WASHINGTON -- Billy Graham was easily the most influential evangelical Christian of the 20th century -- a man at home in the historical company of George Whitefield and John Wesley.
But this would be hard to tell from reading his sermons, which even close associates described as ordinary. His books are hardly more memorable. So what was it that...Read more
CHICAGO -- On the same day as the Parkland school shooting, I found myself on the south side of Chicago, talking with the victims and perpetrators of a different, continuing massacre.
At the optimistically named Youth Peace Center of Roseland, M. told me of being shot six times in the back and head. "Until you lay in your own blood," he said, "...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Among the more revealing moments in the ongoing White House nervous breakdown came in chief of staff John Kelly's initial defense of staff secretary Rob Porter. As accusations of domestic abuse against Porter became public, Kelly pronounced him a man of "true integrity and honor."
I have never been in the military, and have great ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- For some years, the main political project of the right has been to take control of the government while denigrating the government. Donald Trump drew this strategy to its logical conclusion during his presidential campaign, asserting as a kind of refrain: "Our politicians are stupid."
Which came to mind following the revelation ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- According to House Speaker Paul Ryan, the declassified Devin Nunes memo -- alleging FBI misconduct in the Russia investigation -- is "not an indictment of the FBI, of the Department of Justice." According to President Trump, the memo shows how leaders at the FBI "politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats" ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- In general, a State of the Union address is massive in the moment and quickly forgotten. And Donald Trump's first State of the Union address was even more unmemorable than usual.
That, presumably, was the point. The speech aspired to political normalcy, and largely achieved it. The lavish use of everyday heroes was welcome relief ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Just as Bill Clinton's 1998 State of the Union address is known as the speech after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Donald Trump's 2018 State of the Union address is likely to be remembered as the speech before Robert Mueller's report arrived.
Clinton remains the gold standard in presidential scandal management: Stubbornly talk...Read more
WASHINGTON -- This is the strangest of political moments, in which a historically weak president believes he is acting from a position of strength.
After a year in office, Donald Trump has an approval rating below 40 percent -- the lowest for any president in modern times. In the special state legislative elections held so far this year, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Billy Graham has been one of the most visible, respected and influential Christians in the world since the 1950s. But he often had a blind spot when it came to politics. Graham was Richard Nixon's golfing buddy and spiritual adviser. He was there to pray with Nixon after every victory and loss. And Nixon consulted him on everything...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Forty-five years after Roe v. Wade was decided, the right to abortion that the Supreme Court discerned remains controversial and disputed.
The expectation of legal abortion is deeply embedded in American law and practice. Many states were lifting restrictions on the procedure even before Roe. Justice Blackman's landmark decision ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Sometimes it is necessary to begin with the obvious. The claim that America needs more Norwegian migrants and fewer Africans from "sh-thole countries" is racist. It is not the same as arguing for a higher-skilled immigrant pool. That argument might go something like: "We need a higher-skilled immigrant pool."
President Trump, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- White House staffers have two general objectives: to serve the president and to please the president. The two do not always coincide.
I can recall, as a policy adviser to President George W. Bush, sending him articles and columns (including some by Nicholas Kristof) savaging the administration's reaction to the unfolding Darfur ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Because of President Trump's absence of downward loyalty, his elevation of the morally impaired and his encouragement of staff factionalism, his administration will produce any number of damaging memoirs and leak-filled exposes. Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" is the latest in this genre, but surely not the last.
Yet what is most ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Though events in Iran are murky, their direction is historic.
The Iranian regime -- which has made a project of destabilizing others through terrorism and regional adventurism -- has been revealed as deeply unstable. Many Iranian citizens thought that the election of the "moderate" Hassan Rouhani as president would bring more ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- "I, Tonya" is a movie that is, in places, very difficult to watch. But it is also impossible to look away.
This biopic about the briefly famous, then infamous Tonya Harding has offended some reviewers by putting child abuse and domestic violence in close proximity to comedy. But it would be difficult to tell Harding's story ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- One of the odder moments of the Christmas narrative -- often left out of pageants and children's storybooks -- is when Mary encounters Simeon at the temple. He is described as a devout man, but he is not a particularly cheery one. "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel," Simeon tells Mary. "And a ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Vice President Mike Pence's obsequiousness at a recent Cabinet meeting -- "Thank you for seeing through the course of this year an agenda that is truly restoring this country ... " and on, and on -- might be appropriate at a Communist Party Central Committee meeting, or at a despot's birthday party. But it is not the language of ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- A president with no concern for veracity or consistency has assured us he is not considering the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This does not make the prospect even marginally less remote. And it has done little to inhibit the attempt by some conservatives to discredit the investigation.
On a move against Mueller and ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I find myself wandering in an unfamiliar place. As a pro-life conservative, I am honestly happy -- no, positively elated -- that pro-choice Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama's Senate election.
It is an odd position for me, and a complicated one. This change may impose costs to causes I care about. And Democrats did not make my shift...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The Winston Churchill biopic "Darkest Hour" is a movie that should be seen, but not entirely believed. Gary Oldman's alternately fierce and vulnerable Churchill is a triumph of both acting and the cosmetician's art. Just hearing him deliver snippets of Churchill's speeches is worth the ticket price. (Am I the only one who tears up ...Read more