- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Behold, it’s “Chuck and Nancy,” a simple phrase which became an instant political barometer the moment it was uttered. Indeed, President Trump referred to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as “Chuck and Nancy” to reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, primarily for their potential role in the future of DACA.

“Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I,” Mr. Trump said.

Response to this sudden, chummy familiarity rocked the news media, where it sparked giddy speculation, cat calls and criticism. Social media reverberated. “Chuck and Nancy” became #Chuckandnancy on Twitter where it trended to the top-10 most mentioned subjects for hours — heralded by multiple journalists from CBS, Associated Press, Bloomberg News, National Journal and National Public Radio, to name just a few.

“Friendship ended with MITCH AND PAUL. Now CHUCK AND NANCY are my best friends,” tweeted Politico’s Eric Geller, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

“Must have been a very cheery private meeting yesterday between #Trump & #McConnell. Trump just ditched him for Chuck and Nancy,” tweeted NBC analyst Howard Fineman.

Whatever his intent, Mr. Trump — canny media guy and determined dealmaker — created uncommon buzz and mystery.

“Is this like Sid and Nancy?” demanded one irate tweeter.

“Why didn’t Chuck and Nancy get something done when they had the super majority?” asked another, while a third proclaimed “Chuck and Nancy punked Trump.”

Sen. Ben Sasse joined in the fray by issuing a simple, seven-word press release.

“The Pelosi-Schumer-Trump deal is bad,” said the Nebraska Republican — and yes, that phrase also rocketed to the top trending items on Twitter.

TRUMP’S STAYING POWER

“After non-stop media attacks, President Trump still has higher approval rating than Hillary Clinton,” reports Jim Hoft, founder of Gateway Pundit, who cites a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll which gives Mrs. Clinton a 30 percent approval rating.

Mr. Trump received a 40 percent approval rating in the same poll.

Mr. Hoft also peeked at survey data in Real Clear Politics, which also give Mr. Trump a 40 percent average approval rating, based on the results of three major polls from “left-leaning” news organizations, he says.

A BANNON MOMENT

Programming of note: CBS reveals that former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon will appear on “60 minutes” on Sunday at 7 p.m.

“Controversial Trump campaign architect gives Charlie Rose his first extended interview since leaving the White House,” the network noted in a brief announcement.

Mr. Bannon departed his post on August 18. He remains, however, still engaged in the media uproar. He has served as a past radio host and chairman of Breitbart News, and has produced some 20 feature-length films, including “The Undefeated,” a 2011 documentary chronicling Sarah Palin’s political career. He also holds a master’s degree in national security from Georgetown University, an additional master’s from Harvard Business School, and served as a Navy officer aboard USS Paul F. Foster as a surface warfare officer in the Persian Gulf.

ALE TO THE CHIEFS

There is an industry trade group for everything, from snack foods to pet supplies. All of them keep an eye on the big doings at the U.S. Capitol, and are poised to recognize friendly forces for their cause.

Such is the case of the Beer Institute, which has announced that Sens. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, and Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat — along with Reps. Ron Kind, Wisconsin Democrat, and Erik Paulsen, Minnesota Republican — have been chosen official “2017 Beer Champions.”

The four were selected for their leadership in championing the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act that would provide tax relief to brewers and beer importers if enacted. The legislation was introduced in January and so far has garnered 253 co-sponsors in the House and 46 in the Senate.

“The act will enable our nation’s breweries and beer importers to continue to innovate so they can quench the thirst for America’s most popular alcohol beverage,” observes Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute.

THE PROSPECT OF ‘SENATOR’ CHRISTIE

There could be a Senate vacancy in New Jersey should Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat, be convicted of fraud in a case now underway in the Garden State. Republicans are keenly interested in the outcome; another GOP senator on Capitol Hill would be ideal of course. Naturally, the press now ponders the prospect of Gov. Chris Christie’s role in it all.

Will he appoint someone? Will he run for the seat himself?

“Christie could appoint anyone, but in reality he couldn’t appoint himself. Should he want the seat, he would first resign as governor and then his lieutenant governor would make the appointment. Such a maneuver has happened five times since the 1960s, but all five governors-turned-senators lost their next election,” writes National Review columnist John Fund.

“With public resentment of ‘self-appointed’ senators usually high and Christie’s approval ratings quite low, why would Christie even consider such a move? One reason is that the GOP is unlikely to hold the Senate seat should it become vacant. New Jersey has gone Democratic for president in every election since 1988 and hasn’t elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972. Christie would probably be the strongest candidate the GOP could put up in what is shaping up to be a tough year for the party,” Mr. Fund noted.

POLL DU JOUR

• 59 percent say the U.S. is “mainly divided,” 21 percent say the nation is ‘totally divided,” 19 percent say it is “mainly united,” 1 percent say the nation is “totally united.”

• 23 percent say the nation is divided because of the income gap between rich and poor.

• 21 percent say it is divided because of “which political party people support.”

• 19 percent cite race and ethnicity, 18 percent cite influence of specific news media, 8 percent cite religious beliefs.

• 3 percent cite community preferences, 3 percent cite age differences, 2 percent gender differences.

Source: An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of 1,200 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 5-9 and released Wednesday.

• Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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