Category Archives: National Columnist

Column: Bill O’Reilly slanders Ronald Reagan

Donald Trump is just one symptom of today’s cultural pathology of self-validating vehemence with blustery certitudes substituting for evidence. Another is the fact that the book atop the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list is a tissue of unsubstantiated assertions. Because of its vast readership, “Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency” by… Continue Reading

Column: When should you take the winnings and run?

Where do Republicans get that special talent for turning gold to dross? They score an electoral “massacre” (The Economist) in 2014 and, a year later, what do they have to show for it other than another threat to shut down the government? Hillary Clinton is caught in email flagrante and Benghazi mendacity and yet, with… Continue Reading

Supreme Court tackles sinister trends

The IRS scandal — the denial of essential tax-exempt status to conservative advocacy groups, thereby effectively suppressing the groups’ activities — demonstrates this: When government is empowered to regulate advocacy, it will be tempted to suppress some of it. And sometimes government will think like Oscar Wilde: “The only way to get rid of temptation… Continue Reading

I’ll give Republicans the debate they want

Mr. Ben Ginsberg Partner Jones Day 51 Louisiana Ave. NW Washington, D.C. 20001-2113 Dear Ben: I write to you in your capacity as debate negotiator for Republican presidential candidates. I understand you may have an opening for a moderator for your Feb. 26 debate. Please consider this letter my application for the job. I applaud… Continue Reading

Channeling Cassandra

As Republican presidential candidates debate the debates, roiling and railing against the unfairness of it all, campaigns have been busy rebooting candidates and crafting fresh slogans. But whether Jeb can fix it, or Trump can build it, or Ben can cure it matters little in the global scheme of things. For globally we must think… Continue Reading

Ignoring the obvious

A recent, widely publicized incident in which a policeman was called to a school classroom to deal with a disruptive student has provoked all sorts of comments on whether the policeman used “excessive force.” What has received far less attention, though it is a far larger question, with more sweeping implications, is the role of… Continue Reading

Column: Clash of the Floridians

Soon after Wednesday night’s Republican debate, the phone rang: “Did the fat lady sing?” asked the voice on the other end.    “Probably,” I said. Meaning, it is probably over for Jeb Bush. The erstwhile front-runner had performed weakly, which was compounded by his recent promise to shed his Mr. Nice Guy persona. Instead, he… Continue Reading

Column: Skip the investigations, win the election

At a certain point, you have to realize you can’t hit a fastball.  House Republicans don’t quite get that they are hopeless at oversight hearings. They keep losing — and now the chairman of the House Oversight Committee has just introduced articles of impeachment against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. I’m sympathetic to the GOP motive,… Continue Reading

Column: A peevish pack of GOP contenders

Has there ever been a more peevish pack, a more petulant populace, than the 2016 Republican presidential contenders? The complaining began hours before Wednesday night’s debate in Boulder. “I am now in Colorado looking forward to what I am sure will be a very unfair debate!” Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. Trump, the fading front-runner,… Continue Reading

The political reality of fantasy sports

Americans have been betting on sports since the first time a Puritan pilgrim boasted that his horse was the fastest in Massachusetts Bay Colony and another said, “Wanna bet?” But fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly and government gotta fret about gambling on fantasy sports. Torrential television advertising by DraftKings and FanDuel is creating millions… Continue Reading

Column: Jeb Bush’s punchless campaign

The Bushes are burning as they consume the news. Bush family patriarch George H.W. Bush is alarmed, bewildered and irritated, The New York Times reported last weekend, that his son Jeb is doing so poorly in a Republican presidential primary battle dominated by Donald Trump. The 41st president summoned his son George W., the 43rd… Continue Reading

Column: Hillary 2.0: The saga continues

Many people may share Sen. Bernie Sanders’ complaint that he was tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton’s emails. But the controversy is about issues far bigger than emails. One issue is the utter disaster created by the Obama administration’s foreign policy in Libya, carried out by Clinton as Secretary of State. An even bigger issue… Continue Reading

Column: Fix the criminal justice system

The Republican Party, like Sisyphus, is again putting its shoulder to a boulder, hoping to make modest but significant changes in the Electoral College arithmetic by winning perhaps 12 percent of the African- American vote. To this end, they need to hone a rhetoric of skepticism about, and an agenda for reform of, the criminal… Continue Reading

Column: Candidates should choose their judicial muse

A supremely important presidential issue is being generally neglected because Democrats have nothing interesting to say about it and Republicans differ among themselves about it. Four Supreme Court justices are into the fourth quarters of their potential centuries — Stephen Breyer (77), Antonin Scalia (79), Anthony Kennedy (79), and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (82).  So, presidential… Continue Reading

The Benghazi panel unravels

If this were one of Trey Gowdy’s murder prosecutions, it would be declared a mistrial. For 17 months, the former prosecutor who leads the House Benghazi committee has labored to give the appearance of diligence and impartiality. But, in an inexplicable and ruinous outbreak of honesty in recent weeks, the thing is unraveling just in… Continue Reading

Column: Hillary Clinton: A woman in full

With the latest poll numbers tallied and political pundits having spoken, a consensus has emerged: Hillary Clinton won the first Democratic debate and, barring a Benghazi pinata exploding with revelations, has cinched the nomination. Reasons cited for Clinton’s superior performance have been well hashed by now. Her deft parrying placed her left-of-center but right-of-Sanders. She’s… Continue Reading

Column: Is economic equality really a moral imperative?

America is more distant from the 1933 beginning of the New Deal (82 years) than that beginning was from the 1865 end of the Civil War (68 years). Both episodes involved the nation’s understanding of equality: The war affirmed equality of natural rights, the New Deal addressed unequal social conditions. Today’s Democratic Party is frozen,… Continue Reading

Game over: Clinton has the nomination

I repeat: Unless she’s indicted, Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination. I wrote that six weeks ago, amid fevered dreams of a Clinton collapse and a Joe Biden rescue. That those were a mirage is all the more obvious after Tuesday’s debate. The reason, then as now, is simple: Clinton has no competition. She’s… Continue Reading

Column: Emanuel battles history in Chicago

A Midwestern humorist, Indiana’s Kin Hubbard, said people often confuse bad management with destiny. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel knows better. He must play the cards that fate has dealt him, and he is too polite, or at least too prudent, to say that another name for fate is Democratic rule of the city since 1931.… Continue Reading

Column: A (wo)man among boys

Hillary Clinton was a head shorter than her rivals when they lined up on stage for Sheryl Crow’s version of the National Anthem at Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate. But after that moment, she towered over them. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was preachy and self-righteous. Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb kept complaining that he… Continue Reading

The Sanders-Trump magical mystery tour

Barrels of ink and galaxies of pixels have been sacrificed to solving the mystery of the spectacular rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. People are angry. We get it. But there’s more at work than mere frustration. We are at a philosophical hinge point that feels more acute than in elections past. The equally… Continue Reading

Zealots need to deal in facts regarding gun control

President Obama’s intrusion into the mourning community of Roseburg, Oregon, in order to promote his political crusade for stronger gun control laws, is part of a pattern of his using various other sites of shooting rampages in the past to promote this long-standing crusade of the political left. The zealotry of gun control advocates might… Continue Reading

Column: Speaker of the House? Don’t do it, Paul Ryan

The worst job in the world, it turns out, isn’t the U.S. presidency but speaker of the House of Representatives. “It’s where you go to die,” as one veteran Hill watcher put it to me. Volunteers? In the wake of majority leader Kevin McCarthy’s sudden withdrawal from his once-certain ascent to the speakership, several others… Continue Reading

John Kasich may be the Jon Huntsman of 2016

On paper, John Kasich is a perfect candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. He has a long record as a fiscal and social conservative, and he’s the popular governor of Ohio, a must-win state for any Republican hoping to occupy the Oval Office. But the 2016 GOP presidential primary isn’t being fought on paper. It’s… Continue Reading

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