Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Thu, 20 Feb 2020 09:46:25 -0800 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate f8972d690ed9f896c0d849c5519dcef5 Will We Like Mike? for 02/15/2020 Sat, 15 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>In the seven presidential elections since 1992, the Republican presidential nominee has won the popular vote exactly once. The lone GOP candidate to receive a majority of the national vote was George W. Bush in 2004. Bush's election-day victory over Democrat John Kerry, who had, in most observers' views, "won" the debates between the two, was explained by the respected Democratic pollster Peter Hart: "Voters preferred I Like over IQ."</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">One test of deciding between presidential nominees is, "Who would you rather have a beer with?" which is another way of asking which White House challenger the voter personally likes more than the other.</span> In short, our ballot for president is the most "personal" vote we Americans cast. Almost always, we pick the candidate with whom we are more comfortable and, more significantly, the candidate whose judgment and character we think we could depend upon in a personal crisis.</p> <p>As evidence of the weight of the "I like" factor in presidential voting, let's look at recent contests: In 2012, Barack Obama, the winner, was rated 52% personally favorable by voters, while Mitt Romney's scores were 47% favorable and 50% unfavorable. In 2008, Americans had a rare positive choice. In the last Gallup poll before election day, John McCain was given a favorable rating by 57% of Americans and was barely eclipsed by Barack Obama's 61% favorable score. In 2004, winner George W. Bush was 53% favorable among voters on election day, while John Kerry's numbers were at 47%-51%. In 1992 and 1996, voters liked Democrat Bill Clinton more than they liked both then-President George H. W. Bush and Sen. Bob Dole. Of course, the outlier election was 2016, when both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump received historically low favorability scores. About 1 in 5 voters rated both candidates unfavorably but, when forced to choose between the two, voted for Trump with 3-2 odds. <p>Updated: Sat Feb 15, 2020</p> 1836e77d6a4a5246c53d972e338849b9 Winning Means Coming in First for 02/08/2020 Sat, 08 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">In my more than half a century of hanging around the clubhouses and campaign halls of American politics, I have never once met a candidate with the first name or family name "Expected." Yet the enduring one-size-fits-all excuse/explanation for every presidential candidate who finishes in the back of the pack when the most recent primary results are posted remains identical: "We did better than expected!"</span><br></p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">While it's still early in the 2020 presidential marathon, let's agree on one simple standard for all the contests to come: Winning is coming in first.</span> It may be old-fashioned, and even simplistic, but the truth is that in every primary or caucus, someone wins, and all the other someones lose. The someone who wins is the individual who receives more votes than any of her or his competitors.<p>Updated: Sat Feb 08, 2020</p> b1e4adb3ba06b9ce5c731c399935612c In Defense of Iowa for 01/18/2020 Sat, 18 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>We have reached that time in every presidential nominating year when distinguished, national opinion leaders beat up on Iowa and that admirable state's influential role in determining the two major parties' eventual presidential nominees and, therefore, the next president. The USA Today editorial board indicts Iowa for being "one of the least ethnically diverse states in the country" and its status as the first-in-the-nation presidential test every four years as " un-American," while Paul Waldman writes in The Washington Post that the Iowa caucuses "are a crime against democracy."</p> <p>It is time someone stood up for Iowa and Iowans. It's true that Iowa is neither very representative of the entire nation nor very average. Scholarly studies have ranked Iowa as tied for first place in percentage of the adult population who are high school graduates. Iowans are fourth highest in access to health care (more "representative" Florida and Texas rank 46th and 47th respectively in citizens' access to health care); first in broadband access; and third highest in public libraries per capita. True, the Hawkeye State leads the nation in production of corn, soybeans and pork, but Iowans are at the top of the nation in literacy, and the state has the U.S.'s 14th lowest murder rate.<p>Updated: Sat Jan 18, 2020</p> 4c7fa69fcd7e19bb58fa3030586d5958 'Nations with Allies Thrive' for 01/11/2020 Sat, 11 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Retired Marine Corps Gen. Jim Mattis, the former secretary of defense and an exceptionally well-read warrior, has said, "Throughout history, we see nations with allies thrive, and nations without allies wither."</p> <p>Mattis' words brought to mind those 13 fateful days in October 1962 when, after the United States discovered that the Soviet Union was placing nuclear-armed intermediate-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Washington, D.C., in Fidel Castro's Cuba, the two superpowers stood on the brink of nuclear war.</p> <p>Then-President John F. Kennedy, whose ill-conceived Bay of Pigs invasion a year earlier had undoubtedly emboldened both the Soviets and Castro, insisted on first briefing U.S. allies on the situation. He personally called British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and made sure that West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was completely briefed. To inform the president of France, the often-prickly Charles de Gaulle, President Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, who carried with him the speech on the crisis JFK would later give to the American people.<p>Updated: Mon Jan 13, 2020</p> 15ea063907f4e038ed6465286e6804b4 Try to Remember ... for 01/04/2020 Sat, 04 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Is anyone here old enough to remember the urgent warning issued in a speech to the National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August 2002 by an American vice president who had artfully avoided the military draft during wartime? Dick Cheney, after acknowledging he was convinced that Saddam Hussein would "acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon," went on to beat the war drums: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction; there is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us."</p> <p>There was not then, and there never would be, any stockpile of Saddam Hussein's WMDs to be used against us. It was worse than "fake news"; it was taking his country into war under false pretenses, leaving as its legacy death, disillusionment and, yes, despair. But let us also recall the wise, if unheeded, words of a former Marine Corps company commander in Vietnam who there earned the Navy Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts; <span class="column--highlighted-text">he posed the consideration the Republican administration sending American troops into Iraq refused to broach with the American people: "whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years."</span><p>Updated: Sat Jan 04, 2020</p> cdb75c76a9c2ede4d80d9f3b0d7df828 Help (Urgently) Needed: US Head of State for 12/28/2019 Sat, 28 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The American president, in addition to serving as commander in chief, is expected to be this nation's consoler in chief, as well as the nation's teacher and even preacher. Who alive on Jan. 28, 1986, does not remember the words of then-President Ronald Reagan from the Oval Office following the explosion of the Challenger that killed all seven astronauts on board, seen live on television by millions? Reagan reminded the country that "the future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave" and closed with the words of a 19-year-old American pilot who perished in World War II and had "slipped the surly bonds of Earth" and "touched the face of God."</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">We know the president is the head of government, but the president is also the head of state, expected to speak to and for all of us when the occasion demands.</span> That is precisely what then-President Barack Obama did so well in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 26, 2015, at the service for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine victims executed at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Obama dared to lead the congregation in singing: "Amazing Grace/ How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me/ I once was lost/ But now I'm found." He comforted the nation.<p>Updated: Sat Dec 28, 2019</p> f646cbc7239f2ade27bb6ad253464a8a Heraclitus Was Right for 12/21/2019 Sat, 21 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Although I qualify for the senior discount at the movies, even I'm not old enough to have met Heraclitus, the wise Greek who lived some 25 centuries ago and whom we can thank for the timeless wisdom "Character is destiny." </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Here in Washington, one elected national leader commands the affection and the respect of her constituents. That leader is Washington's one certified grown-up</span>, the former Nancy D'Alesandro from Albemarle Street in the Little Italy section of Baltimore, the wife of one man, the mother of five children and the grandmother of nine who has represented California's city of Saint Francis for 32 years in the U.S. House and has continuously been elected since 2001 to be a leader of her party by her U.S. House Democratic colleagues.<p>Updated: Sat Dec 21, 2019</p> 9b828648e4c3f5f44f61779e1e5ac556 It May Not Build Character, but Politics Can Reveal Character for 12/14/2019 Sat, 14 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>First, an anecdote circulating about the most courageously candid staff person in the White House allegedly speaking to President Donald J Trump: "Mr. President, you're coming across as mean-spirited, abusive and so unlikable that people frankly do not want to work for you. Sir, in all due respect, you have to make some immediate changes." President Trump to courageously candid staffer: "I agree. You're fired."</p> <p>This story, for some reason, reminds me of the late U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp, the conservative Republican whose contagious optimism went a long way putting a smiling face on what had previously been dour and dyspeptic American conservatism. When Kemp ran, unsuccessfully, for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination, that year's GOP campaign featured much rhetoric about the candidates' devotion to pro-family issues from men whose private conduct very often did not match their pious, public posturing.<p>Updated: Sat Dec 14, 2019</p> 5b72f29861930cc182d01b4159e48a06 In 'Defense' of Donald Trump Jr. for 11/30/2019 Sat, 30 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Donald Trump Jr., in his better-selling book, "Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us," writes of his reactions to visiting Arlington National Cemetery and driving "past the rows of white grave markers." He explains: "In that moment, I ... thought of all the attacks we'd already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we'd have to make to help my father succeed ... Frankly, it was a big sacrifice, costing us millions and millions of dollars annually ..." </p> <p>Forget that President Donald Trump and his family &#8212; in spite of their self-proclaimed "sacrifice" &#8212; continue to profit from the family's hotel and real estate holdings and dealings since Trump, unlike previous presidents, retained ownership of his business and the Trump Organization, and has continued to make money from deals around the globe. In comparing the scrutiny and criticism Donald Trump Jr. has received in the press to the ultimate sacrifices of the 400,000 American fathers, brothers and sisters buried beneath the green hills of Arlington, he can be accused of callousness and egocentricity. But while perhaps extreme, his ignorance of American tradition and history is not uncharacteristic of the Me Generation, which he sadly represents.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 30, 2019</p> 9f1b145fdf01fe2f3e6c40c4ad95c40a Time Past for Democrats to Get Real on Health Care for 11/23/2019 Sat, 23 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In listening to the Democratic presidential debates, we might conclude that "Medicare for All" is a legislative possibility. It is not, and any presidential candidate with a scintilla of self-respect must admit that fact. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that just 30% of Americans "strongly favor" a plan in which all of us get medical care from a single government plan, while 33% of us "strongly oppose" such a major change. Moving public opinion and persuading a deeply divided Congress to enact life-altering changes, the prospects of which understandably scare many congressional constituents, is tough, controversial, politically hazardous and even a career-threatening challenge. It will not be magically achieved &#8212; in fact, it is made less likely &#8212; by its advocates' regularly asserting their moral superiority over those not on their side.</p> <p>A quick review of post-World War II American health care reform efforts might be helpful. President Harry Truman advocated universal health insurance coverage, but opponents, led by the American Medical Association, branded it "socialized medicine." President John Kennedy unsuccessfully backed legislation to provide health insurance to those over 65. President Lyndon Johnson's landslide victory gave him the congressional muscle to pass both Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The most ambitious efforts of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton to expand coverage to all Americans were defeated, and it was not until 2009 &#8212; some 60 years after Truman pushed it &#8212; that President Barack Obama, over all-out partisan resistance, was able to sign the Affordable Care Act passed by Democrats in the House and the Senate &#8212; a vote, let it be noted, that cost the Democrats their congressional majorities in the very next election. It would take a full nine years &#8212; when a new Republican president pledged to repeal the Obama-era health law &#8212; before a majority of Americans registered their approval of that controversial Democratic law.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 23, 2019</p> 6aed550113c967a01078a58c53e78eff Will Democrats in 2020 Again 'Fall in Love'? for 11/16/2019 Sat, 16 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>There are large historical differences between America's two major political parties in how they choose their presidential nominees. </p> <p>Consider this: Since 1952, there have been 11 presidential elections where there wasn't a Republican president running for reelection. In 10 of those 11, the Republican candidate who led in the major polls in the year before the election went on to win the presidential nomination.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 16, 2019</p> f6c089ee45fa249b765609970f761de3 Mike Pompeo Was Definitely NOT a Marine Officer for 11/09/2019 Sat, 09 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has impressive credentials: He graduated third in his class from Los Amigos High School in California's Orange County before winning an appointment from his congressman &#8212; "B-1 Bob" Dornan, a conservative remembered for his unstinting support for the California-built U.S. supersonic aircraft &#8212; to the United States Military Academy.</p> <p>At West Point, in his 1986 graduating of 973 men and women, Pompeo finished first. He left the Army with the rank of captain after six years to go to Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Law Review.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 09, 2019</p> 64946c1240b43af322e8fa6f45f63b3e Quiet Eloquence of Example for 10/26/2019 Sat, 26 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The 1994 funeral of former Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill was truly memorable. To the same North Cambridge, Massachusetts, church, St. John the Evangelist &#8212; where O'Neill was baptized as an infant and had married his beloved Millie &#8212; came two former U.S. Presidents, George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, scores of senators and members of congress. But more important to O'Neill, also filling the pews were nurses, waitresses, firefighters and nuns.</p> <p>That 1994 night, now-Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., reflected on the huge turnout for the late speaker and confided to me: "Every politician in the church today, Republican or Democrat, witnessing that incredible outpouring of love and gratitude for 'Tip,' had exactly the same thought: I'll never have a funeral like this. Damn it.'"<p>Updated: Sat Oct 26, 2019</p> d4cda77e8305604dcb0e1992d7ccda8f Why the Nationals in the World Series Is Good for America for 10/19/2019 Sat, 19 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>For the first time in 86 years, a baseball team from Washington, D.C., is in the World Series. This is good news &#8212; obviously for the long-suffering Nationals fans in and around Washington, but also for every American who cares deeply about the survival of our republic.</p> <p>In spite of the semiterminal greed of multimillionaire team owners who feel they are divinely entitled to demand that ordinary Americans in the area pay higher taxes in order to build state-of-the-art stadiums, <span class="column--highlighted-text">baseball still embodies public virtues in desperately shorty supply in both the capital and the nation</span>.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 19, 2019</p> ff88385e72105dbcb5f2638c4911c499 Republican Sense of Humor for 10/12/2019 Sat, 12 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Twenty years ago, former U.S. Transportation Secretary, President of the Red Cross and future North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole was a decidedly long-shot candidate for the Republican presidential nomination &#8212; an honor her husband, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole had won four years earlier, only to lose in the general election to Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton.</p> <p>Then out of elective public office for the first time in 36 years, Bob Dole was most often seen as the television pitchman for a product promising to improve erectile function. Curious about why Elizabeth Dole, a certified dark horse, was running for the White House, I asked humorist Mark Russell, who explained. "If you were married to the test pilot for Viagra, you'd do almost anything to get out of the house."</p> <p>Bob Dole was that most special of political leaders who subscribed to John F. Kennedy's thesis: "There are three things which are real: God, human folly and laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension, so we must do what we can with the third." Of all the politicians I have covered, none &#8212; certainly no Republican &#8212; has done more for and with humor than Robert J. Dole the favorite son of Russell, Kansas.<p>Updated: Tue Oct 15, 2019</p> 0caa11b5ad026113494c9f080d688f31 Joe Biden's Most Important 'Endorsement' for 10/05/2019 Sat, 05 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Let's repeat it together three times: <span class="column--highlighted-text">Preprimary polls testing would-be presidential nominees have all the permanence of numbers written with a stick in the wet sand at the ocean's edge just before the high tide comes in.</span></p> <p>Recent history confirms the unreliability of such polls. In October 2015, the respected Washington Post-ABC News Poll showed Hillary Clinton crushing Sen. Bernie Sanders 64%-25%. Not quite four months later, in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary, Sanders trounced Clinton, winning 60% of the vote to her 38%. In October 2015, the Republican leader was Dr. Ben Carson, and when Donald Trump was matched up, separately, against Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz, decisive majorities of GOP voters preferred Rubio and Cruz.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 05, 2019</p> 4f96e967446217890fdc661e164c8518 Time to Look at the Record for 09/28/2019 Sat, 28 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"History never looks like history when you are living through it" wrote John Gardner. "It always looks confusing and messy, and it always feels uncomfortable."</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Forty-five years after President Richard Nixon faced certain impeachment by the House of Representatives and Nixon, confronting an overwhelming Senate vote to convict him, resigned his office, Washington again faces the prospect of another profoundly grave and uniquely disruptive presidential impeachment.</span><p>Updated: Sat Sep 28, 2019</p> 12d482faaecb64f29fe63c21d6f4c647 He Walks Where He Chooses to Walk for 09/21/2019 Sat, 21 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Years ago, when the great American socialist Norman Thomas was speaking at the University of Virginia, he was cross-examined by a self-satisfied undergraduate who charged that Thomas' call for universal health insurance, federal civil rights laws and federal aid to education were all backed by the U.S. Communist Party. Thomas, a man of great dignity &#8212; and no communist &#8212; answered simply, "I walk where I choose to walk."</p> <p>I had lunch this week with an old friend who, very much like Thomas, walks where he chooses to. A 1968 graduate of the Naval Academy, as a Marine platoon and company commander in Vietnam combat, he earned the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts &#8212; the last for the wounds that left him with shrapnel in his body and a permanent limp. But that didn't stop him from finishing Georgetown Law at night, going on to write 10 books and become secretary of the Navy (under President Ronald Reagan), a successful screenwriter and an Emmy-winning journalist for his 1983 coverage of U.S. Marines in Beirut.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 21, 2019</p> 8db1d3e1f3275b2786074ed7771b724f No New Edition of 'Profiles in Courage' for 09/14/2019 Sat, 14 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Then-Sen. John F Kennedy wrote admiringly in his 1955 book, "Profiles in Courage," about Republican U.S. Sen. Edmund G. Ross of Kansas. In 1868, in a decision Ross knew would end his political career, he broke with his party to vote against the impeachment of then-President Andrew Johnson, the Tennessee Democrat who had succeeded the martyred Abraham Lincoln. By Ross's lone vote, the Republican Senate failed to convict and remove President Johnson. But Ross, who would never again win an election, understood what the vote meant for his own fate: "I almost literally looked down into my open grave," he would write.</p> <p>Based upon observing the Republican U.S. Senate in 2019, during the presidency of Republican Donald Trump, I can assure the American book publishers that, sadly, there is neither the subject matter nor the need for anyone to write a new edition of "Profiles in Courage." You will find no contemporary Edmund Ross in that body.</p> <p>In fact, after listening to the seemingly endless debate about national health care policy, about whether we need it, can afford it, deserve it or really want it, I am left with one question &#8212; inspired by the depressing sight of GOP senators rationalizing, ignoring and minimizing President Trump's actions, lies and insults: Does your proposed health care plan cover vertebrae transplants? Why? Because the Senate Republican Caucus desperately needs a backbone.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 14, 2019</p> 4a5500457808b8b6963773fe57b0e7a1 Politics as It Should Be Practiced for 09/07/2019 Sat, 07 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Back when Richard Nixon was president, a Washington saloon five minutes' walk from the White House named the Class Reunion was the go-to watering hole where press, politicians and real people could rub and bend elbows. To be candid, I was a regular at "the CR," as it was called, but frankly went there more for the uniquely bipartisan conversation and good-natured needling, which were the hallmarks of the place.</p> <p>One very popular Class Reunion regular was a Republican who, after handling the challenging job as press secretary for the failed 1980 presidential campaign of former Texas Gov. John Connally, went to work doing press for Ronald Reagan. Jim Brady's irrepressible wit occasionally got him into trouble with some of the Reagan high command. After candidate Reagan had, erroneously, announced in Steubenville, Ohio, that "trees cause more pollution than automobiles," Brady, as the Reagan campaign plane flew over an expanse of western forest, looked out the window and, in mock alarm, exclaimed: "Killer trees! Killer trees!"<p>Updated: Sat Sep 07, 2019</p>