Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 21 Oct 2016 21:46:07 -0700 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate 6f786dc3dfeab0abc046d37ae2ca9b8d Concession Is Good for the Soul for 10/22/2016 Sat, 22 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The first time I ever saw my sainted mother cry was late at night on Nov. 4, 1952, as she listened to Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic presidential nominee, graciously congratulate &#8212; from the Leland Hotel in Springfield &#8212; Dwight D. Eisenhower on Ike's landslide victory that day. Stevenson consoled his supporters: "Someone asked me ... how it felt, and I was reminded of a story that a fellow townsman of ours used to tell &#8212; Abraham Lincoln. They asked him how he felt once after an unsuccessful election. He said that he felt like a little boy who had stubbed his toe in the dark. He said that he was too old to cry but it hurt too much to laugh."</p> <p>Not so gifted as Stevenson in expression, James A. Rhodes, a four-term governor of Ohio, once misquoted English poet John Donne's signature line by declaring that "no man is an Ireland." And it was Rhodes who, one election night, went on TV to concede to his Democratic opponent, only to find out the next morning that late returns had given him a razor-thin victory. Asked why he had been so quick to resign himself to defeat, Rhodes offered this malapropism: "Concession is good for the soul."<p>Updated: Sat Oct 22, 2016</p> a19127c48e02c6c2d16a328f5cb38c1d The Unanswered Question for 10/15/2016 Sat, 15 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Eleven years ago, the re-elected George W. Bush was president, and Hillary Clinton was both the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate from New York and the first spouse of a president in U.S. history to have won election to any public office. In the Senate &#8212; by her thorough preparation and unpretentious manner, by her faithful attendance at tedious Fisheries, Water and Wildlife Subcommittee meetings, by regularly declining a standing invitation to appear on Sunday TV talk shows and by assiduously sharing all credit and press coverage with her less famous colleagues &#8212; she had successfully overcome initial skepticism and earned respect from a big majority of both Republican and Democratic senators.</p> <p>This was 2005 &#8212; when Donald J. Trump was still only a celebrity real estate developer in New York widely known for his romantic escapades, documented in the city's tabloid press, and for his voluntary and controversial quotes. Here is a representative sample of the latter &#8212; then already on the record: "You know, it doesn't really matter what (the media) write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass." "I've got ... black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes." "When a man leaves a woman, especially when it was perceived that he has left for a piece of ass &#8212; a good one! &#8212; there are 50 percent of the population who will love the woman who was left."<p>Updated: Sat Oct 15, 2016</p> 9f029489375b1c592e57c470e4b6a4b4 What's That Scent in the Air? for 10/08/2016 Sat, 08 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It is all but impossible for you or for me to understand, let alone appreciate, how painfully public and publicly painful it must be for a losing major-party presidential nominee to bear the agony of losing the November general election. The first line of your obituary has now been written. Your entire life is now unfairly defined by your public defeat.</p> <p>The story has been told about a private conversation between former Vice President Walter "Fritz" Mondale, the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee, who had lost in a landslide to Republican President Ronald Reagan, and former Sen. George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, who had lost in a landslide to Republican President Richard Nixon.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 08, 2016</p> 64533a0ed80f77bdd9872a4337f363cf Presidential Campaigns Are About the Voters for 10/01/2016 Sat, 01 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>One of the shrewdest American politicians I both know and like, a man who has actually managed Republican presidential campaigns, was openly discouraged after the first debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. "It's all about him. (Trump) has a belief that this campaign is about him," he lamented.</p> <p>Like every savvy politician, my Republican friend knows that successful presidential campaigns, of the kind that will enable the winner to lead the nation, are about the voters &#8212; about their hopes, their lives and their country &#8212; not about the candidate.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 01, 2016</p> 7581b0d61f7f337c021370b9294e29c7 October in America for 09/24/2016 Sat, 24 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Ignore, if you can, the insult marathon that passes for a national election while we turn to America's real October drama: the final chapters of our baseball season. Why? Because we Americans, especially those in my adopted hometown of Washington, urgently need, in this unhappy year of 2016, to appreciate anew the values of our national pastime.</p> <p>Bill Veeck, a truly admirable maverick owner of major league teams, called baseball our one public activity with "a clearly defined area of play, rules and penalties that apply to all. Three strikes and you're out, even if (legendary criminal attorney) Edward Bennett Williams defends you." Veeck was right. Baseball is relentlessly egalitarian. The prestige of the schools you went to, the size of your campaign contributions or your bank account, and your family connections do not matter in baseball if you cannot hit a curveball.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 24, 2016</p> eee34e8888f9e8e141091ea216d7668b Debating the Future for 09/17/2016 Sat, 17 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The presidential debates, especially this year's first scheduled one &#8212; at New York's Hofstra University on the night of Sept. 26 &#8212; are really a national job interview. We the people will have a chance to make our own judgments on the character, intelligence, personality and humanness of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.</p> <p>My advice to the moderators remains to heed the wise counsel of my friend and longtime colleague Jim Lehrer &#8212; who has moderated a record 12 presidential debates &#8212; which is to pay total attention to the candidate's answer to the question asked. To make this point, Lehrer, in "Tension City," his book on his debate experiences, offered a fictional example of the feckless moderator who does not listen to the answer. Question: "Senator, do you believe the U.S. should sell more grain to Cuba?" Answer: "Yes, Jim, I do. But first we should bomb Havana." Follow-up question: "What kind of grain, Senator?" Listen.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 17, 2016</p> 2ff4f5a1fb150bdf0248f04e9c08bb95 The Sound of History for 09/10/2016 Sat, 10 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>What comes to mind when you listen to the two last names of a presidential ticket spoken as one word? For example, I always thought the winning 1980/'84 combination of Republicans Ronald Reagan and George Bush, or "Reagan-Bush," sounded like an Oktoberfest event in Wisconsin. "We had a great time at this year's Reagan-Bush."</p> <p>Did not the winning 1976 Democratic pairing of Jimmy Carter and Walter "Fritz" Mondale, "Carter-Mondale," sound like a medium-sized chain of department stores? "Where did you get that jacket?" "On sale at Carter-Mondale."<p>Updated: Sat Sep 10, 2016</p> 39ea934eef6b4546d2a0130bb1c8383c Democrats Really Need White Blue-Collar Voters for 09/03/2016 Sat, 03 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>You're a white male blue-collar voter, and you think about how your nation's political and financial establishment has treated you and yours over the past 25 years. All "the best people" &#8212; presidents and prize-winning professors and respected editorial writers &#8212; told you that American trade deals with Mexico and China would be good for America. What they didn't say was that for you and your children, there would be 5 million fewer well-paying manufacturing jobs than there were before America made those trade deals. Sure, hundreds of millions of Chinese have been lifted out of poverty, and that's good, but you've lived through our U.S. median household income's shrinking in the past 15 years by $4,186.</p> <p>You lived through the savings and loan scandal, which, because of fraud and greed, ended up costing American taxpayers like you $124 billion for bailouts. But then, at least 1,100 S&L executives paid for what they had done with criminal prosecutions and jail time. We still today do not know the total cost &#8212; seriously estimated to be $12.8 trillion because of the loss of families' homes and housing wealth, jobs, and retirement funds &#8212; of the fraud that inflated the housing bubble of 2008 and required American working families to bail out Wall Street billionaires. What ordinary, law-abiding Americans do understand is that no major Wall Street bankers were ever arrested, let alone convicted, for what they did to bring this nation to its knees and to recklessly destroy so many families' security.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 03, 2016</p> 48ee73671058a0adc4b60f1e4cada404 Missing Jerry Ford in 2016 for 08/27/2016 Sat, 27 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>During my more than a half-century of living and working in Washington, D.C., in my semi-humble opinion, Gerald Ford was the most emotionally secure president I have observed. To support that position, allow me to tell you about President Ford's 1976 campaign against his Democratic challenger, former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter.</p> <p>Ford, who had assumed office after the forced resignation of the disgraced Richard Nixon, trailed Carter in the late summer in national polls by more than 20 percent &#8212; or some 16.5 million votes &#8212; when Stu Spencer, his savvy and blunt-spoken deputy chairman for political organization, went to see the president in the Oval Office.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 27, 2016</p> df6b258b0d3695a0fed1e98f0e169493 Happy New Year for 08/20/2016 Sat, 20 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As regular readers may remember, I have long insisted that Jan. 1 &#8212; smack in the middle of winter and completely overshadowed by Christmas, just a week earlier &#8212; makes no sense as to when to begin the year. Labor Day &#8212; the first Monday in September, when days grow shorter and weather cooler, when vacations end and schools reopen and summer gives way to autumn &#8212; is the more logical New Year's Day.</p> <p>If Labor Day is to become the real New Year's Day, then it will need some resolutions, predictions, even semi-reflections.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 20, 2016</p> c6d2741f972bb0fa40b2932b2fda2679 In the Company of Heroes for 08/06/2016 Sat, 06 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Air Force Col. Bud Day, having already fought in World War II and the Korean War, was flying his 65th mission over Vietnam, when his plane was shot down and he, after bailing out, suffered a broken arm and injuries to his back and eye. Captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, he was beaten up before becoming that conflict's only U.S. prisoner of war to escape his captors. After wandering dazed in the jungle for days, Day was captured by the Viet Cong, and he eventually ended up in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, where his bravery and leadership, while enduring 5 1/2 years of relentless torture and starvation, resulted in his later becoming the only American ever to be awarded both the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest citation, and the Air Force Cross.</p> <p>During his own 6 1/2 years in that same Hanoi hellhole, Marine pilot Orson Swindle, who had been shot down as he was flying his 205th mission, would lose 75 pounds while being subjected to physical and mental torture. Navy Cmdr. Everett Alvarez, another captured pilot, spent 8 1/2 years, more time in captivity than any other American during the Vietnam War, in the brutal custody of his Hanoi jailers.</p> <p>I met all three of these remarkable American heroes in early 2000 in New Hampshire. All three were there on their own nickel, volunteering on behalf of the campaign of a fellow former POW, a former Navy pilot whose character they had seen up close during his own 5 1/2 years of suffering in the Hanoi Hilton and who was running for president, Sen. John McCain.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 06, 2016</p> 07272ca95ff699129f819af93f12ec99 Another Iwo Jima Memorial for 07/30/2016 Sat, 30 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>In 1945, Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, the first Jewish chaplain in the history of the United States Marine Corps, was asked by his senior Protestant colleague to deliver the sermon at a single, interdenominational service dedicated to the fallen after the historically bloody Battle of Iwo Jima &#8212; which cost the lives of nearly 7,000 Marines, including 150 Jewish Marines. But there was opposition from other religious quarters, both to the ecumenical nature of the service and to a rabbi's giving the sermon over overwhelmingly Christian graves. Many boycotted the event.</p> <p>To his everlasting credit, the senior Protestant chaplain, Warren Cuthriell, insisted that Rabbi Gittelsohn speak. Gittelsohn ended up giving a sermon at a Jewish memorial service on Iwo Jima for the Marines; however, his words were widely circulated. This is what Gittelsohn said: "Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors, generations ago, helped in her founding, and other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores. Here lie officers and enlisted men, Negroes and whites, rich men and poor, together. Here are Protestants, Catholics and Jews. ... Among these men, there is no discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy. ... Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother or thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates an empty, hollow mockery."</p> <p>Remember that this was in 1945, when the entire U.S. military and too much of the nation was segregated by race and when to be white, Protestant and male was the ticket to privilege and power. War is a cruel teacher. The lessons learned are painful: Death and pain are truly democratic; sacrifice and suffering are not the exclusive franchise of any faith or nationality.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 30, 2016</p> 20e35e448e6142eaf969fd2eab251162 It's Midnight in America for 07/23/2016 Sat, 23 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>In 1984, Hal Riney, a San Francisco advertising man, wrote and narrated "Morning in America," which became the signature television commercial of Republican Ronald Reagan's winning re-election campaign. In Riney's calm and reassuring voice, the script began: "It's morning again in America. Today more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country's history." It went on to celebrate the rise in home sales, inspired by lower interest rates and reductions in inflation, contributing to a rebirth of native American confidence.</p> <p>To listen to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's acceptance speech at the Cleveland convention is to conclude that in 2016, it is now midnight in America &#8212; that our homeland is under relentless invasion by foreigners who come not for a better life for their families but rather to commit crimes and threaten our nation. And let us never forget that it's always darkest just before everything goes pitch-black.</p> <p>The Republican National Convention was conspicuous for its nearly total absence of humor.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 23, 2016</p> 05fc588a0fe9593c4f71e5a0a06c87cf A Steppingstone to Oblivion for 07/16/2016 Sat, 16 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>The first very first "presidential" test in public for every nominee for the White House is the selection of a vice presidential running mate. Right after the 1968 Miami Beach convention where he had won the Republican nomination, Richard M. Nixon explained why he chose his running mate: "There is a mysticism about men. There is a quiet confidence. You look a man in the eye and you know he's got it &#8212; brains. This guy has got it. If he doesn't, Nixon has made a bum choice."</p> <p>Thus did Nixon explain his unfortunate choice of the man who would become the only U.S. vice president in history to be forced, in order to escape certain criminal conviction and incarceration, to resign the office &#8212; Spiro T. Agnew.</p> <p>In spite of the immediate celebrity, the media attention and the Secret Service protection it brings, the honor of a vice presidential nomination often turns out to be a steppingstone to political oblivion. Think about recent VP candidates who, encouraged by the inflated poll numbers attributable in part to their elevated name recognition, tried to run in the next cycle for the White House and failed even to compete for their party's nomination &#8212; Democrats John Edwards in 2008 and Joe Lieberman in 2004.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 16, 2016</p> 053c861fbf0bff5fdfd53428806d7a55 The Campaign Post-Comey for 07/09/2016 Sat, 09 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Even though Democrat Hillary Clinton continues to lead Republican Donald Trump in nearly all major public polls, the answer to one question in the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll had to trigger panic attacks throughout the entire Clinton campaign. Respondents were asked whether Trump or Clinton "would be better" on "being honest and straightforward." Trump, a man not widely recognized as an ethical giant, was the choice of 41 percent of voters, whereas a meager 25 percent of voters on the central issue of integrity preferred Clinton.</p> <p>Thus, even before FBI Director James Comey declared that as secretary of state, Clinton &#8212; through her unauthorized use of private homebrew email servers &#8212; and her colleagues "were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information," the Democratic nominee-in-waiting was already overdrawn in her underfunded public trust account.</p> <p>Here are some things we can take away from the ordeal:<p>Updated: Sat Jul 09, 2016</p> 69dd3c923f6badb0f4d5fa11c1c26504 The 'Death' of the GOP for 07/02/2016 Sat, 02 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>In 1986, some 34 years after he had first been elected to the U.S. Senate from Arizona, Barry Goldwater, the hero of the conservative movement that made possible the eventual election of Ronald Reagan, retired. As Sen. Goldwater cleaned out his Capitol Hill office, I was privileged to listen as he reminisced about the 1964 presidential contest that would never take place: "Jack Kennedy and I had agreed that if we ran against each other in '64, we would travel on the same day to Denver or Detroit," for example, to speak to the same crowd on the same subject, whether it be "education or Social Security." Then, with his characteristic candor, Goldwater added: "(JFK) probably would have kicked my ass." But their entirely different "campaign would have been good for the country."</p> <p>No Americans old enough to remember ever forgot where they were when they heard the news that the president had been shot and killed on that terrible Friday in Dallas. For Goldwater, already organizing for the upcoming campaign, the assassination and Lyndon B. Johnson's succession to the Oval Office all but sealed his political fate. American voters, in a state of shock and sadness, were not of a mind to have three different presidents in the space of 14 months.</p> <p>But Goldwater did run in 1964. He ran as an unapologetic conservative who was on record as being for giving NATO commanders authority to use nuclear weapons, withdrawing the U.S. diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union, selling the Tennessee Valley Authority and making Social Security voluntary. During that memorable year, Goldwater was one of just six Senate Republicans who voted against the historic Civil Rights Act &#8212; which outlawed nationally racial segregation and discrimination, then legally sanctioned in the states of the old Confederacy. In the election that November, Goldwater won 87 percent of the vote in Mississippi &#8212; an astounding Republican breakthrough &#8212; but carried only Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and his home state of Arizona while getting just 38 percent of the national vote.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 02, 2016</p> 846259cd902b5c40bafeb3c7cb058f07 Pennsylvania to Washington: The 2016 Election Is Not Over for 06/25/2016 Sat, 25 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>"Everyone in Washington wants to write that this election is over," cautions respected pollster Peter D. Hart, that Republican Donald Trump &#8212; after six weeks of highly public unforced errors &#8212; has effectively shattered his chances of winning the White House. Hart, after conducting a two-hour focus group of 11 blue-collar and service industry voters in the Pittsburgh area Tuesday night, had news for the press and for his fellow Democrats who are now so overwhelmingly overconfident: "This 2016 election is still very much ahead of us."</p> <p>These Pittsburgh voters (six of whom support Trump, four of whom favor Democrat Hillary Clinton and one of whom is undecided between Trump and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former New Mexico governor) make $50,000 or less a year and struggle daily in an unwelcoming economy. In the words of Dara Held, 40, who is self-employed selling purses and jewelry, their "middle class is left out, sort of a stepchild." Optimism is scarce; only three in the group believe that their children will be better off than they are.</p> <p>A political focus group &#8212; in this case a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania &#8212; is intended to capture the idiom of voters, to hear how they express their feelings and their ambivalence. It does not, unlike a national poll of a thousand people, offer a statistically reliable snapshot of the nation. What a focus group provides are the color, nuance and context of how voters feel.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 25, 2016</p> 4307333194c0a7c88349a5a72de4df0b American Elections and the 'Biblical Imperative' for 06/18/2016 Sat, 18 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>History offers little encouragement to either major American party this election year. Sobering for Republicans is the fact that in the past 87 years, no GOP ticket that did not have on it either a Bush or a Nixon has won any presidential election. Democrats live with their own distressing jinx: In the past 179 years, their party has won a third consecutive White House term exactly once, and that was when their nominee was a charismatic, historic leader, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 2016, two questions will be answered: Can a Nixon-less, Bush-less GOP ticket break the losing streak? Or will the Democrats, with no FDR, somehow win three in a row?</p> <p>My personal preference for trying to understand how we Americans choose our presidents is to think in terms of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, which is so full of "begets" and "begats."</p> <p>Think about U.S. elections over the past half-century. With the U.S. mired in an unpopular war in Vietnam and afflicted with civil unrest at home, Richard Nixon won on a platform of peace abroad and law and order at home. Instead, he extended the war and conducted a criminal conspiracy in Watergate, which forced him, in order to escape a prison term, to resign his office. Nixon &#8212; who had served earlier in the House, in the Senate and as vice president for eight years and was arguably the most experienced man ever elected president &#8212; effectively ended up giving experience a bad name.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 18, 2016</p> 7e5238f37abec6cb420cb0d12d7bf6bf History Is Watching for 06/11/2016 Sat, 11 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>On Nov. 30, 1967, I stood in the caucus room of what is now called the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill and heard Sen. Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota announce that he would indeed challenge the renomination of Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson. His issue was the U.S. war in Vietnam. "I am concerned that the administration seems to have set no limit to the price which it is willing to pay for a military victory," he said, and he supported "an honorable, rational and political solution" to the war.</p> <p>To McCarthy's underdog, long-shot cause came thousands of young people who volunteered in New Hampshire and Wisconsin and were willing to shave their beards and cut their shoulder-length hair &#8212; to be "clean for Gene." On March 12, 1968, McCarthy shocked the political world by winning 42 percent of the New Hampshire primary vote to LBJ's 49 percent. Four days later, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, himself an opponent of the U.S. war in Vietnam (and for whom I proudly worked in that campaign), entered the presidential race, and 15 days later, President Johnson announced that he would not seek renomination.</p> <p>McCarthy, even his severest critics acknowledged, was a man of the mind. He rationed praise, and his wit was often cutting. He generally inspired more admiration than affection. But make no mistake about it: Eugene McCarthy was a man whose courage would change American history and the way Americans nominate their presidents.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 11, 2016</p> 24c741b77c5ed9c4a4788f8173da2713 Iron Rule of Politics for 06/04/2016 Sat, 04 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Having worked, as a younger man, in three losing presidential campaigns and having been lucky enough to cover the past 10 presidential campaigns as a journalist, I have been forced to learn a few semi-iron rules of politics that might even be helpful in trying to understand our bizarre presidential year of 2016.</p> <p>The most reliable test I know for determining whether a political party is growing or shrinking is whether that party (or its candidate's campaign) is busy seeking out and welcoming converts to its cause or whether, instead, it is devoting time and effort to uncovering within its ranks any heretics and then banishing them to some outer darkness.</p> <p>Recall 1980, when Republican Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign was openly &#8212; and successfully &#8212; courting and enlisting so many converts, who were then greeted as "Reagan Democrats." In his own 2008 victory, Democrat Barack Obama was able to convert many Republicans, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (today the Libertarian Party's nominee for vice president) and President Reagan's last White House chief of staff, Ken Duberstein.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 04, 2016</p>