Peace Begins With a Smile

By Mark Shields

March 2, 2019 4 min read

"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.

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."

Watching the almost cultlike submissiveness of this GOP Congress to this GOP president, you get the feeling that if Scripture is right that the meek will one day inherit the earth, today's House and Senate Republicans can confidently look forward to becoming land barons.

At the airport, a stranger who was obviously a big "fan" shouted at me, "Shields, you have the body of a god — Buddha!"

Sen. Amy Klobuchar — who, since announcing her presidential candidacy, has been beset with reports of a serious "staff" infection — joins a distinguished list of Minnesotans who have run for the nation's highest office. Hubert Humphrey came the closest. Walter Mondale was the Democratic nominee. Eugene McCarthy's campaign made history. Then, of course, there were the failed bids by Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachman and, before those, the quadrennial runs by Harold Stassen. After looking at that long list, we understand why Minnesota may be the only state where mothers do not tell their children they can grow up to be president.

Legendary American humorist Will Rogers used to say, "I never met a man I didn't like." Let the record show that Will Rogers never met Donald Trump.

The popular Republican governor Larry Hogan, who wins big in very Democratic Maryland and is rumored to be considering a primary challenge in 2020 against the president, told CBS News that Trump is "his own worst enemy," to which several Democrats answered, "Not as long as Nancy Pelosi is speaker, he isn't."

Though Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady of British politics, did not have the current Democratic speaker of the House in mind when she made this wise observation, it fits: "In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman."

This winter in Washington has really been cold. How cold, you ask? The other day, people outside the Capitol were actually huddling around Mitch McConnell for warmth.

This White House is in danger of giving narcissism a bad name.

Recent allegations and accusations remind us of the truth in the axiom that "there is no honor among thieves" — but then, why should thieves be any better than the rest of us?

Hope you got a smile.

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

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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