Opinion & Analysis

Good Trump, Bad Trump — Who Will Appear at the Inaugural?
No guarantee what president-elect will say Friday

Listening to President-elect Donald Trump’s past speeches gives one the sense of a political leader torn between a good angel on his right shoulder and a malevolent demon on his left, Walter Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No matter how many drafts speechwriter Stephen Miller prepares, no matter how often the president-elect practices with a teleprompter, there is no guarantee what Donald Trump will say on Friday after he takes the oath of office. The man who is about to become the 45th president is too impulsive, too much of a creature of his own id, to be slavishly faithful to the final draft of the inaugural address. 

The majesty of the moment, the hand-on-the-Bible jolt of emotion for this child of Outer-Borough America, could send Trump in unexpected directions. Even an orator who revels in huge rallies, as Trump does, may be surprised — as Bill Clinton was in 1993 — at the way his oratory echoes off the monuments and how indistinct the faces of his audience appear as he gazes down from the heights of the West Front of the Capitol.

Rick Perry Can Help Launch the Next Great Era in American Energy
Trump‘s Energy secretary pick cuts through bureaucracy

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, President-elect Trump's nominee for Energy secretary, meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during a photo op in the Capitol on Jan. 4. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Texas and energy are synonymous with one another. Most Americans probably think of the Lone Star State as an oil and gas economy with a lot of heft, and for good reason. The industry supports tens of thousands of jobs in the state and helps power one-third of the country.

But what many don’t know is that my state’s energy dominance isn’t confined to oil and gas alone — in recent years, Texas has become a leader in renewables, thanks in large part to former Gov. Rick Perry.  

Obama and Trump: Two Presidents, Same God
Mixing politics and religion is a longtime tradition

If some faith leaders see the hand of God in Donald Trump’s victory last November, how do they explain President Barack Obama’s two previous, more decisive wins? Mary C. Curtis asks. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

If Franklin Graham did not actually endorse Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency, he stepped right up to the line — the one separating church and state. Graham was absolutely giddy post-election, when he gave credit to a force greater than the electorate. The evangelist and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse credited the “God factor” for Trump’s poll-defying win.

You might be seeing a lot of Graham, starting at Friday’s inauguration where he is one of the faith leaders invited to offer a prayer for America’s new president. It marks a resurgence of a familiar name when it comes to mingling politics and religion, and a continuation of a tradition in a country that doesn’t have an official faith but celebrates a National Day of Prayer and seems most comfortable with leaders who praise a higher power.

Capitol Ink | Commemorative Coin

Trump vs. Lewis: A Question of Character
The difference between being a character — and having it

Georgia Rep. John Lewis stands on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on Feb. 14, 2015. Lewis was beaten by police on the bridge on "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, during an attempted march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When we think of Rep. John Lewis on a bus, it is as a teenage “Freedom Rider,” putting his own life at risk in order to form a more perfect union. When we think of Donald Trump on a bus, it is as a boorish billionaire, musing about sexually assaulting women.

When we think of Lewis and racial politics, it is in the context of waking America’s conscience to the civil, voting and housing rights denied to citizens because of the color of their skin. When we think of Trump and racial politics, it is in the context of denying housing to citizens based on the color of their skin, fomenting white nationalism and seeking ways to discriminate against Muslims without running afoul of the First Amendment.

Capitol Ink | Kapitol Domes

Opinion: Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gap
Do policies meant to address big problems aggravate an economic divide?

The incoming Trump administration and lawmakers should anticipate whether new policies will improve or aggravate wealth inequities, Shapiro and Asante-Muhammad write. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

We have a proposition for the incoming Trump administration and the new Congress and it’s not a liberal or a conservative idea. It’s just a call for pragmatism when developing new federal policies over the next four years.

For too long, even when coming together to enact laws to accomplish noble goals, Congress and previous presidents have ignored the unintended effects of “one-size-fits-all” legislation on the racial wealth divide in this country. What seems like a great idea — making college more affordable, for example — can actually feed the divide.

No Sophomore Slump for Marco Rubio
Senator appears to be carving out his own role in Trump’s Washington

With his vote, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio could decide the fate of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For a guy who didn’t want to be in the Senate anymore last year, Florida’s Marco Rubio is certainly making a tall glass of lemonade out of the lemons he got running for president in 2016. With a single hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, Rubio went from being the Republican Most Likely to Miss a Vote, a distinction he earned on his way to losing the GOP nomination, to being the Republican Most Likely to Hold Donald Trump’s Feet to the Fire. It’s a role that holds both risks and immense power. That, for Rubio, could be more important than anything.

The hearing, of course, was to consider the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be Trump’s secretary of State. Although Sen. Jeff Sessions’ hearing to be attorney general was expected to have the most fireworks of the week, the Tillerson hearing went off-track as soon as Rubio began grilling the former Exxon Mobil CEO about the reams of accusations against Russian President Vladimir Putin of widespread corruption and human rights abuses. 

Clicking Through Confirmation Hearing Roulette
Senators seek reassurances from the adults in the Cabinet

There are high hopes for Defense Secretary-designee James Mattis from lawmakers nervous about the president-elect and other Cabinet picks, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Back in the days when remote controls for changing channels were a brag-to-the-neighbors luxury accessory, Mad magazine developed a series of comic features called Television Roulette. They recreated what the dialogue supposedly might sound like if you clicked fast on a Sunday night from, say, Steve Allen to a Drano commercial to Ed Sullivan.

Modern video feeds and the clustering of three Trump Cabinet hearings on Thursday morning allowed you to play a similar game that could be called Confirmation Roulette. At times it went like this:

Keeping America Competitive for Global Investment
Tax and regulatory reform could give U.S. competitive edge

President-elect Donald Trump's expressed frustration with overly burdensome regulations was a hallmark of his campaign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The recent announcement that Japan-based SoftBank plans to invest $50 billion in the United States and create 50,000 jobs is good news for America’s economic competitiveness, and Washington, D.C. policymakers should take note of it. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States is a powerful gauge of how America is faring internationally. When a global company such as Nestle, Toyota, or Siemens invests here, it is a vote of confidence in America’s economic strength that translates to employment for millions of American workers.

But multinational companies have unprecedented options for investment. Unfortunately, during the past 15 years, America’s share of the world’s FDI has shrunk from 37 percent in 2000 to only 22 percent this past year. The United States has forfeited a huge portion of its share in global investment, and our leaders in Washington need to take decisive action to reverse this trend.

Trump Veers From Gloater in Chief to Martyr-Elect
But president-elect shows little appreciation for responsibilities

It is “foolish patriotism” to expect President-elect Donald Trump to change his tune once he enters the Oval Office, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ever since the election, I have been one of those Donald Trump skeptics, desperately clinging to the fantasy of the Harry Truman Effect. Somehow I hoped that, once again, the fates that watch over our democracy would take a man of seemingly ordinary clay — like Truman or Jerry Ford — and mold him into a larger, more presidential, figure.

There were moments at the beginning of Trump’s first press conference in nearly six months when, if you really squinted, you might see tentative signs of such a miraculous transformation.

Capitol Ink | Polar Relations Committee Hearing

What Would Martin Luther King Jr. Think of Obama, Followed by Trump?
Hypocrisy runs thick in the era of President-elect Trump

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial memorial, a tribute to the civil rights leader, is located on the Tidal Basin. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

President Barack Obama and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have both been praised for their sweeping rhetorical skills, an ability to seize the moment and provide the comfort and inspiration needed. Even their detractors — and they have plenty — would admit this. To live up to his own history, President Obama had a nearly impossible task in his farewell speech on Tuesday night from his adopted hometown of Chicago.

There was also the irony of the week to come, bookended by a celebration of the life and works of King and the inauguration of the next president, Donald Trump. After all, few would place “I have a dream” and “She should be in prison” in the same universe of lofty oratory.

Sessions Will Follow the Law, But He Won’t Lead on It
Job requires someone who is aware of oppression and discrimination

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’s answers on the first day of his attorney general confirmation hearing on Tuesday were “deeply unsatisfying and basically meaningless,” Allen writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It sounds so good that Jeff Sessions said it over and over again when Democratic senators pressed him on how he would approach the job of attorney general: I will follow the law.

It’s what he said when Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin asked what he would do with “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Ditto when Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked him about gay rights and abortion rights. 

Capitol Ink | Obama Out