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• Docile Democrats dare not mention Hillary’s greatest weakness
• Power Play: What’s the alternative?
• 2016 GOP Power Index: Walker drives past Rubio
• McCain draws Dem opponent
• Puttin’ some phallus by the palace
DOCILE DEMOCRATS DARE NOT MENTION HILLARY’S GREATEST WEAKNESS
There’s at least one thing Democrats can agree on when it comes to foreign policy: They don’t want to talk about it. And that, right now, is the very best news for their presumptive nominee.
In his speech on Memorial Day, President Obama remarked that this was the first “in 14 years that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war” because he had ended “combat operations” in Afghanistan. It would be a more significant milestone if the U.S. didn’t have thousands of troops in Iraq, the ongoing air war in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. involvement in the Yemeni civil war… oh yeah, and the nearly 10,000 troops still in Afghanistan. So, some minor ground wars, a couple of medium-sized air campaigns, a few drones – just as long as they are not called “combat operations.” If you take this logic to its absurd conclusion, no Americans have died in a war in 70 years because Congress hasn’t declared any wars in that time. But political semantics make no real difference for those who were killed in a “police action,” a “peacekeeping mission” or “combat operations.”
The president has been trying hard to “turn the page” because he maintains that the “tide of war” has been “receding” for the past five years. This is to match his vision of a closing act to his presidency focused on increasing domestic spending and taxes on top earners. But the world is not obliging the president.
Obama’s plan for containing ISIS and empowering Shi’a Iran as a counterbalance to Sunni dominance in the Middle East was predicated on the idea that Americans would tolerate Iraq existing in the same post-nation-state chaos that has consumed Somalia and Yemen. But the threat ISIS poses is different, as is the attachment Americans feel to a place where thousands of their countrymen died fighting.
We read a damning indictment of the administration’s war plan against ISIS today in the NYT. The rules of engagement designed to prevent civilian casualties are also preventing ISIS casualties and leaving the jihadi army thereby able to endure, regroup and then get back to flushing U.S.-backed Iraqi forces. It seems all but certain that the war will still be very much on when voters start heading to the polls in February. Given the trend of the past nine-months, there’s plenty of reason to think that the theater of war will have expanded with more intense fighting, inch by inch and bomb by bomb.
Hillary Clinton has had some disagreements with her former boss on foreign policy, but unfortunately for her they are not of the useful kind. The most notable is that she urged Obama to attack the Syrian government and arm rebel groups and then blamed Obama for the rise of ISIS because he refused to intervene earlier. A Democrat who sounds like Lindsey Graham is not what the party’s base has been hankering for.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will have his official campaign kickoff in his hometown of Burlington today. He can be expected to talk about income inequality and other domestic issues that currently animate the party. But on those fronts, Clinton has already shown a gymnastic skill for taking new positions. She and her party only currently disagree on the rate, volume and means of redistribution.
What Sanders is unlikely to mention is the way in which he and his fellow liberals find Obama’s foreign policy distasteful and Clinton’s even more so. Clinton’s Libya misadventure – from which we have now learned that her inner circle was seeking to personally profit – is the encapsulation of the liberal complaint about U.S. foreign policy. It was unauthorized, unaccountable and produced a worse outcome than the status quo. And yet… crickets.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to make the jump later this week. Here’s the way to tell whether he’s serious or not. If O’Malley quibbles on trade policy and velocity of redistribution he’s running for a cabinet seat. If he hits Clinton on her greatest weakness, he might be in it for real.
Veepstakes frontrunner – “What you have here with these emails is basically a witch hunt.” – Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro defending former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on CNN Sunday.
2016 Democratic Power Index: 1) Hillary Clinton; 2) Martin O’Malley; 3) Bernie Sanders; 4) Joe Biden; 5) Elizabeth Warren; 6) Jim Webb; 7) Lincoln Chaffee
What would you say? – Give us your take on the 2016 Power Index we will share the best and brightest with the whole class. Send your thoughts to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM
POWER PLAY: WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE?
President Obama needs to ask for – and use – more military muscle in the fight against ISIS, Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wisc., tells Chris Stirewalt. But what form should it take and will American’s tolerate thousands more troops in harm’s way? WATCH HERE.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
The remarkable love story of Nobel laureate mathematician John Forbes Nash and his wife, Alicia, ended Saturday when they died together in a car crash in New Jersey. He was 86, she was 82. Their struggle with his mental illness and his efforts to harness his intellect were the subject of the 2001 film “A Beautiful Mind,” which won four Academy Awards. Nash changed the way we see economics, ethics and much more, but how does it work? A native West Virginian, Nash built on the existing zero-sum game idea with a multi-player strategy illustrated through the example of the prisoner’s dilemma. NYT very neatly explains Nash’s theory for those of us with minds more ordinary.
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.4 percent//Disapprove – 50.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.0 percent//Wrong Track – 62.1 percent
2016 GOP POWER INDEX: WALKER DRIVES PAST RUBIO
Scott Walker, who’s been trading paint with Marco Rubio, slashes ahead of the Florida senator into the second spot this week. The Wisconsin governor put the hammer down in a speech at Oklahoma’s Southern Republican Leadership Conference touting his record of successful duels with powerful unions and blue-state Democrats. The speech, which Tim Carney called “spot-on and well delivered,” helped Walker to a strong second-place finish in the event’s straw poll. Rubio, who is fundraising in Florida today for influential Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, had to pass up the SRLC confab for votes in Washington. Ohio’s John Kasich moves up, passing Mike Huckabee, who had an uneven week. Kasich delivered a strong Sunday show appearance pushing his “deep experience” as chief executive running a big state and as a former leader in Congress. Headed to Georgia today for a Walton County GOP barbecue, Kasich said Sunday he’s “getting closer” to jumping in.
1) Jeb Bush; 2) Scott Walker [+1]; 3) Marco Rubio [-1]; 4) Ted Cruz; 5) Carly Fiorina; 6) Rand Paul; 7) Ben Carson; 8) John Kasich [+1]; 9) Mike Huckabee [-1]; 10) Chris Christie
On the Radar – Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham
Walker takes hard line for Israel – Gov. Scott Walker takes to Medium.com to share his reflections on a recent trip to Israel, where visits to holy sites were mixed with meetings with Israeli leaders. “[T]his trip only confirmed my belief that the current administration is not giving Israel the support it needs. Instead of standing with our ally, the president is making bad deals with a country that wishes to wipe Israel off the map,” Walker writes.
Rubio looks to lock up Palmetto State – National Journal looks at Sen. Marco Rubio’s stranglehold strategy in South Carolina. “Rubio… quickly identified South Carolina as the home base for his eventual presidential effort….snatching up the state’s top talent for his political operation, cultivating personal relationships with influential people on the ground, and making repeated trips to keep tabs on his burgeoning circuit of supporters in the state. As a result, Rubio has quietly achieved something in South Carolina that no Republican candidate can claim in Iowa or New Hampshire: an organizational lock on one of the most important states en route to the GOP nomination.”
Paul wants room for ponytails and tattoos – “I talk about a lot of issues I think would make the Republican Party bigger. We got to have party that has people’s ponytails, tattoos. We also news a more diverse party racially. I talk about criminal justice a lot. I think we can do a better job.” – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on “Fox & Friends”
[The New Yorker’s June 1 cover illustrates the key issues for each Republican candidate. Check out this quick read for the why Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is staring at himself, while Hillary stares at everyone else.]
* Ben Carson has a pair of South Carolina events today, starting with a Low Country GOP meeting in Charleston followed by a Farmer’s Market in Mount Pleasant hosted by Republican Congressman Mark Sanford.
* Chris Christie attends a luncheon in New York hosted by Republican mega-donor Paul Singer at the Metropolitan Club.
Coming soon – Former senator and 2012 GOP runner-up Rick Santorum will make his campaign announcement in suburban Pittsburgh.
SENATOR MARRIES STAFFER HE DENIED DATING, WILL REMAIN ON GOVERNMENT PAYROLL
(Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger: “U.S. Senator Thad Cochran married his longtime aide Kay Webber in a private family ceremony in Gulfport on Saturday, according to a one-sentence statement released by his office Monday. Cochran’s relationship with Webber became the topic of much speculation and intrigue during last year’s Republican U.S. Senate primary. Supporters of challenger Chris McDaniel accused Cochran of carrying on an affair with Webber. Cochran’s office denied any kind of affair. … Senate and campaign staff defended the relationship between Cochran and Webber during last year’s campaign in light of news detailing travel overseas and back to the district that included Cochran and Webber. A campaign spokesperson at the time said Webber ‘is a member of the staff and a trusted aide, and any other suggestion is silly gossip.’ Cochran spokesman Chris Gallegos said Monday that Webber would remain on the senator’s staff.”
McCain draws Dem opponent – Roll Call: “Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., will challenge GOP Sen. John McCain for Senate, according to a source with knowledge of Kirkpatrick’s plans, giving Democrats a top recruit in a potential pick-up opportunity in 2016…Her bid also opens up Arizona’s 1st District, a GOP-leaning seat that 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney captured by a 3-point margin in 2012…In the Senate contest, McCain, 78, is the heavy front-runner in his quest for a sixth term. But he faces a potentially strong challenge from the right flank of his party that could imperil his re-election bid.”
PUTTIN’ SOME PHALLUS BY THE PALACE
Turkmenistan strongman Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov unveiled a gold statue of himself astride a horse in Turkmenistan’s capitol city of Ashgabat, ahem, thrusting 69 feet above the city. (Compensating, maybe?) Perhaps the former dentist-turned-ruler seeks to silence the echoes of laughter from his 2013 mishap when he fell off a horse during a race. Though the crowd was instructed to delete their footage, the video of the great leader’s belly flop into the dirt still circulated – even though the official video released shows him the winner.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“It is absolutely true what [Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter] said. The Iraqis, the Iraqi army has no will to fight. You can train them from here until eternity. If you don’t have the will, no matter how much skill you have, it won’t make any difference.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First 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.