Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 02 Dec 2020 16:57:09 -0800 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate 109d23c730f60babf2692d43ec16dad6 Afghanistan and Iraq: When Will We Ever Learn? for 11/21/2020 Sat, 21 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Missing in any debate about whether it is wise for the United States to reduce our troop numbers in both Afghanistan and Iraq, as the Trump administration has ordered, down to 2,500 Americans in each country (a number, let it be noted, that is too few to fight and too many to die), is the question members of Congress and policymakers invariably choose to duck: How did we get into the longest war in U.S. history in Afghanistan and the second-longest in Iraq?</p> <p>Of course, we know, it was in response to Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaida operatives hijacked four commercial U.S. airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, resulting in the deaths of nearly 3,000. None of the 19 hijackers was an Afghani &#8212; their leader was Egyptian and 15 were from Saudi Arabia &#8212; but Afghanistan had been the attackers' base. Congress overwhelmingly voted to give President George W. Bush, through the authorization of the use of military force, the green light to use force against those responsible for the attacks of 9/11.</p> <p>By August of 2002, at a national convention of the Veterans of Foreign War, Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney, after stating his conviction that Saddam Hussein "will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon," made the case for war: "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." Hussein did not have then, and never would have, any "weapons of mass destruction," nor was he ever anywhere remotely close to obtaining nuclear weapons. But the U.S., just seven months later, under false pretenses and disinformation, would send 130,000 Americans into harm's way to invade Iraq. <p>Updated: Sat Nov 21, 2020</p> a748b103f6f3253aa67cf9827d4f5406 Semifinal Thoughts on Election 2020 for 11/14/2020 Sat, 14 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Joe Biden won the White House, we are reminded almost daily, on his third try, having run unsuccessfully in both 1988 and 2008.</p> <p>It's funny; I can't recall, having covered the 1980 presidential race, much ever being made of the fact that that year's winner, Republican Ronald Reagan, also won on his third White House run.</p> <p>The Gipper had mounted a doomed, too-late challenge to Richard M. Nixon in 1968 and then challenged fellow Republican President Gerald R. Ford in the 1976 primaries all the way to the Kansas City, Missouri, convention (where, when defeated, he made a gracious, off-the-cuff concession speech to the convention and undoubtedly helped himself for 1980).<p>Updated: Sat Nov 14, 2020</p> f73615f748c4843f85e900b7b7ee53cb Amid Democrats' White House Win, a Sobering Fact for 11/07/2020 Sat, 07 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Joe Biden has reason to be proud; in the last 107 years, only three American presidential nominees have managed to defeat an elected, incumbent president who was seeking a second term. Let history show that the winning trio were all politically gifted leaders who became successful presidents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.</p> <p>That is fairly awesome company for Regular Joe to be joining. But Democrats already impatiently waiting for "Hail to the Chief" to be played for one of their own would be wise to confront a sobering reality from the Nov. 3 returns: White, working-class men who represent 1 out of 3 presidential voters and who formed the electoral backbone of the winning coalitions that elected FDR, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy preferred Republican Donald Trump, now of Mar-a-Lago, Florida, over Joe Biden, a son of Scranton, Pennsylvania.</p> <p>The first &#8212; and the worst &#8212; reaction of more than a few Democrats to this unwelcome news is an indifferent shrug followed by some variation of, "What do you expect?" After all, the condescending analysis goes, these guys are the modern-day versions of Archie Bunker, neither racially enlightened nor welcoming to the inevitable march of social progress. The Democrats' obvious problem with blue-collar male voters is as much one of attitude as it is of issues or programs.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 07, 2020</p> 7f2c0e9afea8de4e55b2658d9fcba03c A Little Compassion, Please for 10/31/2020 Sat, 31 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>There is no place quieter or more forlorn than the losing candidate's headquarters the morning after election night. If the phone rings, it's a good bet that it is either one more unpaid creditor looking for payment or a wrong number. Gone are yesterday's hopes for the upset win to confound the pollsters and the pundits. If you know or run into any staffer from a losing campaign, take a little extra time to offer her some attention and a little encouragement. Too often, as the wonderful sports novelist John R. Tunis wisely wrote, "Losing is the great American sin."</p> <p>After 60 years of hanging around candidates and elections, I have learned that political campaigns do not build character. But campaigns &#8212; and especially losing campaigns &#8212; do reveal character. Let me give you a couple of examples.</p> <p>After President George H.W. Bush was denied a second term by the young Democratic governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, Bush left the following handwritten note on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 1993, for his successor:<p>Updated: Sat Oct 31, 2020</p> 5856c89afdbd103e1e364ace75f37c8a Patriotism on Full Display for 10/24/2020 Sat, 24 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Mick Mulvaney was a four-term Republican congressman from South Carolina with a reputation as a hawk on government spending in 2017 when President Donald Trump chose him to be director of the Office of Budget and Management, the nation's top fiscal officer. Mulvaney held that position until December 2018, when Trump named him "acting" White House chief of staff , a position he held until March 2020 when the president replaced him with North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows.</p> <p>Mulvaney's record on restraining federal spending was, in a word, dismal. The national debt, which was just under $20 trillion when Trump became president, has ballooned to north of $27 trillion in 46 months. But let's give Mulvaney some credit for daring to spread the ugly truth: In a speech to the Oxford Union, he admitted publicly: "My party is very interested in deficits when there is a Democrat in the White House. The worst thing in the whole world is deficits when Barack Obama became president. Then Donald trump became president, and we're a lot less interested (in cutting federal spending) as a party."</p> <p>Proving the timeless wisdom of the Turkish proverb &#8212; "He who speaks the truth must keep one foot in the stirrup" &#8212; Mick Mulvaney's tenure as White House chief of staff ended three weeks later.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 24, 2020</p> 687122a8f9443758968ec432f1d7fab4 2020 Campaign: Shortages of Wit and Wisdom for 10/17/2020 Sat, 17 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>This bizarre presidential election year has suffered from acute shortages of both wit and wisdom, a fact that was highlighted for me by the passing of Roberta McCain, the remarkable 108-year-old mother of the Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee.</p> <p>A few years back, when public (dis)approval of the U.S. Congress fell in national polls down to just 16% positive, Sen. John McCain kidded that such miserable numbers meant that support for Congress was down to "paid staffers and blood relatives." Barely weeks later, Congress' approval number fell further to just 10%, prompting McCain to report that he had received a stern call from his mother giving him an earful of her own untender feelings about Congress: "I can now report that we're down to paid staff."</p> <p>When Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, as a presidential candidate, accurately cited his bipartisan unpopularity among his Senate colleagues as a credential for promotion, then-Vice President Joe Biden praised Cruz for serving as "an inspiration to every kid in America who worries that he'll never be able to run for president because nobody likes him." <p>Updated: Sat Oct 17, 2020</p> be799092b599f2919415d4f9fc655b14 Painfully Public and Publicly Painful for 10/10/2020 Sat, 10 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>When I was a younger man &#8212; shortly after the cooling of the Earth &#8212; I worked in and managed political campaigns. In addition to Ohio Gov. John Gilligan and Boston Mayor Kevin H. White, I worked on the presidential campaigns of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine, and Rep. Morris K. Udall of Arizona, as well as the vice presidential run of Sargent Shriver. A casual student of 20th-century American political history will point out that none of these White House candidates ever got to give an inaugural address or lead an inaugural parade. I have some idea of what electoral defeat feels like.</p> <p>I admire people who run for public office. For most of us, life is a series of uncelebrated successes or private setbacks. If you and I are the two finalists for the Big Promotion we both have our hearts set on, and you get the prize, when the news of your triumph breaks, it doesn't include, "Shields was passed over because of lingering questions about his expense account" or "his, frankly, eccentric behavior at the company Christmas party." </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">But when you dare to run for public office, everyone you ever sat next to in high school homeroom or double-dated with or carpooled with knows whether you won or, more likely, lost. The political candidate dares to risk the public rejection that most of us will go to any length to avoid.</span><p>Updated: Sat Oct 10, 2020</p> e6b2dc3671536c4bd80eebad634c4d4a Before I Vote For You, I First Want To Like You for 10/03/2020 Sat, 03 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>At the difficult art of winning highly competitive elections, former U.S. Sen. William Cohen, R-Maine &#8212; who never lost one &#8212; was very good indeed. Elected at 29 to his hometown Bangor City Council in 1969, Cohen would become that city's mayor in 1971 before being elected in 1972 to the first of three terms in the U.S. House from Maine's 2nd Congressional District. In 1978, Cohen won the first of three six-year terms as U.S. senator before voluntarily leaving in 1996 and becoming Secretary of Defense in Democrat Bill Clinton's administration. </p> <p>An engaging man with an earned reputation for working across Washington's partisan divide, Cohen offered this astute advice for electoral success: "I don't care how great your ideas are or how well you can articulate them. People must like you before they will vote for you."</p> <p>Come with me back to 1984, when the Gipper was in the White House and running for reelection, and this polling question was first asked:<p>Updated: Sat Oct 03, 2020</p> 942e9d8e501efb5ac2e7c5f814a6f599 Our Most Personal Vote for 09/26/2020 Sat, 26 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>In the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, the Democratic nominees, former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry, were both seen by the nation's voters as more knowledgeable and more intelligent than the Republican standard-bearer in both elections, George W. Bush. <span class="column--highlighted-text">But those same voters in both campaigns found Bush to be more honest, trustworthy and likable than either Gore or Kerry. In explaining why Bush defeated Kerry, respected Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart put it bluntly: "Voters value 'I Like' over IQ."</span></p> <p>Our vote for president is actually the most personal vote we Americans get to cast. Aware of the enormous impact every president has over our lives &#8212; both national and individual &#8212; we learned painfully that the national tragedies of both Vietnam and Watergate were directly attributable to defects of character and personality &#8212; along with acute absence of honesty &#8212; of elected American presidents.</p> <p>In the most recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News national poll, 2020 voters listed the three most important qualities in deciding how to vote for president to be "having the ability to bring the country together" (36%); "being honest and trustworthy" (35%); and "having strong leadership qualities" (33%). Democrat Joe Biden held a statistically insignificant 45%-43% edge over President Donald Trump on the "strong leadership qualities" question. But on "bringing the country together," Biden was judged to be better than Trump by the lopsided margin of 52% to 28%. And on "being honest and trustworthy," voters again picked Biden over Trump by a decisive 47% to 30% margin.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 26, 2020</p> d1fed479a442ca6d01e5c321a895a2cf Presidential Debate Questions I Would Ask for 09/19/2020 Sat, 19 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>The political shadowboxing before presidential debates is cleverly choreographed. Take the 2000 contest between then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore. Before that year's first general election debate, the Bush team did a superb job of lowering expectations for Governor Bush by emphasizing to reporters what an experienced and superb debater Gore was. So, when Bush more or less held his own in the opening debate, the Texas governor got a lot of the "better than expected" press coverage his campaign had all the time been angling for.</p> <p>But President Donald Trump is, as we know, unorthodox. Instead of building up the long U.S. senatorial and 2008 and 2012 national debating experience of former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump scorns the Democratic nominee repeatedly as lacking mental acuity and physical stamina, publicly branding him "Sleepy Joe" and saying things such as, "He doesn't know where he is" and, "Biden can't put two sentences together." Trump is, for some reason, doing his best to lower voters' expectations about Biden. When Biden shows up like Bush did 20 years earlier, answering the moderator's questions and speaking in complete sentences with a dash of humor, he will have totally exceeded those low expectations and measurably helped his campaign.</p> <p>If I had the chance (which I will not) to ask Trump and Biden questions in the presidential debate, here are a few I'd like to hear them answer.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 19, 2020</p> 288716347fd475a0815e728fd782ce04 America's Most Trusted 'Referee' for 09/05/2020 Sat, 05 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>What do presidential candidates George H.W. Bush, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Ross Perot, Al Gore, George W. Bush, John Kerry, Barack Obama, John McCain and Mitt Romney all have in common? On the biggest night each of their political careers, when they &#8212; live and on national television without teleprompters or prepared texts &#8212; were being scrutinized and judged by up to 80 million of their fellow citizens on their fitness to be president, all of these men agreed to accept and to trust journalist-anchor Jim Lehrer to moderate their presidential debate.</p> <p>Jim Lehrer, my friend and PBS colleague, departed these earthly precincts in January. I know that France's Charles de Gaulle said that "the cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men," but with genuine admiration and respect for the just-named 2020 debate moderators &#8212; Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace, USA Today Washington Bureau chief Susan Page, C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully and NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker &#8212; Jim Lehrer could truly be irreplaceable.</p> <p>Let us understand the total pressure of a presidential debate when not only the nominee's campaign but also her/his career is, for 90 minutes live, coast to coast, on the line. It is the only time in these marathon campaigns when we, the voters, have the chance to "interview" the would-be presidents and see how each defends, explains and reacts, as well as what their body language and facial expressions reveal. <p>Updated: Sat Sep 05, 2020</p> 72ff2e5345f0d5d96c24c3c314b1bc38 Never Forget How You Made Them Feel for 08/22/2020 Sat, 22 Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>The "post-game" analyses of the 2020 Democratic National Convention have gone on for longer than the convention itself. Critics continue to weigh in on whether Barack Obama or Michelle Obama was the more effective speaker and whether Joe Biden, in his 24-minute acceptance speech (remarkably brief by historical standards), put to rest questions about Sleepy Joe.</p> <p>But all that, to me, is beside the point. What matters most is what poet Maya Angelou once said: <span class="column--highlighted-text">"People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." Three separate pieces over four days had to make you, if you were a sentient human being, feel better about Joe Biden.</span></p> <p>The first was U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, a single father with two small boys keeping his word to put his sons to bed every night and to make them breakfast the next morning by taking the Amtrak train from Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington, D.C., and back again every day of the workweek.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 22, 2020</p> 817ca8aabc60ab9124a0a062d3082693 The Missing Group of Voters in 2020 for 08/08/2020 Sat, 08 Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Political polls elicit predictable reactions from the candidates being polled. The campaign of the candidate trailing in the poll almost invariably invokes history: "I, for one, am grateful that Christopher Columbus didn't take a poll before he bravely sailed off in search of a New World. He never would have left the dock" or, "Thank goodness George Washington and his cold, hungry and out-manned troops at Valley Forge didn't listen to the pollsters, or you and I today would still be bowing and curtsying before the queen."</p> <p>And the candidate who is leading in those same polls also has a script to follow, which typically goes like this: "Encouraging as these results may be, any poll is nothing more than a snapshot in time. We'll just continue to work harder to earn the confidence of the hardworking Americans we seek to serve." Which is often followed by, "We all know there is only one poll that counts, and that is the real poll on Election Day." </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Still, polls are fascinating in the way they are able to slice and dice the electorate by age, gender, marital status, race, religion, party, occupation, income, education and hometown.</span> You want to know how vegetarian cross-dressers who served in the military and oppose the right-turn-on-red law intend to vote? Chances are there is some pollster somewhere who can tell you.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 08, 2020</p> 9c4755e080a42ad6fdc396ce3c9de389 Honoring the Fallen for 08/01/2020 Sat, 01 Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Capping a week of deserved tributes, the funeral for Rep. John Lewis in Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church brought me back a quarter-century to another funeral for another revered member of Congress, former House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill.</p> <p>On a cold January day at St. John the Evangelist Church in North Cambridge &#8212; where O'Neill had, 53 years earlier, wed his beloved Millie and been baptized as an infant &#8212; came two former presidents, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, the vice president, the current and former speakers of the House, and scores of senators and House members. But there to honor the man who had become the first Irish Catholic Democrat, the man who conservative historian Michael Barone called "the most widely respected legislator in 20th-century history," were nurses, waitresses, nuns and firefighters &#8212; Tip's people.</p> <p>That night, a group of us gathered to reflect on the day and the man who never forgot where he came from or the people who sent him, and I recall the words of then-Rep., now-Sen. Ed Markey as people commented on the overflow turnout of the famous and the unknown at Tip's funeral mass. Markey said: "Every politician in that church today &#8212; witnessing that incredible outpouring of love and appreciation &#8212; had exactly the same thought: 'I'll never have a funeral like this. ... Damn it.'"<p>Updated: Sat Aug 01, 2020</p> 878a203064e2cb3f731e0acface9951d Voters Have Decided on Trump for 07/18/2020 Sat, 18 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>By now, Republican officeholders are daily and in ever-increasing numbers coming up with reasons why they will be unable to attend the late-August GOP convention in Jacksonville, Florida. In every campaign year, everything is a poll &#8212; who shows up and who doesn't when your candidate comes to town; who elbows in for the picture with the standard-bearer as opposed to who suddenly remembers that he and his family have an unbreakable appointment with the hometown taxidermist about stuffing the late, beloved family hamster.</p> <p>Looking at the most respected national polls conducted in the month of July, we see that President Donald Trump, in the matchup with former Vice President Joe Biden, is winning 40%, 41%, 40% and 37% of the national vote. Yes, a poll is only a snapshot in time of attitudes and judgments, not set in stone. But the emerging reality is clear: A majority of American voters have decided that they really do not want Trump to be their president for the next four years.</p> <p>While this pandemic-election year &#8212; with no bands, balloons, confetti or "spontaneous" floor demonstrations &#8212; is unlike any that we have lived through, the candidate dynamics are quite similar to those of 1980. That was the year a beleaguered Democratic incumbent, Jimmy Carter, beset with economic headaches, was challenged by the conservative champion, former California Gov. Ronald Reagan. The race was literally neck and neck &#8212; two or three percentage points either way through September into late October &#8212; until the night of Oct. 28 when the two men met in the campaign's presidential debate.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 18, 2020</p> 2e0231109982c4a7b034cbeec2d481d2 The Buck Doesn't Stop Here for 07/11/2020 Sat, 11 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Dan Buck is a philosopher friend of mine with a rare gift for explaining the political world. Back when Ronald Reagan was an enormously popular president (carrying 93 out of a possible 100 states in two national campaigns), I marveled at how voters were so unfailingly tolerant, even forgiving, when the Gipper said things that were factually inaccurate.</p> <p>For example, in Steubenville, Ohio, on a campaign stop, Candidate Reagan announced, wrongly, "Trees cause more pollution than automobiles." As luck would have it, Reagan's schedule took him next to Southern California, which was suffering an unhealthy air pollution inversion. <span class="column--highlighted-text">At Clermont College, where Reagan was to speak, some wiseacre graduate student had hung a sign on a tree: "Cut me down before I kill again." To his credit, nobody laughed harder than Ronald Reagan, who went on to win in a landslide.</span></p> <p>Buck explained to me that Reagan's special "Teflon" gift prevented gaffes or worse from sticking to the Gipper: "You have to understand that if Ronald Reagan drove a convertible with the top down through a car wash, Jimmy Carter (whose political coating was, unfairly, "Velcro") would get wet."<p>Updated: Sat Jul 11, 2020</p> 9e296b4ecf0f0673f23fb28b2357d757 Polls Apart for 06/27/2020 Sat, 27 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>New York Times/Siena College has Democrat Joe Biden at 50% and Republican President Donald Trump at 36%; CNN has Biden at 54% and Trump 36%; Fox News has Biden at 50% and Trump at 38%. These recent national polls have left Democrats almost giddy with anticipation. But before Democrats put the champagne on ice, they would be wise to remember the prophetic words of an authentically wise Texan. Former Gov. Ann Richards said, on July 3, 1988, on CBS's "Face the Nation": "July does not a November election make."</p> <p>After the Democrats' successful convention in Atlanta in 1988 (when keynote speaker Richards explained Republican nominee George H.W. Bush's verbal bloopers with, "Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth"), the respected Gallup poll reported the Democratic ticket of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis and Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen trouncing the GOP team of Bush and Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle 55% to 38%. On Nov. 8, Bush carried 40 of the nation's 50 states, won 53% of the popular vote and became the first sitting vice president since Martin Van Buren in 1836 to be elected president.</p> <p>It is true, as Trump-backers point out, that preelection polls in 2016 predicted with 90% confidence that Hillary Clinton would defeat Trump and win the White House. Just to review that year's final preelection numbers and results of the three of the best-known polls: The Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey found Clinton with 48% of the vote; ABC News-Washington Post predicted 47% for Clinton; CBS News gave Clinton 47% of the popular vote. Hillary Clinton did, in fact, win 48.2% of the popular vote to Donald Trump's 46.1%. But as we all learned, presidential elections are about carrying states and their electoral votes, not just about winning people's votes.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 27, 2020</p> d40409d0a8ac814defa381fb5f00bc71 A Campaign Year of Less Wisdom and Less Wit for 06/13/2020 Sat, 13 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>In the nine presidential elections between the 1952 victory of Dwight D. Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush's 1988 win, just two Republicans won the White House: Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. One man was indispensable to the winning campaigns of these two very different Republicans. His name was John P. Sears, and as a young 25 year-old lawyer, he would begin spending the three years leading up to the '68 victory traveling with Nixon as political lieutenant, chief delegate hunter and unofficial press contact. He was later the manager of Reagan's 1976 campaign, which almost captured the GOP nomination from President Gerald R. Ford and, until his forced resignation, he was the manager of Reagan's 1980 campaign.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Sears' death earlier this year means, selfishly, that those of us lucky enough to report on politics will no longer have the benefit of this singularly wise and witty American political thinker and doer.</span></p> <p>You deserve evidence to prove that high praise. Well, still early in this 2020 campaign, let us remember what I called "the Sears rule," which would require that, on the eight Friday evenings between Labor Day and Election Day, the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees each be given a half-hour of free, prime-time TV, which could only be used by the presidential nominee. Sears' reasoning was straightforward: If a presidential nominee could not be interesting, truthful, coherent and factual for one half-hour a week, then, by all means, let the voters find that out long before election day.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 13, 2020</p> 3fe43d624e582dc479ebd7001cc7a9d4 Are Democrats Smart Enough to Take Yes for an Answer? for 06/06/2020 Sat, 06 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Here's the fail-safe test for whether a political party is growing and strengthening or shrinking in size and prospects: Is that party spending its time, energy and effort seeking, recruiting and welcoming converts to its ranks, or is that party instead hunting down heretics within its ranks and, in the name of political purity, banishing them to some outer darkness?</p> <p>Because American politics is always a matter of addition, not subtraction, the convert-seeking and convert-welcoming party is healthier and almost always has the better prospects of winning the November general election. Republicans understood that well in 1980 when the GOP presidential nominee openly courted and embraced converts, even giving them very own designation as Reagan Democrats. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the future Democratic nominee told the nation: "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America." Thus did Barack Obama become the first Democrat in 12 presidential elections to win 53% of the national Vote.</p> <p>When former Defense Secretary and Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis overcame his strong personal conviction about keeping the U.S. military out of American politics and vice-versa and stated: "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people &#8212; does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort," he captured the nation's attention. Mattis added: "We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership ... Never did I dream that troops ... would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens" in the service of a "bizarre photo op" of the running-for-reelection president awkwardly holding a Bible in from of Washington's St. John's church.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 06, 2020</p> d7df706444493536934e60735065fcb1 What Leadership Means for 05/30/2020 Sat, 30 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>History can be cruel. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., who was unquestionably America's most prominent prophet and practitioner of nonviolence, was followed by riots, arson and looting in 168 American cities and towns. The numbers are staggering: 2,600 fires were set; 21,700 people were injured; 2,600 were arrested; 39 were killed. One city that was spared all that in the days following King's murder was Indianapolis.</p> <p>Credit for that must be given to the citizens of Indiana's capital city and to its leaders, both black and white, and also to a remarkable American political leader, who, on that April night in 1968, delivered the news of King's death to an Indianapolis rally of mostly African Americans.<p>Updated: Sat May 30, 2020</p>