Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 19 Oct 2018 08:13:35 -0700 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate f57e47cfab003f7bff98f1fb89dd852f What Gerald Ford Could Teach Beto O'Rourke in 2018 for 10/20/2018 Sat, 20 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When people learn that I have spent the past 50 years either working in or covering the past 13 presidential campaigns, I'm often asked my opinion of what was the best-run national campaign.</p> <p>My answer &#8212; the losing 1976 Republican presidential campaign of President Gerald Ford &#8212; surprises some people.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 20, 2018</p> 0695f6518283f343ac0e0220f35adfc2 The Irrationality of Baseball Fans for 10/13/2018 Sat, 13 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>American philosopher Jerry Seinfeld famously exposed how irrational we American baseball fans must be: "Team loyalty is a kind of hard thing to justify, in the end. ... Every year, it's different guys. ... You're rooting for clothes, when you get right down to it. ... I want my team's clothes to beat the clothes from the other city. It's laundry. We're screaming about laundry here."</p> <p>To be a Boston Red Sox fan is to have grown up with disappointment and defeat. After his team won the World Series three times during World War I &#8212; led by baseball's best left-handed pitcher, who also was baseball's greatest home run hitter, Babe Ruth &#8212; the cash-strapped owner of the team, Harry Frazee, sold the Babe to the New York Yankees, who were immediately transformed into the sport's kings, winning 26 World Series over the next 84 years while the Red Sox won none. There were only two times, 1948 and 1978, in American League history when the top two teams finished the season with identical records, and a one-game playoff was held to determine the league champion. The Red Sox were in both and won neither, losing the second to who else but the Yankees.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 13, 2018</p> fdcb815b485785b3e601eabdeeded53c Timeless -- and Wise -- Advice for 10/06/2018 Sat, 06 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On a Sunday morning two days before the crucial California presidential primary, hundreds of college-age volunteers crowded into their candidate's campaign headquarters on Market Street in San Francisco to get their marching instructions for getting every registered voter the campaign had identified as backing Sen. Robert Kennedy to the polls on June 4, 1968.</p> <p>It was there I heard, for the first time, the then-second-term California assemblyman who was on his way to becoming the longest-serving speaker of the California Assembly in history and then San Francisco's first African-American mayor, the charismatic Willie Brown. To a rapt audience of self-consciously idealistic young people, Brown delivered a timeless sermon about the value and virtue of practical politics.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 06, 2018</p> b3378aa3b46d899aabe821822040c79b Guilty As Charged for 09/29/2018 Sat, 29 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Not for the first time, the criticism reads: "Why don't you admit it, Shields? You reflexively like politicians." It's true. I do like most people who dare to run for political office.</p> <p>For me and most people I know, our lives are a succession of unpublicized setbacks and occasional wins. If you and I were the two finalists for the same promotion at Acme Gismo Co. and you were chosen, our local media, when announcing your new honor, most likely wouldn't add something like this: "Shields was reportedly passed over because of unresolved questions about his expense account and rumors concerning his erratic behavior at the company Christmas party."<p>Updated: Sat Sep 29, 2018</p> 079dd7b3aac50a76ecebc5e822bd7645 In Economic Boom, How Can President Trump Be Political Liability to GOP? for 09/22/2018 Sat, 22 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The stock market has just hit a new historic high. Median household income in the U.S. is higher than ever. Fewer laid-off Americans are today forced to file for unemployment benefits than at anytime since 1968, when the U.S. civilian labor force of 81 million was one-half of today's 162 million. With the 2018 midterm elections only little more than a month away, this is all good news for Republicans, who control the presidency and both the House and Senate, right?</p> <p>Not really. The most recent Gallup Poll shows only 38 percent of American voters approve of the job President Donald Trump is doing while 56 percent of voters disapprove. By way of historical comparison, the last time a first-term president faced disapproval numbers almost as bad as Trump's was President Ronald Reagan on the eve of the 1982 midterm elections, when the U.S. unemployment rate had hit 10.8 percent, its highest point since the Great Depression, and the nation's prime interest rate had skyrocketed to 21.5 percent. Reagan, whose job-approval rate was 42 percent, saw his Republican Party lose 26 House seats on Election Day.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 22, 2018</p> d8d6da3fefd8b040e91ec0fb6895615d Downside of Being Right for 09/15/2018 Sat, 15 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It is always dangerous to be right, noted Voltaire, in matters where the established authorities are all wrong. In 2002, barely a year after the attacks of 9/11, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, three papers that rarely agree editorially on anything more controversial than the observance of Mother's Day, all endorsed the U.S. going to war against the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, who was, we were told, well on his way to building weapons of mass destruction that threatened this nation.</p> <p>War fever seized the Congress to where every senator in either party who would run for the White House in the next four presidential elections voted to endorse the George W. Bush administration's call for the authority to invade Iraq. Voting to go to war were Sens. Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Sam Brownback, Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, John McCain, Rick Santorum and Fred Thompson. More than a dozen years later, when the Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll asked, "Do you think the war with Iraq was worth it or not worth it?" barely one-quarter of Americans answered yes.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 15, 2018</p> 664a99a973790af07b7a31641ae27cc0 Not Taking Oneself Too Seriously for 09/08/2018 Sat, 08 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Mostly missing from the moving and deserved tributes to Sen. John McCain was attention to McCain's gift for self-deprecating humor. When a Gallup Poll, during his last Senate term, showed that only 11 percent of the public had a favorable view of the U.S. Congress, McCain noted that when you're at 11 percent favorable, it basically means you're "down to paid staffers and blood relatives." Barely a month later, when Gallup had Congress' approval down to just 9 percent, McCain told reporters of receiving a phone call that morning from his no-nonsense then-105-year-old mother, Roberta, and said: "I can tell you that we in Congress are now down to paid staffers."</p> <p>After his 2008 defeat to Barack Obama, McCain recalled the losing presidential quests of fellow Arizonans: Conservative icon Barry Goldwater was routed in 1964 by Democrat Lyndon Johnson; beloved Democratic Rep. Mo Udall, from Tucson, finished second in 1976 to Jimmy Carter; Bruce Babbitt, a former governor of Arizona, won positive reviews but no primaries against Bill Clinton in 1992. McCain's conclusion: "Arizona may be the only state in the country where mothers don't tell their children they can grow up to be president."<p>Updated: Sat Sep 08, 2018</p> 9b13e59273c8a9e5a9b46c1cabcf3255 'Officers Eat Last' for 08/25/2018 Sat, 25 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The Marine Corps lives by one hard-and-fast rule foreign to American corporate and financial life: "Officers eat last." Simply stated, the Marine officer in command does not eat until all the Marines he is responsible for &#8212; beginning with the corporals and the privates &#8212; have first been fed. This practice reflects another Corps value: Loyalty for Marines is a two-way street. It must go from the top to the bottom ranks, as well as from the bottom to the top.</p> <p>In 1968, when 540,000 Americans were fighting in Vietnam and when 30,587 had already died, a young Ivy League graduate, born to privilege and comfort in New York City and already with a young bride, chose one course. He joined the Marine Corps, was commissioned a second lieutenant and went through the demanding challenges of both Army Ranger school and Army Airborne training before going to Vietnam, where, as a platoon commander, he led Marines into combat, was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and received a Purple Heart after an enemy combatant shot him in his thigh. He lived "officers eat last," completed his tour of duty, came home and went to law school. This was Robert Mueller.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 25, 2018</p> 7d430cf934a3fe7a4bc8bd928f596ec2 A Church Lacking Sympathy for 08/18/2018 Sat, 18 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>I can testify from a lifetime of personal experience that practice does not really make perfect. Since the presidency of Harry Truman, during which I had the honor of being the youngest altar boy in St. Francis Xavier Parish to serve the standing-room-only midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, I have been a practicing and manifestly imperfect Catholic.</p> <p>After the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse, which tells of more than 1,000 victims enduring criminal cruelty at the hands of some 300 Catholic priests, I am consumed with anger toward my church. Of course, I am also sad, but I remain even more furious toward my church's hierarchy and its rush not to console the anguish of and heal the wounds of the vulnerable victims but rather to lead a systematic cover-up of priests' crimes against defenseless children to protect the institutional church from legal liability and deserved public outrage.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 18, 2018</p> 248415cf0e4a38d47927519f4187c338 GOP Congressional Candidates ... on Their Own for 07/28/2018 Sat, 28 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It's a safe bet that when President Donald J. Trump was a younger man, he never read "To Kill A Mockingbird," Harper Lee's American classic about a young child's awakening to racial prejudice in a sleepy little town in the pre-civil rights South. The admirable Atticus Finch teaches his young daughter, Scout, about empathy, saying: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."</p> <p>Otherwise President Trump would have been able to put himself in the shoes of the more than four dozen Republican House candidates who, because national polls show an overall advantage to Democratic challengers for the 2018 midterms, are nervously running in the four dozen House districts that have been rated toss-ups or worse, trending from Republican to Democrat.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 28, 2018</p> 2b112136c0202060edec9b99643f6b49 Nobody Knows Who the 2020 Presidential Nominees Will Be, but ... for 07/21/2018 Sat, 21 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As was wisely observed inside the world of renowned philosopher Peter Pan, "All this has happened before, and it will all happen again." Never is that more true than when American voters choose our presidential nominees. Recall 1976, when, after the criminality, corruption and involuntary resignation of President Richard M. Nixon &#8212; arguably the nation's most politically experienced chief executive, having previously served in the House and the Senate, and two terms as vice president &#8212; an ex one-term Georgia governor, Jimmy Carter, was able to convert his total lack of Washington experience into an appealing electoral virtue.</p> <p>Carter was demonstrably intelligent, hardworking and serious in office, but he seemed to change his mind a lot. So when faced with difficult economic conditions, voters replaced Carter with the supremely optimistic and self-confident Ronald Reagan, who had not changed his mind since at least 1964. <p>Updated: Sat Jul 21, 2018</p> 4aa0be722d7ee4d03cc4f2424658912c Chico Marx for President for 07/14/2018 Sat, 14 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In a scene in the 1933 film "Duck Soup," the character played by Chico, the most underrated of the funny Marx Brothers, is dressed like another character, and when the other man leaves the room, the woman who remains is surprised to see Chico. She tells him she saw him leave. Chico's response remains a classic in the annals of truth evasion: "Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"</p> <p>Even his most severe critics have never accused President Donald Trump of being a "Marxist." But consider this recent sequence: On Wednesday morning, the president publicly urged, "House Republicans should pass the strong but fair immigration bill ... in their afternoon vote today." On Wednesday afternoon, nearly half of the House's GOP members ignored the president's leadership and voted against the immigration bill he'd endorsed. But wait. On Saturday, not 72 hours after that vote, Trump "corrected" the record by declaring, "I never pushed the Republicans in the House to vote for the immigration bill." The spirit of Chico prevails at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 14, 2018</p> e688458a12a7491f020aef4bc47fe373 Taking the Disraeli Test for 07/07/2018 Sat, 07 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th-century British prime minister and writer, shrewdly advised that to be a successful political leader, a man (even though it was the Victorian era, it was still a man's game) must first know himself and then know and understand the times in which he lives.</p> <p>Whether would-be national leaders can pass the Disraeli test is often first seen in the campaigns for public office they run. Remember Abraham Lincoln, an all-American leader who was running for re-election in 1864, while the bloodiest war this nation has ever endured raged between North and South, and made his own case to the voters: "It is not best to swap horses while crossing the river." He won.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 07, 2018</p> 726bbf7875945ee03a310deb1d7eb312 Odds and Ends for 06/30/2018 Sat, 30 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Thanks to President Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts, we learned this week from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, an additional $2.3 trillion (with a "t") will be added to our national debt over the next decade. Soon, for the only time since World War II, nearly three-quarters of a century ago, the nation's debt &#8212; what we and our children and their children owe to bankers and other countries &#8212; will be greater than the entire economy of the United States.</p> <p>But wait. Republicans &#8212; ever the fiscal watchdogs &#8212; have an idea. The GOP wants to make the temporary 2017 tax cuts permanent. What genius! One more round of tax cuts to magically produce a balanced federal budget. That would be comparable to leaving the landing lights on for Amelia Earhart.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 30, 2018</p> 74a75c7213239fa9781d1e3f96cca79f The Question Republican Candidates Fear Most in 2018 for 06/23/2018 Sat, 23 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Alan Baron, who was a wise and witty man of politics, used to tell this true story to remind those who worked in politics like he did that in some election years, the outcome is determined by events and forces completely beyond any candidate's or her campaign's control. </p> <p>As a 21-year-old, Baron was managing in his heavily Republican hometown of Sioux City, Iowa, a long-shot congressional campaign for an underfunded Democrat when Vincent Burke, the frankly sacrificial Democratic nominee for a solidly Republican state Senate seat, approached him with a request for $300. Burke wanted to rent a sound truck on which he would put signs endorsing all the Democratic candidates and drive around the county urging all within earshot to vote for incumbent Lyndon Johnson for president, Harold Hughes for governor, Stan Greigg for Congress and himself for state Senate. Baron, who doubted the persuasive effectiveness of a sound truck and did not have the $300, gently turned down Burke, who somewhere found the money, got the truck and drove it blaring throughout the county.</p> <p>On Tuesday, as you may have figured, came a historic Democratic landslide In Iowa. Hughes cruised to the governorship. LBJ rolled to victory. In a major upset, congressional candidate Stan Greigg won, as did, to nearly everyone's surprise, Burke, who explained his victory to Baron this way: "You see, kid. The truck. It worked." Baron, keenly aware that the Republican presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, had been an albatross to all Republican candidates and an unalloyed gift to all Democrats running, responded simply: "It's a shame Adlai Stevenson" &#8212; (the former governor who had twice lost as Democratic nominee in landslides to Republican Dwight Eisenhower) &#8212; "didn't know about the truck." <p>Updated: Sat Jun 23, 2018</p> 4042caad6fa83ce53087a206386d035c Where Is the Republican Gene McCarthy? for 06/16/2018 Sat, 16 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>After Election Day in 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson won a landslide victory over Republican Barry Goldwater and Democrats procured a 68-32 majority in the Senate, the Democratic Caucus of the U.S. Senate met in private. Rightly confident &#8212; they now had the numbers needed to pass Medicare, Medicaid and the Voting Rights Act &#8212; euphoric Senate Democrats were generally unreceptive to the solemn reality check delivered by their just re-elected Minnesota colleague, Eugene McCarthy. Stipulating his own and the caucus's strong support for LBJ, who was their former majority leader, McCarthy warned that if there arose a need to stand up to President Johnson for any major error in foreign or domestic policy, because the Republicans were such a depleted minority, it could only come from those on the Democratic side.</p> <p>True to his word, Gene McCarthy, undefeated in seven Minnesota elections, on Nov. 30, 1967, earned the begrudging admiration of his timid colleagues and the gratitude of concerned Americans when he effectively sacrificed his own political career by rising to challenge LBJ, whose war policy in Vietnam many objected to, for the Democratic presidential nomination. He also changed history.</p> <p>Twice in this campaign year, I have heard candidates publicly disparaging their opponents for, not unlike McCarthy, acting on conscience. The first was Democrat Marie Newman &#8212; backed by many national liberal groups, including the political arms of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America &#8212; who attacked her Illinois primary opponent, Rep. Dan Lipinski, for his lifelong opposition to abortion. This statement by Newman went publicly uncriticized by her liberal supporters: "We can't vote our own conscience as (Lipinski) likes to say. We have to vote how our constituents want us to vote." By that logic, the 156 senators and representatives who dared, when the public backed going to war by more than a 3-1 ratio, to vote against the mistaken U.S. invasion of Iraq should have been banished from office. Newman lost.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 16, 2018</p> 98fcc889e161197080aa27a19b938617 Polls Apart for 06/09/2018 Sat, 09 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly." Add to Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's timeless wisdom from "Show Boat" that before every election, "(alleged) pundits gotta predict." You can be sure that once again, this campaign year at least one long-shot candidate whose inevitable defeat, long before Election Day, has been smugly assumed by the pundits and/or pollsters will respond by quoting President Harry Truman, the patron saint of all political underdogs, who rebutted discouraging polling numbers before his own historic upset victory in 1948: "I wonder how far Moses would have gone if he'd taken a poll in Egypt."</p> <p>Truth be told, there is some very good public polling available, including the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, which, let it be noted, after a pre-Election Day survey in 2016, forecast that Hillary Clinton &#8212; who would actually receive 2.86 million more votes than Donald Trump and capture 48.2 percent of the national vote, compared with Trump's 46.1 percent &#8212; would win by 4 percentage points. Readers and viewers were openly told that poll came with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent &#8212; well within the actual election results.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 09, 2018</p> 60070f6fa08d836f2dacb5c70d54b9de When Politics Was Fun for 06/02/2018 Sat, 02 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On Sept. 26, 1960, when Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy and his Republican opponent, Richard Nixon, met in the first ever nationally televised presidential debate &#8212; watched or listened to live by some 60 percent of adult Americans &#8212; there were no overnight polls or sophisticated voter focus groups to tell the press or the public who had won the debate. The next day, when the Republican nominee flew to Memphis for a campaign rally, he was greeted by an especially friendly matron sporting a big Nixon pin. The woman, while nearby reporters listened, sought to comfort Nixon: "Don't worry, son. Kennedy beat you last night, but I'm sure you'll do better next time." Nixon uncomfortably thanked her. A national consensus would begin to emerge that yes, Kennedy had "won" the debate.</p> <p>That thoughtful woman consoling Nixon in Tennessee over his debate "loss" had in fact been recruited, rehearsed and directed by Dick Tuck, the joyful Democratic political operative and Marine veteran of Iwo Jima whose death last week in Arizona reminds us of a time when American politics was both more fun and more forgiving.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 02, 2018</p> 41efd9f84fb183ccd40515c47bba06aa Politics as (Un)usual for 05/19/2018 Sat, 19 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In Marine Corps jargon, a "duty station" is the military base or camp where a Marine is assigned to live. Reflecting our national inclination both to romanticize what is past and to criticize what is current, Marines will regularly gripe that there is no duty station better than the one they just left and none worse than the one they're presently at.</p> <p>American voters have an almost identical reaction in their feelings toward national political leaders, tending to view those leaders more positively after they have exited center stage than they did when they were in office. For example, George W. Bush, whom voters viewed unfavorably by a 2-1 margin in his last year in the White House, reversed his numbers and received a 2-1 favorable rating only 10 years later. Whether because of the deeper perspective time's passage provides to us all or because of their being compared with flawed Oval Office successors, former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush also enjoyed dramatic bipartisan surges in their public popularity.<p>Updated: Sat May 19, 2018</p> 3dcf38bf698dd363014b2285bdc7a7de Which Politicians Look Like Their Home State? for 05/12/2018 Sat, 12 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>West Virginia &#8212; which, between 2015 and 2016, was the only state to see both more deaths than births and more citizens move out than move in &#8212; could understandably be expected to be somewhat unwelcoming to the recent arrival who seeks public office. The Mountain State's last surviving Democrat in its congressional delegation, Sen. Joe Manchin, was born in Farmington and went to West Virginia University on a football scholarship. Manchin's November GOP opponent will be Patrick Morrisey, who grew up in New Jersey, where he went to the Garden State's public university and law school and lost a congressional race in 2000. He also spent 11 years as a lawyer-lobbyist in Washington, D.C., before moving to West Virginia in 2006 and becoming, six years later, the first Republican in 80 years to be elected attorney general of the state.</p> <p>Fallon, a veteran political sage whom I have learned to heed, argues that Manchin, despite being the underdog in a state that Donald Trump carried by a 42-point margin, will prevail. Asked to explain why, Fallon simply says: <span class="column--highlighted-text">"Manchin looks like West Virginia." And Morrisey? "He looks like D.C.'s Georgetown, not W.Va.'s Morgantown."</span><p>Updated: Sat May 12, 2018</p>