Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:59:58 -0700 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate a36647201f99ed9d90a24fe340a5909b The Vietnam War 2017 for 09/16/2017 Sat, 16 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Three aging U.S. veterans of the war in Vietnam, each of whom still bears the scars of battle, took their seats on the stage of Washington's Kennedy Center on a cool September evening. They were there to discuss Ken Burns' historic 18-hour PBS project, "The Vietnam War," which will deservedly earn the nation's attention. The three &#8212; John Kerry, a former presidential nominee, U.S. senator and secretary of state; Chuck Hagel, a former secretary of defense and U.S. senator; and John McCain, a former presidential nominee and current U.S. senator &#8212; received a sustained standing ovation from an unimpressionable Washington crowd.</p> <p>Kerry credited the Burns film for teaching that "we should never confuse the warriors with the war" and that it can "take a long time for a family to get to a place where they can say, 'My brother, my son did not die in vain. They served our country. They are patriots.'" But it was McCain who made this comfortable room more than a little uncomfortable by reminding his fellow citizens of an abandoned American value &#8212; the need for shared sacrifice.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 16, 2017</p> 653c0f1c5fdbc4237225458a0f6a2041 Happy New Year for 09/09/2017 Sat, 09 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Labor Day has already come, and summer is all but over. Autumn &#8212; with shorter days, cooler nights and a new school year &#8212; is upon us. Now &#8212; in beautiful September and not in the dead of winter, overshadowed by Christmas &#8212; ought logically to be New Year's Day, which means resolutions and predictions.</p> <p>I personally resolve to break my bad habit of stupidly assuming that every other driver on the road who is driving faster than I am must be a certifiable lunatic and of stupidly assuming that a driver who is driving more slowly than I am driving has to be a moron.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 09, 2017</p> 525b5efab91316a55f3c0b7a2b04eed7 Reprimand to Trump from Pittsburgh Voters: 'It's Not About You' for 09/02/2017 Sat, 02 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On a late summer night, some 230 days into the Trump presidency, a dozen Pennsylvania voters gathered around a conference table in Pittsburgh and were asked by respected Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart to just give "a word or a feeling about Donald Trump."</p> <p>The answers from this group &#8212; five of whom had voted for Trump in November &#8212; ought to induce a serious anxiety attack in the White House's West Wing and in Republican Party headquarters across the nation: "outrageous," "dishonest," "disappointed," "narcissist," "abject disappointment," "unique," "not ready to be president," "off the scale," "crazy," "completely unfit to be president," "unbelievable" and "contemptible."<p>Updated: Sat Sep 02, 2017</p> 25dea82f1cb10c8fa57210657015a22c Needing an 'Enemy' for 08/26/2017 Sat, 26 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Eric Hoffer, a San Francisco longshoreman and philosopher who died in 1983, the year President Ronald Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, could have been analyzing contemporary American politics when he wrote, some 66 years ago, that "mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil."</p> <p>Campaigns are easy. Candidates can often succeed by running all out against widely unpopular, sometimes even sinister, forces. Think of big government or big banks or big labor. Some candidates have chosen to campaign against other "un-American" influences that somehow threaten our national well-being. These regularly include people who go to a different place to worship, people whose families do not speak English as their first language and people who have come here, often with a different skin color, from non-European countries.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 26, 2017</p> 8c12e7905152a8732206e1bb784a828c The President Is Also a Moral Leader for 08/19/2017 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It was obviously an earlier, less cynical time when the president of the United States could explain an unscheduled drive from the White House he had once taken. "I was outraged," the president wrote when he was out of office, "when I read in the newspapers about a black family. ... The husband and wife were both employed in a government printing office. They had been harassed and a cross had been burned on their lawn." The president and the first lady had driven, without fanfare, from the White House to the family home of Philip and Barbara Butler, which was in a predominantly white subdivision in suburban Prince George's County, Maryland. The president added, "Our motorcade had naturally been noticed ... and our farewells at curbside were warmly applauded by the neighbors."</p> <p>The year of that visit was 1982, and the president was Ronald Reagan, who understood that the president is the only American who can speak to all of us and speak for all of us. That simple presidential visit was testimony to Reagan's personal identification with and support for the victims of a racial attack and also expressed the nation's sympathy.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 19, 2017</p> c0434c18ebae43bd1bdc5b6bae655fe8 Authentic Republican Wisdom for 08/05/2017 Sat, 05 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>American campaigns were not always, I can testify from personal witness, about the politics of personal destruction. Your political adversary was your opponent, not your enemy. Just 10 years ago, at the funeral of a former Republican president, the eulogy, at the personal request of the deceased, was given by the Democratic president who had defeated him in a race so close that with a switch of only 12,785 votes in two states &#8212; Ohio and Mississippi &#8212; Republican Gerald Ford would have won instead of Democrat Jimmy Carter.</p> <p>Honoring the national reconciliation Jerry Ford had, by the strength of his own decency, personally brought to a divided and disillusioned country after Watergate and President Richard Nixon's resignation in disgrace, Carter began by quoting himself: "For myself and for our nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land." He then self-deprecatingly explained, "Those were the first words I spoke as president, and I still hate to admit that they received more applause than any other words in my inaugural address."<p>Updated: Sat Aug 05, 2017</p> 3e7c35f79c73f72348a9a38ad94c4c9c Missing Case for Republican Health Care for 07/29/2017 Sat, 29 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>At 2 o'clock on a Friday morning in July &#8212; after having successfully run in three national elections on their party's repeated promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which Barack Obama had spent the first two years of his own presidency (and a lot of political popularity) getting passed &#8212; the case of those in the Senate majority leadership to fellow Senate Republicans for honoring that vow came down to a single assurance: Vote for this bare-bones bill, which nobody has ever seen before and would take health care away from only 16 million of our fellow citizens, even though, you have our solemn word, it will never become law.</p> <p>As weak as that reasoning may have been, it was far more persuasive than anything from the nation's chief executive, who chose to use his time to tell the world instead how he was "very disappointed with the attorney general," who, in addition to being "weak" and "beleaguered," had, by honorably recusing himself from any investigation of connections between Russia and the Trump campaign, been "unfair" to the president. This behavior once again raised the still-unanswered question for our elected billionaire leader: If you're so rich, why aren't you smart?<p>Updated: Sat Jul 29, 2017</p> 442b140dfa01027782abd1b90c010eaf McCain the Patriot for 07/22/2017 Sat, 22 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In this unheroic era when prominent American males prove their abiding patriotism by prominently displaying an American flag pin in the lapel of their suit jacket, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., remains seriously out of step.</p> <p>McCain has never been a flag waver. With the steady devotion of a lifetime of service, McCain has instead chosen to defend what our flag stands for.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 22, 2017</p> 5273204b712f052b4c1e053d558c3934 Unanswered Questions of 2017 for 07/15/2017 Sat, 15 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In the nervous Washington summer of 2017, with Republicans reeling from embarrassing disclosure after embarrassing disclosure, opposition Democrats, even before President Trump recently announced in Paris: "France is America's first and oldest ally. A lot of people don't know that," have already been following the strategy first recommended by a great Gallic leader, Napoleon Bonaparte: "Never interfere with an opponent while he's in the process of destroying himself."</p> <p>As the Trump administration continues to bear an increasing resemblance to former President Warren Harding's administration &#8212; but without the integrity &#8212; and as presidential intimates continue to amend their sworn statements about foreign individuals and interests with whom they have met, it may be time to restate the Two Iron Rules of Washington Scandals.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 15, 2017</p> 88b9a2226e056fc081dbfa5307508078 Not the Most Dependable of Friends for 07/01/2017 Sat, 01 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dean Heller is a 57-year-old Mormon, husband and father of four who &#8212; because he is a U.S. senator from Nevada (having won in 2012 by a paper-thin 46-45 percent margin), a state that Barack Obama carried twice, and because he is the only GOP senator running in 2018 in a state that Hillary Clinton carried &#8212; is commonly referred to as the most vulnerable Republican incumbent facing re-election. Because Heller represents one-half of the two-seat majority by which Republicans now control the U.S. Senate, his re-election matters greatly to Mitch McConnell, the senator from Kentucky who desperately wishes to remain Senate majority leader.</p> <p>Seeing as the most recent USA Today/Suffolk University national poll showed that a dismal 12 percent of Americans support the Senate Republican plan to replace Obamacare and seeing as Nevada's Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, with a 66 percent favorable job rating, maintains that a big reason the number of Nevada's uninsured children has been cut in half since 2012 is that his was the first GOP state to embrace Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, it should not have shocked anyone, least of all the White House, that the embattled Heller joined Sandoval in publicly opposing the widely unpopular bill.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 01, 2017</p> 4d860f33e9006058293ef0bed7189054 Character Beyond Measure for 06/24/2017 Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Americans have reason to trust in progress. By so many different yardsticks, we can gauge improvement just over the past half-century. We are indisputably more tolerant and accepting than we were in the 1960s. The percentage of American women with a college degree is five times greater today than it was in 1964. Back then, millions of black Americans were systematically denied the right to vote in many places, most especially in states of the old Confederacy. By 2012, for the first time in U.S. history, a higher percentage of blacks (66 percent) voted nationally than did whites (64 percent). The poverty rate among the American elderly has been cut by two-thirds, largely attributable to Social Security. (Unforgivably, the poverty rate among the politically powerless, children, remains higher today than it was 48 years ago.) Our air and water are both dramatically cleaner. In just over a half-century, while the U.S. population has not even doubled, the nation's gross domestic product has increased nearly sixfold. There is much to celebrate.</p> <p>But moral progress in American public life is much less clear. Take the national campaign of 1964. There was little suspense about the outcome. American voters were in no mood, 11 1/2 months after the national trauma of the assassination of the martyred John F. Kennedy, to switch to a third different president in 14 months &#8212; which is what Republican Barry Goldwater would have been. But on Oct. 7, President Lyndon B. Johnson's closest and most trusted aide, Walter Jenkins, the seemingly happily married father of six children, after a cocktail party at Newsweek's new Washington office, walked two blocks to a YMCA, where he &#8212; along with a 60-year-old Army veteran whom he did not know &#8212; was arrested on a charge of indecent sexual behavior in the men's room.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 24, 2017</p> 5da6078c32eccc153e8094d325cc18a7 Donald Trump Is No Richard Nixon for 06/17/2017 Sat, 17 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In just 13 days in October 1973, Washington endured a series of seismic political shocks. On Oct. 10, Vice President Spiro Agnew &#8212; having pleaded guilty in a federal courthouse in Baltimore to failure to pay taxes on thousands of dollars in bribes he, as both Maryland governor and VP, had shaken down from businessmen &#8212; resigned his office. On Oct. 20, President Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox for rejecting Nixon's offer of a synopsis of the 64 White House tapes the Supreme Court had ordered him to turn over instead of the actual tapes. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus refused to fire Cox, and both men resigned. Then Solicitor General Robert Bork, the next in command, did fire Cox. On Oct. 23, House Democrats, following the lead of House Majority Leader Tip O'Neill, decided that the House Judiciary Committee would begin impeachment hearings on President Nixon.</p> <p>On May 9, 2017, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating Russian efforts to sabotage the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton and to aid Republican Trump's campaign. Recently, the staff and family of President Trump have reportedly persuaded him, for the moment, not to fire Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who was appointed, in the wake of the Comey firing, as special counsel by the Justice Department to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 17, 2017</p> e86a04d844226c1817223805c394bbeb Virginia Shows the Future for 06/10/2017 Sat, 10 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Without Virginia, we probably never would have become the United States. It was Virginian leadership and talent that created the nation. Think first of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, and don't forget Chief Justice John Marshall, Patrick Henry and George Mason. It's understandable that state pride can infect Virginians with a sort of terminal nostalgia. They can speak lyrically about Gen. Robert E. Lee or Jefferson as if both men were out on an extended coffee break and expected back shortly. There is an old, but not inaccurate, joke that asks: How many Virginians does it take to change a light bulb? The answer: Three. One to change the light bulb and two to reminisce about what a great light bulb the old light bulb was.</p> <p>But in 2017, Virginia is one of only two states (New Jersey being the other) that will elect a new governor. That the Virginia election is held in a year when there is no presidential or congressional elections is a story in itself. In the most recent presidential election, Virginia's voter turnout was 72 percent of registered voters, whereas in the most recent gubernatorial race, Virginia's voter turnout was just 43 percent, or 1.73 million fewer voters. The Virginia political establishment and business community, quite bluntly, prefer the more conservative off-year electorate in a campaign insulated from the national political debate and trends of a presidential election, which attract younger, more untraditional voters and made the difference in Democratic presidential nominees carrying Virginia in the past three elections. Virginia's June primary date &#8212; when colleges are closed, campuses are quiet and public attention is low &#8212; was deliberately chosen to discourage large voter turnouts.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 10, 2017</p> fe74f6000bcadafced21540ba76c0826 Two Polar Opposite Examples for 06/03/2017 Sat, 03 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>For baseball fans of a certain age, Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals stands alone. Musial's on-field statistics were beyond impressive. He led the National League in batting seven times, was named the league's MVP three times, was selected as an all-star 24 times and had 3,630 career hits. But what is most cherished about "Stan the Man" is his signature decency. He granted every autograph request. He treated opponents and fans with respect. In contrast with so many of today's professional athletes &#8212; the ones who egotistically showboat and pound their chest after the most ordinary of on-field plays &#8212; Musial, with his head down, would simply acknowledge the crowd's cheers after one of his 475 career home runs by modestly touching the tip of his cap.</p> <p>In 2017, President Donald Trump and Pope Francis provide us almost daily with two polar opposite examples for how a leader ought to conduct himself before the crowds and in private. The pope &#8212; whom faithful Catholics believe to be infallible on matters of doctrine &#8212; is humble, publicly confessing that he is a sinner. Trump, obviously pleased with his personal and professional success, announces regularly that he is a winner.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 03, 2017</p> 9185609b50c388ff26e5c1793c31c2b8 The Praying Mantis Explains Today's Politics for 05/27/2017 Sat, 27 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>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 &#8212; which is the physically larger and stronger of the two &#8212; and, if permitted, mounts the female from the rear. In the frenzy of the pair's passion, the female will often turn her head completely around and, unromantically, bite off her male partner's head. After the femme fatale's act of sexual cannibalism, the headless male's decapitated torso continues to remain fully engaged &#8212; his little hips somehow managing to grind even faster and longer.</p> <p>Today's Republican Party agenda, embraced most recently by President Donald Trump, bears a striking resemblance to the headless male mantis. Proving that there is nothing more enduring than an idea that once led to a White House victory, the GOP now stands for tax cuts for the most advantaged (only, of course, to encourage job creation) and improving the moral fiber of our American citizens by shrinking character-eroding government "handouts" &#8212; such as students' school lunches, children's health programs, the elderly's Meals on Wheels and family food stamps &#8212; all while proposing to increase U.S. defense spending, which by itself is already greater than that of the combined defense budgets of the next eight biggest-spending nations in the world, by some $52 billion.<p>Updated: Sat May 27, 2017</p> 3787a4c2f71f0d365c4ff3455a3a1d77 Self-Pity Can Be Politically Fatal for 05/20/2017 Sat, 20 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In polls of American historians conducted over the past 17 years by C-SPAN, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt have consistently ranked &#8212; along with George Washington &#8212; 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 baboon, a gorilla, a murderer and a traitor.</p> <p>American historian-author William Manchester has recorded, in his classic "The Glory and the Dream," how FDR's political enemies, soaked in the bile of anti-Semitism, reviled him as "only a Jew anyway, descended from Dutch sheenies who changed their names, nothing but a New York kike" who "had caught gonorrhea from 'El-ea-nor.' (A Negro had infected her.)" Harsh and hateful treatment indeed for these two American heroes.<p>Updated: Sat May 20, 2017</p> 226f4a6d63c15391928a8b4cf9cbeaf9 3 Memorable American Presidents and the Truth for 05/13/2017 Sat, 13 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>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, as "the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan," who was re-elected in 1984. Wrong. After Reagan and before Trump, Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama each won many more electoral votes than did Trump. When NBC's Peter Alexander pointed out Trump's misstatement to him, the president responded: "I don't know. I was given that information. Actually, I've seen that information around."</p> <p>The changing explanations for President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey &#8212; in a way calculated to publicly and personally humiliate the director through his learning about his termination over cable TV news while he was in Los Angeles thanking FBI employees &#8212; remind us again of the president's only intermittent flirtations with candor.<p>Updated: Sat May 13, 2017</p> 79ef10c8948635ed9f1fb7e732f8c3a7 Democrats' Dumb Move From 'Pro-Choice' to 'No Choice' for 05/06/2017 Sat, 06 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>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 &#8212; Rhode Island, Connecticut, Oregon, California and Hawaii &#8212; do Democrats control both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship. (Republicans hold such control in 24 states.) In the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, when voters were asked whether they "think the Democratic Party is in touch with the concerns of most people in the United States today," only 28 percent answered "in touch," whereas a thumping 67 percent judged the Democratic Party to be "out of touch."</p> <p>Those are the numbers of a party in serious trouble. <span class="column--highlighted-text">We know from American history that a thriving, expanding political party seeks and welcomes converts to its ranks. A stagnant, shrinking party hunts down and banishes heretics who dare to deviate from some party dogma.</span> Because an American political party is a coalition of people who agree on most issues (in contrast with a religion, which has a fixed doctrine to which one subscribes), the party exists to win elections in order to promote policies. The last thing struggling Democrats need in 2017 is a litmus test fight over who qualifies as a real Democrat. But that's what they've gotten themselves when it comes to the historically divisive issue of abortion.<p>Updated: Sat May 06, 2017</p> 6d5a77a15ce116320bdd95133692d7c1 Missing Kate O'Beirne for 04/29/2017 Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>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 &#8212; the conservative leader and writer who died too soon, at 67 on April 23 &#8212; was anti-Washington. Kate was not about making contacts (although the powerful, especially Republicans, regularly sought her approval). She was always about making &#8212; and about keeping &#8212; friends.</p> <p>To watch her at some Washington reception was to see a blond, stylish 6-footer seeking out and introducing herself to the nervous newcomer back in the crowd, whom Kate would then deliberately make feel welcome, comfortable and interesting. Kate never had to have the spotlight; she was the spotlight.<p>Updated: Sat Apr 29, 2017</p> be0d81668d2f0d49c5de32b23195dd9b Can Special Elections to the US House Predict Our Political Future? for 04/22/2017 Sat, 22 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>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 rookie 30-year-old Democrat finished first, 28 points ahead of the Republican former Georgia secretary of state?</p> <p>When considering whether special U.S. House election results can predict what's going to happen in national general elections, I think of one of my favorite American humorists, the late Pat Paulsen, who ran several mock-serious campaigns for president featuring the slogan, "If elected, I will win." Paulsen said he was often asked why he spent long days and nights campaigning in hard-to-get-to places. "Is it because of my dedication to my fellow citizens or concern for the nation's future," he asked, "or is it for the money, the limousines and the pretty girls?" The answers, Pat revealed, were, "No, no, yes, yes, yes."<p>Updated: Sat Apr 22, 2017</p>