Category Archives: National Columnist

Trump’s hypocrisy is good for America

As Donald Trump’s campaign promises have been dunked in reality’s strong solvent, many have been transformed in one way or another — modified, moderated, qualified, abandoned or pushed off into the distant future. Not a wall across the whole southern border. Not every part of Obamacare repealed. Not all illegal immigrants deported, at least in… Continue Reading

The boondoggle of infrastructure spending

History has a sly sense of humor. It caused an epiphany regarding infrastructure projects — roads, harbors, airports, etc. — to occur on a bridge over Boston’s Charles River, hard by Harvard Yard, where rarely is heard a discouraging word about government. Last spring, Larry Summers, former treasury secretary and Harvard president, was mired in… Continue Reading

For Democrats, the road back

One of the more salutary outcomes of the recent election is that Democrats are finally beginning to question the wisdom of basing their fortunes on identity politics. Having counted on the allegiance of African-Americans, Hispanics, gays, unmarried women and the young — and winning the popular vote all but once since 1992 — they were… Continue Reading

Be thankful you have something to grumble at

“Oh, don’t the days seem lank and long When all goes right and nothing goes wrong, And isn’t your life extremely flat With nothing whatever to grumble at!” — Gilbert and Sullivan  At this shank end of a shabby year, Americans still can be thankful: They do not have the problem of nothing to grumble… Continue Reading

For evangelicals, a tunnel at the end of the light

Among the disappointments of the 2016 election, the close identification of many evangelicals with a right-wing populism has been the most personally difficult. On Election Day, it was disturbing to see so many of my tribe in Donald Trump’s war paint.  The most enthusiastic Trump evangelicals have taken the excesses of the Religious Right in… Continue Reading

Did academia help elect Donald Trump?

Many undergraduates, their fawn-like eyes wide with astonishment, are wondering: Why didn’t the dean of students prevent the election from disrupting the serenity to which my school has taught me that I am entitled? Campuses create “safe spaces” where students can shelter from discombobulating thoughts and receive spiritual balm for the trauma of microaggressions. Yet… Continue Reading

Democrats suddenly find themselves at a crossroads

While the challenges of the GOP — its long-term demographic difficulties, its erratic leadership, the bitter struggle for its ideological soul — are obscured by victory, the problems of the Democratic Party are on full display. Republicans suffer from heart disease; Democrats have an ugly, gushing head wound.  The losing party would be foolish to… Continue Reading

Guess who’s coming to the White House

If you’d never heard of Steve Bannon before Tuesday, you have now.  All the world is suddenly abuzz with news that President-elect Donald Trump has named Bannon, formerly executive chairman at the right-wing website Breitbart News, as his chief White House strategist and senior counselor. Alt-right “conservatives” and white supremacists are jubilant; the rest of… Continue Reading

What now? Country could use serious introspection

The good news is that we dodged a bullet in this election. The bad news is that we don’t know how many other bullets are coming, or from what direction. A Hillary Clinton victory would have meant a third consecutive administration dedicated to dismantling the institutions that have kept America free, and imposing instead the… Continue Reading

On hallowed ground

Witnesses who tuned in to Donald Trump and Barack Obama’s post-election get-together can’t have missed the change in the president-elect’s demeanor and affect.  Quiet and reserved, he seemed almost chastened. Dare I say, humble, and deferential to the man whose citizenship he challenged for years leading up to his candidacy. The real estate tycoon best… Continue Reading

Americans need a respite from furiousness

The Republican Party resembles the man who told his psychiatrist, “I have an identity problem, and so do I.” The party’s leader is at best indifferent to, and often is hostile to, much of the party’s recent catechism: limited government, the rule of law, a restrained executive, fiscal probity, entitlement reforms, free trade, the general… Continue Reading

How the new Republican majority can succeed

Donald Trump won fair and square and, as Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech, is owed an open mind and a chance to lead. It is therefore incumbent upon conservatives (like me) who have been highly critical of Trump to think through how to make a success of the coming years of Republican rule.… Continue Reading

A disruptive yet ruinous triumph for the GOP

At dawn Tuesday in West Quoddy Head, Maine, America’s easternmost point, it was certain that by midnight in Cape Wrangell, Alaska, America’s westernmost fringe, there would be a loser who deserved to lose and a winner who did not deserve to win. The surprise is that Barack Obama must have immediately seen his legacy, a… Continue Reading

A stunning cake and a stunned nation

Baker Melissa Alt showed up unbidden at Trump Tower on Election Day with a 40-pound cake in the form of a Donald Trump bust, and Trump aides liked the likeness enough to display it in the ballroom at Trump’s election-night party. But there was something wrong with the chocolate confection. Alt was aiming to reproduce… Continue Reading

Painful Choices: Part II

In most Presidential election years, the most important vote is the vote for president of the United States. This year, the most important vote looks like the vote for control of the Senate. Regardless of who wins the White House, the freedom that Americans have taken for granted — taken too much for granted, for… Continue Reading

Column: What to watch for on election night

Tuesday evening, after Election Day’s tranquility, new clamors will erupt as analysts with agendas tickle portents and lessons from the torrent of election returns. Herewith some developments to watch. — In the 17 elections since World War II, the winner has averaged 385.4 electoral votes, the loser 145.1. In six elections (1952, 1956, 1964, 1972,… Continue Reading

Final days before an awful choice

Rule of thumb for a presidential campaign where the two candidates have the highest unfavorable ratings in the history of polling: If you’re the center of attention, you’re losing. As Election Day approaches, Hillary Clinton cannot shake the spotlight. She is still ahead in the polls, but you know she’s slipping when she shows up… Continue Reading

Perverting the presidency

The last place — and I do mean the very last place — any candidate wants to be is in the frame with Anthony Weiner. This is especially true if you’re Hillary Clinton. Even worse than being associated with the infamous sexter this week is being FBI Director James Comey, the least-envied man in America.… Continue Reading

A fitting final chapter to the sleaze sweepstakes

As the presidential campaigns sink to the challenge of demonstrating that there is no such thing as rock bottom, remember this: When the Clintons decamped from Washington in January 2001, they took some White House furnishings that were public property. They also finished accepting more than $190,000 in gifts, including two coffee tables and two… Continue Reading

Baby boomers, you’ve done enough. Time to go.

Take the baby boomers. Please. The idealists of the 1960s have come a long way from Woodstock. After a quarter-century of mismanaging the country, they have produced Donald Trump, who with his narcissistic and uncompromising style is a bright orange symbol of what went wrong with the massive generation. And polls show that boomers are… Continue Reading

As New Hampshire goes, so goes the Senate?

In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt defeated Kansas’ Gov. Alfred Landon in 46 of the 48 states, thereby creating the jest, “As Maine goes, so goes Vermont.” Eight decades later, New England has gone from the Republicans’ last redoubt in a bad year to their least receptive region in any year. Its six states have made… Continue Reading

Back to business for Trump

It’s apt that Donald Trump’s new hotel in Washington, which he dedicated at a ribbon-cutting Wednesday, is at the Old Post Office. Just 12 days before the election, Trump is mailing it in. Polls suggest he’s doomed, fellow Republicans are treating him like cholera, and even his allies say it would take a miracle to… Continue Reading

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