Here are the four things you need to know before your coffee gets cold, the January 10, 2017 edition:
1. Don’t Let the Door Hit You…
Tonight at 9pm EST, President Barack Obama will give the last major speech of his Administration: his Farewell Address. Breaking with a bit of tradition, Mr. Obama will not deliver this speech in Washington, DC, but rather, he will travel to Chicago, his home since the mid-1980s and where his political career began. The symbolism of Mr. Obama’s decision hearkens back to one of the best speeches of his career when he accepted the Democratic nomination in 2008. However, notably, the speech, at McCormick Place, is certainly a different venue from the raucous crowd of 240,000 in Grant Park eight years ago.
Mr. Obama has a choice in the speech: to be prospective or to be reactive. The Farewell Address is the President’s opportunity to put his mark on the way historians will reflect on his legacy. It has a way of shaping perceptions while the President is still in power. It could, also, given the power of the bully pulpit, cause tension and division with the incoming change of government. Despite Mr. Obama’s clear skill at delivering his message, he has not been nearly as effective at smoothing over divisions. Rather, during Mr. Obama’s tenure, frequently misreading the feelings of the electorate has led Mr. Obama to make offhanded remarks that have fomented anger and resentment across the country.
This speech is Mr. Obama’s first, best, chance to take a step into history and work towards real conciliation. It is important to note that Mr. Obama will be leaving office at a mere 55 years old. As such, he will be one of the youngest former Presidents in decades. Given that he will likely continue to be active in politics, or at least in influencing the direction of liberal policies, there is a chance that Mr. Obama could depart from tradition and give a speech aimed at his core fanbase and his future ambitions.
2. Confirming Mr. Sessions
Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III, who clearly already possesses one of the best names of any Senator, will be before his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee to begin his confirmation hearing today. Democrats have made a half-hearted attempt to undermine Sessions’ credibility by, of course, calling him a racist (because there’s nothing new in the playbook on the Left). Sessions, who was an Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney, and Attorney General of Alabama before serving in the Senate, has the resume and the qualifications to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.
Sessions has the opportunity to bring real reform to a Justice Department that has been woefully mismanaged for eight years. Rather than pursuing the aims of law enforcement, it has been wielded as a political arm of the Democratic Party in attempts to strong-arm local governments and states into embracing the Left’s notion of progressive policies.
No GOP Senators have voiced opposition to Senator Sessions’ confirmation as Attorney General. The GOP controls a 52-48 majority in the Senate, and, thanks to former Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, Presidential cabinet appointees only need a simple majority for confirmation. Given that Senator Sessions is widely-regarded, even by his opponents as being eminently likeable, and the fact that one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate, Susan Collins of Maine, is shepherding his nomination, expect no Republican defections and for him to be confirmed fairly easily.
3. The Power Behind the Throne
President-Elect Trump has appointed his son-in-law (Ivanka’s husband), Jared Kushner as a Senior Adviser. While Democrats are immediately calling foul and nepotism over the appointment, Mr. Kushner, the 35-year-old media executive-turned political strategist, was instrumental in Donald Trump’s successful political campaign. In Republican circles, he’s seen as one of the moderating influences who has been able to work with his father-in-law to get the right people in positions of power and influence with Mr. Trump on the campaign trail.
While Trump has been forceful that he is specifically exempt from anti-nepotism laws (seemingly correct, though untested—this is a situation that has not happened before in American politics), Mr. Kushner is not exempt from federal ethics laws. He has noted that both he and his wife, Ivanka, will be divesting in their many successful business enterprises. Though Ms. Trump will not be joining the Administration, it is likely being undertaken out of an abundance of caution.
Mr. Trump will be holding his first press conference in over 130 days on Wednesday where he is expected to address a wide range of issues including his own, personal, divestment (or something) of his massive holdings, cabinet appointments, and plans for taking office. We’ll cover that in more detail when we know more about it.
4. Overcoming the Tide
The Clemson Tigers overcame the Alabama Crimson Tide moments after midnight this morning in the final seconds of the College Football National Championships, 35-31. The victory foe Clemson is their first title since the 1981 season. The lead had changed hands three times in the final five minutes of the game, but a two-yard touchdown pass as time ran out would get the Tigers on top and would allow Clemson to overcome the 45-40 loss to Alabama in last year’s Championship.
As always, there’s more news out there, but these are the big points that you needed to know for today.