Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 18 Sep 2019 01:44:45 -0700 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate 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> 34d144a7a72a9420f4774e62e8de2a2d Could the 2020 Election Be Another 1980? for 08/31/2019 Sat, 31 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The final results of the 1980 presidential election between the Democratic President Jimmy Carter and his Republican challenger, former California Gov. Ronald Reagan are rightly recorded as a landslide Republican victory. Carter carried just six states: his native Georgia; his running mate's home state of Minnesota; Rhode Island; Maryland; West Virginia; and Hawaii. The Democrat &#8212; by winning only 49 electoral votes to Reagan's 489 &#8212; suffered the most stunning defeat of any incumbent president since 1932, when Republican Herbert Hoover was trounced by Franklin Roosevelt.</p> <p>But the truth is that the Carter-Reagan contest had been close, with Carter leading between 4% and 8% in Gallup polls all the way to the final week of October, when the two men met in the campaign's only televised debate. After that Oct. 28 showdown, Gallup found Reagan moving to a 3% lead on his way to a solid 10% victory margin on Nov. 4. <p>Updated: Sat Aug 31, 2019</p> fa9e86e520639f11f00b403735e03cb9 Making Debates Really Matter for 08/24/2019 Sat, 24 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Presidential debates &#8212; even those featuring 10 or more candidates well over a year before Election Day &#8212; can tell us much about those self-confident enough to offer themselves as the nation's next commander in chief.</p> <p>For example, eight years ago, the candidates of the out party, running to challenge then-White House incumbent Democrat Barack Obama, debated in beautiful Ames, Iowa, where Byron York of the Washington Examiner asked an important question. At the time, there had been much arguing among politicians about proposed formulas for federal spending cuts to tax increases to reduce the expanding federal budget deficit. York asked former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the eventual upset photo-finish winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses the following January: "Is there any ratio of (spending) cuts to (increase in) taxes that you would accept &#8212; 3-to-1, 4-to-1 or even 10-to-1?" Santorum answered, "No."<p>Updated: Sat Aug 24, 2019</p> 8ca18e484509e2edd4b82ac3f5fdd71a The Arizona Gift for 08/17/2019 Sat, 17 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It approaches a year since Sen. John McCain departed these earthly precincts. He is rightly missed for his principled leadership, for his maverick ways and for his &#8212; now increasingly rare &#8212; ability to reach out and collaborate effectively with senators across the partisan divide. I miss all those qualities, but I miss John McCain, too, for his quick and self-effacing sense of humor.</p> <p>McCain was first elected to the U.S. Senate from Arizona in 1986, succeeding the conservative legend Barry Goldwater, who chose to retire and served that year as chairman of McCain's winning campaign. As McCain told me the story, on election night, when his victory became apparent, he and Goldwater were together in a hotel room watching the returns, and Goldwater turned sentimental, telling McCain: "You know, John, if I had beaten Lyndon Johnson in 1964, you would not have spent all those years in that North Vietnamese prison." McCain, remembering the hawkish Goldwater's threats about taking the fight to Beijing, responded: "You're right, Barry. If you had won the White House, I wouldn't have spent all those years in prison in Hanoi. ... I would have spent them in prison in China."<p>Updated: Sat Aug 17, 2019</p> 69d76280e729549e9a473cb1311f66ff What Presidential Debates Teach Us for 08/03/2019 Sat, 03 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Listening to debates among presidential primary candidates invariably reminds me of the 1974 Democratic primary for New York governor. To set the scene: In November of 1973, Republican Nelson Rockefeller, four times elected chief executive of the Empire State who would later be chosen by President Gerald R. Ford to become the nation's 41st vice president, resigned his governorship.</p> <p>In short order, New York Democratic leaders &#8212; both regulars and reformers &#8212; confident they could win the governorship after a generation in the wilderness, made Howard J. Samuels, a self-made millionaire and the president of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation, their consensus choice for governor. But long-shot Democratic Brooklyn Rep. Hugh Carey would upset Samuels and the Democratic leadership in that Watergate election year with a memorable campaign slogan crafted by Carey's campaign consultant, David Garth: <span class="column--highlighted-text">"This year, before they tell you what they want to do, make them show you what they've done."</span><p>Updated: Sat Aug 03, 2019</p> aeec3f1c64e59f92b47f83c722e496c1 Can Democrats Ever Get to the Fourth Stage? for 07/27/2019 Sat, 27 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It is time to remind ourselves of the Four Stages of Political Defeat and whether the losing side &#8212; in this case, the Democrats who suffered an unexpected and stinging rebuke in 2016 &#8212; will be able to recover and compete.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Because political parties are composed of human beings, when a party loses a big election, there is an understandable human reluctance for the party and its members to accept their public rejection.</span> Other semi-plausible explanations must be found for why they lost.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 27, 2019</p> cbca50b6d9a2dcefe28e0d0be663a521 Stop Looking for a Democratic Donald Trump for 07/20/2019 Sat, 20 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Our vote for president is the most "personal" vote we Americans get to cast. We're far more likely to base our choice for the U.S. House or the Senate on issues &#8212; such as health care costs, immigration or the environment &#8212; than we are our presidential choice. In a presidential campaign, we voters are beneficiaries or victims of an information overload. We learn about each White House nominee &#8212; often from her or his siblings &#8212; whether Mom liked her best or whether the other kids in the family agreed he was a "teacher's pet" and, even worse, a sneaky "goody two-shoes." We form opinions on whether the nominee is capable of laughing at himself, someone we would personally like and, more importantly, trust in a personal crisis.</p> <p>But Democrats looking to 2020 appear unaware of this "personal" determinant in our presidential decisions. Many of them are instead, it seems, in search of some Democratic version of Donald Trump &#8212; a candidate who can go toe-to-toe, insult-to-insult with the bellicose Republican incumbent. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Nothing could be more disastrous for Democrats' victory prospects than to find and nominate their own practitioner of scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners politics.</span><p>Updated: Sat Jul 20, 2019</p> 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>