National Columnist

Thawing the Senate’s ‘deep freeze’

July 18, 2013

For all the railing against dysfunction in the nation’s capital, very little actually happened to overcome it — until this week. That’s why the agreement to begin putting an end to Senate filibusters of presidential nominees is a very big deal. It is an acknowledgment that the only way to stop political bullying is to Read More

The road to bedlam

July 17, 2013

It is easy to understand how everyone in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case feels. If I were Martin’s mother, I’d want his killer’s heart on a platter. If I were Zimmerman’s mother, I’d be grateful my son escaped greater injury, however he managed. If I were African-American, I would fear for my sons and be Read More

Is this still America?

July 16, 2013

There are no winners in the trial of George Zimmerman. The only question is whether the damage that has been done has been transient or irreparable. Legally speaking, Zimmerman has won his freedom. But he can still be sued in a civil case, and he will probably never be safe to live his life in Read More

Republicans adopting role of principled martyrs

July 12, 2013

Republicans seem to be adopting the self-immolation tactics of principled martyrs. Of course, principled or not, you’re still dead in the end. At this stage in the second term of the president they couldn’t defeat, Republicans seem more like stubborn children refusing to come out of their rooms for supper, even though the alternative is Read More

GOP’s search-and-destroy mission

Watching House Republicans’ latest complaint about Obamacare brings to mind the joke Woody Allen used to open “Annie Hall,” about two elderly women at a Catskills resort. “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible,” says one. “Yeah, I know,” says the other. “And such small portions.” Last week, the administration announced it was Read More

May be time to get television out of courtrooms

July 11, 2013

As a courtroom junkie since my early reporting days, it is at great personal sacrifice that I suggest the following: It may be time to get television cameras out of the courtroom. Or at least, judges might be encouraged to exclude electronic media from high-profile trials. The excessive coverage and commentary we’ve watched in recent Read More

Return of the uniter

July 10, 2013

Former President George W. Bush, on his recent trip to Africa, toured Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. He then sat down for an interview that may qualify as the eighth. The man who started two wars abroad and introduced a new level of hostility to domestic politics spoke with Read More

Legacy of a first citizen

July 9, 2013

As Nelson Mandela lies gravely ill — heaped with tributes and obscured beneath them — it is worth recalling his defining achievement. Mandela spent 27 years in prison, much of it in a 7-by-8-foot cell with a bedroll and a bucket, embodying the wall-less captivity of a majority of his countrymen. But his historical place Read More

The Washington change that wasn’t

July 5, 2013

The nation’s capital is savoring a satisfying spasm of schadenfreude this holiday weekend. Copies of “This Town,” my friend and former Washington Post colleague Mark Leibovich’s soon-to-be released book about Washington culture, have begun to dribble out, and people in the capital are reacting in the predictable way of sorting out who came out worst. Read More

Obama’s global-warming folly

The economy stagnates. Syria burns. Scandals lap at his feet. China and Russia mock him, even as a “29-year-old hacker” revealed his nation’s spy secrets to the world. How does President Obama respond? With a grandiloquent speech on climate change. Climate change? It lies at the very bottom of a list of Americans’ concerns (last Read More

Famous threesomes, old homes, good reads

Welcome, visitors! •••••• Question: As people age, do they sleep more soundly? Answer: Yes, but usually in the afternoon. •••••• I see by the paper…….. • U.S.-made car sales are robust in comparison to their automaker peers in France, Italy and Germany, the Wall Street Journal reports. In France, sales are off 11 percent. Recalls Read More

The sudden sainthood of Wendy Davis

July 3, 2013

I like Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis. I admire her intelligence, chutzpah, tenacity and, to be perfectly honest, her enviable continence. But her elevation to national heroine, essentially owing to her ability to speak for 11 hours straight without a break while wearing (how many times did we hear or read it?) “rouge-red sneakers,” is Read More

Obama’s bright idea — Generating power in Africa

July 2, 2013

Before his current trip, President Obama’s Africa strategy was known for inattention at the highest level. Former Chinese President Hu Jintao made five extensive visits to Africa as head of state. Obama spent 20 hours in sub-Saharan Africa in 2009. The intense affection of a continent seemed unrequited, and foreign policy experts wondered if American Read More

Nationalized gay marriage now inevitable

June 28, 2013

Under the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages even in states that have legalized it. This week, the Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional. There are two possible grounds, distinct and in some ways contradictory, for doing so. The curious thing about the court’s DOMA decision is that it contains Read More

The Zimmerman trial is no joking matter

June 27, 2013

When it comes to knock-knock jokes, it helps to be 5 years old: You can slap your head, roll your eyes and run outside and play. In a courtroom where the defendant is charged with second-degree murder, a knock-knock joke has all the appeal of a bar of soap on the shower floor. It is Read More

Roberts court guts Martin Luther King Jr’s­ triumph

The Roberts court chose a most cynical way to celebrate this summer’s 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s penultimate day in session before the Aug. 28 semi-centenary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the court’s conservative majority announced a 5-to-4 ruling that guts one of Read More

Random thoughts: From Biden to the Yankees

June 26, 2013

Random thoughts on the passing scene: Edmund Burke said, “There is no safety for honest men, but by believing all possible evil of evil men.” Evil men do not always snarl. Some smile charmingly. Those are the most dangerous. If you don’t think the mainstream media slants the news, keep track of how often they Read More

The Republican’s leadership challenge

June 20, 2013

It is often argued, including by me, that the GOP needs its own Bill Clinton or Tony Blair — a leader to reposition the party and reinvigorate its political appeal. But if these figures are examples of successful reform, British Prime Minister David Cameron is a warning of its perils. Cameron set out to modernize Read More

The right’s poisoning of patriotism

June 14, 2013

A number of libertarians and conservative populists have found data collection by the National Security Agency to be the final confirmation of their worst fears about Barack Obama and modern government. It is an attempt, according to Ron Paul, to “deliberately destroy the Constitution.” To radio talk show host Mark Levin, it reveals “the elements Read More

Snowden’s NSA leaks are backlash of too much secrecy

June 13, 2013

Keep your distance: The director of national intelligence is having intestinal distress. “For me, it is literally — not figuratively, literally — gut-wrenching to see this happen,” James Clapper told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell over the weekend, referring to leaks about the government’s secret program to collect vast troves of phone and Internet data. There Read More

Crisis of faith in government

June 12, 2013

It is reassuring that in the midst of so much government dysfunction, the IRS has resolved the question of when and whether to tax tanning beds under the Affordable Care Act. Do not be concerned about that giddiness you feel. You are not having a nervous breakdown but are suffering a symptom commonly associated with Read More

A power of conviction on human rights

June 11, 2013

President Obama’s newly designated national security adviser, Susan Rice, and his proposed United Nations ambassador, Samantha Power, are political loyalists. They are also known as liberal interventionists — emotionally seared by American passivity during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and advocates for military action to prevent a Libyan bloodbath in 2011. So the question arises Read More

Obama in a hot spot on trafficking

June 7, 2013

When President Obama goes to Africa at month’s end, the first African-American president will have a rare opportunity to spread American values to that continent. It would be a shame if his trip instead validated slavery. By selecting Tanzania as one of three African countries that will receive a presidential visit, the Obama administration is Read More

A message from Qusair

On Wednesday, Qusair fell to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Qusair is a strategic town that connects Damascus with Assad’s Alawite heartland on the Mediterranean, with its ports and Russian naval base. It’s a major strategic shift. Assad’s forces can now advance on rebel-dominated areas in central and northern Syria, including Aleppo. For the Read More

Republicans are acting like it is 1999

June 6, 2013

It’s beginning to feel like the late ’90s all over again. Then, congressional Republicans howled themselves hoarse about Clinton administration scandals. But the indicators kept pointing to a booming economy, and support for President Bill Clinton climbed steeply through 1998 as House Republicans marched toward impeaching him. Now, after a long economic winter, green shoots Read More