From the Left



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

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


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