The Rushmore Report: Congressional Black Caucus Rejects Meeting with Trump; Blames Him for Not Meeting with Them

Since his election nearly one year ago, the Congressional Black Caucus has blamed President Trump for refusing to consider their concerns. In response, Trump invited all 49 members to dinner with him at the White House – just him and them. So they are demonstrating their frustration with Trump’s disinterest in meeting with them by rejecting his offer to meet with them. Does this not sound just a little bit disingenuous?

In a letter posted on Twitter, the caucus said it wouldn’t “be a part of Trump’s social gathering.”

Here’s the simple explanation. If the 49 liberal Congressmen agreed to meet with the president, it would hurt them in two ways.

1. They could no longer whine that Trump won’t listen to their concerns.

2. That would require all 49 members spending time working on actual issues – when they could better use their time bashing conservative policies and cry for a return to the glory days of President Obama – days of record black unemployment, record numbers of blacks on food stamps and record low home ownership among blacks.

Ah . . . the good ‘ol days. At no point in the Obama years was unemployment as low as it is right now. Still, the black caucus says it is Trump who wants to kill jobs for black Americans.

But I am digressing into the meaningless babble of actual policies and legislation.

The chair of the caucus, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), responded to Trump’s invitation: “It has become abundantly clear that a conversation with the entire CBC would not be productive. The CBC, and the millions of people we represent, have a lot to lose under your Administration. I fail to see how a social gathering would benefit the policies we advocate for.”

Amazingly, the same Congressional Black Caucus applauded Obama’s decision to meet with Iranian leaders and has called on American presidents to meet with the president of North Korea.

So let’s review, without commentary on my part. This is what we know.

1. The Congressional Black Caucus complains that President Trump doesn’t want to hear their concerns.

2. President Trump invited all 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus to the White House so he could hear their concerns.

3. The Congressional Black Caucus refused the President’s invitation to meet with him in the White House.

4. The Congressional Black Caucus says it is Trump’s fault they don’t all get together.

5. The Congressional Black Caucus – seeing no need for them to meet with Trumpt – calls on Trump to meet with avowed terrorists (Iran, North Korea) who seek the destruction of America.

So – the CBC won’t sit down with President Trump, but they are critical of him for not sitting down with the leaders of Iran and North Korea.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

The Rushmore Report: Jimmy Fallon Defends Choice to not Join Anti-Trump Bandwagon

NBC’s Jimmy Fallon is defending his decision to keep his show from becoming an anti-Trump crusade like other late night hosts have, saying many of the president’s words and actions are just “too serious” for joke fodder. “With Trump, it’s just like every day’s a new thing. He gives a lot of material. A lot of stuff is hard to even make a joke about,” Fallon said on the Today Show. But he didn’t stop there.

To be sure, several late-night TV hosts have, since essentially the start of Trump’s winning his 2016 White House bid, made attacking and satirizing the president a big part of their monologues. Among them are Steven Colbert, host of CBS’s Late Show, and Jimmy Kimmel, of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!

But while Colbert has long been associated with political satire, including his days with Comedy Central’s Colbert Report, Kimmel appears to have only recently seized on the anti-Trump movement, which has coincided with a ratings spike.

However, the decision by The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to not get on the anti-Trump bandwagon appears to have hurt the show’s ratings.

Fallon was number two to start the fall season, behind Colbert and ahead of Kimmel. Aside from losing the top spot, his viewership is down by 31 percent from a year ago, according to the most recent numbers published by Hollywood Reporter.

None of this is surprising. Late-night “comedians” have become an extension of the network they represent, and therefore the bias of that network. Fallon is to be commended for not piling on, for remaining a real comedian, and for a sense of fair play. But while this makes him more of a true journalist than many who sit in the nightly anchor chairs of evening news broadcasts, this balanced approach will not endear Fallon to his bosses – the same network who refused to even cover the Harvey Weinstein story for over a year.

As for me, I like Jimmy Fallon – not just because he is less biased then Colbert or Kimmel – but because he is actually funny. There was a time in late-night comedy when that counted for something.

The Rushmore Report: Three Democrats Who May Run for President in 2020 – Who You’ve Never Heard Of

With the 2016 election just 11 months old, the 2020 election is already making news. President Trump filed re-election paperwork on Inauguration Day. And now several Democrats are making noise about running, as well. With Trump’s approval ratings mired in the 30s, there will be almost no limit to the number of Democrats who will jump into the race. There will be the usual suspects: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and yes, Hillary Clinton. But let’s consider some others who may surprise. Here are three Democrats who may run for president – who you’ve probably never heard of.

1. John Delaney

At this point, Rep. John Delaney of Maryland is the only serious declared Democratic candidate for office. Elected to Congress in 2012, Delaney announced his intent to run for president in July. For most outside his district or immediate family, they had not heard of Mr. Delaney. His district stretches from the D.C. suburbs to western Maryland, which is a more conservative area of the state. In announcing his candidacy, Delaney said, “To do this work with the commitment it deserves, I will not be running for re-election to the House of Representatives. No games, no cat-and-mouse, no backup plan at the 11th hour if a focus group goes badly.”

2. Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is another contender whose name has been floated for both California governor and U.S. president. His term doesn’t end until 2022, but in an interview with the Los Angeles Times last week, he didn’t rule out the possibility of running for either. He said only that he is “committed to the people of Los Angeles.”

3. Seth Moulton

Just 38 years of age, Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts would be the youngest Democratic candidate. He would be 41 on Inauguration Day of 2021. A former Marine Corps officer and graduate of Harvard Business School, Moulton serves on the House Budget Committee and is a ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Moulton has said he wants to see new Democratic leadership before the 2018 elections. While some insiders have already approached him about running, he says he probably won’t run. Which means he probably will run.

The Rushmore Report: How Many Americans Can Name the Three Branches of Government?

I’ve long been convinced that an under-explored element of our deteriorating national discourse and paralyzing partisan tribalism is a creeping public ignorance about fundamental civics. How can we keep this republic if a rising percentage of its citizenry is unfamiliar with the core functions and structures of said republic? Yet, recent surveys confirm an amazing ignorance on the part of the American people.

A recent public opinion survey shows that 37 percent could not name a single component of the First Amendment. “Free speech” seems like it would be a layup, but only half knew it was a part of the First Amendment. Fewer than half knew the Amendment covered the freedom of religion and press.

Only 26 percent can name the three branches of government (executive, judicial, and legislative). For the record, conservatives are much more likely to know the branches of government than liberals.

Amazingly, there are more Americans who can name none of the three branches than those who can name all three.

America, we have a problem.

About the Author

Guy Benson writes for TownHall.

The Rushmore Report: Why This Isn’t the Time to Talk Gun Control

In the aftermath of last week’s massacre outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, the political actors didn’t waste a second before launching into fresh calls for gun control. “If we don’t talk about it now, then when?” asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Of course, the immediate days following such an event are the days when public opinion sways toward more gun control laws. But this is actually not a good time to talk gun control. I offer five reasons why this is true.

1. Legislation should be proactive, not reactive.

Congress is good at chasing shiny objects. But with healthcare, tax reform, Iran, North Korea, immigration, and border security still unresolved – and with over 200 laws still waiting on the Senate to wake up to their Constitutional duties – this is not the time for a whole new debate that will have no end. Gun control legislation should result from regular order, not disorder. To let a madman dictate when Congress acts makes no sense.

2. The shooter’s motives remain unknown.

Any response to the recent shooting must therefore be rooted in what we know from said shooting. And so far, we don’t know much. Why did he do it? What were his motives? With whom – if anybody – was he working? Was this an act of terror? As Ben Shapiro writes, “The jump to making policy based off such lack of information is stunning.”

3. How the shooter acquired his weapons is still unknown.

We know some things, but not much. Before we run off down the pathway of gun restrictions – in response to this event – we must ask ourselves, “Would this new legislation even have mattered in this case?” If new laws are not being put in place in response to this shooting, what is the rush? And before we go crazy over the man’s guns, keep in mind, he passed all FBI background checks. As Charles Cooke of National Review points out, legal automatic weapons have been used in a grand total of three crimes since 1934.

4. Making policy in response to horror is not well considered.

Good policy is good policy regardless of timing and bad policy is bad policy regardless of timing. It’s human nature – when something tragic occurs, we want to do something – anything. We heard from gun control advocates after Sandy Hook, Pulse, Virginia Tech, and Columbine. But passion does not make for good policy. We must lead with “How will this legislation actually change anything?” rather than “We just need to do something – anything!”

5. New gun control laws will have limited success – at best.

I’m still waiting to hear about the guy who says, “You know what, I was going to kill somebody and go away to prison for the rest of my life, but then I realized it was illegal to use the gun I was going to use.” Madmen don’t obey laws. That’s why they’re called “madmen.” As the NRA is quick to point out, the number of guns in America has doubled since 1993, while in that same period gun deaths have been cut in half. And where we have the most gun control – Chicago – we have the most deaths. It is interesting that the same celebrities and left-wing political leaders who scream for more gun control and less walls are the same people who have armed guards and huge walls surrounding their own mansions.

The Rushmore Report: John Kasich Threatens to Leave GOP – Who Cares?

Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich is troubled with the nomination of Roy Moore as Senator from Alabama. Because he sees Moore as a fringe candidate, and because of the rhetoric coming out of the White House, Gov. Kasich says he wants to “fix the party,” and if it can’t be fixed, he may pull out altogether. Forgive my skepticism, but I think there may be more to the story than Kasich is saying.

In a recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Kasich said he is still holding out hope the GOP can shift back to what he sees as a more centrist party. He said, “If the party can’t be fixed, Jake, then I’m not going to be able to support the party. Period. That’s the end of it.” He continued, “I mean, I’m worried about our country and my kids’ future. But have I given up? Of course not.”

Kasich then criticized the party for its stance on immigration. “If the Republican Party is going to be anti-immigration, if it’s not going to be worried about the debt, if it’s going to be anti-trade, this is not where our party can be.”

First, being for border security and simply enforcing current federal immigration laws is not “anti-immigration.” And one could argue that voters didn’t want Trump to tackle the debt since he campaigned on not touching Social Security. As for trade, both parties have increasing numbers of voters within their own base who are skeptical of free trade.

So what is Gov. Kasich’s real agenda? As I have said before – on this platform – he enjoys poking his finger in the eye of party conservatives. He earned the condemnation of party leaders when he decided to jump on the Obamacare bandwagon and expand Medicaid in his state – a move that has cost his state dearly.

Call me a skeptic, but Kasich’s plan seems pretty clear to me. Since being denied his party’s nomination for president or vice president in 2016, he has been edgy about all things Republican. So here it is. John Kasich still has his eye on the big prize. He wants to be president. And he knows that won’t happen as a Republican. So he is positioning himself as the right-leaning common sense Independent who can try to siphon off votes from both sides. He hopes some on the left will support his soft positions on Obamacare and immigration, while attracting fiscal conservatives at the same time.

It’s really no gamble at all. He is term-limited in Ohio. It’s president in 2020 or bust. He has run out of political options. So expect this kind of rhetoric to continue. Expect to see Mr. Kasich on CNN more than Fox News. Expect him to form an exploratory committee in late 2018. Expect Gov. Kasich to try to become President Kasich.

Will it work? Probably not. But I said the same thing about that Trump fellow a year back.

Stay tuned . . .

The Rushmore Report: Which Presidents Were the Most Religious?

Consistency is something of an American tradition – at least as far as our presidents are concerned. Forty-four individuals have served as Commander-in-Chief. (Grover Cleveland held two non-consecutive terms.) They came from 18 states, have all been male, and almost all claimed to be Christians. Only three were religiously unaffiliated: Jefferson, Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson. But who have been our most religious presidents?

Six stand out.

Jimmy Carter

Famous for being a Baptist Sunday School teacher, Carter is recognized as the first “born again” president. Prior to serving, Carter took a missionary journey in which he knocked on strangers’ doors and said, “I’m Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer, and I’m here to talk to you about Jesus Christ.” Carter read the Bible and prayed daily throughout his time in office, yet he would ultimately be rejected by the emerging evangelical right.

George W. Bush

This second-generation president was one of the most comfortable when it came to talking about his faith, as he courted religious leaders, and used overtly religious language to justify policy decisions. Bush once famously remarked,”I believe God wants me to be president.” So intense was his spiritual fervor that Steven Mansfield concluded, “Whatever else the presidency of George W. Bush imprints on American history, it will at least have granted the nation an opportunity to rethink the role of religion in public life.”

William McKinley

A proud Methodist, McKinley avoided drinking, swearing, and smoking. He was a regular church attender while in office and according to eyewitnesses was quite an enthusiastic hymn singer. He also believed that the government had a duty to spread both democracy and the Christian religion abroad. McKinley’s last words before death were reportedly, “Goodbye, goodbye all. It’s God’s way. His will, not ours, be done. Nearer my God to thee, nearer to thee.”

James Madison

President Madison was a faithful Episcopalian who signed a federal bill to appropriate funds for Bible distribution. Madison served on the Congressional committee that established and selected Congressional chaplains and he encouraged all public officials to openly declare their faith. Later in life, Madison retracted many of his beliefs – arguing that government-paid chaplains and president-led prayers were unconstitutional. But he is still one of America’s most religious heads of state.

Abraham Lincoln

Though he often struggled with faith and even doubted the divinity of Jesus Christ, Lincoln often utilized religious language and quoted the Bible in public speeches. Many of Lincoln’s friends attested to his personal conversion, but Lincoln never explicitly declared it. He was not a formal member of any church, but only about a quarter of Americans were in 1860. Even still, Lincoln’s faith has been intensely felt among Americans since the time of his presidency, perhaps due to the conditions under which he served.

James Garfield

President James A. Garfield was the only clergyman to serve as Commander-in-Chief. He was lauded for his skill as a preacher, and he learned Greek in order to better understand the New Testament.

About the Author

Jonathan Merritt writes and blogs on issues pertaining to faith and culture.

The Rushmore Report: What the Las Vegas Shooting Will Mean for Gun Laws

The deadliest mass shooting in modern American history has thrust the bitter debate about gun rights back to the center of Washington politics. Predictably, everyone is reaching for familiar scripts. With at least 59 dead and over 500 injured, Democrats are already demanding more gun control, while Republicans, who oppose new firearms laws, have offered condolences and prayers. But the big question is what this will mean to the gun rights debate in the coming days.

Liberals voiced disbelief that such bloodletting, this time at a country music festival, had happened yet again. Sen. Elizabeth Warren warned on Twitter: “Thoughts and prayers are NOT enough.”

For their part, Republicans accused Democrats of politicizing a tragedy. Sen. John Cornyn said, “I just think this is disgusting,” referring to the politicization by the Democrats.

Much is still to be learned about the shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock. We know he fired down on 22,000 revelers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel late Sunday night. We will learn more about him in the months to come.

But what about new gun laws? The irony is that when President Obama and Democrats controlled policy, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, they did nothing to pass new gun restrictions. But now that Republicans are in control, they would have us think such inaction is cruel and unpatriotic.

Trump’s Response

To his credit, President Trump’s immediate reaction has been measured and sympathetic. He has struck the right notes of grief and shock while calling for national unity. Trump has offered solace while avoiding the temptation to leverage tragedy for political gain. He said, “We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace. And we pray for the day when evil is banished, and the innocent are safe from hatred and fear.”

Democrats’ Reaction

Democrats have not missed a second in their attempt to take political advantage of the mass shooting. Sen. Chris Murphy told Congress to “get off its ______.” Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton refused to join Trump’s call for silence, saying on Twitter: “It’s time for action.” And Hillary Clinton has called the massacre “terrible and sickening,” while demanding further gun control laws.

What Will Happen

The middle of the nation is shrinking. While polls show most Americans favor greater background checks on gun purchases, it probably wouldn’t have mattered in this case, anyway. Conservatives will continue to point out that most mass shootings would not have been affected by the new laws that are often bantered about. Further, they will suggest that anyone evil enough to pick up a gun and kill dozens of innocent lives is unlikely to be deterred by new gun laws. And on that point, they would be right.

The Rushmore Report: Democratic Congressmen Site Problem with Party – Themselves

Last Friday, Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to reiterate what his Michigan colleague, Debbie Dingell, has been saying, which is that the Democratic Party has to listen to voters again. The wounds of the 2016 campaign are being re-opened, thanks to Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened, in which the former First Lady offers her account of the election.

She also takes swipes at Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, the media, Barack Obama, James Comey, and sexism for torpedoing her presidential hopes. It’s something the Democrats don’t need right now, but alas – it happened. The divisions between the establishment and progressive wings of the party have been rehashed.

During the show, Moulton said that he feels the Democratic Party hasn’t learned anything from 2016, and that a true self-evaluation is still absent. He knows the game: The GOP controls the White House, Congress, two-thirds of the governorships, and 69/99 state legislatures. The party is in its worst shape since the 1920s. It’s not a national party. It’s not in a position to become a governing party. Moreover, he said that his party didn’t just lose 2016, but several elections before that.

“If we don’t realize that we are partly to blame for that; that we’ve lost touch with a lot of American voters; we’ve lost touch with a lot of voters who used to be on our side – then, we’re not going to be able to move forward,” he said.

Rep. Dingell has also said that to a certain degree, especially when it comes to the white working class bloc that killed Clinton in the general election. Dingell said that Michigan was in play – her party thought she was nuts. Trump would go on to win the state. She knows these workers and she saw how Trump resonated with them. They’re concerned about jobs, not Russia. She also lamented how identity politics has hijacked her party, which has widened the gap between the Democratic Party and everyone else. She also said she gets mad when people say that Trump supporters are racist. She knows better; they’re not.

Moulton and Dingell may have the right ideas on how to get their party back on track. The issue is whether the rest of the Democratic Party wants to follow because this involves reaching out to Trump voters and other slices of the white working class demographic. The people who feel left behind. The people who voted for Obama twice and then flipped for Trump. There’s the insufferable urban-based professional wing of the Democratic Party that hates these people, doesn’t care about them, and thinks they’re relics of an older world, and yes – racist. In reality, they’re just hard-working Americans looking for ways to provide for their families.

My guess is that the vast majority of liberals don’t think they’re out of touch; it’s just that the rest of us are wrong. That’s fine. They’ll keep losing. There’s also an empathy gap with Democrats. And yes, until they recognize it – and much else – they’ll remain constrained to their urban strongholds, which isn’t enough to win national elections.

About the Author

Matt Vespa writes for Townhall.

The Rushmore Report: The Most Popular Governor in America

A recent Morning Consult national poll testing the approval ratings of the nation’s governors produced a surprising result. The most popular governor in the United States is someone you may have never even heard of, someone who is wildly popular despite the fact that his state’s entire congressional delegation is from the opposite political party. So who is this man with a 71 percent approval rating?

He is the governor of Massachusetts, one of the most Democratic states in America. But this governor is a Republican. His name is Charlie Baker.

So how is a Republican from the state that gave us Ted Kennedy and Elizabeth Warren even elected, let alone the most popular politician in the state? There are several reasons.

1. Baker is a check on liberal policies.

The Bay State citizens voted in Mr. Baker to provide balance. With more Independents than Democrats living in the state, this makes perfect sense.

2. Things are going well in Massachusetts.

Unemployment is low. The public schools are among the finest in America. Many of the nation’s leading hospitals and universities are here. Boston is tied with New York City for the amount of venture capital funding projects. Boston is undergoing a historic building boom. So when things are going well, whoever is in office gets high ratings.

3. Baker is the best of both worlds.

The governor won election as a non-partisan manager. He is conservative on fiscal matters but liberal on issues like abortion. Thus, he actually represents the people of Massachusetts more closely than most Democrats.

What’s next?

Despite living in a state that is hugely Democratic, in all possible match-ups for re-election, it’s not even close. No Democrat gets more than 30 percent in the polls. Even the son of Bobby Kennedy is bowing out. Expect the governor to win easy re-election in Massachusetts. And keep your eye on him in 2024. He just might be the next Mitt Romney – a former Republican governor from a liberal, northeast state – to run for the White House. Could Governor Baker become President Baker? Stay tuned.