From the Left



In Iowa, Down The Stretch They Come

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Political pros in this state are not foolish enough to pick a winner this far out from the caucuses (I am: It will be Ted Cruz, whose mix of frank religiosity and anti-establishment zeal is a good fit for the Iowa Republican electorate, and practically no other) but they do love their typologies.

Historically, by one account...Read more

The Trump Effect, Still 'Understated'

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The presidential candidate who has consistently led the Republican field for four months, Donald Trump, has proposed: forcibly expel 11 million people from the country, requiring a massive apparatus of enforcement, courts and concentration camps; rewrite or reinterpret the 14th Amendment to end the Civil War-era Republican ...Read more

Obama, Speaking From the Ruins

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- An event that invokes widespread fear and confusion, such as the Paris attacks, is also an occasion for leadership. The resulting intense public focus opens a brief window for explanation and inspiration. In moments of crisis or challenge, a leader can figuratively speak from the ruins.

The president I served, George W. Bush, did ...Read more

Don't Feed the Islamic State Narrative

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- As careful as we should be in drawing lessons from tragedy -- and there is something particularly disgraceful in mounting a political soapbox at a funeral -- the horrors experienced in Paris demand a renewed dedication to the prevention of future horrors.

Islamic State terrorists have goals beyond a blood-drunk love of carnage: to...Read more

Trump's Ugly Example on Immigration

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The fourth Republican presidential debate was, by most accounts, a bit of a snoozer. But in a good way. There was less interpersonal conflict, more substantive discussion of economic policy. Donald Trump, in particular, was judged "subdued" and "surprisingly subdued" and "uncharacteristically subdued." Trump himself pronounced it "...Read more

GOP Voters' Love of the Unserious

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Welcome to the vetting season, in which presidential candidate resumes are pumped full of air, submerged in water, and tested for bubbles like an inner tube.

None of the Republican candidates, even the few with actual governing experience, has ever suffered the level of scrutiny given to a top-tier presidential prospect. It is ...Read more

The Gay Marriage Ruling Isn't the Apocalypse

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- "Today," said Ted Cruz when the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision came down, "is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation's history." Which is quite a claim, as that history includes the Battle of Antietam. Some evangelical leaders pronounced it "the downfall of America" (Tony Perkins) and a "nose dive off of the moral diving...Read more

Pretending Victory Doesn't Make It So

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Break out the name tags and Styrofoam-flavored coffee; it is conference season for Iran.

Iran's foreign minister will attend the Vienna talks on Syria's future for the first time, effectively ending his country's regional diplomatic isolation. Supporting terrorists, brutally repressing human rights, making a play for regional ...Read more

End Times for the GOP

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The end is near. Or not.

At various points in American history, popular preaching has warned that history itself was about to culminate and cease. Many sermons of the revolutionary era (with more patriotic zeal than theological sophistication) identified King George III as the antichrist and associated the founding of America with...Read more

Failing the Ryan Test

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Having tested the thickness of the political ice, Paul Ryan seems convinced it will support the weight of a House speaker. Given the nature of the Republican coalition (in parts fractious, restless and heedless of political reality), he will end up in the water. But perhaps not immediately, and perhaps not until after considerable ...Read more

Christians Can't Ignore the Suffering of Muslims

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

BEIRUT -- The airport here is in territory controlled by Hezbollah. Driving across Beirut, you see affiliations declared by large posters hung on lampposts: Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in Shiite areas, assassinated leader Rafiq al-Hariri in Sunni neighborhoods. Some Palestinian camps display images from Hamas; others from Fatah, including ...Read more

The Children Among the Ruins

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- A 5-year-old Syrian refugee explains the picture he has drawn: "This is a boy. This is a bed. This is a bomb. This is an apple." Wondering if the apple has some special significance to him, I ask (through the interpreter) why he included it. He looks at me like an idiot foreigner. "Because I like apples."

It is the bomb that ...Read more

What is a Rhino in the Wild Really Worth?

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- In Africa, the average cost of an AK-47 is a little over $300. A single rhinoceros horn -- reputed (falsely) in Asia to have cancer-healing properties -- can bring $300,000 on the black market. So a criminal gang or a terrorist group knows what a dead rhino is worth: several hundred assault rifles (less the commission owed ...Read more

What Would Jack Kemp Do?

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Other than in its original application, most exercises in WWXD -- "What would X do?" with X being, say, Lincoln, or Martin Luther King Jr., or Churchill -- are less than useless. Great leaders are employed as ventriloquist dummies for our own squeaky, projected voices.

But the question "What would Jack Kemp do?" is an exception, ...Read more

Presidential Tantrums Won't End Gun Violence

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Following the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College, a "smoldering" (as one commentator put it) President Obama gave a revealing speech -- a clarification, a culmination, of much that had come before. "What has become routine," he said, "of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of commonsense gun legislation. ...Read more

America's Populist Moment?

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The most fateful, unanswered question of the 2016 campaign: Is this a populist moment in America?

It certainly sounds like one. The "establishment" is so universally despised that one wonders who is left to comprise it. A putsch might find only empty offices. Outsiders with no political experience dominate the Republican field. ...Read more

The Golden Age of Aid

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Bill Gates is now focused on the eradication of malaria, and parasites everywhere have reason to fear.

There are, he tells me, two possible places to draw a line across Africa marking the next northward advance of malaria elimination. "If you want to get all of Zambia," he explains, "you also have to get Katanga" (a portion of the...Read more

Francis' Profound Personalism

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Pope Francis has delivered to Congress his State of the Soul address -- historically sophisticated, gracefully appropriate, morally ambitious -- and I am all for making it a yearly ritual, along with (or in place of) the tired and tedious presidential version we have now.

For a moment, marginalized groups -- from refugees to ...Read more

Republicans Stoke the Fire of Bigotry

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- What is the proper response from a prospective president to the question: Is being a Muslim disqualifying for the presidency?

Ben Carson answered that he "would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation" because Islam is incompatible with the Constitution. The Constitution offers a different reply: "No religious ...Read more

The Wreckage Left By The Summer of Trump

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The relatively rare moments of economic analysis and political outreach in the second Republican debate -- Chris Christie talking about income stagnation, or Marco Rubio lamenting the "millions of people in this country living paycheck to paycheck," or Ben Carson admitting the minimum wage might require increasing and fixing, or ...Read more

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