From the Left



What leadership means

From the Left / Mark Shields /

History can be cruel. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., who was unquestionably America's most prominent prophet and practitioner of nonviolence, was followed by riots, arson and looting in 168 American cities and towns. The numbers are staggering: 2,600 fires were set; 21,700 people were injured; 2,600 were arrested; 39 were killed. ...Read more

Choosing the wrong opponent

From the Left / Mark Shields /

It is a common, if not especially honorable, practice in American politics for a candidate and her campaign to prefer to run not against their actual opponent on the ballot but rather against the most unpopular caricature of the opponent's party. That explains why Democrats, for close to three decades after the election of 1932, when Franklin ...Read more

Many Republicans DO have a sense of humor

From the Left / Mark Shields /

An American politician can help herself politically by being able to believably use self-deprecating humor, which sends a clear message: "I am not pompously self-important or thin-skinned; I do not take myself completely seriously."

No one was better at self-deprecation than former President Ronald Reagan, whose robust sense of self-confidence ...Read more

Preview of coming distractions

From the Left / Mark Shields /

As you probably already knew, the next six months of 2020 presidential campaigning are going to be ugly. I do not say this happily, but I do so based upon a lifetime of watching candidates run for election and reelection. Almost invariably, politicians return to what worked successfully in previous campaigns.

Consider the most recent ...Read more

Frank advice from a close friend

From the Left / Mark Shields /

There was, I can testify, a lot more drinking in Washington, D.C., before May 15, 1978. That was the date, through the grace of God, that I had my last drink of beer or booze or wine.

Previously, I had given up drinking at different times, for Lent or to lose weight (a waist is a terrible thing to mind), always to return for another round. But ...Read more

Words for the class of 2020

From the Left / Mark Shields /

There will be no graduation festivities this spring at dozens of American colleges and universities, including Ohio State, Brigham Young, Howard, Swarthmore, Notre Dame, Duke, UCLA and Yale. That means this year's graduates and their closest relatives and friends will not have the benefit of sitting on hard chairs and listening to the ...Read more

This president knows television!

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Somebody close to President Donald Trump could, in a burst of candor, tell him that he does not know everything to be known about the history of the filibuster in the United States Senate -- or even the origin of the infield fly rule in Major League Baseball.

But nobody, absolutely nobody, should ever dare to suggest that this president has not...Read more

Americans rally to their presidents in times of crisis

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Democrats are beside themselves; after President Donald Trump's consistently inconsistent and uneven public pronouncements on the seriousness of the coronavirus, moving in one 24-hour period from "something we have tremendous control over" to our "toughest enemy: the invisible enemy" and limiting all crowds to fewer than 10, his poll numbers ...Read more

Not wasting a serious crisis

From the Left / Mark Shields /

My sainted mother was a public school teacher until she married my father and immediately, as a married woman, was forced by local Massachusetts rules then in force to leave the classroom. (My own grade school teachers included Miss Galvin, Miss Harrington, Miss Donahue, Miss Keohane, Miss Condrick, Miss Loud ... you get the picture.)

One happy...Read more

Recognizing the voice of leadership

From the Left / Mark Shields /

We're traveling in a crowded subway car somewhere under Manhattan when, without warning, the car comes to an abrupt halt in a tunnel in between stations. The subway car is plunged into darkness, and our own growing anxiety, along with that of our fellow passengers, is almost palpable. After a while, a measured, authoritative voice comes over the...Read more


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