From the Left



The American Dream Has Not Been Stolen

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- There is one issue on which the whole ideological range of campaign 2016 seems to agree. "The American Dream is dead," says Donald Trump. "For many, the American Dream has become a nightmare," says Bernie Sanders.

Even discounting for the apocalyptic mood of many candidates -- like John the Revelator with a toothache -- this is a ...Read more

Trump's Cultivation of Chaos

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump is often credited with distilling Jeb Bush's main electoral challenge: that he is "low energy." It fits Bush well enough (more accurately, he is a cerebral introvert) to be damaging. But it is Bush, in turn, who has captured the essence of Trump as the "chaos candidate." We have yet to determine if Trump's approach is ...Read more

Trump's Politics of Pride

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Of all Donald Trump's political skills, perhaps the most impressive is his ability to persuade people to support him by suspending their deepest, lifelong beliefs.

Some prominent conservatives have embraced Trump, in spite of his recent support for dramatically higher taxes on the wealthy and a single-payer health care system. ...Read more

Trump and Palin: A Politics at War With Reason

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The arrival of Sarah Palin brings a special something to the 2016 campaign, like a little LSD added to the punch bowl. Are we watching C-SPAN, or a reality TV show, or a "Saturday Night Live" skit? It is impossible to tell without consulting the channel guide.

Ted Cruz may have secured the coveted Duck Dynasty blessing. But Palin ...Read more

The GOP Needs Both Trump and Cruz to Fall

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The outbreak of hostilities between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz may not be edifying, but it is clarifying.

Cruz represents the arrival of tea party ideology at the presidential level. He espouses a "constitutionalism" that would disqualify much of modern government, and a belief that Republican elites are badly, even mainly, at ...Read more

Obama Promised Hope; He Brought Rage

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Now let us praise laundry lists. Every year at State of the Union time, the president and his staff say the speech will not include them. But the laundry won't keep track of itself. The union is varied and expansive, and so are the responsibilities of its chief executive. Enumerating accomplishments and objectives amounts to lists,...Read more

Harsh Judgment of Obama From his Former 'Inner Circle'

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- In the eighth year of a presidency, who is qualified to begin delivering a historical judgment? President Obama and those who serve at his pleasure are naturally biased. His critics are too engaged in the battles of the moment. Journalists and commentators tend to go after darting, shiny, plastic lures of narrative. But events are ...Read more

What If The Worst Happens?

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Every Republican of the type concerned with winning in November has been asking the question (at least internally), "What if the worst happens?"

The worst does not mean the nomination of Ted Cruz, in spite of justified fears of political disaster. Cruz is an ideologue with a message perfectly tuned for a relatively small minority ...Read more

Bipartisan Agreement On Education Comes at Cost to Students

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The nation's capital is experiencing something of a thaw in polarization and partisanship. And the largest iceberg that that has broken free is the Every Student Succeeds Act, the most consequential education reform in the last 15 years.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate Education Committee, called it a "...Read more

A God On Our Side

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The current ferment of American politics has brought comparisons to Europe in the 1930s, with echoes of leaders who stoke anger against outsiders and promise a return to greatness through the application of a strong man's will.

The analogy is hardly exact. Lacking the economic chaos and fragile institutions of Weimar Germany, ...Read more

Unseriousness Rises to the Top

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- The Republican field, on the evidence of its fifth presidential debate, is beginning to sort itself by seriousness.

Donald Trump alternately advocated war crimes (kill the families of terrorists), embraced liberal isolationism (end America's military role in the Middle East and spend the money on bridges), displayed astounding ...Read more

Reaction or Reform?

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- There is a fine line between reflecting the concerns of voters and performing a crude and offensive imitation that mocks and defiles their deepest beliefs. OK, maybe not so fine a line.

Donald Trump -- who knows something about crude and offensive imitations -- has now taken to calling himself an "evangelical." He also finds Ted ...Read more

Dachau Becomes a Sanctuary

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

DACHAU, Germany -- In a place synonymous with death, life has taken an unexpected turn. The radiating crisis of the Middle East has reached Bavaria in the form of refugees, welcomed to Germany by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Officials in the Dachau region were told to prepare for 1,200. There are now about 1,600; there will probably be 2,000 by ...Read more

In Fighting Terror, Patience is Not a Virtue

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- In his address to the nation on terrorism, President Obama warned against "tough talk." On this, at least, no one can accuse him of hypocrisy.

In the aftermath of recent attacks, Obama perfunctorily ticked off a series of inputs: airstrikes, arming and training Iraqi and Syrian forces, cooperating with allies on counterterrorism ...Read more

When Hope Begins

From the Left / Michael Gerson /

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump's offenses against taste, tolerance and truthfulness are coming so fast that it is hard to pick out individual cases. But let's linger on his recent foray into Christian theology.

During a speech in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Trump pronounced Ben Carson's story of conversion from violent troublemaker to Christian to be so much...Read more

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

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