Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Mon, 15 Jul 2019 16:09:09 -0700 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate 3cf24710b95a0bb920864dfb03d198f0 Ross Perot, Truly One of a Kind for 07/13/2019 Sat, 13 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As someone who was lucky enough to cover the 1992 presidential campaign &#8212;involving Republican incumbent President George W. Bush, Democratic challenger Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and the independent maverick, Texas billionaire businessman Ross Perot &#8212; from start to finish, allow me to make one semi-important point: Perot was not at all like anybody else who would, allegedly as a billionaire businessman, run for the White House as the GOP nominee &#8212; successfully &#8212; in 2016.</p> <p>Perot did not have an Ivy League pedigree. After two years at Texarkana Junior College, he won an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. There he was elected class president and met Goucher College student Margot Birmingham, who would in 1956 marry Lt. j.g. Perot. He fulfilled his four-year commitment to the Navy, and he and Margot were married for the next 63 years.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 13, 2019</p> 14d67ab9092988d4d49cad54b5f259f7 Unintended Consequence of Summer of '19 for 06/29/2019 Sat, 29 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>At least three score years ago, my savvy precinct committeewoman impressed upon me an immutable political truth: Every election is <i> not </i> about the candidate(s); no, every election is about the voters ... and about the future. I'm relieved that my precinct committeewoman was not around to hear the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates spend four hours of network TV time talking about each other and about themselves and very little about the voters.</p> <p>But while the Democrats were swapping boasts and brickbats in Miami, the man whose job they all covet was in Japan at the G-20 Summit, where he, the leader of the free world, joked with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Putin's government meddling in the U.S. elections. Asked by a reporter whether he had warned Putin not to interfere in next year's U.S. national election, Trump, with an unmistakable smirk on his face, answered, "Yes, of course, I will." Then he turned to Putin and added: "Don't meddle in the election, president." Putin, let it be noted, chuckled, as did U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 29, 2019</p> d367bc308564efb1fdb3638dbc5ac1ad The Circular Firing Squad for 06/22/2019 Sat, 22 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Mo Udall, the legendary Democratic congressman from Arizona, was brutally candid about his party's bad habit of succumbing to intramural recriminations that became the political equivalent of a civil war in the leper colony. "When Democrats organize a firing squad, they form a circle," Udall wisely observed.</p> <p>Politics, let it be noted, is a matter of addition, not subtraction. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Putting together a majority to pass legislation to aid widows and orphans or a majority to win elections requires winning converts to your side rather than hunting down and banishing heretics to the Outer Darkness.</span> Nobody understood this principle better or practiced it more successfully than the late "liberal lion of the Senate," Massachusetts eight-term senator Ted Kennedy.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 22, 2019</p> b24f6f7fcf12fafc6bc6ed67c7bc5d3d Lies the Liar Tells for 06/15/2019 Sat, 15 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When politicians talk in private, they regularly use a cruel shorthand. For example, a candidate who is uninformed, unreflective and uncurious is often branded a "lightweight," as in, "He is so lightweight he could tap-dance on a souffle." Conversely, a "heavyweight" would be a politician of some substance, some political clout and personal gravity.</p> <p>Al Gore &#8212; the Democratic presidential nominee who won 543,895 more votes than George W. Bush in 2000 but ended up losing the election in a 5-4 Supreme Court split decision &#8212; was regularly dismissed for being so unexciting that his favorite color was beige. The line at the time was, "Al Gore is so dull that his Secret Service code name is Al Gore."<p>Updated: Sat Jun 15, 2019</p> b493864f006aff23f36e5181e1240b0d 'We' Once Did Fight Wars for 06/08/2019 Sat, 08 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p></p><p>Beneath the perfectly manicured lawns and under the pines and elm trees at the Normandy cemetery lie 9,388 Americans who died during D-Day or in the liberation of France that followed. Among them is a most unlikely combatant, a 56-year-old Army officer who was a wounded veteran of World War I also suffering from a heart condition and arthritis. With his cane, he was the only general in the first wave under heavy Nazi fire on the beach that day. His name was Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the son of the Republican president. One month later, he would die of a heart attack.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 08, 2019</p> 80d4c9553ed91de1b98e06ddc54083dd Understanding Why Donald Trump Loathes John McCain for 06/01/2019 Sat, 01 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, "Big Bad John," was christened in 1992 in honor of the U.S. Navy's first father-son duo of four-star admirals, "Slew" and Jack. On July 12, 2018, their son and grandson respectively, retired Navy captain and U.S. Sen. John S. McCain III was added to the official namesake of that Navy ship in a ceremony in Yokosuka, Japan. This American destroyer and its crew, as reported by The Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Ballhaus and Gordon Lubold, were told by Navy and Air Force brass &#8212; in response to a directive from the White House &#8212; that during President Donald Trump's Memorial Day weekend visit to Japan, the USS John S. McCain needs to be kept "out of sight." </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., West Point graduate, a major in the 82nd Airborne Division and McCain's erstwhile colleague on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the White House's actions to avoid a presidential tantrum at the sight of the Navy destroyer honoring the American war hero and frequent Trump adversary "beyond petty" and "disgraceful."</span> Yielding to few in my admiration for senators McCain and Reed, I believe the actions of up-to-now anonymous White House staffers, feverishly working to avoid the wrath of their insecure boss, were entirely logical and even predictable.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 01, 2019</p> 7064e90547764a863204d49de07dce62 Remember: American Politics Is Very Imitative for 05/25/2019 Sat, 25 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>It's a better than even bet that in Massachusetts today there is more than one ambitious young Democratic candidate running for local office who is deliberately pronouncing the word "again" so that it rhymes with "a pain." Why, you logically ask? Because that's how the martyred John F. Kennedy pronounced "again." American politics and campaigns are frankly imitative.</p> <p>Half a century ago, in 1968, then-presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, discarded his suit jacket, rolled up his shirtsleeves and waded into the campaign crowds who came to see him. The unspoken message was clear: <span class="column--highlighted-text">This leader in shirtsleeves was a regular guy, unpretentious, ready to go to work and even, if pushed too hard, prepared to defend, mano a mano, the less powerful against the Rich Bully.</span></p> <p>How many times have we seen the candidate in her campaign TV spot listening attentively to children or to retirees signaling to us voters that this candidate truly cares about the next generation and also honors the older generation? Then there are the obligatory images of the candidate of the people (who may actually be on his way to a high-number fundraiser with hedge fund managers) smiling comfortably and respectfully in the company of blue-collar workers in hard hats or firefighters or cops; I'm a regular Joe at home with ordinary Americans who, unlike me, actually shower after work instead of before.<p>Updated: Sat May 25, 2019</p> dc613fa708797ffa3c109fc91bf93785 Democrats' (Not Entirely) 'Bleak Prospects' for 05/18/2019 Sat, 18 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In my line of work, I run into more than a few Democrats whose mood swings of late are frankly semi-wild. Last November, when their party won 41 Republican U.S. House seats and took the House majority from the GOP, Democrats were almost giddy, increasingly confident that voters in 2020 would see the error of their ways and make Donald Trump the first American president to be rejected for reelection since George H.W. Bush in 1992.</p> <p>Lately, however, Democrats are less bullish. The economic news, even with talk of a trade war with China, has been exceptional: The nation has its lowest unemployment rate in a half-century. Hourly earnings are up by 3.2% over last year, and U.S. economic growth as well is up by 3.2% as in the last quarter. In the Gallup poll, some 91% of Republicans approve of President Trump. <span class="column--highlighted-text">You're almost tempted to say to Democrats nervous about next year's election, "Cheer up. Eventually, things will get worse."</span><p>Updated: Sat May 18, 2019</p> bac54d051d0a9e7d7687149c0783b048 A Story 'Too Good to Check' for 05/11/2019 Sat, 11 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Shortly after the cooling of the earth, when I was working for The Washington Post, I more than once heard a grizzled editor skeptically caution a younger reporter who was sure that he, alone, had gotten a stop-the-presses exclusive scoop that was going to lead the paper and, quite possibly, change the world: "If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out." </p> <p>Another sage warning for reporters was to always question "the story too good to check out" &#8212; of which there has never been a shortage. See the conservative Breitbart's certifiably bogus report that Nobel Prize-winning liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had filed for personal bankruptcy. That was totally untrue, and in time, Breitbart so acknowledged.<p>Updated: Sat May 11, 2019</p> ff03c95f975f87753f1a6ca83e1a195a A Uniquely American Story for 05/04/2019 Sat, 04 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Feb. 19, 1942, was not President Franklin Roosevelt's finest day. Some 10 weeks after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, FDR signed Executive Order 9066, which violated the legal rights of some 120,000 Japanese Americans. In short order, people of Japanese descent were given just 48 hours to dispose of their homes, their farms, their businesses. Their investments and their bank accounts were expropriated.</p> <p>Let us listen to the painful memories of a 10-year-old American citizen: "My own family was sent first to Santa Anita racetrack. We showered in the horse paddocks. Some families lived in converted stables, others in hastily thrown together barracks." That boy and his family were sent for three years to what FDR himself conceded was a "concentration camp" at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.<p>Updated: Sat May 04, 2019</p> b48dada60a0372ec5d5fa1b3ffbc5173 America's Urgent Need for Baseball Today for 04/27/2019 Sat, 27 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>In America today and in its capital city of Washington, D.C., we see, sadly, that with enough money and influence, the fix can be put in. A widely used passenger plane model &#8212; whose safety standards were certified by the manufacturer &#8212; had to be grounded after separate crashes took 346 lives. According to the sworn testimony of the president's personal attorney, in the closing days of the last White House campaign, a six-figure hush money payoff went to the current president's alleged mistress. Citizens learn that the game is not on the level. </p> <p>Nor is the fix limited to Inside the Beltway. Without rich, connected, corrupt parents willing to bribe college coaches and officials to get their unqualified offspring enrolled at prestigious schools, hard-working, qualified high school students receive letters of rejection rather than acceptance from those corrupted universities. Why? Because the fix was in. </p> <p>In the summer of 2019, America urgently needs baseball because, as team owner and American original Bill Veeck accurately observed: "Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can't get you off." Veeck was right. <span class="column--highlighted-text">In baseball, it doesn't make any difference how big a six-figure soft-money check you anonymously wrote to a powerful public official if you can't hit a curveball.</span> Social connections and private school pedigrees count for nothing in the bottom of the ninth when the tying run is on third base.<p>Updated: Sat Apr 27, 2019</p> 90766880408f572ee614a8903e60c2b2 What Will We, Voters, Be Looking For in Our Next President? for 04/20/2019 Sat, 20 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>We Americans have a predictable reaction when a president in his performance or his conduct disappoints us: We almost always go looking for a successor presidential candidate who, we think, possesses the very qualities of character and talent we unhappily learned were missing in the president who has just let us down.</p> <p>Think about the pattern: After the criminality and the corruption of Watergate and the failed presidency of Richard Nixon &#8212; arguably, having served in the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate and two terms as vice president, the most experienced president ever elected &#8212; we cheered the White House arrival of the emotionally very healthy Gerald Ford. But like Nixon and Nixon's flawed predecessor &#8212; the enormously experienced Lyndon Johnson, who had taken the nation into an unwinnable and nationally divisive war in Southeast Asia &#8212; Ford had been a career Washington politician and party leader.<p>Updated: Sat Apr 20, 2019</p> ccd96072631fa35f7874ad264dbd6f00 He Actually Was a Great Man for 04/13/2019 Sat, 13 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>He was the most uncommon presidential candidate. Most of them, disappointingly, flatter every group of voters they appear before by telling them what they're confident they want to hear. Candidates, to put it bluntly, verbally caress the erogenous zones of the body politic. But not so with one presidential candidate, then-Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, D-S.C., whom I knew I liked and admired. He candidly told voters what he believed, which was often what the group did not want to hear.</p> <p>The campaign year was 1984. A popular President Ronald Reagan was running for reelection. Hollings was the longest of long shots. <span class="column--highlighted-text">But on Nov. 4, 1983, when he went to Dartmouth, a prestigious Ivy League school in the historically important primary state of New Hampshire, Hollings, a decorated World War II combat veteran, spoke heresy, shocking the privileged students: "I want to draft everyone in this room for the good of the country."</span><p>Updated: Sat Apr 13, 2019</p> 48bc7ee6bed9b909057d1eb1b0058098 The Powell Doctrine Has Been Repealed for 03/30/2019 Sat, 30 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Long before he would become America's 65th secretary of state, Colin Powell was a young Army officer who served two combat tours in Vietnam. There, Lt. Powell held in his arms a young American soldier whose body had been blown apart &#8212; and whose life would, in a few hours, be ended &#8212; by a land mine. Colin Powell understood the responsibility and the pain of comforting the dying, and of then writing a personal letter to the parents of the soldier whose remains would be coming home in a pine box, because powerful and important men in Washington had determined it was necessary for young Americans to fight and to die in the rice paddies of Vietnam in order to stop international communism.</p> <p>From such painful, personal experiences would come, a quarter-century later, when he was serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush, the "Powell doctrine," which argued that the United States should only as a last resort, and only after all other nonviolent options had been tried, send our men and women into combat. Powell insisted that before such action, our vital national security interest be threatened by the identified adversary, and that we take action only when the U.S. forces were overwhelmingly disproportionate to the forces of the adversary; and only after the mission was fully understood by and strongly supported by the American public; and only when the U.S. mission had real international backing. Finally, before any such an action was launched, there had to be a coherent and agreed-upon exit strategy for the U.S. troops.<p>Updated: Sat Mar 30, 2019</p> a1d40e8462d7d6ea9a938e768cc21b83 Hearing the President Speak for 03/23/2019 Sat, 23 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, as a humble private, I was taught that at the very top of the chain of command stood the president of the United States, who was then Dwight D. Eisenhower. As supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe, Gen. Eisenhower had made the fateful decision on June 6, 1944, to send 159,000 Allied troops onto the beaches of Normandy to liberate Western Europe from the Nazis' iron grip.</p> <p>In anticipation of personally accepting the responsibility for the very possible failure of that historic invasion, Eisenhower, in his own hand, wrote this speech he never had to give: "Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."<p>Updated: Sat Mar 23, 2019</p> a4c5e5a4c21c59eccc30148ee19f05fc Memo to Democrats: 2020 Is Not 2018 for 03/16/2019 Sat, 16 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Midterm elections have been generally unhelpful to U.S. House candidates of the sitting president's party. From 1918 to 2016, according to political scientist Jacob Smith's study for Ballotpedia, the president's party lost an average of 29 House seats in midterm elections. In 2018, Democrats did better than average, capturing 40 House seats from the GOP.</p> <p>But before Democrats start picking out their inaugural ball outfits for Jan. 20, 2021, they would be wise to remember that two years after President Bill Clinton lost 52 Democratic House seats in his first midterm, he became the first Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt to win a second term. Ronald Reagan had earlier bounced back after a midterm in which Republican congressional candidates won barely 43 percent of the national vote and only 38 percent of House seats to win a smashing 49-state re-election landslide victory just two Novembers later. Before winning re-election in 2012 (becoming the first president since Eisenhower to win over 51 percent of the popular vote in successive victories), Barack Obama in his first midterm painfully watched the Democrats lose 63 House seats to the Republicans.<p>Updated: Sat Mar 16, 2019</p> 49acabbbbc28ce05f90302d2f836d8fe Sherrod Brown Will Be Missed for 03/09/2019 Sat, 09 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Why should it be of any importance or interest that Sherrod Brown, the third-term U.S. senator from Ohio, announced this week that he will not run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination? For one reason, unlike many recent would-be national leaders who belong to his party &#8212; a list that includes Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, John Edwards, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and Joe Lieberman, for starters &#8212; Brown had the political guts and the good judgment to vote against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's immorally ignorant decision for the United States to invade and to occupy Iraq.</p> <p>How has that worked out, you rightly ask?<p>Updated: Sat Mar 09, 2019</p> a3235c1eb9f4fb36221a5fb709661915 Peace Begins With a Smile for 03/02/2019 Sat, 02 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"Peace," we were told by Mother Teresa, "begins with a smile." Smiles have been very scarce in American political life lately. What follows is a modest attempt to encourage a smile or two.</p> <p>Former Vice President Joe Biden, who first ran for president in 1987, has been publicly struggling, for close to four years, with a decision about whether to run again in 2020. The Los Angeles Times' respected Janet Hook reminds us that "Mario Cuomo was known as 'Hamlet on the Hudson' for his endless agonizing about running for president in 1992." Joe Biden, she says, is "Indecisive on the Delaware." A Biden spokesman denied that the former VP said, "Some people do say I'm indecisive, but I'm not so sure about that."<p>Updated: Sat Mar 02, 2019</p> 1963c3e196ed43198a41a97e131208e5 Nobody Knows Who Will Be the 2020 Presidential Nominees for 02/23/2019 Sat, 23 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Peter D. Hart, the respected Democratic pollster who has perfected his trade through his work in the past 15 presidential campaigns, candidly warns against the predictive value of polls taken this far ahead of any presidential election. At this stage, so long before voters actually vote, according to Hart, poll numbers are "written in wet sand at the ocean's edge."</p> <p>History backs Hart up. In 2003, the year before the re-election race of the most recent Republican president, George W. Bush, leading in the polls for the opposition party's nomination was then-Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who skipped the Iowa caucuses to concentrate on the New Hampshire primary, in which he finished a distant fifth, and then, after not having won a single delegate in any of the first eight contests, withdrew.<p>Updated: Sat Feb 23, 2019</p> d1b759a3dff97a53169538e55516e70b Congress Loses a Man of Courage and Decency for 02/16/2019 Sat, 16 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>As on so many matters, former Republican Senate leader Bob Dole put it best when he said that almost all members of Congress love to make tough speeches; they just don't like to make tough votes. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., the North Carolina Republican who died on his 76th birthday, was an admirable exception. Elected to his 12th term in November, he was nobody's idea of a velvet-voiced orator. However, Walter Jones spoke volumes through the eloquence of his political courage.</p> <p>Not surprisingly for a congressman whose eastern North Carolina district included major Marine Corps bases &#8212; including Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point &#8212; Jones was a strong supporter of the United States' 2003 invasion of Iraq. Like majorities in Congress, Jones accepted the Bush administration's argument that Saddam Hussein had chemical, biological and quite possibly nuclear weapons, all of which represented a grave military threat to his neighbors and even potentially to Americans at home. He voted for the authorization for use of military force, or AUMF, which would send Americans to war.<p>Updated: Sat Feb 16, 2019</p>