From the Left



Odd Duck Sings Senate Swan Song

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was speaking on the Senate floor, so I rushed into the chamber, gobsmacked.

The Arizona Democrat's voice was nothing special -- pedestrian -- but new to us regulars. She never spoke on the floor or to reporters. Her usual silence was a contrast to her bright, tight, shocking fashion sense.

Would Sinema ...Read more

Senate Sets Stage for Showdown on Voting Rights

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

The Capitol candlelight vigil for the mob attack on Congress gave way to a Senate showdown on voting rights -- a scene straight from the heart of darkness.

Timed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, it's a showdown Senate Democrats don't know they can win. But they have to try, for a fair field in the upcoming midterms. Plus, it's a great ...Read more

Bruce and Barack: Cool Dudes on the State of the Nation

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

Who would you rather hang with, Bruce Springsteen or Barack Obama? Luckily, you don't have to choose, because Bruce and Barack have a bestselling book, "Renegades," out, based on podcast conversations. Maybe it was under your Christmas tree.

Could that be any cooler-than-thou? Bruce and Barack, as I'll call them, have a bro ease with each other...Read more

The 21st Century: A Flop So Far

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

A child in the '60s, when the world was turning fast, I loved the upbeat '90s' carbonated peace and prosperity. But the 2020s are a bitter brew of COVID-19 and poison politics choking us.

In fact, the 21st century lost the plot early on.

George W. Bush was a tragic tiebreaker choice of president by the Supreme Court. Bush v. Gore, a 5-4 ruling...Read more

The Kindness of New Yorkers as Christmas Came Near

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

WASHINGTON -- New York was full of kind strangers two weeks before Christmas, even as the omicron variant was coming to town.

A police officer in the 14th Street subway saw me carrying two travel bags and without a word, swiped me in free with a smile.

Just moments earlier, I chatted with two outgoing young men at a juice bar. They extolled ...Read more

Seven Senators Who Go Back to Civil War Days

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

WASHINGTON -- When I walk by John Calhoun in the Capitol, I stare at his severe portrait and ask, are you happy now with democracy cracking up? And I swear the ghost says yes, fire burning in his eyes.

Make no mistake, this Southern senator isn't a vestige of the antebellum past. Calhoun's spirit still roams the halls in several Republican ...Read more

The Trump Contagion Still Spreading

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

WASHINGTON -- The worst contagion still spreading is not the omicron nor the delta variant of the deadly coronavirus. This medical contagion has claimed more than 750,000 American lives since March 2020 and laid the rest of us low.

The contagion I mean is clear and ever more dangerous: Donald Trump. The social scourge the ex-president started ...Read more

Stephen Sondheim: Writing the Notes of His Times

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

It was a very good death, the day after Thanksgiving dinner with friends. The musical composer and lyricist was 91, born in 1930. Ironically, Stephen Sondheim belongs to America's unsung generation.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, author of "Hamilton," joined the outdoor throng of Broadway singer-mourners. It was an only-in-New York moment, a shining ...Read more

At Thanksgiving, Democracy on the Table

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

Thanksgiving is all about saving the Union from forces that almost destroyed it. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday in 1863, midway through the benighted Civil War.

November defines turning points in the most tragic hours of history.

Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address on the battlefield of that great war on Nov. 19, ...Read more

Katie Couric: Now I Needed To Be the Girlfriend Next Door

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

Katie Couric's new bestselling memoir, "Going There," proves critics right. Shedding her skin as a sweet, smiling -- if shallow -- public figure, now she's the second coming of Katie Scarlett O'Hara, with threads, leather and beaux to boot.

Parallels dazzle, even if Couric led a conga line, not the Virginia reel, to mark her first time ...Read more

Biden: You've Come a Long Way, Joe

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

I like living in a small Southern town. It's called Washington, D.C. You can study character here.

President Joe Biden is not the man he was 30 years ago, and that's a good thing.

Remember when Biden presided over Senate hearings that rocked and roiled the nation? They opened the way not for truth nor justice, but for Clarence Thomas's climb ...Read more

Senator Sinema: The Outsider Is In

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

I spied a woman in a purple and silver wig, walking around the Senate floor with astronaut Mark Kelly, who was newly sworn in as a Democratic senator from Arizona.

Bewildered by her get-up, unsure what she was doing, I asked the woman by the elevator, "Sorry, but who are you?"

"I'm Senator Sinema," she replied cheerfully.

And that still is ...Read more

Note to Biden: Love the Senate Less

From the Left / Jamie Stiehm /

Two senators should not be pushing a president around on a signature package -- legacy legislation called Build Back Better -- as time ticks by.

It does not play well. It feels weak when President Joe Biden jokes at a CNN town hall that all senators are presidents.

No, there's only one, Joe; you're it. Know your power, the way House Speaker ...Read more



Dave Granlund John Cole Gary Varvel Milt Priggee Peter Kuper Pat Byrnes