From the Left



Politics as (Un)usual

From the Left / Mark Shields /

In Marine Corps jargon, a "duty station" is the military base or camp where a Marine is assigned to live. Reflecting our national inclination both to romanticize what is past and to criticize what is current, Marines will regularly gripe that there is no duty station better than the one they just left and none worse than the one they're ...Read more

Which politicians look like their home state?

From the Left / Mark Shields /

West Virginia -- which, between 2015 and 2016, was the only state to see both more deaths than births and more citizens move out than move in -- could understandably be expected to be somewhat unwelcoming to the recent arrival who seeks public office. The Mountain State's last surviving Democrat in its congressional delegation, Sen. Joe Manchin,...Read more

Character does matter

From the Left / Mark Shields /

With news that Sen. John McCain's last book, "The Restless Wave" -- the seventh he has written with his friend and former speechwriter Mark Salter -- is about to come out, I thought of the man I covered and traveled with and grew to both like and respect enormously.

On election night 1986, when he won the Arizona U.S. Senate seat long held by ...Read more

Hostile Language

From the Left / Mark Shields /

It's an established American tradition to call people what they wish to be called. That's why after he converted religions, nearly everyone -- except a few die-hard bigots -- called the heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali instead of Cassius Clay. Marion Morrison chose to become John Wayne. Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov would later become Dame ...Read more

Touching the Nation

From the Left / Mark Shields /

She was born into comfort in Manhattan and raised in Rye, a leafy, exclusive suburb in New York's Westchester County. She would leave college before graduating to marry. She never had a career beyond wife, mother and citizen. But her death, in her 10th decade, evoked an almost spontaneous national yearning for what she and her husband had ...Read more

Paul Ryan Is No Margaret Chase Smith

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Shortly after Hawaii and Alaska joined the Union and I was still a semi-young wiseguy, smugly sure that a celebrity candidate whose prospective campaign had sparked public interest would become a serious White House challenger, a grizzled political reporter brought me up short with this practical advice: "If a candidate gets measurably louder ...Read more

Republicans and Patriotism

From the Left / Mark Shields /

The election night words of the long-shot Republican candidate after his upset victory remain with me to this day: "I learned long ago that serving only oneself is a petty and unsatisfying ambition. But serve a cause greater than self-interest and you will know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of fame and fortune."

That...Read more

Helpful Hints for Candidates

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Successful politicians, those who have won election and re-election to office, almost always have an extra olfactory nerve that somehow endows them with the ability to smell which way the political winds will blow in a given election year -- and whether a gale-force blast is forming that might sweep them out of office in November. That could ...Read more

Liberal Conscience AWOL?

From the Left / Mark Shields /

In one of the most closely watched 2018 congressional campaigns, avidly followed nationally as a potential predictor of November's midterm elections by both increasingly apprehensive Republicans and guardedly optimistic Democrats, there was only one candidates debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, between the challenger -- the ...Read more

Losers Blame the Voters

From the Left / Mark Shields /

On Nov. 4, 2008, American voters faced the happy task of choosing between two popular presidential nominees, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, both of whom, according to the last pre-election Gallup Poll, about 3 in 5 Americans regarded positively. In stark contrast, the 2016 Election Day exit poll of voters revealed an ...Read more

50 St. Patrick's Days Ago

From the Left / Mark Shields /

After a lifetime spent in the company of the rogues, the rascals and, yes, the phonies of politics, I have concluded that American voters are searching for one of two presidential types: a warm conservative with a generous heart or a tough liberal with a steel backbone. As the late wise conservative leader Jeffrey Bell once said admiringly of ...Read more

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Pelosi: 2 Real Professionals

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Former President Ronald Reagan is hands down the most electorally successful American politician of the post-World War II era. As the outsider nominee of the nation's then-decidedly minority party, nobody has ever come close to matching his back-to-back 44-state and 49-state landslide White House victories. Acknowledged as a conviction ...Read more


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