From the Left



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

Iran Thumbs Its Nose at the U.S.

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Since the Iran nuclear deal was announced in mid-July, the world has been treated to an unusual historical spectacle. As President Obama was busy twisting congressional arms to prevent repudiation of the agreement, the Iranian regime has been systematically humiliating him.

Almost immediately, bulldozers began sanitizing the ...Read more

Republicans' Harsh Tone Toward Islam

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Fourteen grim anniversaries separated from Sept. 11, 2001, some memories still come in high definition, like flashes of a strobe light. An email from my deputy I read at home, five minutes before the first plane struck in New York: "Very little of note happening." Headed in to the White House and seeing American Airlines Flight 77 ...Read more

Kim Davis is No Rosa Parks

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Rosa Parks is an American hero, but her case was not an accident. Other African-Americans had shown similar defiance (ask Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her seat nine months before Parks). Civil rights leaders had spent years looking for a favorable case to challenge the segregation of Montgomery buses. Parks' trip on bus...Read more

The Largest Failure of the Obama Era

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- One little boy in a red T-shirt, lying face down, drowned, on a Turkish beach, is a tragedy. More than 200,000 dead in Syria, 4 million fleeing refugees and 7.6 million displaced from their homes are statistics. But they represent a collective failure of massive proportions.

For four years, the Obama administration has engaged in ...Read more

Trump Declares War on Demography

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- "I don't want it to be about me," Donald Trump explained at a recent event in Nashville. In other news: War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.

The Trump campaign is emphatically about Trump, in a manner typical of populism from Huey Long to Hugo Chavez. The people are infallible, but they require someone who ...Read more

Trump's Ideological Nitroglycerin

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- What is Donald Trump's secret? He is a "joyful warrior" who understands the "entertainment value" of politics. He is "outrageous" and "spontaneous" and "fun to watch." Bryan Cranston, the star of "Breaking Bad," finds Trump's "I don't give a s---" attitude a "surprise benefit to the country" and "refreshing."

"I am Batman," Trump ...Read more

A Clinton Campaign Drained of Idealism

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- When the Clinton campaign stirs and moves, it is the sound of a thousand focus groups buzzing, a thousand memos fluttering, a thousand consultants consulting, a thousand talking points repeated in singsong unison. It advances like a big push at the Second Battle of the Somme -- idealism long gone, but grim duty remaining. The ...Read more

Hunting For a Miracle On Global Warming

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- In recognition that Internet questionnaires get more eyeballs than earnest columns on energy policy, here is today's quiz on obscure presidential history: When President George W. Bush met Bill Gates for the first time, the topic of discussion was (A) nuclear power, (B) rural Internet access, (C) global health, or (D) all of those ...Read more

Help Trump Marginalize Himself

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- In the first Republican debate, the klieg light that Donald Trump always carries around with him revealed four or five presidential candidates who, under the right circumstances, could beat Hillary Clinton. (Trump was not among them.) But there was also a moment that could predict the defeat of the GOP in 2016.

No, I'm not talking...Read more

Obama's Bitter Endgame On Iran Deal

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- President Obama's closing argument in favor of the Iran nuclear deal has become so exaggerated, so bitter, so simplified, that it risks parody.

He accuses his opponents of wanting another war -- like the last one they caused in Iraq -- and "making common cause" with Iranian hard-liners who chant "Death to America." This goes ...Read more

Congress Needs to Vote With Open Eyes

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The realist's argument for the Iran nuclear agreement is that it is the least bad deal that a conflict-weary America could secure. Now, with the nuclear issue parked (at least for a decade), we can get down to the business of strengthening friends in the Middle East and pushing back against Iran's regional ambitions.

A variant of ...Read more

A GOP Led by Trump Will Fail, and Deserve It

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- At this point in the 2016 presidential campaign, the noble, elusive stag of political rhetoric is pretty much road kill.

This judgment is unfair to a few candidates -- Rick Perry, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio come to mind -- delivering thoughtful speeches. But in portions of the Republican field, the normal limits of civility have ...Read more

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