Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 15 Feb 2019 10:56:10 -0800 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate 21c4a464b8c595b2d5ae50a8a9f2bb36 Virginia Unreal for 02/09/2019 Sat, 09 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Politics is not brain surgery; it's not that complicated. Politics is about addition, not subtraction. Show me a political party that is openly seeking and welcoming "converts" to its side and is finding common ground and I'll show you a growing, healthy and, yes, winning political party. By contrast, <span class="column--highlighted-text">a political party that is dedicated to hunting down and banishing from its ranks to the outer darkness any "heretics" who dare to deviate in the slightest from revealed dogma is guaranteeing for itself two results: ideological purity and electoral defeat</span>. In February 2019, the Democratic Party, especially in the commonwealth of Virginia, has politically organized a firing squad by first forming a circle.</p> <p>Sunday morning in America is the nation's most segregated time of the week. That's when many of us go to churches where, sadly, the worshippers are almost all of the same race. The white Democratic governor of Virginia is different. He belongs to the First Baptist Church of Capeville, which has both a black pastor, the Rev. Kelvin Jones, and a predominantly black membership. Fifteen months ago, when Ralph Northam won the governorship by the Democrats' largest margin since President Ronald Reagan's first term, he did so with the support and endorsement of every African-American lawmaker in the state and while daring to call for universal background checks for gun purchases and openly embracing his "F" rating from the NRA, which spent more than $1 million on TV attack ads and direct mail hit pieces to beat him.<p>Updated: Sat Feb 09, 2019</p> a04d7b568eaa119ebf556d50e8249f1a What America Needs: A Truly Great American Movie for 02/02/2019 Sat, 02 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>During long, gray, bleak winters &#8212; before the women's and men's college basketball tournaments and before baseball's opening days &#8212; I confess to an embarrassing secret: I thoroughly enjoy watching TV- and movie-related awards shows on TV, not just the Oscars but also the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and others.</p> <p>Why? To catch the awkward and unscripted acceptance remarks when there are no cuts or retakes. For example, there was an unforgettable moment at the Emmy Awards more than a decade ago, shortly after Liza Minnelli married for the fourth time. (The 850 guests included Elton John and Donald Trump.) Her unlikely groom in the union, which would not survive to celebrate an anniversary, was David Gest, a music producer and first-time groom who, according to friends, had not dated any woman for three decades before Minnelli and chose Michael Jackson to be his best man, while the eight-times-wed Elizabeth Taylor was maid of honor.<p>Updated: Sat Feb 02, 2019</p> 18410d239743cbe9a01e1b3dbfd94b2a Campaigns Do Matter and Can Change History for 01/26/2019 Sat, 26 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In 1960, when John F. Kennedy was running for the White House against Richard Nixon, winning Democratic presidential tickets still depended on the backing of segregationist party colleagues in the Southern states.</p> <p>In October of that year, when Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and sent to jail on a trumped-up traffic charge in Georgia, his wife, Coretta, then five months pregnant, was legitimately worried about her husband's safety and survival. Kennedy's Southern backers told him not to intervene. But after the persistent advocacy of Harris Wofford and Wofford's close friend Sargent Shriver (JFK's brother-in-law), Kennedy &#8212; ignoring the arguments of his own campaign leadership, including his brother Robert &#8212; called Mrs. King to offer his comfort and sympathy to her and to say he would do whatever he could to see that justice would be done.<p>Updated: Sat Jan 26, 2019</p> ee43fd1f2082bd698e888cb1b9c76007 Weeding Out the 2020 Presidential Candidates for 01/19/2019 Sat, 19 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>How do we determine which governor or senator, celebrity or capitalist has what it takes to become a serious presidential candidate? Not that long ago, legendary New York Times columnist Russell Baker wrote that there was somewhere (almost certainly in the press section) a mysterious authority &#8212; whom Baker called the "Great Mentioner" &#8212; who made those calls. We would read or hear that Gov. Billy Bigbody had been "mentioned" as a presidential possibility or that people were "mentioning" Sen. Sandy Smith for the national ticket.</p> <p>Rather than wait around hoping to be noticed by the Great Mentioner, Democrats interested in the White House (who seem by now to include the majority of their party's national officeholders) are busy nominating themselves. At last check, I counted eight current U.S. senators, two former Cabinet officers, four present or past governors, five U.S. representatives, four big-city mayors and one former vice president with varying cases of White House fever.<p>Updated: Sat Jan 19, 2019</p> 1218bd9b69460cd675e2ab3de4c68f6e Donald Trump Is No Earl Long for 01/12/2019 Sat, 12 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Shortly after the cooling of the earth, I was privileged to be given a firsthand look at a Louisiana statewide campaign. It was then that I learned about former Louisiana Gov. Earl Long, who was portrayed by Paul Newman in the movie "Blaze," which allegedly told the story of the married governor's public relationship with the then-famous stripper Blaze Starr. What the movie did not emphasize was that Earl Long, Huey Long's younger brother, was an early champion of civil rights who expanded minority voting rights, expanded the state's school lunch program and raised schoolteachers' salaries.</p> <p>In 1956, the year Long won the second of his three nonconsecutive terms as governor, as I was told the story, with the advent of television, movie theater attendance had fallen dramatically. Just 10 years earlier, when the U.S. population was just 141 million, an average of 90 million Americans had gone to the movies every week. But movie admissions had fallen by 50 percent.<p>Updated: Sat Jan 12, 2019</p> c2f6167c9bcf506815a1002bd3f645f5 The Massachusetts Curse for 01/05/2019 Sat, 05 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts became the first 2020 Democratic White House challenger to announce her "exploratory committee," a legal device that allows candidates to receive donations and to hire staff in preparation for a full-fledged presidential candidacy. Make no mistake; presidential exploratory committees are always composed of unreconstructed optimists who invariably discover that millions of Americans the pollsters have somehow missed are openly yearning to support the candidate-in-waiting.</p> <p>Sen. Warren more than meets a couple of tests every candidate faces. She has a compelling personal story. A native of Oklahoma, she grew up in humble circumstances. She was a young single mother of two who, with no family connections, went to law school and would become not just eventually a Harvard Law School professor but the champion of America's struggling middle class and the scourge of Wall Street, as she successfully advocated for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Maybe even more importantly, Warren knows more than most presidential candidates ever do just what she believes and why.<p>Updated: Sat Jan 05, 2019</p> bbb2c2e1919cb119a425f2e3f64e6b96 What This Current Crisis Tells Us About 2020 Voters for 12/22/2018 Sat, 22 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In these Washington hours of genuine bipartisan panic after the principled resignation of the nation's thoroughly respected secretary of defense, James Mattis, American voters are forced to confront the real-life consequences of what it means to have elected an amateur-outsider &#8212; with no governmental or military experience &#8212; to be president of the United States.</p> <p>This crisis reminds me of the timeless wisdom of the late conservative Henry Hyde, who broke with the overwhelming majority of his Republican colleagues in the House floor debate on enacting term limits on members of Congress. Hyde, a Navy combat veteran of World War II, asked: "Have you ever been in a storm at sea? I have, and I knew real terror until I looked up on the bridge and the old Norwegian skipper, who had been to sea for 45 years, was up there sucking on his pipe. And I can tell you that was reassuring." He continued: "When that dentist bends over with the drill whirring, do you not hope he has done that work for a few years?"<p>Updated: Sat Dec 22, 2018</p> 0d70c978fd17bed55e12e0b70be6370c Most Wasted of All Days: One Without Laughter for 12/15/2018 Sat, 15 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Most American political leaders would agree with the poet e.e. cummings, who wisely wrote: "The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." For example, then-presidential nominee George W. Bush garbled in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on Oct. 18, 2000, "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." Once elected, Bush 43 was able to laugh at himself at a press dinner by approvingly quoting humorist Garrison Keillor, who had written: "George Bush's lips are where words go to die."</p> <p>As King Henry VIII said to each of his six wives: "Don't worry. I won't keep you long." Almost certainly the funniest needle I received this year was from the "fan" who wrote, "Please know, Mr. Shields, that each of your columns is better than the next."<p>Updated: Sat Dec 15, 2018</p> 49290f1c3482cbf4157f75dfd12fc1cc Democrats' Sobering Responsibility for 12/08/2018 Sat, 08 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Yes, it's true that their party just won the House majority and more House seats, 40, than in any election since 1974 (and with the increasing likelihood of a new election in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District after confirmed reports of Republican election fraud there, maybe 41) and Democrats have had reason to celebrate &#8212; especially after President Donald Trump wrongly stated after the midterms that he "thought it was a very close to complete victory" and, with his signature humility, explained that his own "vigorous campaigning stopped the blue wave."</p> <p>But before self-congratulating Democrats put more Champagne on ice to toast their winning the largest, according to the authoritative David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report, midterm raw vote margin ever in House elections (more than 9.7 million votes) &#8212; and by the largest percentage margin, 9.6 percent nationally, in the past 16 national elections &#8212; they would be smart to look at the awesome challenge they face heading into the 2020 presidential election.<p>Updated: Sat Dec 08, 2018</p> 05af8d03ebf8dc43b1588740ef476813 'College' Dropouts for 12/01/2018 Sat, 01 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In spite of continued attempts, either misguided or malevolent &#8212; or both &#8212; by national leaders to undermine public trust and confidence in the American free press and free elections, the United States' model of political and individual freedom has inspired billions around the planet. Barely 75 years ago, we had only 11, count 'em, democracies in the world: Australia, Canada, Chile, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.</p> <p>Despite both China's and Russia's continued aggression against democratic values as threats to their oppressive regimes and the increasingly anti-democratic actions of the governments of Hungary and Turkey &#8212; along with the failure of democracy to establish a beachhead in the Middle East &#8212; according to Freedom House, there are, with acknowledged imperfections, 116 democracies in the world now. That number should be a source of both pride and encouragement for all who care about peace, human justice and progress.<p>Updated: Sat Dec 01, 2018</p> b83f3d7cd6ba327e56f362b3231b20af The Cases Against Nancy Pelosi Don't Hold Up for 11/24/2018 Sat, 24 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>For loyal Democrats, it must be painful to realize that so much of the criticism of your party turns out to be true. No better Democrat ever drew a breath than the late congressman from Arizona and presidential candidate Mo Udall, who candidly observed, "When Democrats organize a firing squad, they form a circle."</p> <p>Think about it. The Democratic Party just won the 2018 midterm elections by both the biggest popular victory ever recorded &#8212; now approaching 9 million votes nationally &#8212; and a U.S. vote superiority close to four times greater percentagewise than Hillary Clinton's national margin in 2016, when she outpolled Donald Trump. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi &#8212; who, according to a Wall Street Journal study, was the target of more than 136,500 Republican-funded negative TV commercials in this campaign (far surpassing the number run against President Trump) &#8212; was the face of her party, which captured the House majority and took at least 38 House seats from the Republicans. Imagine how publicly unpopular the dyspeptic Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, would be if 100,000 TV attack ads had been run against him.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 24, 2018</p> 1c8692e88d1a8eb2f9c7975b58a14dea The Remaining Election of 2018 for 11/10/2018 Sat, 10 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The Greek philosopher Heraclitus taught us that "character is destiny." Nowhere is character more apparent than in how one responds to adversity. After the failed U.S.-organized invasion of Fidel Castro's Cuba, President John F. Kennedy rightly took responsibility: "Victory has 1,000 fathers, but defeat is an orphan." After his GOP lost 30 House seats in 2006, President George W. Bush accurately described the defeat as a "thumpin'." Then we have President Donald Trump's unapologetic spin after the GOP lost more House seats &#8212; probably three dozen &#8212; than in any election since the rout following Watergate. He called it "an incredible day" for the Republican Party for "significantly beating expectations in the House."</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">As President Trump continues to sail down the River Denial, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, on Capitol Hill, stands a certifiable grown-up</span>, and if the Democratic House caucus is rational, this former speaker of the House will be the future speaker of the House. It's Nancy Pelosi of California. Just think of the historical irony here. Less than a decade ago, almost single-handedly &#8212; through skill, determination and resourcefulness &#8212; Speaker Pelosi did what no House leader had ever done. She persuaded her Democratic colleagues, at obvious risk to their own political survival, to pass &#8212; not once but three separate times &#8212; the Affordable Care Act. It was not popular, and in 2010, Democrats lost 63 House seats and Pelosi her speakership.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 10, 2018</p> ea7221d9bb53b0df1101254e1868d6a1 You Can't Choose Your Relatives for 11/03/2018 Sat, 03 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>George Mitchell, a former federal judge and Senate majority leader, was the chief negotiator of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought to a peaceable end 30 years of civil war in Northern Ireland.</p> <p>He was a kid from Waterville, Maine, whose father was the orphaned son of Irish immigrants and whose mother, who had come to the United States from Lebanon at the age of 18, could neither read nor write English. Long before Mitchell would become a statesman, he grew up as the kid brother of Johnny Mitchell, who became a state legend by leading his undefeated Waterville High basketball team to win the New England championship in Boston Garden.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 03, 2018</p> e5b78033320bb1de831439cbc9ec543a Yes, the Press Has Much to Answer For for 10/27/2018 Sat, 27 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Our states are anything but united. Our politics are indeed polarized &#8212; with too many of us Americans retreating into our own comfortable spaces, where we can associate only with those who agree with us. And yes, we of the press are anything but blameless for this situation.</p> <p>Take the simple matter of Election Day exit polls, which we in the press, including your semi-faithful correspondent, absolutely devour. The reason is understandable: Whereas the best of national pre-election polls &#8212; which are statistically accurate to within a couple of percentage points &#8212; involve interviews with a few hundred likely voters, the exit polls interview thousands of real live voters just after they have voted and before anyone knows who has won that day's election.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 27, 2018</p> 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>