Opinion: A Message for Midterm Poll Jumpers
It’s not that political handicapping is worthless, but a little humility will go a long way

The conventional wisdom creeps in on little cat feet.

Over the last few months, the political community has come to assume that the Democrats will take back the House in November. And with the impatience that defines our era, the smart money is already speculating on when the newly assertive House majority will try to impeach Donald Trump.

Opinion: Mark Zuckerberg and the Theater of Contrition
But will it be enough?

The most insidious questions during a high-profile congressional hearing are often deceptively simple.

So it was Tuesday afternoon when Mark Zuckerberg, the pharaoh of Facebook, tried to ingratiate himself during questioning by nearly half the Senate.

Opinion: Trump Era Corruption — Where’s the Outrage?
Here’s something the president does better than Bill Clinton

It was the other Bill Clinton scandal — the half-forgotten one that didn’t involve sex.

To jump-start his 1996 re-election campaign with an early advertising blitz, Clinton straddled the ethical boundaries by offering access to the White House in exchange for six-digit checks. In Clinton’s defense, there were no proven quid pro quos — just an atmosphere of sleaziness.

Opinion: A Radical Idea for Congress — Legislate Instead of Loafing
If Republicans weren’t so scared of offending Trump supporters, they could make this year count

It remains one of the most arresting photographs in the history of sports — an exhausted Roger Bannister bursting through the tape in 1954 as the British medical student, who died earlier this month, became the first runner to break the four-minute mile.

This Congress regards itself as the Roger Bannister of legislative bodies. Gasping for breath, yet proud of its blistering pace, Congress has now collapsed in a self-satisfied heap for the current two-week Easter recess.

Opinion: Congress’ Bush-League Omnibus Provision an Embarrassment
Lawmakers want to financially shiv minor league ballplayers.

Anyone who wonders why Congress is more unpopular than a myopic baseball umpire who hates the home team need only look on page 1,967 of the omnibus spending bill.

If you are one of those slower readers who are only halfway through the densely worded 2,232-page draft document that was dumped on late Wednesday night, this column represents your salvation.

Opinion: When Congress Lost Its WWII Veterans, Cynicism Crept In
Upholding the rule of law and democratic norms does not happen automatically

Something was lost when the World War II generation vanished from the halls of Congress.

Originally personified by young veterans like John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Jerry Ford, who were elected to the House in the 1940s, the torch of memory was later held high by former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole (who suffered grievous war wounds with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy).

Opinion: Trump’s Name Isn’t on Any Midterm Ballot — But It’s All About Him
Lawmakers can’t keep ignoring president’s misconduct

It was ghoulishly fitting that Donald Trump got out the long knives on the Ides of March. On a day when top Trump officials might have been justifiably nervous about going to the Forum, Trump apparently decided to fire national security advisor H.R. McMaster, according to The Washington Post.

If McMaster has indeed joined Rex Tillerson in the ever-growing Trump Alumni Association, it should put to rest the glib theory that the so-called “adults in the room” could constrain a petulant president.

Opinion: Pompeo’s Rendezvous With Senatorial Waterboarding
Secretary of state designee faces the most anti-Trump committee in Congress

In the realm of the 21st century Sun King, Donald J. Trump, there is room for only one Rex, the president himself.

The style of Tuesday morning’s surprise sacking of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made corporate human relations departments seem warm and nurturing in comparison. Trump fired the highest-ranking Cabinet member — the official who is fourth in line for presidential succession — in Halloween fashion by trick or tweet.

Opinion: Will the GOP Follow Trump Off the Cliff on Trade?
Conservatives should look to lemmings for a lesson

Presidents boast a dismal track record on predicting when things will become unglued politically.

George W. Bush never imagined that his choice for director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a throwaway line of encouragement in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina would haunt his entire second term.

Opinion: The Quatorze Quotient — The Importance of 14 Years in Big-Time Politics
If would-be presidents haven’t made their mark by then, they could be seen as shopworn

For those trying to get a jump on handicapping the 2032 presidential race (and, frankly, who isn’t?), a smart move would be to take a close look at the candidates who will be elected for the first time to Congress (or as governor) this November.

It all comes down to political numerology and the lasting importance of a 14-year gap.

Opinion: What Matters About the Wealth of Congress
How much is too much?

Last November, as the Senate Finance Committee debated the tax bill, partisan talking points degenerated into a shouting match between chairman Orrin Hatch and Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown.

The 83-year-old Hatch, who is retiring at the end of this year, huffed, “I come from the poor people ... and I resent anybody who says I’m doing this for the rich.” Hatch added, “I come from the lower middle class originally. We didn’t have anything, so don’t spew that stuff at me.”

Opinion: The Flimsy Excuses That Congressional Republicans Whisper to Themselves
Trump’s outrages deserve more of a response

It has become easy to understand Donald Trump’s affection for coal miners. The president and the miners work underground — and each week Trump finds a way to descend to new depths.

As Trump heads to Florida on Wednesday for a “listening session” with students, it is important to remember the president’s most egregious recent mouth-off session.

Opinion: The ‘Dreamer’ Fight Could End in One of Three Ways
Senate has launched debate, House soon to follow

It began more than 16 years ago with two senators, a Democrat and a Republican, offering heart-tugging stories about young constituents buffeted by immigration laws.

For Utah’s Orrin Hatch, it was the tale of a boy named Danny, who was brought to this country as a six-year-old by his mother who had crossed the border illegally. By the time Danny was 14, he was roaming the streets of Salt Lake City without supervision.

Opinion: Give Trump His Parade — on One Condition
Remember the Cold War victory over the Soviet Union

The torch has been passed on Broadway as Bernadette Peters recently replaced Bette Midler in “Hello, Dolly!” But one of the signature tunes from the revival has clearly touched Donald Trump’s soul.

Before the Parade Passes By” captures the longing to hear “the cymbals crash and the sparklers light the sky.” The lyrics by Jerry Herman end with the lines: “Give me an old trombone/Give me an old baton/Before the parade passes by.”

Opinion: How Does Trump Kill Time Before the Midterms? Treason Season
Not clapping tops the president’s list of un-American activites

Since the State of the Union address now feels as historically distant as the Second Punic War (the one with Hannibal and the elephants), it is a risky proposition to claim that any Donald Trump speech will be long remembered.

But Trump’s Monday tax-cut speech was among the most emblematic — and inadvertently memorable — of his presidency. Gone was Teleprompter Trump, an alien figure who, if you squint hard enough, might seem vaguely like a normal president.

Opinion: Trump’s Brigadoon Moment — A Speech That Will Soon Vanish Into the Mist
#NeverTrump Republicans might have been dreaming about State of the Union might-have-beens

Squint your eyes and imagine that a mainstream Republican (Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or John Kasich) had somehow made it through the gauntlet of Donald Trump’s insults to win the GOP nomination and defeat Hillary Clinton. That mythical Republican president (Jeb John Rubio) might have given a State of the Union address with eerie similarities to Trump’s maiden effort.

President Rubio (or informally Jeb John) would have undoubtedly bragged about the buoyant economy.

Opinion: No Substance in the State of Trump’s Union
Don’t expect a deep dive into important issues

By Tuesday night, everyone this side of the Cape Verde Islands will know that this marks Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address because, in technical terms, his speech to Congress last February didn’t count. It’s one of those little grace notes that TV pundits love to add in grave voices normally reserved for royal weddings and state funerals.

More than any president since Woodrow Wilson resumed the tradition of personally delivering State of the Union addresses in 1913, Trump is ill-suited to formal oratory. Whenever the president recites a speech off a teleprompter, he sounds like an English-as-a-second-language student reading a practice text for the first time.

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.