to stand down from his role and indicated that there are no plans to appoint a new ‘head of efforts’ for coronavirus testing. ‘While Adm. Giroir will remain engaged with the COVID-19 testing and related efforts, many of the day-to-day management and operations of testing are being transitioned to HHS operating divisions,’ the spokesperson said in a statement to NPR. This will allow Giroir ‘to return to the key public health responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary for Health.’”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
McConnell says Senate to vote soon on House’s relaxing of bailout rules – Roll Call

Grassley to push for price controls for drugs – Bloomberg

Will Dems trust pandemic watchdog Miller? – National Journal

AUDIBLE: DREAMS DEFERRED
“When you have dads and moms crying about their kids’ safety, and nothing has happened yet, it just tells you the level of pain and agony that is being stuffed down so far in the soul, that sooner or later, it leads some place toxic. We have to be willing to have a raw conversation about justice in this nation.” – Sen. Tim Scott talking to Politico.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I grew up watching the Washington Senators in old Griffith Stadium and then RFK Stadium. We cried when Calvin Griffith moved them to Minnesota to become the Twins. Several years later, our team left again, thanks to *evil* Bob Short, to end up as the Texas Rangers. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to work in the ticket office for the Nationals Spring Training Center for two years here in Brevard County before they moved down to West Palm Beach. These players were our heroes growing up, and we ‘adopted’ Harmon Killebrew as our ‘uncle.’ (long story).  Now, when they can step up to be heroes again to all the kids in this country who have lost out on their Little League seasons, the team moms who bring the snacks and man the concession booths, the dads who are out there coaching or tossing balls with their sons and daughters, and all the families who really need a few positive ‘normal’ experiences, they are fussing about money. Geez, most of these players make more in a day than the majority of their fans make in years!! I think the Players’ Union and agents should step down and let the players decide. We are all so sick of today’s ‘normal.’ We need baseball! Just my 2¢.” – Linda Norway, Rockledge, Fla.

[Ed. note: Now that sounds like a baseball life well lived, Ms. Norway!  But as I said to a correspondent on Monday, I have no interest in assigning blame, even by proportion, among the players and owners. I’m curious how someone who was so victimized by two owners who spurned the loyal fans of Washington, D.C. in favor of a quicker buck would not see complicity on both sides. I think the good news here is that the two sides are debating not whether they will play but how many games will take place. Both the MLB and the players union must realize how devastating a failure to reach agreement would be to their fans and, by extension, the long-term popularity of the sport. I don’t care who’s fault the impasse is, nor do I care who gets the credit for its resolution, just so long as it is resolved.]

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

ZIPPY
CBC: “Johnny Gregorek‘s Olympic dreams were postponed due to the pandemic, but he has now set his sights on a more restricting challenge — running the world’s fastest mile in jeans — and he’s doing it to raise mental health awareness. ‘It is not too much harder’ to run in blue jeans, said Gregorek, an elite middle-distance runner, adding that ‘it’s not going to be as much of an obstruction’ as he first thought. He is looking to beat the ‘blue jean mile’ record held by Dillon Maggard of 4:11.80 at an undisclosed track in Westchester County, N.Y. Gregorek currently holds the second-fastest indoor mile run by an American at 3:49.98.  ‘You know, you’d be surprised, if you’ve ever been running late for something and had to run fast in a pair of pants, then you’ve had the feeling,’ he told As It Happens host Carol Off.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The United States, a nation born of rules and law – its Constitution written and revered – is forever perplexed by the jungle beyond the seas. We Americans are always looking for moral order abroad to parallel the moral order at home. Alas, we never find it.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in Time magazine on Dec. 14, 1998.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Musicians reveal how Brexit is already killing off tours in EU

Musicians have revealed how Brexit is already killing off their tours in the EU, as they warn the industry may not survive tough new immigration rules. No less than 71 per cent say their bookings for everything from classical orchestras…

Concerns over preparedness mount as VA hospitals brace for new coronavirus wave

As the network of hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs braces to handle a growing load of novel coronavirus cases, hospital staff are preparing for the worst and some are raising alarms. “We are really concerned about not…

Trump says lawmaker Meadows to become White House chief of staff

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Friday that Republican U.S. Representative Mark Meadows will become White House chief of staff. Meadows will replace Mick Mulvaney, who will in turn become U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland, Trump said.…

Allegation against Biden prompts reexamination of “Believe women”

Joe Biden, discussing sexual assault claims in early 2018, told PBS flatly, “Women should be believed.” On Friday, facing his own accusations, he stressed on MSNBC the importance of “taking the woman’s claims seriously when she steps forward — and…