WASHINGTON -- Setting aside the issue of whether the president is wittingly advancing the interests of a hostile power -- a qualification that is only imaginable in the Trump era -- what is happening to the direction of American foreign policy?
I'm on record saying that the collection of impulses, deceptions, assertions, retractions, revisions ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Defining a foreign policy theory that might merit the title of "doctrine" is difficult in the Trump administration, which is dismissive of reflection, consistency and precedent. But in practice, it is the replacement of national pride with personal vanity.
Any diplomatic outcome -- no matter how useless or harmful -- is claimed by...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration is not known for its consistency, but some contradictions are too revealing to ignore.
In nominating Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, President Trump has chosen a jurist who is deeply committed to the Bill of Rights and the rule of law. Kavanaugh -- with whom I worked at the White House -- is ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- There is always a secret relief -- even, I imagine, among his supporters -- when President Trump does not do something random and imprudent. And we can be thankful for the selection of a Supreme Court nominee that did not involve a Ouija board spelling out the name of a Fox News personality.
But this is one area in which even the ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- An administration not known for policy creativity is unlikely to have useful internal policy debates. But in the Trump administration, prison reform is a welcome exception.
This is largely due to the efforts of President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who, in common with millions of poor and minority children in America, has ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- With President Trump's forthcoming nomination of a Supreme Court justice likely to rally and unify the Republican coalition, some commentators are (again) declaring the end of Never Trump conservatism. "On issue after issue," says the Ethics and Public Policy Center's Henry Olsen, the Never Trumpers "are in the minority of their ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Luck -- pure, dumb luck -- is an underestimated advantage in politics, and Donald Trump is one lucky man. He ran for the Republican nomination against a fractured field, in which the other candidates tore each other to shreds. He drew a historically unlikable and self-destructive general-election opponent. He got a last-minute ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump's mentor, the colorful controversialist Roy Cohn, once said: "I bring out the worst in my enemies and that's how I get them to defeat themselves."
If this is Trump's strategy, those who jeered Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant or protested at her home have been playing their part ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- On the issue of child separation, President Trump had to be dragged kicking and screaming into basic humanity. His initial goal was to create terror in migrants without provoking revulsion in the broader public. He failed. Trump may be immune to sympathy, but he is not immune to pressure. His partial backdown proves he is not ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Logic not being the strong point of the Trump administration, it claims that it is not to blame for the separation of families at the border, and that a just God is pleased it is happening.
The first claim is a lie. Without the administration's "zero-tolerance" policy, there would be no surge in detained children at overwhelmed ...Read more
DRESDEN -- This city -- where Allied bombing in 1945 created a 1,000-degree, hurricane force firestorm that melted glass and skin -- symbolizes the principle: Things could be worse.
A tragic sense of life -- along with cynical humor and a bit of a persecution complex -- is typical of Saxony, a German state as culturally distant from Berlin as ...Read more
BERLIN -- It is strange being in a foreign country and watching American post-World War II leadership -- as practiced by presidents such as Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan -- collapse into a heap of chaos, ignorance and self-indulgence.
Donald Trump's performance at the G-7 in Quebec -- his personal attacks on other leaders, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Sometimes a movement can be sabotaged by its victories.
Such is the case with the Supreme Court's Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling. The decision properly smacked down the anti-religious bigotry of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which not only wanted to compel baker Jack Phillips to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding but also ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- On the evidence of Rep. Kevin McCarthy's CNN interview over the weekend, the likely next speaker of the House is a mindless sycophant and a threat to the constitutional order.
Confronted with a simple ethical question -- would he condemn demonstrable White House lies in covering up Donald Trump's role in drafting his son's account...Read more
WASHINGTON -- America suffers from a persistent misunderstanding of the role of character in public life. For some -- a diminishing few -- political leaders should be moral exemplars. They should be men and women whom children can look up to and emulate.
Democrats surrendered this standard in their defense of Bill Clinton. Republicans are ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Three recent news items:
-- At the Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, House Speaker Paul Ryan said: "We see moral relativism becoming more and more pervasive in our culture. Identity politics and tribalism have grown on top of this." Ryan went on to talk about Catholic social doctrine, with its emphasis on "solidarity" with ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Much about the future of American politics -- and about the historical judgment that will be visited on those associated with it -- depends on the answer to one question: Is Donald Trump an instinctual demagogue or an instinctual authoritarian?
On most days, the evidence favors the former interpretation. Trump often acts like a ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Those who find "globalists" to be villains should attend to recent events in Congo. In the remote region of a remote country, government agencies and international institutions identified by sterile acronyms are working to prevent the spread of a disease that could result in the swift globalization of panic.
This week could well ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- In West Virginia, Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of creating jobs for "China people" and getting donations from his "China family" (McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, was born in Taiwan). In Georgia, Republican gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams drives around in a bus he...Read more
WASHINGTON -- How does President Trump act when he feels on top of the economic and diplomatic world? As his influence solidifies within the GOP? As his poll numbers tick upward?
If a recent Cabinet meeting tirade is any indication, political security has not translated into magnanimity. According to press reports, Trump spent 30 minutes ...Read more