From the Left



'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

Desperately seeking a legacy

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- "I have never seen anything like it."

So I was told by a former U.S. official, who had seen much as a senior diplomat. It has become hard to deny that the rollout of the Lausanne framework is a first-rate debacle -- a dazzling display of self-destructive incompetence.

Who proposed that the State Department issue an interpretive ...Read more

Enter the Reform Conservatives

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The juxtaposition of Hillary Clinton's and Marco Rubio's announcements for president illustrates a serious problem for American progressivism: Its political bench looks as spry and novel as the old Soviet Politburo. Joe Biden? Jerry Brown? Elizabeth Warren? All fight for Social Security while qualifying for their full check.

...Read more

Rand Paul's Grand Deception

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- In March of 2013, Rand Paul occupied the Senate floor for a 13-hour filibuster, promising to "speak until I can no longer speak" in the cause that "no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime." Enthused Ted Cruz: "You're standing here today like a modern 'Mr. Smith Goes to ...Read more

If Our Heroism is Hopeless

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The apocalypse has been much on my mind.

This is not only because Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is now more or less officially in charge of a nuclear threshold state, or because a dictator with the mentality of a spiteful teenager controls North Korea's dozen or so atom bombs, or because a nuclear Pakistan was recently named the world's ...Read more

Iran's Remarkable Achievement

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Whatever else the Obama administration accomplished in the Iran nuclear framework, it did a good job keeping the bar of expectations low and then clearing it.

Many assumed various provisions would last 10 years or less; most are for 15 years or more. Many expected the number of operating centrifuges to exceed 6,000; the target is ...Read more

The Virtues of the Smoke-Filled Room

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The John Boehner/Nancy Pelosi agreement on Medicare doctors' payments -- permanently easing up on scheduled cuts, funded (partially) by means testing -- has been praised as an incremental gain and criticized as a small backward step. In either case, it is a rare bird: the result of a March 4 meeting between leaders in a ...Read more

The Next Epidemic

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- "Of all the things that could kill more than 10 million people around the world," writes philanthropist Bill Gates in The New England Journal of Medicine, "the most likely is an epidemic stemming from either natural causes or bioterrorism."

Beginning with this blunt and clinical assessment, we are given a detailed picture of the ...Read more

How to Block a Bad Deal With Iran

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- It is the common temptation of Republicans and Democrats to support a strong executive when it does things they like, and to condemn it when it does things they don't. There is, however, a group of committed institutionalists that has gathered around the Bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, now scheduled for a vote of the ...Read more

Hillary's Nixonian Path to Office

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The effective kickoff of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign was an act of deck clearing so breathtaking, so brazen, that it remains difficult to process.

A former secretary of state summoned reporters to the United Nations, made a statement on Iran nuclear negotiations, then admitted deleting more than 30,000 emails she ...Read more

Inequality's Effects on Kids

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- It is rare for a work of sociology to leave readers choking back emotion. Max Weber and Emile Durkheim were not known for writing tearjerkers. But Robert Putnam's "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" is sociology as story, as tragedy and as an act of social solidarity. It is the culminating work of an academic career ...Read more

Cotton letter: The roughest of drafts

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The true scandal of the Tom Cotton letter to Iranian leaders is the manner in which the Republican Senate apparently conducts its affairs.

The document was crafted by a senator with two months of experience under his belt. It was signed by some members rushing off the Senate floor to catch airplanes, often with little close ...Read more

Viewing Ferguson from Selma

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The juxtaposition of the Justice Department's damning Ferguson report and President Obama's fine speech to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday was coincidental. But the founders of the civil rights movement would certainly have found it providential, so I'll go with that.

The report cleared a man while indicting a system. ...Read more

Negotiating From Weakness

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Over the years, President Obama has been criticized and praised -- but mainly praised -- for lacking a driving foreign policy ideology. It seemed to be one of the "childish things" he promised to set aside as he launched his presidency in 2009. America's conduct in the world would be characterized by outreach, consultation, ...Read more

Getting Africa's Health Systems to Be Self-Reliant

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania -- After a storied history of revolutionary defiance toward America -- in which Tanzania played host to Angela Davis, Huey Newton and Malcolm X -- this country can hardly get enough of the U.S. of A. Rumors still float among cabbies and tour guides that George W. Bush bought land here during his 2008 visit and plans on ...Read more

Scott Walker's Cynical Comments

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- When Scott Walker pronounced himself agnostic about President Obama's patriotism and Christian faith, it must have seemed like a clever formulation. "I've never asked him, so I don't know," he said. And about Obama's Christianity: "I've never asked him that."

Walker quickly found his pitch unequal to the presidential big leagues....Read more

The Fragility of Life's Greatest Gift

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania -- At a health center here, a young woman is in the recovery room after a cesarean section. A nurse takes the newborn to a table for cleanup. We (a group organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies) are allowed to enter and see the child. But the newborn girl starts struggling for breath. Three more ...Read more

A Call for 'Patient Pluralism'

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The rapidity of progress by the gay rights movement -- from Stonewall to likely Supreme Court vindication of gay marriage in a historical blink -- is causing a series of social and legal tensions.

It has left some recently evolved politicians looking cynical (see David Axelrod's account of President Obama's convenient malleability...Read more

Condemning Islam is the Wrong Course

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Days after the video appeared of a Jordanian pilot horribly burned to death by an Islamic State death squad, President Obama told the National Prayer Breakfast that all faiths can be "twisted and misused in the name of evil" and that terrorists who profess "to stand up for Islam" are, in fact, "betraying it." Critics found Obama's ...Read more

Unmasking Rand Paul

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- It has become the Rand Paul pattern: A few weeks paddling vigorously in the mainstream, followed by a lapse into authenticity, followed by transparent damage control, followed by churlishness toward anyone in the media who notices. All the signs of a man trying to get comfortable in someone else's skin.

The latest example is ...Read more

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