No bliss in willful ignorance
**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: No bliss in willful ignorance – Majority approves of Trump’s crisis management – Leaders scramble to block recorded bailout vote – Well, they couldn’t do ‘Lovin’, touchin’, squeezin’’
NO BLISS IN WILLFUL IGNORANCE
The problem with willful ignorance is that it’s just as about as effective as the real thing.
In American politics today, a crucial skill is to be able to be a convincing ignoramus. You must appear to be totally oblivious of the context or complexities of anything your enemies might say or do. It’s not just that you aren’t giving them the benefit of the doubt, you must selectively hear and see only the worst.
President Trump doesn’t want to get the economy restarted as soon as possible, he wants to kill thousands of Americans for mere mammon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to take every reasonable precaution against a pandemic, she wants to destroy the American economy to hurt Trump.
That’s not to say that there are not serious, fundamental disagreements between the left and right on the response to the coronavirus, but on this issue there are less serious disagreements than there are on many, if not most, of the more ordinary issues facing the nation.
Now, before you tell us about the very, very terrible thing that some kook in Congress said or about the blatherskite being peddled by a gasbag talking head or the outrageous thing posted on the internet by someone snuffling for clicks like a pig for truffles, we should point out that we are talking about normal people – not those who profit by division.
Polls show an impressive degree of national unity on the seriousness of the matter at hand – 92 percent in the latest Fox News poll – and overwhelming support for quarantine measures and various relief efforts. Trump’s job approval matches his all-time high and congressional job approval hasn’t been this good in more than a decade.
But our politicians and pundits have so much gotten into the habit of being facile – intentionally obtuse – that they can’t bring themselves to listen and see, even when voters send clear signals for cooperation.
That word, “facile,” is so perfect for American politicians today because of its roots. The origin is from the Latin “facillis,” for “easy.” It is easier to win elections, raise money and generate clicks, views and likes if you pretend not to understand that things are hard and complicated.
This is hardly a new phenomenon. Straw man arguments have been around longer than straw men. But what was once reserved for the heat of campaign season is now the default – so much so that when we need to cooperate, we find the muscles have atrophied.
The debates around coronavirus are not either/or, they are how much/how little, how soon/how late, here/there… These are prudential questions in which individual Americans and our leaders must use their best judgment to decide the safest courses of action and do so with very little information available.
That hardly sounds like the time to be facile or pretend that there are simple or easy answers. It sounds more like a time to show grace and understanding for each other.
We are heading into the third week since America’s Friday the 13th shutdown. It may be Good Friday, two weeks from now, before we can start to gradually, region-by-region start getting back to normal. For some places, like New York and its surroundings, it may be much longer.
Congress has done its part, the administration has been in overdrive, local and state officials are doing everything they can. Medical professionals are, at grave risk to themselves, fighting on the front lines. The battle is well joined. Everything else will have to wait.
For the next two weeks, there may not be a great deal to argue about, at least for those still willing or able to listen. Let’s hope that in this time of prayerful anticipation, more of us rediscover the power of understanding.
THE RULEBOOK: YOU’RE SO VAIN
“It is in vain to oppose constitutional barriers to the impulse of self-preservation. It is worse than in vain; because it plants in the Constitution itself necessary usurpations of power, every precedent of which is a germ of unnecessary and multiplied repetitions.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 41
TIME OUT: HERE’S TO SIG JAKUCKI
Baseball Hall of Fame: “With a war raging overseas and uncertainty overwhelming the nation, a unique World Series was taking place pitting two teams who shared the same home ballpark. The 1944 World Series, considered a David versus Goliath matchup at the time, was an all-St. Louis affair featuring the prodigious Cardinals, a franchise having just won its third consecutive National League pennant, and the plucky Browns, the winners of its first American League pennant in its 43rd year of existence. The Cinderella story Browns, who had only one winning campaign in the previous 14 seasons, finishing with an 82-69 record in 1942. In the end, Goliath won the ’44 World Series in six games…. And in a story that was typical of wartime baseball, 35-year-old righty Sig Jakucki, who hadn’t played affiliated ball since 1938, won 13 games for the Browns, which included the pennant-winner on the final day of the season.”
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: 47.4 percent
Average disapproval: 48.2 percent
Net Score: -0.8 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 7.2 points
[Average includes: ABC News/WaPo: 49% approve – 47% disapprove; Fox News: 48% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 49% approve – 45% disapprove; Monmouth University: 48% approve – 48% disapprove; NPR/PBS News/Marist: 43% approve – 50% disapprove.]
MAJORITY APPROVES OF TRUMP’S CRISIS MANAGEMENT
Fox News: “President Trump’s overall job approval ticks up, while large numbers of Democrats and Republicans approve of infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. … The number of Republicans feeling ‘nervous’ about the economy is up 26 points. Voters split over whether Trump’s response to the outbreak is appropriate, while one quarter feel most Americans are ‘overreacting.’ … Approval of Trump’s overall job performance is up one point since February to 48 percent, while 51 percent disapprove. That puts him underwater by 3 points. Last month, his rating was 47 approve-52 disapprove (-5). His best marks were in February 2017, when he had a net positive rating by one point (48-47). The uptick comes from a record 16 percent of Democrats approving of Trump, up from a previous high of 14 percent. And approval among women matches an earlier record 43 percent. When asked specifically about responses to the coronavirus outbreak, 51 percent of voters approve of Trump and 46 percent disapprove. The federal government overall (55-41) and Vice President Mike Pence (55-37) receive similar ratings.”
Trump gets a bump, but it’s modest – WaPo: “On the political front, President Trump narrowly wins approval for his handling of the outbreak, and his overall approval rating has grown five percentage points since February, to 48 percent, even as most Americans say he was too slow to take action in the early days of the virus’s spread. The rise in Trump’s approval rating, however, is far smaller than some other presidents have experienced in times of national crisis. … Trump’s approval rise may represent a rally effect, in which Americans grow more supportive of a president during a national crisis. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush’s approval rating surged from 55 percent to 86 percent in Post-ABC polling. His ratings stayed above 60 percent for most of the next two years and he won reelection in 2004.”
LEADERS SCRAMBLE TO BLOCK RECORDED BAILOUT VOTE
Fox News: “Congressional leaders scrambled Friday to stall a rogue GOP lawmaker’s last-ditch attempt to force a prolonged, roll-call vote on the massive $2 trillion coronavirus response package, which is all but certain to pass in the end. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., signaled Friday morning that he would indeed demand a roll-call vote. ‘I swore an oath to uphold the constitution, and I take that oath seriously. In a few moments I will request a vote on the CARES Act which means members of Congress will vote on it by pushing ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘present,’’ he tweeted. … But House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy nevertheless signaled he’s got an exit strategy, insisting to reporters that they can pass the bill without a roll-call vote. … resuming there is a quorum, members could still oppose the roll-call vote — prompting a simple voice vote.”
Who is Thomas Massie? – Roll Call: “Rep. Thomas Massie, a conservative libertarian Republican from Kentucky, has attracted the ire of his congressional colleagues and President Donald Trump, who urged his party Friday to ‘throw Massie out’ of the GOP. Massie’s opposition to a $2 trillion economic relief package aimed at stabilizing the nation’s economy through the tumult of the coronavirus pandemic forced lawmakers to return to the Capitol Friday. Leaders of both parties had been hoping to pass the measure on a voice vote, but Massie has indicated he may request a roll call vote. Massie, like Trump, took to Twitter to explain his views and confirming that he would request a roll call vote, despite the pressure from both sides of the aisle and the White House not to. ‘I am not delaying the bill like Nancy Pelosi did last week,’ he wrote, referring to the House Speaker. ‘The bill that was worked on in the Senate late last week was much better before Speaker Pelosi showed up to destroy it and add days and days to the process.’”
Continetti: Corona Conservatism – Free Beacon: “What the moment requires is some intellectual modesty. It is far too early in the development of this national emergency to make definitive judgments on its political, economic, social, and cultural effects. We might as well explore alternative scenarios. For example: The coronavirus might not signify a conclusion to or beginning of a historical era, so much as an acceleration of previously germinating inclinations. This quickening is most visible in the United States Senate. It was the youthful and heterodox members of the Republican conference who first recognized the severity of the challenges emanating from Wuhan, China. As Congress put together its economic relief bill, these lawmakers did not worry about violating free-market dogma. They recognized the extraordinary nature of the situation.”
Trump initiated phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday – WSJ
AUDIBLE: HOW SWEET IT IS
“Dr. Fauci doughnuts are selling like hotcakes at Donuts Delite” – The headline of an article from the Rochester [N.Y.] Democrat and Chronicle. The local shop, Donuts Delite, is creating doughnuts with an image of Dr. Anthony Fauci on them. The shop’s goal is to bring “light to a humbling experience,” according to Nick Semeraro, franchisee of the café.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Tune in this weekend for a packed Fox News Sunday. Mr. Sunday will sit down with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Dr. Thomas Inglesby and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Who is going to police the claims made when benefits in some instances can exceed full employed pay?? Who in an overworked staff at the Department of Labor or state offices are going to make sure that those few Americans who are ‘larcenous,’ won’t try to get by with something? I note that Schumer was concerned about money going to big business entities, but not too concerned if the common folks rip off the government because the staff handling the program are swamped with unemployed wannabes and nobody is watching to see if the government is being defrauded.” – Ron Smith, Larned, Kan.
[Ed. note: I hate to say it, Mr. Smith, but the broad assumption with programs like these is that there will be widespread fraud and abuse. Leaders in both parties are mostly interested in pumping as much cash into the economy as possible, as quickly as possible. They price in the fact that scoundrels will be scoundrels. If that burns your biscuits, take a look at what happens with Medicare year in and year out.]
“Nancy Pelosi needs to crack open a history book that was written back when she was in school. Our Founding Fathers deliberately set Washington D.C. up as a territory and not a state. D. C. stands for District of Columbia. It was not meant for large numbers of people to live there. If the Democrats want D.C. to have all the rights and privileges as a state, then the people living there need to petition for statehood just like the other 37 did. (The first 13 were already states.)” – Mary Blanton, Alpharetta, Ga.
[Ed. note: And petition they have, Ms. Blanton! There’s serious constitutional doubt about whether the capital could be in a state, but the District of Columbia is not in doubt on the statehood question. It is overwhelmingly supported. What gets notably less discussion, not surprisingly, is the more direct and constitutional means of obtaining congressional representation for the residents of the district: Returning to Maryland the land that is not part of the federal core. That one gets less attention because it would make Washington, Md. one of two big cities in the Old Line State and add one House member to its delegation, rather than Washington its own city-state with a governor and two new U.S. senators.]
“Your email newsletter NEVER disappoints but your commentary entitled ‘The End of the End of Recession’ is a standout even for you. I’m forwarding it to several others with the admonition that they subscribe. The highest compliment I can give is that the only other person I put in your class of commentary is Victor Davis Hanson. Well done.” – Eric Hutchins, Santa Barbara, Calif.
[Ed. note: Thank you, Mr. Hutchins! And thanks also for spreading the word. We’re sure not trying to hide our light under a bushel!]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
WELL, THEY COULDN’T DO ‘LOVIN’, TOUCHIN’, SQUEEZIN’’
WOOD: “In Kalamazoo, the community is finding a way to stay connected even though they are forced to remain apart. Throughout the city at 7 p.m. Thursday, the sounds of the 1970s Journey classic ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ could be heard. It’s a way to connect that others elsewhere in the world have used while separated to slow the spread of coronavirus. It’s meant to offer comfort in a lonely time. A Facebook movement called ‘Kzoo Community Jam and Sing’ brought the idea to Kalamazoo. ‘We miss each other and we need each other,’ said community activist Jen Strebs, who along with Kalamazoo residents Jex Judd, Eugina Muller and a few others put it all together. ‘We can know that we’re all still here together even though we can’t be close right now.’ She said the reaction has been great. Six major radio stations joined in to play the Journey anthem.”
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“There are many people to thank for the coming accession of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Donald Trump for winning the election. Hillary Clinton for losing it. Mitch McConnell for holding open the high court seat through 2016, resolute and immovable against furious (and hypocritical) opposition from Democrats and media. And, of course, Harry Reid.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Feb. 2, 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.