From the Left



Congress' Iran Moment

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Late in the evening on April 13, speaking to a meeting of about 55 senators, Secretary of State John Kerry argued against passage of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, claiming it would complicate negotiations. (The White House had already issued a veto threat.) At about 11:30 p.m., Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign ...Read more

Religious and Gay Rights Must Coexist

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- It is often the fate of conservatives to be concerned about the fire code and occupancy limit at someone else's party. Never more conspicuously than concerning the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges.

With many friends and relatives celebrating the outcome, judicial conservatives are generally anxious about...Read more

You Can't Fight Climate Change With Denial

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Reducing Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Si" to a white paper on global warming is, in George Weigel's fitting analogy, "akin to reading 'Moby Dick' as if it were a treatise on the 19th-century New England whaling industry." The whole spirit and story of the thing is missed.

The pope's sprawling, ambitious statement -- setting ...Read more

The 'Strength to Love'

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- When many relatives of those cruelly murdered in Charleston -- by a man who talked and prayed with his victims for an hour before systematically gunning them down -- publicly offered their forgiveness, it was stunning and admirable in many ways. Not least of which, it provided a contrast to our political culture. So many are ...Read more

A Campaign of Bombast and Ridicule

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump has already succeeded by provoking this column. Any form of public communication that puts "Donald Trump" within five words of "president" -- which, darn, I just did -- is a victory for the reality TV star turned presidential aspirant.

But Trump, it is now clear, will not go away by being ignored. If polling support -...Read more

The 2016 Campaign Has Truly Started

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Stealthily demonstrating one of Jeb Bush's more controversial policy views -- the need for Common Core history standards -- an "anonymous ally" is quoted in The New York Times as saying that "the culture of the Bush operation will now be a Pickett's Charge engagement with his main opponents."

Republican politicians have generally ...Read more

The Myths of Man

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- About 2 million years ago, a genetic mutation resulted in the human species -- social, restless, but consigned to the middle of the food chain, breaking open the bones of carrion for marrow after the lions left. As a species, we were pretty slow starters. For most of the first 2 million years we used the same stone tools, entirely ...Read more

Rand the Reckless

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Rand Paul's presidential campaign, by many recent accounts, is sputtering. The candidate, according to The Atlantic's Molly Ball, is "flailing." His campaign, reports National Journal's Josh Kraushaar, has been called a "disaster."

These judgments, even if true, are provisional. Pretty much any candidate in the Republican pack is ...Read more

The Call of the World's Broken Places

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

KUAJOK, South Sudan -- It is difficult to imagine a place more physically and psychologically removed from the world economy, from centers of global influence such as Washington or London -- than Warrap state (whose capital is Kuajok).

Here, wealth and status are counted mainly in cattle, which are essential for dowries (a reasonably desirable...Read more

In South Sudan, a Betrayal of Promise

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

KUAJOK, South Sudan -- "I wish," a South Sudanese female aid worker said to me, "they had waited five or 10 years before resuming the war." This is what passes for hope in South Sudan.

It was only two and a half years after independence in 2011 that war resumed. "They" are President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, whose ...Read more

Our Hesitant Talk on Mobility

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- For both parties, the emerging theme of economic mobility is often a reluctant, second choice.

Deep down, many Democrats would prefer to focus on economic inequality. But while Americans have theoretical concerns about the income gap, they are consistently skeptical about government's role as leveler. Explicit talk of ...Read more

Religious Conservatives' Shifting Role

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The Roman historian Tacitus described Emperor Nero's persecution of Christians: "In their very deaths they were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and torn to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights."

In spite ...Read more

The Clintons' Cloud of Deviancy

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- I recall the moment when the press finally turned against Bill Clinton.

In 1998, I was a junior writer at U.S. News & World Report, then (for the children in the audience) an actual, physical weekly magazine, useful for pressing leaves or as packing material. When the word came that there was a blue dress stained with actual, ...Read more

War Lessons for the GOP

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The exhausting, occasionally horrifying experience of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars still makes it difficult for political figures to say obvious things about the past.

At the time, almost everyone supported the Afghanistan invasion -- as close to a unanimous national decision as we've seen since Pearl Harbor. At the time, based ...Read more

Corporate Irresponsibility Over GMOs

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Pass any Chipotle these days -- and it is my gastronomic preference to pass rather than enter -- and you will see signs claiming credit for removing ingredients that contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms) from the menu. It is the first big chain to do so, and probably not the last. The business press has pronounced it "a ...Read more

Seeking Mutual Respect amid Conflict

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The sign of a first-rate intelligence, according to F. Scott Fitzgerald, is "the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." When it comes to Islam and blasphemy, many Americans are having trouble accepting even consistent ones.

Under the law, blasphemy is fully ...Read more

The Intricate Knot of Urban Poverty

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Police and prisons are the successful answer to a rather narrow question: Can overwhelming force and routine incarceration bring temporary order to impoverished and isolated urban communities?

Baltimore in the early 2000s answers in the affirmative. By 2005, a city of about 600,000 people recorded more than 100,000 arrests. ...Read more

A Pastor's Faith in Baltimore

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

BALTIMORE -- Upstairs in the church office of Bethel A.M.E. Church, located several blocks from recent rioting, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake waits for a news conference to begin. She vents about the self-destructive nature of the violence -- attacks on businesses that were hard to attract to low-income neighborhoods and the sad irony that many...Read more

The Baggage Hillary Brings

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Assuming there is no direct quid pro quo in the thicket of Clinton Foundation donations and State Department decisions -- an assumption that may make an abettor out of you and me -- what compels the Clintons to operate so close to the ethical line when public scrutiny is so likely?

Any competent political adviser or ethics lawyer ...Read more

'The Road to Character'

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Most of us have an image of the counterculture, shaped by memory or mythmaking, that involves Haight-Ashbury, flea-market clothing, free love and a haze of pot smoke. But as the counterculture has consumed the culture -- with hipsterism marketed at Urban Outfitters, pre-, non- and extra-marital sex a firmly established social ...Read more

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