- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Billionaire businessman, reality TV personality and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has his eye on a presidential run in 2020 — that is, if the man has a plan.

“Is there a chance I am talking to the 46th president of the United States?” talk radio host Rich Eisen asked Mr. Cuban in an interview Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t put it high on my list of probabilities, but we’ll see what happens. I’ve got a lot of time to decide. It’s flattering that people ask me about it, and I appreciate it, and there’s definitely a leadership void in this country. But I’m not jumping in,” replied Mr. Cuban. “You don’t try and pretend to be a politician. You have to have solutions. I am working on some projects, and if I think they can turn into solutions, then yeah, I’ll do it. If I don’t think I have the right answers, then I won’t do it.”

In a hypothetical match-up with President Trump, Mr. Cuban would win, at least according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday. Among all voters, Mr. Cuban would inch by the president, 42 percent to 38 percent, respectively. The GOP crowd, however, is sticking by their man. Among Republicans, 77 percent would vote for Mr. Trump, 12 percent for Mr. Cuban. And among those who voted for Mr. Trump, 83 percent would stay in his corner, 8 percent would opt for Mr. Cuban.

He has been a political presence for a while, with an evolving political calling. More than two years ago, Mr. Cuban’s name curiously popped up on Politico’s likely list of running mates for Mr. Trump when he was a White House hopeful. In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last May, Mr. Cuban described himself as “fiercely independent” and allowed that he would be open to jumping in the presidential race as a running mate to either Mr. Trump or Hillary Clinton. By September, Mr. Cuban was campaigning for Mrs. Clinton, though he was critical of her campaign.

“The Clinton staff sucks at spin and anticipation, and driving the message or driving the topics, driving the conversation. Horrible at it. Horrible. When it comes to the stuff that you know is going to drive the headline porn, they are just not great,” Mr. Cuban told Business Insider at the time.

Time marches on and on. More recently, Cafe Press, a major purveyor of political knickknacks, already is producing several varieties of “Mark Cuban for President” bumper stickers. And at New York City’s media-heavy OzyFest last month, Mr. Cuban revealed that if Mr. Trump runs again in 2020, he’d be ready.

“If he lasts four years, I’ll be there to kick his ass,” Mr. Cuban told the audience.

GRAPPLING WITH GRIDLOCK

No one can accuse conservatives of fostering the notorious gridlock on Capitol Hill that has produced a “do nothing” image of Congress. “Senate Democrats have now become the doctors of gridlock. Forsaking the good will the minority party usually shows to the new party in power after a presidential election, the Democrats have also decided to prevent President Trump from actually filling important positions in the administration. This has the cumulative effect of preventing the public from getting action from the government it has elected to serve them,” author and scholar Ken Blackwell writes in a Townhall.com op-ed.

Conservatives can provide a “gridlock reform” strategy, he advises. A muscular effort is now underway to do just that.

The Judicial Crisis Network has launched a $500,000 digital ad campaign to push back against Democratic obstruction of Mr. Trump’s judicial nominees. When Mr. Trump took office in January, there were 105 judicial vacancies, now there are 140.

“Democrats are abusing Senate rules to delay and obstruct President Trump’s extraordinary judicial nominees because they want to keep liberal activist judges in control of our courts,” says Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the organization.

The conservative anti-gridlock force is expanding. The Tea Party Patriots, Concerned Veterans for America, Susan B. Anthony List, and Concerned Women for America are activating grass-roots teams, email campaigns and phone banks for the cause — all noting that there is currently no confirmed U.S. solicitor general and no confirmed head of national security in the Department of Justice.

BERNIE’S $60 YEARNING

At the height of the 2016 presidential election campaign, Ben & Jerry’s — the politically progressive Vermont ice cream maker — produced a special batch of “Bernie’s Yearning,” a limited edition flavor to honor then-presidential hopeful Sen. Bernard Sanders. It featured mint ice cream topped by a solid milk chocolate disc — unusual but symbolic. The disc stood for economic gains made by the top 1 percent of American society, the ice cream itself symbolized “the rest of us,” according to company co-founder Ben Cohen.

Ben & Jerry’s has just issued another batch of “Bernie’s Yearning” — this time to draw attention to Our Revolution, the feisty nonprofit born out of Mr. Sanders’ old political campaign. The organization now is raising money for multiple progressive candidates, using the custom ice cream as a raffle prize for lucky donors.

Prize?

The ice cream itself is pretty high-end. Winners will receive one pint of Bernie’s Yearning Ice Cream, each with an “approximate retail value” of $60, the group noted.

FOXIFIED

Fox News Channel continues to do all the right things in the cable news realm. The network dominated some significant news this week, besting rivals MSNBC and CNN in coverage of President Trump’s rally and speech in Arizona, his national speech on Afghanistan and South Asia, and the solar eclipse. In each case, Fox News won the ratings race by as much as 2 million viewers. There is good news elsewhere.

Fox News has continued its reign as the highest-rated basic cable network for 33 consecutive weeks according to Nielsen Media Research. Yes, the news channel is beating HGTV, TBS, USA and other providers. According to Nielsen, Fox News drew 2.1 million viewers, MSNBC 1.9 million, USA 1.5 million, HGTV 1.4 million and TBS 1.3 million.

POLL DU JOUR

87 percent of U.S. voters say “political rhetoric” is a serious issue; 80 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats agree.

86 percent say “race relations” are a serious issue; 87 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of independents and 88 percent of Democrats agree.

85 percent say “racism” is a serious issue; 84 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of independents and 89 percent of Democrats agree.

84 percent “political violence” is a serious issue; 83 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of independents and 83 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Morning Consult/Politico poll of 1,987 registered U.S. voters conducted Aug. 17-19.

• Ballyhoo and balderdash to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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