We Americans have a predictable reaction when a president in his performance or his conduct disappoints us: We almost always go looking for a successor presidential candidate who, we think, possesses the very qualities of character and talent we unhappily learned were missing in the president who has just let us down.
Think about the pattern: ...Read more
He was the most uncommon presidential candidate. Most of them, disappointingly, flatter every group of voters they appear before by telling them what they're confident they want to hear. Candidates, to put it bluntly, verbally caress the erogenous zones of the body politic. But not so with one presidential candidate, then-Sen. Ernest "Fritz" ...Read more
Long before he would become America's 65th secretary of state, Colin Powell was a young Army officer who served two combat tours in Vietnam. There, Lt. Powell held in his arms a young American soldier whose body had been blown apart -- and whose life would, in a few hours, be ended -- by a land mine. Colin Powell understood the responsibility ...Read more
In Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, as a humble private, I was taught that at the very top of the chain of command stood the president of the United States, who was then Dwight D. Eisenhower. As supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe, Gen. Eisenhower had made the fateful decision on June 6, 1944, to send 159,000 Allied troops ...Read more
Midterm elections have been generally unhelpful to U.S. House candidates of the sitting president's party. From 1918 to 2016, according to political scientist Jacob Smith's study for Ballotpedia, the president's party lost an average of 29 House seats in midterm elections. In 2018, Democrats did better than average, capturing 40 House seats ...Read more
Why should it be of any importance or interest that Sherrod Brown, the third-term U.S. senator from Ohio, announced this week that he will not run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination? For one reason, unlike many recent would-be national leaders who belong to his party -- a list that includes Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, ...Read more
"Peace," we were told by Mother Teresa, "begins with a smile." Smiles have been very scarce in American political life lately. What follows is a modest attempt to encourage a smile or two.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who first ran for president in 1987, has been publicly struggling, for close to four years, with a decision about whether to...Read more
Peter D. Hart, the respected Democratic pollster who has perfected his trade through his work in the past 15 presidential campaigns, candidly warns against the predictive value of polls taken this far ahead of any presidential election. At this stage, so long before voters actually vote, according to Hart, poll numbers are "written in wet sand ...Read more
As on so many matters, former Republican Senate leader Bob Dole put it best when he said that almost all members of Congress love to make tough speeches; they just don't like to make tough votes. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., the North Carolina Republican who died on his 76th birthday, was an admirable exception. Elected to his 12th term in ...Read more
Politics is not brain surgery; it's not that complicated. Politics is about addition, not subtraction. Show me a political party that is openly seeking and welcoming "converts" to its side and is finding common ground and I'll show you a growing, healthy and, yes, winning political party. By contrast, a political party that is dedicated to ...Read more
During long, gray, bleak winters -- before the women's and men's college basketball tournaments and before baseball's opening days -- I confess to an embarrassing secret: I thoroughly enjoy watching TV- and movie-related awards shows on TV, not just the Oscars but also the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and others.
Why? To catch ...Read more
In 1960, when John F. Kennedy was running for the White House against Richard Nixon, winning Democratic presidential tickets still depended on the backing of segregationist party colleagues in the Southern states.
In October of that year, when Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and sent to jail on a trumped-up traffic charge in Georgia, his ...Read more