Opinion: A GOP Guide to Running for Cover on Health Care
Three ways to overcome troubling diagnosis from the CBO

Long ago (that is, back in the days when James Comey was still FBI director), House Republicans rushed their health care bill through by a two-vote margin without waiting for the verdict of the Congressional Budget Office. That early May, haste was understandable since the victorious House Republicans were due at the White House for an Oval Office celebration of a bill that (“Whoops, we forgot about the Senate”) had not actually become a law.

There appeared to be no need for House Republicans to fret about the CBO score since, after all, Donald Trump had already promised in a tweet that “healthcare is coming along great … and it will end in a beautiful picture!” So it was easy for GOP legislators to imagine that the nonpartisan experts at the CBO would find that their bill provided quality affordable health insurance for every single American while saving the Treasury trillions of dollars.

Opinion: Montana Special Election Unlikely to Predict Larger Political Trend
But get ready for a barrage of talking points

Sometime after 10 p.m. Thursday in Washington, everyone in politics will feign being an expert on Montana or, as they will call it with an insider’s flourish, Big Sky Country. The returns from the first statewide race of the Trump era will inevitably trigger the type of frenzied over-analysis reserved for special elections at moments of political turmoil.

If the Republicans hang on to the House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the sighs of relief from imperiled GOP incumbents may set off every wind chime in the D.C. area. Greg Gianforte, who ran 47,000 votes behind Donald Trump in a losing 2016 bid for governor, brings to the race two decided advantages — he is rich (he sold his software company for $1.5 billion in 2011) and he is a Republican.

Opinion: Red-Scare Henchman a Role Model for Russia-Challenged President
Roy Cohn mentored Donald Trump

Even before the president ominously hinted at a secret White House taping system, the supposed similarities between Donald Trump and Richard Nixon had all but made “Watergate Studies” a required course in journalism departments.

But as we grope to understand the 45th president and (to put it charitably) his erratic behavior, the best historical guide remains the life and times of Roy Cohn, Trump’s original mentor.

Opinion: The Refrain Across Washington — ‘Not Since Watergate ...’
There are indeed similarities between Comey and Archibald Cox’s 1973 ouster

The abrupt firing of James B. Comey as FBI director revealed an enduring truth about the next four years — there will never be a normal day as long as Donald Trump is in the White House. When things seem placid and uneventful in this administration, it is probably because we do not yet know about the abnormalities that are transpiring beneath the surface.

Tuesday seemed like an ordinary spring day in Washington. There were no high-octane congressional hearings, legislative showdowns or significant protests in the streets. Even the FBI director felt secure enough in his position to leave town to attend a meeting in the Los Angeles field office.

Opinion: White House Dysfunction Is Stranger Than Fiction
Michael Flynn case a lasting and dangerous embarrassment

It would have been a climactic scene in any Cold War spy novel. The acting attorney general rushes across town to tell the White House legal counsel that the president’s national security adviser “could be blackmailed by the Russians.”

In this fictional universe, a wave of panic sweeps through the White House as the legal counsel with the attorney general in tow bursts into the Oval Office to warn the president. “Mr. President,” the legal counsel says ominously, “the AG believes that the Russians may be able to turn your national security adviser.”

Opinion: What the Vote on Health Care Means — Republicans Now Own It
Even low-information voters know that the GOP controls the levers of government

Now that the buses have returned from the White House victory-lap rally and House Republicans have headed home for what undoubtedly will be ticker-tape parades, it is time to step back from the partisan talking points to try to realistically gauge the meaning of Thursday’s health care vote.

It is no exaggeration to say that Thursday may have been Paul Ryan’s best day in politics since he was named Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. Especially since being elected House speaker brought Ryan so many heartaches and headaches that it doesn’t count.

Opinion: The Seduction of Washington’s Big-Money Bonanza
Cashing in shouldn’t be the reward — or the goal — for public service

We are entering the season when fledgling 2018 congressional candidates reveal their Capitol Hill ambitions in Facebook posts, tiny rallies in makeshift headquarters and even old-fashioned declarations on the courthouse steps. These candidate announcements will be brimming over with earnest words about “public service,” “the wonderful people of this district,” and “bringing change to Washington.”

Lurking beneath the boilerplate oratory is a more complex set of motivations explaining why a candidate in his or her prime earnings years is willing to gamble away the next 18 months in the uncertain quest for a job paying $174,000. Idealism and ideology often do play a role, but so does a hunger for fame and a restlessness with one’s current life.

Opinion: Scorecard — America After 100 Days of Trump
The good news is maybe the nation will endure the next four years

It may be news to Donald Trump that the original One Hundred Days ended with Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. In fact, if Trump learned about Napoleon from “Fox & Friends,” he would probably snarl, “I like my conquerors of Europe not to end up exiled to an island so remote you can’t even build a world-class hotel on it.”

The news media may be reeling in an era of fake news, but nothing halts the journalistic passion for predictable rituals like toting up presidential accomplishments after 14 weeks and 2 days in office. Trump himself would admit that he is no Franklin Roosevelt. After all, the 45th president would have spurned marrying a woman like Eleanor Roosevelt — who was never mistaken for an international fashion model when she was touring coal mines on behalf of FDR.

Opinion: Trump Must Resist His Inner MacArthur on Korea
A miscalculation could be very costly

Melissa McCarthy ended her latest impersonation of Sean Spicer — delivered in Easter garb on “Saturday Night Live” — by offhandedly mentioning, “And, by the way, the president's probably going to bomb North Korea tonight.”

Beyond the incongruity of a presidential press secretary announcing impending war while wearing a bunny suit, what made this moment funny was its small glimmer of plausibility.

Opinion: Would Trump Nuke Congressional Budget Rules?
They could stand in the way of president’s infrastructure plans

If real life resembled apocalyptic 1950s movies, the triggering of the nuclear option would have left a radioactive cloud all over North America and Europe. And the remnants of humanity would be hunkering down in Australia, calculating how long it would take for the deadly wind currents to reach that far south.

Instead, when the Senate went nuclear, Neil Gorsuch was elevated to the Supreme Court and Congress went home for recess without needing Geiger counters or fallout shelters. In fact, amid the thrill-a-minute gyrations of the Donald Trump White House, the nuclear option is already half-forgotten as all punditry is now raining down on the cruise missile strike in Syria.

Opinion: Trump-Carter Comparison a Sign of Historical Amnesia
People forget Carter remained fairly popular during his first year as president

I rise on a point of personal privilege as a former Jimmy Carter speechwriter.

For those looking for a glib analogy to describe the disarray of the Donald Trump White House, it has suddenly become fashionable to pick on Carter, the last one-term Democratic president.

Opinion: Can Trump Learn From His Own Bay of Pigs?
JFK wrote the script in how to deal with early setback

The fledgling president, ridiculed for his inexperience during the recent campaign, had just suffered a stunning setback less than 100 days after taking office. He ruefully admitted afterward, “No one knows how tough this job is until he has been in it a few months.”

Talking with a friend, the embarrassed president raged over his gullibility in accepting the advice of his top advisers. As he put it, “I sat around that day and all these fellas all saying, ‘This is going to work.’ … Now, in retrospect, I know they didn’t have any intention of giving me the straight word on this thing.”

Opinion: Trump Needs to Reread ‘The Art of the Comeback’
The president’s political embrace and his threats are both equally empty

After just nine weeks in the Oval Office, Donald Trump is already forced to resort to his third book, “The Art of the Comeback.”

From James Comey’s artfully cloaked shiv in last Monday’s congressional testimony to the head-for-the-lifeboats abandonment of Trumpcare on Friday, it is hard to recall a president who has had a worse week without someone being indicted.

Opinion: James Comey and the Art of the Shiv
FBI director has the credibility to oppose the White House

Late in Monday’s marathon hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey reminded the nation that he was something of a hostile witness, reluctantly summoned to talk about Russia, Donald Trump and the 2016 campaign.

“I’d rather not be talking about this at all,” Comey said. “Now we are going to close our mouths and do our work.”

Opinion: Trump, Yul Brynner and a Results-Free Presidency
Like the King of Siam, Trump is lionized by his fans as ‘a man who tries’

At the core of Donald Trump’s Friday press conference with Angela Merkel was a theme that he has been harping on since he became a candidate — America is being played for a patsy on the global stage.

Sure, now that he is president, Trump feels compelled to ritualistically affirm his “strong support for NATO.” But at the press conference, a German reporter challenged Trump over his “isolationist policy.” The president pointedly responded, “The United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years. And that’s going to stop. But I’m not an isolationist.”

Opinion: Paul Ryan and the Danger of Keeping Unworkable Promises
GOP could pay a political price in 2018 with repeal and replace push

The Paul Ryan quote from “Face the Nation” on Sunday so appealed to the speaker’s press office that it became the headline of a Monday morning press release. Referring to Obamacare, Ryan said, “We made a promise to the people who elected us, we would repeal and replace this law. … And now we are keeping our word.”

Promises made, promises kept. It sounds so inspiring. But for all the political pride in adhering to campaign promises, what usually matters far more to the voters are their personal priorities rather than those of politicians.

Opinion: ‘We Do Our Part’ Offers Insight Into Where Democrats Went Wrong
‘Legitimate concerns of the other side’ are important, author says

Presidents symbolically define their eras in ways that go far beyond their legislative victories or — to cite a recent example — their conspiracy-laden tweets. Their lives and their personal style shape American culture and often influence the ambitions of teenagers growing up in the shadow of their time in the White House.

So it was with John Kennedy’s glamor, Ronald Reagan’s cockeyed optimism, Barack Obama’s detached cool, and now, gulp, Donald Trump’s truncated definition of success.

Hints of a ‘Shop-’Til-You-Drop’ Presidency
Trump delivers first major deficits-don’t-matter speech in modern GOP history

It was the most perplexing speech of Donald Trump’s career. 

Watching the 45th president deliver an address to Congress mercifully free of vitriolic attacks and short on egocentric nonsense prompted the obvious question: In what storeroom at Mar-a-Lago have they been hiding this version of Donald Trump?

Congress: The Toughest Crowd of Trump’s Presidential Career
Doing, not saying, is the hard part

There is more to being president than hastily drafted executive orders and blustery late-night tweets. Everything during Donald Trump’s initial five weeks in office — from his bleak inaugural address to his scathing attacks on a free press — can be seen as a prelude to his first prime-time appearance before Congress.

This is the moment in a president’s first term when he should be poised to win lasting legislative victories. For Ronald Reagan, it was the 1981 tax cuts; for George W. Bush, it was additional tax cuts and his No Child Left Behind educational plan; and for Barack Obama, it was his economic stimulus program and, ultimately, the Affordable Care Act.

Opinion: Trump Is Neck and Neck With the Worst Presidents
Could he even make Warren G. Harding look good?

DUBLIN — A long holiday weekend in Ireland proved to be less of an escape and more of a reminder of the omnipresence of the 45th president. The front page of the Sunday Independent featured a column by conservative writer and media personality Brendan O’Connor that began, “Ireland 2021. The country has been laid waste to after Donald Trump caused nuclear Armageddon.”