Inside the Beltway: Is civil debate possible?

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Imagine a thoughtful and vibrant debate between Sens. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, and Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent and self-described socialist — in a dramatic setting. Is this fantasy or reality?

It’s real, and Fox News is on the team making it happen.

“Dating back to the 19th century, the U.S. Senate has often been referred to as ‘the world’s greatest deliberative body.’ Building upon that tradition of often fierce partisan debate on pressing issues facing the nation, a new coalition — the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate — is launching a series of Oxford-style debates between leading U.S. senators,” the organizations say in a mission statement.

No, really. This is true.

The debate — called The Senate Project — will be moderated by Fox News anchorman Bret Baier and debuts in the Kennedy Institute’s full-size replica of the U.S. Senate Chamber and will be streamed on Fox Nation at high noon on June 13.

“The goal of the debate series is to reintroduce the culture of seeking common ground and consensus that has been the essence of the Senate since it was conceived in 1789. We hope it will inspire policymakers to not only make the case for their points of view, but to then work towards the example set by Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator Orrin Hatch for bipartisan bridge-building,” the coalition said in a joint statement.

“Our hope is to show that bipartisanship and vigorous debate can coexist—and that civility is still possible, even in today’s hyperpolarized world,” said Matt Sandgren, executive director of the Hatch Foundation.

The host network agrees.

“Fox News Media is home to the most politically diverse audience in cable news and The Senate Project’s mission of providing the public with access to thoughtful, extensive debates from all sides of the political spectrum is well-suited for our viewers,” said Jay Wallace, president and executive editor of Fox News Media.

Definitely stay tuned. Find the three founding organizations at Orrinhatchfoundation.org, Emkinstitute.org and Bipartisanpolicy.org.

JUST PLAIN FED UP

The nagging, unpleasant sense that things have gone awry in the United States has spread to a very large segment of the population. 
A new Gallup poll finds that a mere 16% of U.S. adults are satisfied with the way things are going the country. This is a drop by six percentage points since a similar poll was conducted in April, the pollster said.

“Democrats’ satisfaction has fallen 14 percentage points since April, accounting for most of the overall decline, and is now at its lowest point of President Biden’s presidency, while Republicans’ and independents’ views have not changed appreciably. Currently, 24% of Democrats, 18% of independents and 4% of Republicans are satisfied with the direction of the U.S.,” the Gallup analysis advised.

Democrats may want to polish up their powers of persuasion.

“With less than six months to go before the midterm elections, the public’s mood is sour, with few Americans satisfied with the direction of the country and approving of Congress, making the Democratic congressional majority extremely vulnerable. Biden’s approval rating is particularly weak among independents and is nowhere near the high level required (typically above 60%) for a president to stave off significant midterm losses in Congress,” the analysis said.

“The likelihood of a dramatic economic turnaround before November’s congressional elections appears slim, which puts pressure on Democrats to persuade voters to keep them in power despite the nation’s current struggles,” it concluded.

‘TAKE A BREATH’

The fatal attack this week on schoolchildren in Uvalde, Texas, continues to resonate with a cross section of people, including Lawrence Jones, a Fox News enterprise reporter who spoke with many of the families who were involved.

He shared and shared his experience with primetime host Sean Hannity in the immediate aftermath. to reveal that the families were not happy with the press.

And they had a request.

“Sean, they want the media, they want the Democrats to take a breath. Do you realize they started politicizing this before many of these young people were identified? It is very sickening,” Mr. Jones said.

“I have been on the air since 4 a.m. dealing with this, talking with family members, talking with surgical units, Rangers have been pulled off the investigation because of what they witnessed today reviewing the bodies,” Mr. Jones continued, noting he had spoken with a local justice of the peace who supervised identification of the victims and notified parents.

“That’s what we are dealing with on the ground,” he explained.

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POLL DU JOUR

• 54% of U.S. adults say laws covering the sales of guns should be made “more strict”; 27% of Republicans, 50% of independents and 79% of Democrats agree.

• 60% of women and 46% of men also agree.

• 30% overall say the laws should be “kept as they are now”; 49% of Republicans, 33% of independents and 12% of Democrats agree.

• 29% of women and 32% of men also agree.

• 16% overall say the laws should be “less strict”; 24% of Republicans, 17% of independents and 9% of Democrats agree.

• 10% of women and 22% of men also agree.

SOURCE: A CBS News poll of 2,041 U.S. adults conducted May 18-20.

• Helpful information to [email protected]





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