Opinion: The GOP Tax Bill: All Hat and No Rabbit
Even passing no bill might be a better option

All politics is state and local.

That update of Tip O’Neill’s dictum is inspired by the Republican tax bill. The legislation that passed the House on Thursday eviscerates the deduction for state and local taxes and the current Senate version, which just emerged from the Finance Committee, eliminates the write-off entirely.

Opinion: Joe Biden — The Most Decent Man in Politics
Former vice president served with honor while dealing with a lifetime of suffering

NEW YORK — Joe Biden’s Monday night book launch at Lincoln Center was oddly apolitical for an ostensibly political event. The name Donald Trump was not even mentioned until 40 minutes into Biden’s onstage conversation with Stephen Colbert.

Rather than cataloging Trump’s transgressions — a task that would be daunting for the loquacious former vice president — Biden took the softer approach of uttering soothing lines like, “I really do think that this is about to end.” In contrast to Trump, “the American people are basically decent and honorable,” he said.

Opinion: For the Republicans, Less Is (Roy) Moore
McConnell said it: Every day is a Maalox moment for the GOP

The implosion of the Senate candidacy of Roy Moore brings to mind the title of an early Spike Lee movie: “Do the Right Thing.”

After Moore romped home in the Alabama Senate primary runoff in late September, the national Republican Party could have shunned him for many valid reasons. There was Moore’s un-American belief that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress; his wackadoodle claim that Sharia law governed communities in Indiana and Illinois; and his defiance of the law that twice led to his removal from Alabama’s Supreme Court.

Opinion: Democrats Go from the Window Ledge to Giddy
Caution advised in interpreting Va. gubernatorial election results

For those Democrats who still revere the memory of Franklin Roosevelt, Tuesday night was a time for many lusty choruses of his theme song, “Happy Days Are Here Again.”

In 48 hours, the Democrats have gone from the fetal crouch to giddy exuberance. New Jersey offered few surprises as former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy bridged his Wall Street background to cruise to any easy victory over Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno.

Opinion: The Politics of Tax Cuts Are as Complex as the IRS Code
Republicans are rolling the dice on the political outcome

In a political world filled with bizarre surprises like a high-decibel public debate over the causes of the Civil War, there was something reassuring about the predictable partisan reaction to Thursday’s unveiling of the House Republican tax bill.

This was, in short, not a moment when Capitol Hill speechwriters spent anguished hours hunched over their computers searching for the right metaphors.

Opinion: The Watergate Tweets of @RealTrickyDick
What if Nixon had a private Twitter account

More than 43 years after Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in disgrace, we are still unearthing new secrets of Watergate. During the more than two years from the initial 1972 break-in at Democratic Party headquarters to the final sad flight to San Clemente, Nixon used a secret communications channel.

Even more closely held than the White House taping system was the president’s private Twitter account. Tweeting under the handle @RealTrickyDick, Nixon provided a personal off-the-cuff commentary on the charges swirling around him.

Opinion: Why Does the Senate Honor a Segregationist?
It’s time to rename the Russell Building after Sen. Margaret Chase Smith

When Georgia Sen. Richard Russell died in 1971, President Richard Nixon and 54 Senate colleagues made the pilgrimage to Atlanta, where his body lay in state in the Georgia Capitol.

Honoring Russell’s 38 years in Congress, The Washington Post in its obituary called him “the closest thing remaining to the embodiment of the Senate of old, the keeper and the symbol of the tradition, mores and tone that gave the place its stature.”

Opinion: The Conscience of Two Conservatives
Jeff Flake and Bob Corker call President Donald Trump out

There are many muscular arguments against term limits, from arbitrarily depriving voters of their choice to the sterling Senate careers of long-serving legislators like Joe Biden and John McCain.

The case for term limits can be expressed in five words: Bob Corker and Jeff Flake.

Opinion: Six Presidential Lessons Trump Missed
Mistakes — and moments of glory — could instruct

Judging from his comments and tweets, Donald Trump is a leader who divides the sweep of human history into two simple categories: BT (Before Trump) and AT (After Trump).

Before Trump, there was mostly a void populated by a few military heroes like Andrew Jackson and George Patton.

Opinion: The Short Life Span of the Trump-McConnell Buddy Movie
Quest for lower taxes brings unlikely pair together

Dating back to the days of Walter Winchell, there was a standard photo display that newspapers used when celebrity couples headed to Splitsville. Tabloids would feature an earlier picture of the couple frolicking on a beach or walking down the aisle with the caption, “In Happier Days.”

The odds are high that Monday’s buddy-movie Rose Garden press conference with the odd couple of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell will soon invite similar “In Happier Days” nostalgia. For did anyone believe Trump’s hyperbolic claims that the two men are “closer than ever” and that “the Republican Party is very, very unified”?

Opinion: Harvey Weinstein and the GOP’s Guilt-By-Association Game
A sense of proportion — and less hypocrisy — would be nice

The odds are high that this autumn members of Congress — maybe both Democrats and Republicans — will pocket campaign contributions from Americans who will later be engulfed in scandal. The besmirched political donors could be exposed as Ponzi scheme promoters, corrupt corporate executives, crooked lawyers or sex offenders.

Amid the predictable uproar when the news stories break, there will be loud partisan cries to return all campaign contributions from these disgraced figures. And so congressional incumbents will scramble to explain a half-forgotten $2,700 check from a fundraiser and a hastily scrawled “To My Dear Friend ...” inscription on a photograph from the event.

Opinion: A Fake Senate Hearing on Fake News
What if the Intelligence Committee took up the president’s request

Under Donald Trump’s interpretation of the Constitution, when the president tweets, the Senate must take action immediately.

So it was with Trump’s pointed suggestion last week, filled with the kind of oddball capitalization normally found in ransom notes: “Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!”

Opinion: Liberals Must Find the Right Tone on Guns
Raw emotion does not change votes in Congress

The witty, conservative economist Herb Stein once pooh-poohed apocalyptic predictions with these reassuring words: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

Stein, who had served as Richard Nixon’s chief economic adviser, was referring to the trade deficit. But Stein’s Law has a wide application beyond economics — and it offers a dollop of comfort about gun violence after the Las Vegas massacre.

Opinion: The Tax Cut Question — Will Voters Feel Richer or Betrayed by Trump?
Plan may hurt many of the president’s supporters

Tax cuts are the political equivalent of truth serum.

A typical politician can often get away with spinning wildly about economic growth, the budget deficit or even the long-term financial prognosis for Medicare and Social Security.

Opinion: Congress and the Weakest President Since the 1920s
How GOP leaders should behave during their time of reckoning

Dear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan,

I know you are not in the habit of reading open letters from liberal columnists. But I hope you will make an exception in this case since I am trying to avoid partisan talking points and predictable arguments.

Opinion: Another Health Care Bill, Another Health Care Cliff
Major rewrites of policy deserve more than partisan signoff

Maybe we have finally established a lasting legislative principle for both parties: Don’t ever again try to pass major health care legislation using parliamentary gimmicks to avoid a filibuster.

The Democrats, under Barack Obama, followed this route in 2010 after they lost their filibuster-proof Senate majority when Republican Scott Brown unexpectedly won the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. As a result, final tinkering and technical improvements could not be made in the Obamacare legislation using a House-Senate conference.

Opinion: The Fatal Flaw for Republicans in Graham-Cassidy
Bill’s passage would make health care dominant issue in 2018 midterms

The Republicans’ latest drive to repeal Obamacare is reminiscent of a poetry fragment from Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade”: “Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why.”

Whatever happens with the bill likely slated to reach the Senate floor next week, it is hard to escape the feeling that this wild charge will end badly for the Republicans.

Opinion: Dancing With the Democrats Will Not Save Trump
Long-term consequences of president’s actions will catch up with him

Memo to the Democrats: Figure out how far Donald Trump is willing to travel on the ground before he gets bored and restless. Whatever the number is for our short-attention-span president (maybe a mile by golf cart and 10 miles by limousine), the Democrats should agree to build a border wall of precisely that length.

Consider it a Potemkin Wall.

Opinion: The Two-Party System on a Sick Bed
It will take more than Trump and infighting to kill the patient

It is as lasting an American literary metaphor as Captain Ahab and the white whale or Hester Prynne and her scarlet “A.”

We are, of course, referring to that branch of science known as cartoon thermodynamics. The first law, as popularized by the late film critic Roger Ebert, is worthy of Isaac Newton: “Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation.”

Opinion: How 9/11 Permanently Changed Us
Biggest transformation — a growing climate of mistrust

The front page of The New York Times from the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, conjures up a world both familiar and distant. The lead story highlights talk of tax cuts on Capitol Hill while a major feature conveys the worries of public school officials that dress codes are being flouted: “The days when torn jeans tested the limits are now a fond memory.”

In this era before iPhones and Androids, the Times headlined a page-one article about Paula Zahn’s new CNN contract: “In a Nation of Early Risers, Morning TV Is a Hot Market.” The Times front page also brooded about continuing threats like nuclear smuggling in Asia and the depressing verities of foreign policy: “Mideast Still Roiling.”