From the Left



'Always proud he was my President'

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, who created the international scholarship program that bears his name and that has produced 59 Nobel Prize winners among its estimated 360,000 alumni, was not, for entirely legitimate reasons, a humble man. Admitted to the University of Arkansas at 15, he would become a star halfback on the school's ...Read more

A prophet who deserves a little honor

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Anyone who cannot resist the temptation to offer public predictions about public events invites and can expect public ridicule.

Even pre-eminent 20th-century American columnist and public intellectual Walter Lippmann, who was courted by presidents and prime ministers, is regularly remembered for dismissing in print then-New York Gov. Franklin D...Read more

Our Sore President

From the Left / Mark Shields /

During his winning campaign to capture the White House, Democrat Barack Obama was harshly critical of the White House record of his predecessor George W. Bush. But once in office, Obama -- like nearly all presidents before him -- heeded the sage advice of a great chief executive also from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, who, when faulted for ...Read more

Resolutions and Predictions

From the Left / Mark Shields /

The calendar reminds us that it's that special time of the year to make reckless predictions and fleeting resolutions. So let us do a little of both.

I predict that with history and national poll numbers warning them daily that 2018 is shaping up as a truly bad year electorally for Republican candidates, there will be a sharp increase in the ...Read more

Normal Speech

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Contrary to what my beloved junior high coach taught us, defeat does not build character. However, defeat can often reveal character. So, too, can victory reveal character, as it seemed to do late on a December Tuesday night in a raucous ballroom at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel.

There we saw a happy winner who declined to pump his fist in ...Read more

Francisco Franco and the 2018 Republicans

From the Left / Mark Shields /

To understand the discouraging plight for Republicans heading into the 2018 midterm elections, it might help to recall a joke popular in Spain in 1975, when Generalissimo Francisco Franco, that nation's long-ruling and ruthless dictator, lingered for endless weeks on his deathbed.

Alejandro: "There is good news, and there is bad news."

Carlos:...Read more

Understanding Republicans

From the Left / Mark Shields /

It's important for us to remember that even though President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, successfully lobbied the nation and eventually signed into law the historic civil rights laws a half-century ago, a higher percentage of congressional Republicans than congressional Democrats voted for those bills. By then, the Republican Party, which ...Read more

'Punching up' is American; 'punching down' is not

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Americans have traditionally responded more positively to humor that "punches up" rather than "punches down." To "punch up" means to make a joke at the expense of those who have more power, privilege or property than the audience or the humorist. "Punching down" is the opposite -- mocking or disparaging someone or some group that is less ...Read more

The powerful waging war on the weak

From the Left / Mark Shields /

The story is as timeless as it is ugly. The names of the actors change, but the plot remains the same. The powerful -- whether the undocumented maid's employer, the factory owner who signs the teenage worker's paycheck or the producer who can cast an aspiring actress -- are in control, and the weak are, too often, at their mercy.

Henry ...Read more

First 'pre-mortem' of the 2018 elections

From the Left / Mark Shields /

American voters, almost invariably dissatisfied with the political status quo, generally endorse change. In 2016, Donald Trump was certainly the candidate of change, and Hillary Clinton, seeking a third consecutive Democratic term in the White House, represented continuity. Voters' enthusiasm for change, in the abstract, often cools when they're...Read more

To be a great president, you first have to like politics

From the Left / Mark Shields /

On the consensus list of the most significant American presidents following George Washington, there is a common trait. Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson and Harry Truman -- each of these great leaders was first a very good politician who actually enjoyed politics.

Lincoln, who served four terms in the ...Read more

An American president and the world

From the Left / Mark Shields /

The release by the Trump administration of thousands of pages of classified documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy brought to mind two anecdotes about the 35th president and his legacy.

After the shock of Dallas, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was then an assistant secretary of labor and would later become a ...Read more


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