Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Tue, 21 Aug 2018 17:27:23 -0700 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate 7d430cf934a3fe7a4bc8bd928f596ec2 A Church Lacking Sympathy for 08/18/2018 Sat, 18 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>I can testify from a lifetime of personal experience that practice does not really make perfect. Since the presidency of Harry Truman, during which I had the honor of being the youngest altar boy in St. Francis Xavier Parish to serve the standing-room-only midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, I have been a practicing and manifestly imperfect Catholic.</p> <p>After the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse, which tells of more than 1,000 victims enduring criminal cruelty at the hands of some 300 Catholic priests, I am consumed with anger toward my church. Of course, I am also sad, but I remain even more furious toward my church's hierarchy and its rush not to console the anguish of and heal the wounds of the vulnerable victims but rather to lead a systematic cover-up of priests' crimes against defenseless children to protect the institutional church from legal liability and deserved public outrage.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 18, 2018</p> 248415cf0e4a38d47927519f4187c338 GOP Congressional Candidates ... on Their Own for 07/28/2018 Sat, 28 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It's a safe bet that when President Donald J. Trump was a younger man, he never read "To Kill A Mockingbird," Harper Lee's American classic about a young child's awakening to racial prejudice in a sleepy little town in the pre-civil rights South. The admirable Atticus Finch teaches his young daughter, Scout, about empathy, saying: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."</p> <p>Otherwise President Trump would have been able to put himself in the shoes of the more than four dozen Republican House candidates who, because national polls show an overall advantage to Democratic challengers for the 2018 midterms, are nervously running in the four dozen House districts that have been rated toss-ups or worse, trending from Republican to Democrat.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 28, 2018</p> 2b112136c0202060edec9b99643f6b49 Nobody Knows Who the 2020 Presidential Nominees Will Be, but ... for 07/21/2018 Sat, 21 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As was wisely observed inside the world of renowned philosopher Peter Pan, "All this has happened before, and it will all happen again." Never is that more true than when American voters choose our presidential nominees. Recall 1976, when, after the criminality, corruption and involuntary resignation of President Richard M. Nixon &#8212; arguably the nation's most politically experienced chief executive, having previously served in the House and the Senate, and two terms as vice president &#8212; an ex one-term Georgia governor, Jimmy Carter, was able to convert his total lack of Washington experience into an appealing electoral virtue.</p> <p>Carter was demonstrably intelligent, hardworking and serious in office, but he seemed to change his mind a lot. So when faced with difficult economic conditions, voters replaced Carter with the supremely optimistic and self-confident Ronald Reagan, who had not changed his mind since at least 1964. <p>Updated: Sat Jul 21, 2018</p> 4aa0be722d7ee4d03cc4f2424658912c Chico Marx for President for 07/14/2018 Sat, 14 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In a scene in the 1933 film "Duck Soup," the character played by Chico, the most underrated of the funny Marx Brothers, is dressed like another character, and when the other man leaves the room, the woman who remains is surprised to see Chico. She tells him she saw him leave. Chico's response remains a classic in the annals of truth evasion: "Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"</p> <p>Even his most severe critics have never accused President Donald Trump of being a "Marxist." But consider this recent sequence: On Wednesday morning, the president publicly urged, "House Republicans should pass the strong but fair immigration bill ... in their afternoon vote today." On Wednesday afternoon, nearly half of the House's GOP members ignored the president's leadership and voted against the immigration bill he'd endorsed. But wait. On Saturday, not 72 hours after that vote, Trump "corrected" the record by declaring, "I never pushed the Republicans in the House to vote for the immigration bill." The spirit of Chico prevails at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 14, 2018</p> e688458a12a7491f020aef4bc47fe373 Taking the Disraeli Test for 07/07/2018 Sat, 07 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th-century British prime minister and writer, shrewdly advised that to be a successful political leader, a man (even though it was the Victorian era, it was still a man's game) must first know himself and then know and understand the times in which he lives.</p> <p>Whether would-be national leaders can pass the Disraeli test is often first seen in the campaigns for public office they run. Remember Abraham Lincoln, an all-American leader who was running for re-election in 1864, while the bloodiest war this nation has ever endured raged between North and South, and made his own case to the voters: "It is not best to swap horses while crossing the river." He won.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 07, 2018</p> 726bbf7875945ee03a310deb1d7eb312 Odds and Ends for 06/30/2018 Sat, 30 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Thanks to President Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts, we learned this week from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, an additional $2.3 trillion (with a "t") will be added to our national debt over the next decade. Soon, for the only time since World War II, nearly three-quarters of a century ago, the nation's debt &#8212; what we and our children and their children owe to bankers and other countries &#8212; will be greater than the entire economy of the United States.</p> <p>But wait. Republicans &#8212; ever the fiscal watchdogs &#8212; have an idea. The GOP wants to make the temporary 2017 tax cuts permanent. What genius! One more round of tax cuts to magically produce a balanced federal budget. That would be comparable to leaving the landing lights on for Amelia Earhart.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 30, 2018</p> 74a75c7213239fa9781d1e3f96cca79f The Question Republican Candidates Fear Most in 2018 for 06/23/2018 Sat, 23 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Alan Baron, who was a wise and witty man of politics, used to tell this true story to remind those who worked in politics like he did that in some election years, the outcome is determined by events and forces completely beyond any candidate's or her campaign's control. </p> <p>As a 21-year-old, Baron was managing in his heavily Republican hometown of Sioux City, Iowa, a long-shot congressional campaign for an underfunded Democrat when Vincent Burke, the frankly sacrificial Democratic nominee for a solidly Republican state Senate seat, approached him with a request for $300. Burke wanted to rent a sound truck on which he would put signs endorsing all the Democratic candidates and drive around the county urging all within earshot to vote for incumbent Lyndon Johnson for president, Harold Hughes for governor, Stan Greigg for Congress and himself for state Senate. Baron, who doubted the persuasive effectiveness of a sound truck and did not have the $300, gently turned down Burke, who somewhere found the money, got the truck and drove it blaring throughout the county.</p> <p>On Tuesday, as you may have figured, came a historic Democratic landslide In Iowa. Hughes cruised to the governorship. LBJ rolled to victory. In a major upset, congressional candidate Stan Greigg won, as did, to nearly everyone's surprise, Burke, who explained his victory to Baron this way: "You see, kid. The truck. It worked." Baron, keenly aware that the Republican presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, had been an albatross to all Republican candidates and an unalloyed gift to all Democrats running, responded simply: "It's a shame Adlai Stevenson" &#8212; (the former governor who had twice lost as Democratic nominee in landslides to Republican Dwight Eisenhower) &#8212; "didn't know about the truck." <p>Updated: Sat Jun 23, 2018</p> 4042caad6fa83ce53087a206386d035c Where Is the Republican Gene McCarthy? for 06/16/2018 Sat, 16 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>After Election Day in 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson won a landslide victory over Republican Barry Goldwater and Democrats procured a 68-32 majority in the Senate, the Democratic Caucus of the U.S. Senate met in private. Rightly confident &#8212; they now had the numbers needed to pass Medicare, Medicaid and the Voting Rights Act &#8212; euphoric Senate Democrats were generally unreceptive to the solemn reality check delivered by their just re-elected Minnesota colleague, Eugene McCarthy. Stipulating his own and the caucus's strong support for LBJ, who was their former majority leader, McCarthy warned that if there arose a need to stand up to President Johnson for any major error in foreign or domestic policy, because the Republicans were such a depleted minority, it could only come from those on the Democratic side.</p> <p>True to his word, Gene McCarthy, undefeated in seven Minnesota elections, on Nov. 30, 1967, earned the begrudging admiration of his timid colleagues and the gratitude of concerned Americans when he effectively sacrificed his own political career by rising to challenge LBJ, whose war policy in Vietnam many objected to, for the Democratic presidential nomination. He also changed history.</p> <p>Twice in this campaign year, I have heard candidates publicly disparaging their opponents for, not unlike McCarthy, acting on conscience. The first was Democrat Marie Newman &#8212; backed by many national liberal groups, including the political arms of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America &#8212; who attacked her Illinois primary opponent, Rep. Dan Lipinski, for his lifelong opposition to abortion. This statement by Newman went publicly uncriticized by her liberal supporters: "We can't vote our own conscience as (Lipinski) likes to say. We have to vote how our constituents want us to vote." By that logic, the 156 senators and representatives who dared, when the public backed going to war by more than a 3-1 ratio, to vote against the mistaken U.S. invasion of Iraq should have been banished from office. Newman lost.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 16, 2018</p> 98fcc889e161197080aa27a19b938617 Polls Apart for 06/09/2018 Sat, 09 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly." Add to Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's timeless wisdom from "Show Boat" that before every election, "(alleged) pundits gotta predict." You can be sure that once again, this campaign year at least one long-shot candidate whose inevitable defeat, long before Election Day, has been smugly assumed by the pundits and/or pollsters will respond by quoting President Harry Truman, the patron saint of all political underdogs, who rebutted discouraging polling numbers before his own historic upset victory in 1948: "I wonder how far Moses would have gone if he'd taken a poll in Egypt."</p> <p>Truth be told, there is some very good public polling available, including the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, which, let it be noted, after a pre-Election Day survey in 2016, forecast that Hillary Clinton &#8212; who would actually receive 2.86 million more votes than Donald Trump and capture 48.2 percent of the national vote, compared with Trump's 46.1 percent &#8212; would win by 4 percentage points. Readers and viewers were openly told that poll came with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent &#8212; well within the actual election results.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 09, 2018</p> 60070f6fa08d836f2dacb5c70d54b9de When Politics Was Fun for 06/02/2018 Sat, 02 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On Sept. 26, 1960, when Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy and his Republican opponent, Richard Nixon, met in the first ever nationally televised presidential debate &#8212; watched or listened to live by some 60 percent of adult Americans &#8212; there were no overnight polls or sophisticated voter focus groups to tell the press or the public who had won the debate. The next day, when the Republican nominee flew to Memphis for a campaign rally, he was greeted by an especially friendly matron sporting a big Nixon pin. The woman, while nearby reporters listened, sought to comfort Nixon: "Don't worry, son. Kennedy beat you last night, but I'm sure you'll do better next time." Nixon uncomfortably thanked her. A national consensus would begin to emerge that yes, Kennedy had "won" the debate.</p> <p>That thoughtful woman consoling Nixon in Tennessee over his debate "loss" had in fact been recruited, rehearsed and directed by Dick Tuck, the joyful Democratic political operative and Marine veteran of Iwo Jima whose death last week in Arizona reminds us of a time when American politics was both more fun and more forgiving.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 02, 2018</p> 41efd9f84fb183ccd40515c47bba06aa Politics as (Un)usual for 05/19/2018 Sat, 19 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In Marine Corps jargon, a "duty station" is the military base or camp where a Marine is assigned to live. Reflecting our national inclination both to romanticize what is past and to criticize what is current, Marines will regularly gripe that there is no duty station better than the one they just left and none worse than the one they're presently at.</p> <p>American voters have an almost identical reaction in their feelings toward national political leaders, tending to view those leaders more positively after they have exited center stage than they did when they were in office. For example, George W. Bush, whom voters viewed unfavorably by a 2-1 margin in his last year in the White House, reversed his numbers and received a 2-1 favorable rating only 10 years later. Whether because of the deeper perspective time's passage provides to us all or because of their being compared with flawed Oval Office successors, former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush also enjoyed dramatic bipartisan surges in their public popularity.<p>Updated: Sat May 19, 2018</p> 3dcf38bf698dd363014b2285bdc7a7de Which Politicians Look Like Their Home State? for 05/12/2018 Sat, 12 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>West Virginia &#8212; which, between 2015 and 2016, was the only state to see both more deaths than births and more citizens move out than move in &#8212; could understandably be expected to be somewhat unwelcoming to the recent arrival who seeks public office. The Mountain State's last surviving Democrat in its congressional delegation, Sen. Joe Manchin, was born in Farmington and went to West Virginia University on a football scholarship. Manchin's November GOP opponent will be Patrick Morrisey, who grew up in New Jersey, where he went to the Garden State's public university and law school and lost a congressional race in 2000. He also spent 11 years as a lawyer-lobbyist in Washington, D.C., before moving to West Virginia in 2006 and becoming, six years later, the first Republican in 80 years to be elected attorney general of the state.</p> <p>Fallon, a veteran political sage whom I have learned to heed, argues that Manchin, despite being the underdog in a state that Donald Trump carried by a 42-point margin, will prevail. Asked to explain why, Fallon simply says: <span class="column--highlighted-text">"Manchin looks like West Virginia." And Morrisey? "He looks like D.C.'s Georgetown, not W.Va.'s Morgantown."</span><p>Updated: Sat May 12, 2018</p> 68766ad83d495f2cbf75447376613b44 Character Does Matter for 05/05/2018 Sat, 05 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>With news that Sen. John McCain's last book, "The Restless Wave" &#8212; the seventh he has written with his friend and former speechwriter Mark Salter &#8212; is about to come out, I thought of the man I covered and traveled with and grew to both like and respect enormously.</p> <p>On election night 1986, when he won the Arizona U.S. Senate seat long held by Barry Goldwater &#8212; the 1964 Republican presidential nominee &#8212; the two men met for a private visit. Sen. Goldwater, McCain recalled, got a little nostalgic: "You know, John, if I had beaten Lyndon Johnson in '64, you wouldn't have spent all those years in a North Vietnamese prison camp." McCain, referring to Goldwater's hawkish support for widening that conflict, responded: "You're right, Barry. It would have been a Chinese prison camp."<p>Updated: Sat May 05, 2018</p> 96939e18d6e0d41488339e14dc93d614 Hostile Language for 04/28/2018 Sat, 28 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>It's an established American tradition to call people what they wish to be called. That's why after he converted religions, nearly everyone &#8212; except a few die-hard bigots &#8212; called the heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali instead of Cassius Clay. Marion Morrison chose to become John Wayne. Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov would later become Dame Helen Mirren, and Caryn Johnson would achieve fame and fortune as Whoopi Goldberg.</p> <p>But some Republicans, included among them the current GOP president, regularly choose to ignore this national custom by refusing to address or refer to their political adversaries as belonging to &#8212; what it has been almost universally called since 1828 &#8212; the Democratic Party. Instead, by deliberately dropping the last two letters and ungrammatically substituting an adjective for a noun, some partisans seek to disparage the party of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.</p> <p>Recently, Marc Short, the presidential assistant with the challenging responsibility of managing this White House's relations with the House and the Senate, was interviewed one-on-one on PBS NewsHour by Amna Nawaz. Facing an election year in which the Republican congressional majority is clearly threatened, Short insisted on referring to the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as "Democrat administrations." President Trump had tweeted late last year about getting "no Democrat votes" in the Senate for his budget plan and the "Wacky Congresswoman" who was "killing the "Democrat Party" &#8212; a term which is harsher to the ear than the more melodic "Democratic" and supposedly robs the Democrats of all popular identification with the appealing virtues of social equality and anti-snobbishness.<p>Updated: Sat Apr 28, 2018</p> 707d837b18f57c6e8f884fba638ff4e2 Touching the Nation for 04/21/2018 Sat, 21 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>She was born into comfort in Manhattan and raised in Rye, a leafy, exclusive suburb in New York's Westchester County. She would leave college before graduating to marry. She never had a career beyond wife, mother and citizen. But <span class="column--highlighted-text">her death, in her 10th decade, evoked an almost spontaneous national yearning for what she and her husband had personified: the endangered values of noblesse oblige, that unwritten but real moral obligation for those born to privilege to act generously and compassionately toward those not so advantaged</span>, an enduring commitment to family, to country and to duty.</p> <p>According to Kate Andersen Brower, in her book "The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House," among the permanent White House staff &#8212; the butlers, the painters and the engineers &#8212; President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush were "by far the favorite." Not just because the Bushes knew their names and the president played horseshoes with them as equals but because he, according to Secret Service agents and Air Force One pilots, knew their children's names, as well, and where they were in school.<p>Updated: Sat Apr 21, 2018</p> 317f9fd9f3c809f6ada12b3e264d1244 Paul Ryan Is No Margaret Chase Smith for 04/14/2018 Sat, 14 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Shortly after Hawaii and Alaska joined the Union and I was still a semi-young wiseguy, smugly sure that a celebrity candidate whose prospective campaign had sparked public interest would become a serious White House challenger, a grizzled political reporter brought me up short with this practical advice: "If a candidate gets measurably louder applause from the crowd when he's introduced to speak than he does when he's finished speaking, that candidate is overrated and will not be a winner." Retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan &#8212; who is getting much less praise on the way out than he did on the way in, when he was called a leader of "character and values," a person with "energy and vision" and the "intellectual leader" of the Republican Party &#8212; is the most recent evidence of the wisdom of that old political adage.</p> <p>To his credit, Ryan, unlike too many withdrawing politicians, almost certainly means it when he speaks of going back to Wisconsin to spend time with his family, to whom he is devoted. But his legacy, beyond a tax law that lightens the burden on those most capable of paying, the truly advantaged, and, according to the respected Congressional Budget Office, sentences the nation and Ryan's Janesville neighbors &#8212; in a time not of wide-scale war or painful recession but of celebrated economic prosperity and low unemployment &#8212; to annual federal budget deficits of $1 billion-plus.<p>Updated: Sat Apr 14, 2018</p> d1514764d8b8b13aa9b38e63d084b5bc Republicans and Patriotism for 04/07/2018 Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The election night words of the long-shot Republican candidate after his upset victory remain with me to this day: "I learned long ago that serving only oneself is a petty and unsatisfying ambition. But serve a cause greater than self-interest and you will know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of fame and fortune."</p> <p>That leader was summoning those within the sound of his voice to self-sacrifice. Contrast that with another leader's explanation, some 25 years after the fact, on why he, a Yale alumnus, had chosen not to answer his country's draft call to serve in the U.S. military and join his contemporaries then fighting and dying: "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost."<p>Updated: Sat Apr 07, 2018</p> 6bdda194772d4b14013b856af8c9748f Helpful Hints for Candidates for 03/31/2018 Sat, 31 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Successful politicians, those who have won election and re-election to office, almost always have an extra olfactory nerve that somehow endows them with the ability to smell which way the political winds will blow in a given election year &#8212; and whether a gale-force blast is forming that might sweep them out of office in November. That could explain why more Republican House members have already announced that they will not seek re-election in 2018 than in any year since 1930 &#8212; when, we recall, after the collapse of the stock market, the nation's unemployment rate had more than tripled in less than 12 months, heralding an election in which Democrats would capture 52 House seats from the GOP.</p> <p>I have a confession to make: I like people who dare to run for public office. For most of us, our lives are made up of quiet victories and quiet defeats. <span class="column--highlighted-text">If you and I are the two finalists to become the national manager of Rocky Mountain Sunscreen and you are chosen, when the hometown paper announces your promotion and success, it does not include a line such as, "Shields was passed over because of lingering questions about his expense account and his erratic behavior at the company Christmas party."</span> But for the political candidate, the results are right there for everybody &#8212; everyone he has ever carpooled with, dated or baby-sat for &#8212; to see, whether he won or, more likely, he lost.<p>Updated: Sat Mar 31, 2018</p> 5fe3566cc82594a612471d02be65a737 Liberal Conscience AWOL? for 03/24/2018 Sat, 24 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In one of the most closely watched 2018 congressional campaigns, avidly followed nationally as a potential predictor of November's midterm elections by both increasingly apprehensive Republicans and guardedly optimistic Democrats, there was only one candidates debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, between the challenger &#8212; the favorite of many national liberal groups, which generously backed her candidacy &#8212; and the more conservative seven-term incumbent, supported by the unions of cops, firefighters and steelworkers.</p> <p>During the debate, the liberal challenger, first-time candidate Marie Newman, made her case against incumbent Dan Lipinski with this remarkable assertion (which went almost totally uncovered by the press and uncriticized by the challenger's liberal allies) about the solemn responsibility of a member of Congress: "We can't vote our own conscience as (Lipinski) likes to say. We have to vote how our constituents want us to vote."<p>Updated: Sat Mar 24, 2018</p> dffda5fdb13afd3510d1da64a4d4c2e0 Losers Blame the Voters for 03/17/2018 Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On Nov. 4, 2008, American voters faced the happy task of choosing between two popular presidential nominees, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, both of whom, according to the last pre-election Gallup Poll, about 3 in 5 Americans regarded positively. In stark contrast, the 2016 Election Day exit poll of voters revealed an electorate forced to pick between, as one Democratic wiseguy put it, "the evil of two lessers." Voters in 2016 gave Democrat Hillary Clinton a 55 percent unfavorable rating and just a 43 percent favorable rating, but even more negatively regarded was Republican Donald Trump, who received just a 38 percent favorable rating and a 60 percent unfavorable rating.</p> <p>It is fair to say that <span class="column--highlighted-text">in the 2016 election, if Trump had been running unopposed on the presidential ballot, he would have lost</span>. The only reason he won is that he was running against Clinton. Nearly 1 in 5 voters in 2016 admitted they held unfavorable feelings toward both Trump and Clinton. So Trump won the White House by carrying 60 percent of those voters who did not like him personally but who apparently liked Clinton even less.<p>Updated: Sat Mar 17, 2018</p>