Opinion: It’s Not the Senate That Is Selling Out the Dreamers
The House has always been the problem

Two songs, familiar to every baby boomer, summed up Chuck Schumer’s predicament: Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” with the lyric “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em,” and the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which was the odd message blared out at the end of Donald Trump rallies in 2016.

For many Democratic activists, Schumer’s decision to make this the shortest government shutdown since 1990 represented a betrayal. The Senate minority leader seemingly put the re-election interests of Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Indiana’s Joe Donnelly over the future of the 690,000 Dreamers registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

Opinion: White People in Norway? Who Knew?
Kirstjen Nielsen displays the rhetorical contortions necessary to serve under Trump

At the conclusion of more than four hours of testimony Tuesday before an often hostile Senate Judiciary Committee, Kirstjen Nielsen, the new secretary of Homeland Security, slowly gathered up her papers, shared a few laughing words with Arizona Republican Jeff Flake (the last senator in the room) and confidently exited surrounded by an armada of aides.

Depending on her level of self-awareness and the degree of flattery from her staffers, Nielsen may have nurtured the belief that she aced her Capitol Hill exam. After all, the loyal Cabinet secretary avoided saying almost anything controversial, even when pressed by Democrats over Donald Trump’s doubly confirmed reference to “shithole countries” during last Thursday’s White House immigration meeting that she attended.

Opinion: Civil Liberties and Odd-Duck Congressional Coalitions
FISA debate a throwback to more bipartisan times

For two hours last Thursday, the House held a debate that harked back to the heyday of Sonny and Cher and Butch and the Sundance Kid. Instead of lockstep polarization on Capitol Hill, throwback Thursday marked a brief return to the era when legislative coalitions crossed party lines.

The topic before the House was the intersection of civil liberties and national security — about the only issue that can still upend standard red-and-blue divisions.

Opinion: With a Potemkin President, Maybe It’s Time for Congressional Government
With Trump, the less he does the better

In 1885, an up-and-coming Ph.D. student named Woodrow Wilson wrote the book that would establish his academic reputation. Entitled “Congressional Government,” Wilson’s conclusions reflected “the declining prestige of the presidential office” in the decades following the death of Abraham Lincoln.

“That high office has fallen from its first estate of dignity because its power has waned,” Wilson wrote in his introduction. “And its power has waned because the power of Congress has become predominant.”

Opinion: We’re a Long Way From White House Aides With a ‘Passion for Anonymity’
And what they’re saying about Trump isn’t pretty

Shortly after George Stephanopoulos published his critical 1999 memoir about the Clinton White House, “All Too Human,” I witnessed a fascinating impromptu debate about the propriety of a former aide dishing on an incumbent president.

The friendly antagonists were two towering figures from the Kennedy White House: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger and attorney Ted Sorensen, the greatest (“Ask not what your country can do for you ...”) presidential speechwriter in history.

Opinion: The Price of a Border Wall
Protection for Dreamers may be a trade to consider

The congressional agenda for the coming weeks is so chaotic that it makes O’Hare International Airport in a blizzard seem as restful as a Zen retreat.

The calendar is filled with rigid deadlines. Jan. 19 is the date to both fund the government to avert a shutdown and to reauthorize a key provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Lessons From Saturday Night Massacre for Trump and Democrats
Nixon held on for 9 months after that fateful night, Shapiro reminds

Every flurry of rumors that Donald Trump is poised to fire Robert Mueller prompts an automatic historical memory.

The obvious parallel is Richard Nixon sacking special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the midst of the Watergate investigation. Known as the Saturday Night Massacre, it marked a key step on the road to Nixon’s forced resignation.

Opinion: An Absolutely Truthful Christmas Card From Congress
This is the message lawmakers wish they could send

Long before Donald Trump declared war on “Fake News,” there existed a form of communication so exaggerated and untrustworthy that it united Democrats and Republicans in universal scorn.We are, of course, referring to the annual holiday or Christmas letter, filled with boasts of on-the-job triumphs that make Warren Buffett seem like a piker and tales of marital bliss certain to embarrass Cupid. In these mass mailings, every nine-year-old child is on the fast track to become a Rhodes scholar, and the Instagram snapshots from the family vacation to Disney World will soon be made into a major motion picture.But in this era of media scrutiny and scrupulous fact-checking, members of Congress put themselves at risk by indulging in this end-of-year hyperbole. So let’s imagine how a congressional holiday letter might read if the unnamed legislator actually told the truth:

Dear Donors Who Think They’re Friends,

Opinion: The Only 2018 Political Tax Guide You’ll Ever Need
Answers to vexing questions on the new tax bill

The glorious thing about a tax bill is that it inspires one of the enduring examples of evergreen journalism — the inevitable torrent of “How Will It Affect You” analyses that will compete with predictable “Year in Review” stories until the ball descends on New Year’s Eve.

Since I never want to miss a cliché or an opportunity for public service, today’s column will be dedicated to answering your questions about the biggest tax bill since ... well ... George W. Bush. But as an added wrinkle, we will limit the queries to the 2018 elections.

Opinion: The Big What-If Question Hovering Over 2018
What about Alabama? The president’s campaign is still under investigation

Election Night 2018:

TV Anchor (in an excited, making-history voice): “We now project that the Democrats have won the House of Representatives with a minimum of 219 seats and Nancy Pelosi will regain the speaker’s gavel after eight years in the minority.”

Opinion: Trump’s Alabama Attitude Adjustment
Even voters in the Deep South are figuring out who’s behind the bile

“Because something is happening here But you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones?”

That 1965 Bob Dylan lyric qualifies as half right. Doug Jones certainly figured it out. After all, Jones is now the first mainstream Democrat to be elected to the Senate from Alabama since New Dealer Lister Hill.

Opinion: Al Franken and the Long Goodbye
Minnesota Democrat handled difficult speech about as well as he could

Claiming the distinction of being, at 6 feet 9 inches, the tallest senator in history and ignoring the pesky detail of having lost an Alabama Republican primary to Roy Moore, Luther Strange delivered his farewell address Thursday morning.

It was a good-humored speech filled with predictable references to “this hallowed institution” that was in keeping with Strange’s short-lived Capitol Hill career as the appointed fill-in for Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general.

Opinion: A Tribute to John Anderson — A Passionate Moderate
Independent presidential candidate radiated honor

Every political reporter remembers his or her first time — that is, the first time they sat with a presidential candidate in a car cutting through the dark New Hampshire night listening to the dreams of a man who wanted to lead the nation.

For me, it was November 1979, with the Cold War raging, militant students occupying the American embassy in Tehran and Jimmy Carter in the White House. The candidate I was profiling was ten-term Illinois Rep. John Anderson, who was animated by the outlandish fantasy that he had a chance to defeat Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination.

Opinion: Alabama and the Culture of Victimization
Trying to understand Roy Moore’s enduring appeal after sexual misconduct allegations

CULLMAN, Ala. — This white working-class town (population: 15,000), roughly midway between Birmingham and Huntsville along Interstate 65, is Roy Moore country.

“There could be a blizzard coming and the roads would be closed and people around here would still walk to the polls to vote for Roy Moore,” said Neal Morrison, a former state representative and, more recently, a member of ousted Republican Gov. Robert Bentley’s cabinet.

Opinion: Roy Moore, ‘Kinky Boots’ and 2017’s Most Important Election
All it needs is the bumper sticker: ‘Vote for the Democrat. It’s Important.’

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The stay-at-home moms and retirees who watch the second soft hour of Tuesday’s “Today” show on local NBC affiliate WVTM were treated to a rare sighting of a Roy Moore commercial. Outspent by lopsided margins, the Moore campaign charged that the beleaguered Republican’s “40 years of honorable service” were threatened by smears from “a scheme by liberal Democrats and the Republican establishment.”

Set aside the implausibility that Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell (both pictured in the Moore ad) would cooperate on anything. Forget for a moment that the detailed on-the-record charges about Moore’s unseemly interest in young girls have been viewed as convincing by the likes of Jeff Sessions and Ivanka Trump.

Opinion: Sexual Harassment From John Tower to Donald Trump — and Beyond
America has belatedly reached a moment of reckoning about sexual harassment

In early 1989, with the inauguration of George Bush, John Tower’s failed confirmation fight for secretary of Defense riveted Washington.

A diminutive former four-term Texas Republican senator who had served as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Tower seemed, on paper, as a noncontroversial choice.

Opinion: The GOP Tax Bill — All Hat and No Rabbit
Even passing no legislation 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.