Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sat, 15 Dec 2018 11:03:55 -0800 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate 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> 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>