From the Left



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

Shirts vs. Skins 2017

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Back before kids sports -- with their pricey equipment, expensive coaches and summer camps -- had become a major American industry, American boys, when playing pickup basketball on a neighborhood court, would simply separate themselves into competing teams, the Skins (without their T-shirts) and the Shirts (with their T-shirts).

American ...Read more

The End of the Cold War and 2017 American Politics

From the Left / Mark Shields /

In 1988, a full year before the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet empire broke up, Georgy Arbatov, a Soviet expert on the United States, offered this prophetic prediction about how the end of the Cold War would change the United States: "We are going to do a terrible thing to you. We are going to deprive you of an enemy." He was right. ...Read more

No Man Is Above the Law

From the Left / Mark Shields /

Do you remember Zoe Baird? In 1993, President-elect Bill Clinton nominated Baird, a prominent lawyer, to be the first female U.S. attorney general. Baird had told the Clinton transition team that she had, in violation of the law, employed a couple, both undocumented immigrants, to work for her family as chauffeur and baby sitter and that she ...Read more

Exposing Republican Code-Speak

From the Left / Mark Shields /

In his first television interview since taking office, Vice President Mike Pence, with apparent sincerity, emphasized to "PBS NewsHour's" Judy Woodruff just how committed he and the White House are to "working right now with the Congress," "working very closely with leaders of the House and Senate" and earning "bipartisan support." If Pence ...Read more

It's the White House Calling

From the Left / Mark Shields /

In this era of tweets and texts, the White House of President Donald Trump, ever respectful of tradition, is bringing back the personal phone call. For example, Steve Bannon, the president's chief strategist, by telephone told The New York Times' Michael Grynbaum that his paper and "the elite media got (the 2016 presidential election) dead ...Read more


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