Put that in your Hot Pocket

on Jan18
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On the roster: Put that in your Hot Pocket – Biden taps hardliners for finance regulation – Impeachment on the back burner for now – Trump said to ready a pardonpalooza – ‘Right’

The news today that more than three-quarters-of-a-million pounds of Hot Pockets have been recalled because of the potential presence of “extraneous materials,” including hard plastic, has prompted some questions in our minds.

1) We kind of thought surprising contents were part of the Hot Pocket charm. Couldn’t “Peppy Pepperoni With Garlic-Style Flavoring and Extraneous Materials” sell? Why not turn this into an opportunity?

2) Given the news that the pockets in question would have been freezer-stable and ready for microwave sleeve toasting until well into 2022, can we get the Hot Pockets people to get to work on the avocado problem? Imagine the possibilities!

3) Has anyone told Jim Gaffigan?

We know what you’re thinking: How are you going to go from recalled meat sheaths to the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in this terribly troubled time for our country?

It’s all about “extraneous materials.”

The United States has been many different kinds of  nations in our long and proud history. We have been an agrarian nation, an industrial nation, an Atlantic nation, a trans-continental nation, a nation of people mostly descended from Western Europeans, a nation of dizzying diversity, a poor nation, a rich nation and so on… 

But what we have always been is a constitutional republic that says it aspires to the American Creed contained in the Declaration of Independence – right there at the start of the second paragraph: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

Having secured that independence declared so brashly by a bunch of upstart colonists, these rebels turned statesmen sought to “secure the blessings of liberty” for themselves and those who came after them by crafting a Constitution that prescribes a system of government designed to protect those rights.

Things went along pretty well for a time, but the question of the continuation or abolition slavery would ultimately prove impossible for a third generation of American leaders to resolve.

Eighty-seven years after the Declaration, or as he put it, “four score and seven years,” Abraham Lincoln put in context the cause and objective of the war that had filled thousands of graves in the rolling hills outside of Gettysburg, Pa.

Lincoln began his address by quoting the words penned by Thomas Jefferson in the American Creed, setting them as the North Star by which Americans should navigate their present struggle.  

The real audacity of Lincoln, though, was to point to the horizon toward which he said the country should sail. Speaking of those honored dead, he said, “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

In that way and thousands of others, Lincoln joined the Founding Fathers in defining the purpose of our republic. While Americans North and South had many different reasons for fighting or supporting the war, Lincoln put his stamp on the effort for all time. The Civil War would forever be aimed at finishing the work left undone by the Founders’ generation.

In the darkest time in American history, Lincoln’s “new birth of freedom” was not a departure from our foundational beliefs, or an overthrow of our constitutional system, but rather a perfection of it. In so doing, Lincoln not only saved the nation but renewed our character.

Before Lincoln could finish his work and help the nation move on from the justice of the “terrible, swift sword” and into the mercies described in his second inaugural – “with malice toward none, with charity for all” – an idiot murdered him.

What happened instead was a long period in which frustrated Southerners spent the fury of their wounded pride on African Americans in their midst. The cruelty and indignity of this American apartheid is well known to many, but always worth remembering.

From the end of Military Reconstruction in the 1870s until at least the 1950s, Black Americans, especially those living in the officially segregated South, were denied the rights the Founders described and Lincoln claimed on their behalf.

It is hard to imagine greater violence done to the spirit and the words of our Constitution than using the force of government to oppress millions of people because of the accident of their status at birth.  

And that is exactly what King sought to prove to White Americans, especially in the North. Northerners had turned a blind eye to the tyranny taking place south of the Mason-Dixon Line, feeling superior despite the racism present in their own communities. King and his fellow civil rights advocates through their non-violent protests used the Constitution and the American Creed as a mirror with which to show the nation its true reflection.

He did not say that this tyranny was evidence of a defect in the American system of government or the constitutional order, but rather one that could be solved through that system and order.

King chose as the location of his defining speech, delivered on Aug. 28, 1963, the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King began by saying “five score years ago,” referring to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. That put King at about an equal distance from Lincoln as Lincoln was from the Founders. And at that moment, took his place with the 16th president and our founding generation in the pantheon of American liberty.

“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,” King said. “This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.” 

From the Founders to Lincoln, from Lincoln to King.

There are lots of things that make America great and special. There are also lots of things that make America difficult and, certainly at the moment, troubled. But unlike other nations we know what to do when things get tough. We go back to the source code.

As the United States tries to sort itself out in the weeks, months and years to come, we will face many different choices, all of which will be variations on the same theme: Do we believe in the virtues of our founding and are we committed to seeking remedy through the Constitution which is our collective inheritance?

Lincoln, King and hosts upon hosts of great American leaders have known that the essential ingredient for liberty is the rigorous application of that recipe for success.

Everything else is just “extraneous materials.”  

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 47 

BBC: “Peter Mark Roget was born on [this day in] 1779 in London, the son of a Swiss clergyman. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University and graduated in 1798. As a young doctor he published works on tuberculosis and on the effects of nitrous oxide, known as ‘laughing gas,’ then used as an anaesthetic. … In 1814, he invented a slide rule to calculate the roots and powers of numbers. This formed the basis of slide rules that were common currency in schools and universities until the age of the calculator. … In 1840, Roget effectively retired from medicine and spent the rest of his life on the project that has made his name, ‘Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases,’ which was a dictionary of synonyms. … His thesaurus was published in 1852 and has never been out of print. Roget died on [Sept. 12] 1869.”  

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

We’ve brought “From the Bleachers” to video on demand thanks to Fox Nation. Each Wednesday and Friday, Producer Brianna McClelland will put Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt to the test with your questions on everything about politics, government and American history – plus whatever else is on your mind. Sign up for the Fox Nation streaming service here and send your best questions to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM.

NPR: “President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission and Rohit Chopra to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a statement from Biden’s transition team Monday morning. The pair’s selection marks a triumph for progressives who have pushed for more aggressive oversight of the financial industry. Gensler is a top financial regulator known for taking on big banks and trading houses after the Dodd-Frank financial reforms enacted after the 2008 financial crisis. A former Goldman Sachs executive, Gensler has an extensive career in government, serving as under secretary of the treasury for domestic finance from 1999 to 2001 and assistant secretary of the treasury for financial markets from 1997 to 1999. He went on to serve in the Obama administration as the chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and was the CFO for Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 presidential campaign.” 

Harris steps down from Senate – Politico: “Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign her Senate seat effective Monday, capping a brief legislative career marked by her tough cross-examinations of Trump administration nominees and the push last summer for police reforms after the killing of George Floyd. Harris notified California Gov. Gavin Newsom and has sent her formal indication to surrender the Senate office as she prepares for her move to the Naval Observatory, aides said. Newsom named California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the final two years of Harris’ first term, though it’s unclear when Padilla will take the oath of office this week, or whether it will be administered by Harris. … ‘This is not a goodbye from the Senate,’ a Harris aide stressed, given her role as the tie-breaker and expected work helping Biden with negotiations on Capitol Hill.”

A different kind of inaugural – Fox News: “The guest list for the presidential inauguration scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. this Wednesday will be scaled back amid both the coronavirus pandemic, as well as beefed-up security measures put in place two weeks after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. … This year, members of the 117th Congress will be given only a plus-one. … Biden has said Pence was ‘welcome to come,’ and he’d be honored to have him. Former Presidents Barack ObamaGeorge W. Bush and Bill Clinton are expected to attend the inauguration in person. The only other living president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has spent the pandemic largely at home in Plains, Ga., will not attend…  Biden’s inaugural committee announced the lineup Sunday for ‘Celebrating America,’ a multi-network broadcast that will be televised Wednesday night after Biden is inaugurated as the 46th president. The broadcast will be held in lieu of traditional inaugural balls.” 

What a Democratic Senate can do for Biden, and what it can’t – AP: “So what does a 50-50 Senate get President-elect Joe Biden? … The unexpected new balance of power giving Democrats only the barest control of Congress has big consequences for the president-elect — easy confirmation of his Cabinet most importantly — but the road ahead for his ambitious legislative agenda remains complicated and murky. Republicans remain poised to block most of Biden’s proposals, just as they thwarted much of President Barack Obama’s efforts on Capitol Hill. But 50/50 control permits action on special legislation that can’t be filibustered, and momentum for the popular parts of COVID-19 relief could easily propel an early aid bill into law. What 50-50 really gets — and doesn’t get — Biden as he takes office…”

Fox News: “Details of the upcoming impeachment trial for President Trump are still up in the air as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — who will soon swap jobs — have remained silent about the details of how the trial will work, how long it will last and more. When the trial will start is up in the air as well. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after overseeing the impeachment of Trump just one week after he egged on a group of supporters who later ransacked the Capitol while Congress was certifying the election results, has yet to send the article of impeachment to the Senate. Pelosi did not answer questions during a Friday press conference on when she would send over the articles. Her office also did not immediately respond to a message from Fox News on Monday morning asking when she would send the article.” 

Ross Douthat: ‘Could Mitch McConnell Get to Yes?’ – NYT: “That’s the best way to think about why, notwithstanding the fact that Trump will be out of office and the vast majority of Republican voters will still be resolutely opposed to his impeachment, McConnell might conceivably extend himself to rally 17 Republican votes for a Senate conviction. The point wouldn’t be to punish Trump or alter the majority leader’s public reputation or create a moment for the history books. It would be to use a power that Senate Republicans have now, and will presumably never have again — the power to guarantee that Trump cannot be a candidate for president four years from now, which can be accomplished by a simple majority vote following a Senate conviction.” 

Rudy won’t be part of defense team – NYT: “President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, will not be taking part in the president’s defense in the Senate trial for his second impeachment, a person close to Mr. Trump said on Monday. Mr. Trump met with Mr. Giuliani on Saturday night at the White House, and the next day the president began telling people that Mr. Giuliani was not going to be part of the team. It is unclear who will be a defense lawyer for Mr. Trump, given that many attorneys have privately said they won’t represent him. Mr. Giuliani himself at first said he was taking part in the trial and then a day later said he had no involvement. He told ABC News on Sunday that he would not be part of the defense, noting that he is a potential witness…”

Guard troops bring security, but risk, too – AP: “U.S. defense officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, prompting the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event. The massive undertaking reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped Washington following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. And it underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press on Sunday that officials are conscious of the potential threat, and he warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches.” 

Sasse: GOPQ? – Atlantic: “If and when the House sends its article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate, I will be a juror in his trial, and thus what I can say in advance is limited. But no matter what happens in that trial, the Republican Party faces a separate reckoning. Until last week, many party leaders and consultants thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon. They can’t. The GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them. Now is the time to decide what this party is about.” 

Pergram: Emerald City – Fox News: “Consider some of the mayhem congressional reporters have covered in recent years which have nothing to do with legislation and hearings: The 1998 shooting at the Capitol of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson. The 9/11 plane headed toward the Capitol which eventually crashed in Pennsylvania. The 2001 anthrax attack on the Senate. The 2011 assassination attempt on the life of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. … We haven’t even discussed going to the Capitol on a daily basis to cover Congress in the age of COVID. Show up on Capitol Hill for work now and you must navigate a ‘Green Zone’ like in Baghdad to reach the building. And, considering the radioactivity of threats to the Capitol, it’s doubtful these layers of security disappear any time soon.” 

Fox News: “President Trump is expected to issue between 50 and 100 commutations and pardons before he leaves office this week, two sources familiar with the list told Fox News. The sources told Fox News that the announcement of the pardons will likely come in one large batch on Tuesday, but there is a slight chance the White House will wait to make them official Wednesday morning. The president has until noon on Wednesday to do so. Fox News has learned that there was a meeting at the White House on Sunday afternoon to finalize the growing list of pardons and commutations. But sources with knowledge of the process say Trump is not expected to grant protective pardons for any members of his family, nor is he expected to attempt to issue a pardon for himself.” 

Trump cronies cashing in on pardon frenzy – NYT: “As President Trump prepares to leave office in days, a lucrative market for pardons is coming to a head, with some of his allies collecting fees from wealthy felons or their associates to push the White House for clemency… The pardon lobbying heated up as it became clear that Mr. Trump had no recourse for challenging his election defeat, lobbyists and lawyers say. One lobbyist, Brett Tolman, a former federal prosecutor who has been advising the White House on pardons and commutations, has monetized his clemency work, collecting tens of thousands of dollars, and possibly more, in recent weeks… Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer John M. Dowd has marketed himself to convicted felons as someone who could secure pardons because of his close relationship with the president… A onetime top adviser to the Trump campaign was paid $50,000 to help seek a pardon for John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information…” 

“I’ve played for every president there is, since Carter, with the exception of Reagan. This is an honor for me to get to serve… and it’s one of the things that, if my family is around, no matter who the president-elect is, it’s an honor to be asked.” – Country singer Garth Brooks talking to Entertainment Tonight about performing at Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. 

“It’s interesting to consider Presidential job approval ratings and how they change as time and historians give us perspective after Presidents leave office. I checked on Harry Truman’s job approval rating in the latter part of 1952. According to Gallup it was 22% – worse that Trumps current approval rating of 29%. But Truman seems to have risen considerably in the estimation of historians since he left office. I remember my parents saying that they had both voted for Dewey in 1948 but that they weren’t particularly upset that Truman won. I wonder what Trump’s reputation will be like 25 years from now.” – John May, San Diego 

[Ed. note: History shows us lots of revisions — in both directions — for former presidents. Each one is different and determined by different external factors. Truman’s approval was so low for a variety of reasons, but a main driver was the revolt of the segregationist South. Truman’s decision to integrate the armed forces kicked off the 20-year journey of white southerners from the Democratic Party to the GOP. They hated him for his betrayal of the bigots, and since that had been the great Democratic stronghold, it cost him dearly. Republicans certainly didn’t approve of the rest of Truman’s agenda, so that left him with few friends. As the Korean War went sideways and fears of communism reached new heights, Truman found himself almost friendless. He rebounded a bit to the mid 30s by the time he left office, but he certainly concluded his time as an unpopular figure. As Republicans reconsidered his legacy of leadership at the end of WWII and the memory of his efforts at universal health insurance etc. faded, their estimation of him improved. His decision to integrate, the very thing that set him up for unpopularity, became a badge of courage and decency. In time, Truman came to be seen as a good, if not great president. Similar forces worked on his successors. George H.W. Bush is maybe the best example. Like Truman, he rode the wave from the highest highs to the lowest lows, but is increasingly revered for his steady hand in post-Cold War leadership. Or think of George W. Bush who left office in dire shape because of the Iraq War and the Panic of 2008, but who has already seen a substantial upgrade in estimations because of his personal attributes and post-9/11 leadership. Or there’s Jimmy Carter who got no revisions on his presidency but has become beloved by many for his post-presidential life. It goes the other way, too. Bill Clinton left office with a 65 percent job approval rating according to Gallup. And why not? The nation was at peace, the budget was balanced and the economy was booming. But like the negative conditions that afflicted other presidents, positive conditions fade from memory, too. Two decades later, Clinton’s character matters more than it did before and, thank to the #metoo moment, he is a pariah. He will never escape the judgement of history for the self-dealing, self-seeking way in which he governed and conducted himself. His efforts to build a post-presidential legacy were crushed by greed and ambition as his buckraking proved a toxic asset to his efforts to return his wife to the White House. Trump, not surprisingly, is a unique case. He’s never been popular. Trump’s highest job -approval rating, achieved in the early rally-round-the-flag days of the pandemic, was 49 percent, far below the highs achieved by all of his predecessors back to the birth of polling. But his lows have not been as deep as some of them. That’s in part because of the crazy partisanship that grips America these days, but also because Trump did not play for popularity, but rather catered only to his core supporters. Trump’s current average clocks in just below 39 percent, about the same as it was in the wake of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Like his predecessors, Trump’s place in history will depend on how events unfold and how he conducts himself. Trump in time may be seen as the avatar of the cultural populism of the white working class — the personification of a backlash against multiculturalism and political correctness — and a warning sign for a nation badly alienated from itself and at risk of losing its common purpose. It will depend on how well or poorly America heeds the warnings and whether we can rediscover our capacity for self-governance. If the next two decades show a reversal of those trends, people will no doubt mellow in their judgments. If the politics of cultural resentment and anger become the norm, Trump will decline further. The bad news for Trump’s legacy is that the major historical events of his presidency — double impeachments, a pandemic and the attack on the Capitol — will, as in Clinton’s case, never fall out of the first paragraph of his biography.

“I have refrained from emailing you and reading your commentary for a long time. I have to speak now. You live in DC and have caught their disease. Maybe venture out into the country to treat the disease. Republicans play gentleman, the high road, hoping that indiscretions will disappear and not return. Then, like magic, they come back.  And, then the process repeats. At the first time conservatives push back, you shame us. What % of conservatives, Republicans and Libertarians stormed the Capitol? Voter fraud is alive and well in CT, it runs like a well oiled machine. It is now more widely reported and discussed nationally. The patterns are eerily similar and don’t necessarily require complicated machines, but simple tricks and ‘attacks’ at the polling place as described by GA’s Governor during a 2016 hearing on Capitol Hill when he was Ga’s Sect Of State. Missing bar codes on ballots that confirm signatures. Fraud on the scale we have seen is unfair to the whole country. Take some time to get to know this country.” – Betsy Pulitzer, Oxford, Conn. 

[Ed. note: I don’t suppose you can imagine how funny it is to me to be lectured on getting in touch with the nation by a woman writing me from a rich town in the New York suburbs. I know you don’t know anything about me or my life or where I come from or you wouldn’t probably send such a nastygram. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter whether I grew up in a poor town in a poor state or not or if my dad was a coal salesman or any of that stuff. We’re all real Americans. From tony Connecticut enclaves to the North Fork of Short Creek to inner cities to flyspecks in flyover country. You aren’t more American than any of us, but neither are you any less. You are God’s own creation free to think and do as you wish, thanks in large part to the fact that you get to live in this great country we share. As you try to put things in perspective over time, just remember that it is possible for voter fraud to be real — trust me, West Virginia will put the Nutmeg State to shame every time — and for it to be a massive fraud to claim that Donald Trump won the election in a landslide. It seems to me that the right place to start is to stop looking down your nose at people who aren’t like you and start looking for ways to rebuild this soul-sick nation.

“Has everybody in Washington, including you, lost your minds? The picture is much bigger than your petty annoyances with Trump’s unnumbered imperfections. Seventy plus million reasonably thoughtful men and women voted for Trump, and we are not all in need of your personal judgments masquerading as penetrating insights. Trump is NOT the biggest problem you, the rest of us, or this country have at this point in our history. Again, how about your list of people with Trump’s policy positions and proven courage of convictions who meet your oh so exacting standards.” – Eric HutchinsSanta Barbara, Calif. 

[Ed. note: Who said Trump was the biggest problem the country faces? Not by a long shot. Whatever you read that made you think that, I promise it was not what I meant. It sounds like you love the guy, and I wish you the best in that. But I would encourage you to think about politics in more ways than can be accommodated by the binary choices offered by presidential elections. The motivations of the 74,224,501 Americans who voted for Trump were as varied as we can imagine,  as were those of the 81,284,778 who voted for Joe Biden. Those voters do not belong to Trump or Biden in perpetuity and many, if not most of them were cast more in opposition than support. Some of them were thoughtful, some of them were jerks, some of them flipped a coin. I understand why you are sensitive and quick to stand up for your man, but don’t let that prevent you from seeing the real threats to the country — starting with the blind partisanship that is causing us so much pain just now.

“I’ve been meaning to write for a long time, and never took the trouble, but today, I have to ask. Just after reading about CNN’s crowbar/ProBar correction, which one tweet dubbed ‘too good to check’ because no one asked the obvious question, ‘Why would Ted Lieu have a crowbar in his office?,’  I read about a pigeon in Australia that was sentence to death, only to learn his identification tag was a fake, yet no one asked the obvious question, ‘Why would anyone fake a pigeon ID tag?’” – Jerry M. Spiker, Virginia Beach, Va. 

[Ed. note: I mean, Nancy Pelosi keeps baseball bats in her office… As for the pigeon, I can only assume that it might have been part of an attempted coo… I’ll show myself out.

“I live in Fairmont, West Virginia home to the famous Yann’s Hotdogs. Saw today in the local news he had sadly passed away. I know how much you love his sauce! Love listening to you and Dana on I’ll Tell You What, and love when you guys discuss West Virginia. Too often we get a bad rap, but never on your podcast! Thanks for all the work you both do!” – Jacob Ellis, Fairmont, W. Va. 

[Ed. note: Oh, Mr. Ellis! Thank you so much for passing along that sad news. If America’s culinary pantheon were correctly composed, Russell Yann would surely have his place. I grew up in Wheeling where Louis’ Famous was the top dog and Coney Island was the style. Yann’s is the one plus ultra of this approach: simple, spicy and soft. It would not be until I followed the scent of newsprint to Charleston, where I worked for a decade, that I discovered the more elaborate West Virginia slaw dog and succumbed to its many virtues. Imagine if we could get Yann’s sauce on a full-dress slaw dog! Dare to dream…

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

CWB Chicago: “A Grand Crossing man stole a towing company’s truck and then called 911 himself because he was upset that the truck’s driver dared to pull a gun on him, prosecutors said. Elliott Scott, 22, is charged with aggravated possession of a stolen motor vehicle, misdemeanor theft, and driving on a suspended or revoked license. ‘Mr. Scott called 911?’ a befuddled Judge Charles Beach asked prosecutors after hearing their allegations. ‘Yeah,’ Scott interjected. ‘Right.’ Scott’s defense attorney quickly advised him, ‘it’s not best to talk about the charges’ in court. Prosecutors said police responded to a call Tuesday after someone stole a flatbed tow truck operated by Chi-City Towing… The company’s owner provided police with its GPS coordinates, and cops went to that location. While police were on their way, ‘the defendant called 911 and said he stole a truck and he was upset because the owner pulled a gun on him,’ an assistant state’s attorney told Beach…”  

“If an ambassador is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country, a statesman is a man who lies from the comfort of home.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Time magazine on July 31, 1995. 

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.  

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