Category Archives: National Columnist

Obama’s self-revealing final act

Barack Obama did not go out quietly. His unquiet final acts were, in part, overshadowed by a successor who refused to come in quietly and, in part, by Obama’s own endless, sentimental farewell tour. But there was nothing nostalgic or sentimental about Obama’s last acts. Two of them were simply shocking. Perhaps we should have… Continue Reading

The waterbeetle of American politics

He flabbergasts the Human Race By gliding on the water’s face With ease, celerity and grace; But if he ever stopped to think Of how he did it, he would sink. — Hilaire Belloc, on the waterbeetle Leaving aside the missing element of grace and the improbability of his ever stopping to think, Donald Trump… Continue Reading

Heavyweight match: Lewis vs. Trump

A recent tweet from @realDonaldTrump: John Lewis is an American hero. I look forward to working with him in the years to come.” That, my friends, is what’s known as “fake news.” It didn’t happen. I made it up. Here’s real news: Just days before his inauguration, President-elect Donald Trump got into a verbal battle… Continue Reading

Why the media lose to Trump

The best thing that happened to Donald Trump all week is that BuzzFeed published the raw Russia dossier about him. It can’t be pleasant for anyone to see his name associated with prostitutes and a bizarre sex act in print — the principle that all publicity is good publicity can be taken too far even… Continue Reading

What happened to the honeymoon?

The shortest honeymoon on record is officially over. Normally, newly elected presidents enjoy a wave of goodwill that allows them to fly high at least through their first 100 days. Donald Trump has not yet been sworn in and the honeymoon has already come and gone. Presidents-elect usually lie low during the interregnum. Trump never… Continue Reading

Dylann Roof’s last act

If Death lingers in courtroom corridors awaiting sentences, this historic city’s federal courthouse was surely a top destination. On Tuesday, the Reaper’s patience was rewarded with the jury’s return of the death penalty for Dylann Roof. Roof, who insisted on representing himself during the sentencing phase of his 33-count murder trial, was found guilty last… Continue Reading

President-elect Trumpschenko

First, a history refresher: For the past nine years, a smattering of Americans, most recently led by our now president-elect, have insisted that Barack Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya. For years, Donald Trump was unrelenting in his insistence that Obama prove beyond existing proof that he was born in Hawaii and not in… Continue Reading

Academia may now be beyond satire

The Chronicle of Higher Education, which is a window on the sometimes weird world of academia, recently revisited a hilarious intellectual hoax from 20 years ago. Reading the recollections of the perpetrator and of some who swallowed his gibberish is sobering. In 1996, Alan Sokal, a New York University physicist and self-described “academic leftist,” composed… Continue Reading

The reset failure

President Barack Obama has finally had it with Russia. It only took eight years of cold reality — topped off by the Russian interference in the November election — to make the outgoing president almost cleareyed about the Kremlin. Not that Obama is ready to admit error. Asked by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday if he… Continue Reading

McConnell vs. McConnell: an epic showdown

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is a tough and wily operator. But he is opposed by an equally relentless and worthy adversary: Mitch McConnell. Nobody in recent memory has argued so frequently and so passionately against himself as the Kentucky Republican. Oyez, oyez, oyez: Let us hear the case of McConnell v. McConnell. In… Continue Reading

Obama’s unforced errors on foreign policy

When Barack Obama moves two miles from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to 2446 Belmont Road in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood, he will live half a mile from 2340 S Street, where Woodrow Wilson spent his three post-presidential years. Wilson’s embittering foreign policy failure was the Senate’s rejection of the U.S. participation in the embodiment of Wilsonian aspirations,… Continue Reading

Cold War relic, present day threat

You can kick the can down the road, but when Kim Jong Un announces, as he did last Sunday, that “we have reached the final stage in preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic rocket,” you are reaching the end of that road. Since the early 1990s, we have offered every kind of inducement to get… Continue Reading

Loner-loser syndrome

As convicted murderer Dylann Roof prepares to defend himself in the sentencing phase of his trial, a clearer understanding of his motives in gunning down nine African-Americans during Bible study prayer has begun to emerge.  In a word, he’s a loser — as random and ordinary as the proverbial tree falling in a forest bereft… Continue Reading

Hollywood and children

2016 seemed like an unusually bad year for celebrity deaths (though we’re told that it wasn’t really out of the ordinary). But the one-two punch of the deaths of Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, 24 hours apart was shocking, even by 2016 standards. Some have suggested that Reynolds died of a broken heart,… Continue Reading

The nation’s abattoir

The city of Chicago is conducting a long, bloody experiment in what happens to a gang-ridden municipality in the absence of effective policing. It is keeping the morgue depressingly busy. Seven hundred sixty-two people were murdered in the city in 2016, a nearly unheard of 50 percent increase over the year before. This is more… Continue Reading

Obama was indeed transformational, unfortunately

Any summation of Barack Obama’s impact on domestic policy and politics should begin with this: In 2008, he assured supporters, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Soon he will be replaced by someone who says, “I alone can fix it.” So, Americans have paid Obama the… Continue Reading

Trump and Conway’s transition of contradictions

Three weeks ago, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway sat on stage in a hotel ballroom in Washington and praised President Obama’s handling of the transition. “I was always raised to respect the office of the presidency and its current occupant, and I think that I have done that over the course of my adult life,”… Continue Reading

Why we should defund the United Nations

We’ve come a long way from Daniel Patrick Moynihan excoriating the U.N.’s 1975 “Zionism is racism” resolution in one of the finer exhibits of righteous indignation in the history of American speechifying. The Obama administration acceded to — and, reportedly, assisted behind the scenes — a less notorious but still noxious Security Council resolution condemning… Continue Reading

Good riddance, 2016

Viewing 2016 in retrospect — doing so is unpleasant, but less so than was living through it — the year resembles a china shop after a visit from an especially maladroit bull. Because a law says “the state of California may not sell or display the Battle Flag of the Confederacy … or any similar… Continue Reading

Obama’s final, most shameful, legacy moment

“When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.” — Barack Obama, AIPAC conference, March 4, 2012 The audience — overwhelmingly Jewish, passionately pro-Israel and supremely gullible — applauded wildly. Four years later — his last election behind him, with a month to go in office and with no need to fool Jew or gentile… Continue Reading

Making America 1953 again

It is axiomatic that if someone is sufficiently eager to disbelieve something, there is no Everest of evidence too large to be ignored. This explains today’s revival of protectionism, which is a plan to make America great again by making it 1953 again.  This was when manufacturing’s postwar share of the labor force peaked at… Continue Reading

Fear thee well to 2016

As usual, the year’s end brings reflections and ruminations on what was and what is to be. This time around, however, it feels as though an era is coming to an end. That gentle frisson between past and future about which columnists customarily write feels vaguely apocalyptic as we approach the new year. The usual… Continue Reading

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