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Mark Shields
Mark Shields
26 Sep 2015
Has Anybody Thanked John Boehner?

Has anybody bothered to thank House Speaker John Boehner for Pope Francis' even coming to the United States? … Read More.

19 Sep 2015
The 'Me' Generation

The most recent Republican presidential debate from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library brought to mind … Read More.

12 Sep 2015
Correcting the Record

William McGurn is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal who, according to his company bio, "writes speeches … Read More.

Spreading the Ugly Truth


Political Washington just got a welcome dose of refreshing candor. Democrat Fred Yang, one of the bipartisan team that conducts the respected Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, took a look at the most recent numbers — showing Democratic favorite for 2016, Hillary Clinton, in a statistical tie with two less famous newcomers, a retired neurosurgeon and a deposed Silicon Valley CEO — and stated frankly, "When Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are in dead heats with Hillary Clinton, it tells us more about her candidacy than about the Republican candidates."

Barely a year before the U.S. elects a new president, Democrats' concern grows as voters' feelings toward Clinton continue to cool, dropping from 52 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable when she left as secretary of state to 39 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable today, and independent voters give her more negative ratings (51 percent) than they do to the discourteous Donald Trump (49 percent).

But wait; though the Democrats are without a candidate, the Republicans are, frankly, according to the same Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, without a party. Voters may not be infatuated with the Democratic Party, giving it a 41 percent positive rating to 35 percent negative. But these same voters flunk the GOP, with just a 29 percent positive rating to 45 percent negative. Majorities of independent and Democratic voters agree that laws protecting gays and increasing legal immigration are "a step in the right direction." But Republican voters do not. They are found in the distinct minority that would end the granting of U.S. citizenship to children born in the United States.

Only four months after the 2012 loss of the White House — when Democrats, for the fifth time in the past six presidential elections, won the popular vote — the Republican National Committee was unsparing in its autopsy of the party's failures.

Urging a renewed outreach to female voters, the report declared, "We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too."

Wise advice, given an electorate that has changed, just since Bill Clinton was president, from 87 percent white to 70 percent white. In a country that in the past three years alone has grown dramatically more tolerant and accepting of differences, Republican 2016 campaigns have basically ignored such advice and instead devoted time, effort and energy to exposing and banishing heretics than to seeking and welcoming strangers.

It turns out that Republicans don't really much like the Republican Party. Even before the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner, Republican voters, when asked whether they were "satisfied or dissatisfied" with the effectiveness of Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, answered "dissatisfied" by a 72-23 percent margin.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has a case of political halitosis, which is evident when he earns a positive rating from just 44 percent of party voters. If Trump is the answer to Republicans' prayers, that amounts to a very serious indictment of either politics or religion.

Given the anxiety and pervasive pessimism of voters, what we could be facing next year is a national campaign in which neither major-party nominee, even if running unopposed within his or her own ranks, wins a majority of the vote. The winner could indeed require a more unacceptable and less appealing opponent against whom to run. That, sadly, is the news from the banks of the Potomac River.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




2 Comments | Post Comment
I have long held the opinion that this country is impatiently waiting for its charismatic leader to spring forward and destroy the two parties that we have all grown to hate. A recent clear indication was the strong, albeit short, spurt of popularity enjoyed by Perot. He stumbled, however, by proving to be just another political hack in charismatic clothing. This year we have seen Sanders on the Democratic side and Trump for the Republicans step forward. Unfortunately for their candidacies, Sanders has the damning title of "socialist" and Trump is too self-obsessed even for us. (To a significant degree, Pope Francis seems to be a place-holder.) It may be too late for the 2016 election, but we are seat-edged waiting for our charismatic leader. Let's pray it isn't a "Hitler" type!
Comment: #1
Posted by: Mike Ohr
Sun Oct 4, 2015 8:27 AM
So, Mark, why do you studiously avoid saying anything about Bernie Sanders? As far as I can tell, he should be your guy. If it's just too unrealistic to elect someone with that kind of spine and integrity, you should say that, and let's get on with our cancerous political process and not have any illusions.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Masako
Sun Oct 4, 2015 6:46 PM
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