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The praying mantis explains today's politics

From the Left / Mark Shields /

To understand the bizarre political era in which we live, let us recall the mating rituals of the praying mantis. In their amorous encounter, the male mantis approaches the female -- which is the physically larger and stronger of the two -- and, if permitted, mounts the female from the rear. In the frenzy of the pair's passion, the female will ...Read more

Self-pity can be politically fatal

From the Left / Mark Shields /

In polls of American historians conducted over the past 17 years by C-SPAN, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt have consistently ranked -- along with George Washington -- among the three best U.S. presidents. Yet President Lincoln was vilified in life, referred to in print as "the Illinois ape," "the Ourang-Outang at the White House," a ...Read more

3 memorable American presidents and the truth

From the Left / Mark Shields /

There have been three memorable American presidents, the story goes. President George Washington could never tell a lie. President Richard Nixon could never tell the truth. And President Donald Trump cannot tell the difference. At a White House news conference, Trump referred to his November 2016 victory, in which he received 304 electoral votes...Read more

Democrats' dumb move from 'pro-choice' to 'no choice'

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Just eight years ago, there were 256 Democrats in the U.S. House. Today there are just 193. Then, there were only 40 Republican U.S. senators; today the GOP Senate majority numbers 52. During that same span, Democrats have suffered a net loss of 947 state legislative seats, and today in only five states -- Rhode Island, Connecticut, Oregon, ...Read more

Missing Kate O'Beirne

From the Left / Mark Shields /

My adopted hometown of Washington has been accused, not always unfairly, of being a city full of scheming climbers who are frantically courting the company and the favor of the powerful. In this and so many respects, Kate O'Beirne -- the conservative leader and writer who died too soon, at 67 on April 23 -- was anti-Washington. Kate was not ...Read more

Can special elections to the US house predict our political future?

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Is there an emerging national pattern to be found in special House elections, such as the one that just happened in Georgia to fill the reliably Republican House seat once held by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, most recently held by the current secretary of health and human services, Tom Price, and for which, in the first round of voting, a...Read more

One (Restrained) Cheer for Washington

From the Left / Mark Shields /

We've all heard the tiresome and discouraging refrain: Washington, our beautiful capital city, is broken. Dysfunctional D.C. does not work. Even with majorities in both the House and the Senate, congressional Republicans could not pass a resolution commending Mother's Day.

But wait. We do have an actual example of the heeding of the people's ...Read more

Doesn't Look as if He's From Around Here

From the Left / Mark Shields /

When John McCain, after graduating from Annapolis and spending 22 years in the Navy, made his first run for Congress from Arizona, he was challenged by a Republican primary opponent for not having lived long in the state. McCain, who, as a POW for 5 1/2 years, had been tortured by the North Vietnamese, effectively countered, "The place where I...Read more

Discovering the Lost Art of Letter Writing

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Like so many good stories, this is an old one. But if this April somehow does turn out to be "the cruelest month" politically, this old story could even be timely.

Here's the story: The brutal Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, realizing that his failing health meant that his days were numbered, summoned his eventual successor, Nikita Khrushchev, to...Read more

We Americans Need to Know Each Other

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Let's admit it: America has become a land of strangers. Even before headphones, PCs and smartphones -- all of which were heralded as breakthroughs in human communication but have turned out to be instruments of further isolation -- we had begun disconnecting from each other.

More and more, we have chosen to reside near and associate, almost ...Read more

The Serious Matter of Political Humor

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only American elected president four times, had an often overlooked strength that both sustained him under the torrent of abuse he endured and served to thwart his dyspeptic political opponents: FDR could laugh at the jeers directed at him. He framed and showed off one cartoon from Esquire magazine showing a ...Read more

Why the Cuban Missile Crisis Matters Today

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Gen. Charles de Gaulle, a French hero and statesman who did not lack for self-esteem, once stated, "When I want to know what France thinks, I ask myself." In October 1962, after U.S. charges that the Soviets had installed offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba -- just 90 miles from the American mainland -- the United States and the Soviet Union ...Read more

Leadership Washington Could Learn From

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Hollywood's critics, of which there has never been a shortage, have long accused that California village of being the national home office of insincerity and shallowness. Two great 20th-century American wits memorably made that case. Fred Allen wrote, "All the sincerity in Hollywood you could stuff in a flea's navel and still have room left to...Read more

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