Opinion: How Trump and the Democrats Spared McConnell and Ryan
The Art of the Backroom Deal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan want you to know they’re plenty angry about President Donald Trump’s trifecta deal with Democratic leaders on keeping the government open, averting a debt-limit crisis and sending aid to hurricane-and-flood-ravaged Texas.

McConnell and Ryan were “shell-shocked” when Trump, in a meeting with congressional leaders of both parties, opted to go with the plan favored by Senate and House minority leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, according to a CNN source. After all, Ryan had publicly said their proposal — the obvious solution to all three legislative headaches — was “ridiculous.”

Opinion: Blame? Trump Wants Credit for a Shutdown
‘If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall’

President Donald Trump is taking an unusual risk for a president: He’s setting himself up as the central player in a possible government shutdown.

“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said Tuesday in Arizona, referring to the physical barrier he promised to construct between the U.S. and Mexico.

Opinion: Corker Silent on Trump Renomination
Republicans may end up pushing president toward the exit

Senator Bob Corker said Thursday he doesn’t think President Donald Trump has demonstrated “stability,” “competence,” or understanding of “the character of this nation.”

Normally, that would be a stunningly personal attack for a senator of one party to launch against a president of the other party. But Corker and Trump are both — at least in name — Republicans.

Opinion: Stuck on the Back Bench? Why Not Run for President
Last House member to win presidency was in 1880 — it was an accident

No sitting House member has won an electoral vote for president since 1880, when Ohio’s James A. Garfield captured the White House — and he didn’t even mean to run for the job.

In fact, the Ohio legislature had just voted to appoint Garfield to a Senate term — for which he would have been seated in March 1881 — when the GOP met in Chicago to pick its nominee for the presidency in the summer of 1880.

Opinion: How Trump Could Plug the Leaks
Instilling confidence might help

So far, this White House has leaked like a frigate blown open from the inside and torpedoed from the outside at the same time. Some weeks, the flood of brackish water spilling onto news pages and cable television channels completely obscures the ship of state.

While there are different types of leaks — transcripts of the president’s calls with foreign leaders, information about meetings between President Trump’s proxies and Russian officials during the campaign, and self-serving rifle shots designed to empower one White House official over another — they all have the effect of further impeding Trump’s agenda and making his administration look almost as chaotic as it is.

Opinion: Despite Pressure, John McCain Chose Honor
Arizona Republican stood tall on health care vote

Way back in 2004, when America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were still in their infancy, Arizona Sen. John McCain recommended that his Republican colleagues in Washington back away from tax cuts as a sign of national sacrifice for the war efforts.

His words infuriated House Republicans, many of whom saw him as insufficiently patriotic to the GOP cause and some of whom liked to whisper that his ordeal as a prisoner of war in Vietnam wasn’t all that bad.

Opinion: Can Democrats Deliver Like Papa John’s?
Better ingredients needed, at least something in the box

Democrats are so lost they don’t know how lost they are.

Instead of working feverishly on the substance of a contrast with the imploding Trump administration, they decided it was most important — a year and a half out from the next election — to publicly unveil a new slogan first.

Opinion: Trump Is Losing the Republican Congress
But don’t expect impeachment any time soon

President Donald Trump is losing the Republican Congress.

The June 2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, among others, underscores what was obvious to anyone paying close attention to the election before ballots were cast: Russia wanted Trump to win, and Trump wanted Moscow’s help.

Opinion: No Need to Be Up in Arms Over House Dress Code
Proper attire shows respect for institution, its people and work being done

Thank God for the House dress code: If it were up to the general public, the rules might require reporters to be attired in sackcloth and ashes or tar and feathers.

By now, you’ve probably heard that Speaker Paul Ryan is taking heat because a female reporter was kicked out of the area adjacent to the House floor — the Speaker’s Lobby — when her outfit didn’t meet the standards laid out in the House rules. Apparently, like Michelle Obama and Melania Trump, she dared to bare arms.

Opinion: Trump’s White Flag Signals Trust Problem
President’s tweets on Obamacare should concern GOP lawmakers

Seeing red, Donald Trump waved the white flag of surrender on Obamacare early Friday morning.

The Republican-led Congress isn’t dumb enough to follow his frustrated call for lawmakers to help him repeal the law without a replacement plan attached.

Opinion: What’s at Stake for McConnell, Conservatives and the GOP
Now or never for Republicans who want to repeal Obamacare

Republican leaders have a once-in-a-lifetime shot to dismantle Medicaid, a costly entitlement program that provides health care for the poor and the disabled.

In what other scenario could Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell find themselves working with a president so totally focused on the optics of “winning” in the short term and so utterly unconcerned about the real-life and political ramifications of taking benefits away from his own voters?

Opinion: Two Shootings in Less Than Seven Years Is Two Too Many
A lesson from Giffords, Scalise and Trump: tone it down

I’ll never forget the moment when my sense of professionalism as a journalist failed me most.

It was Jan. 25, 2012. I had raced to the corridor behind the back door of the House chamber to catch a glimpse of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. A year had passed since a deranged lunatic fired a bullet into her brain and killed six others in a Tucson parking lot, and Giffords had just resigned her House seat.

Opinion: Trump Should Come Clean, Ask For Forgiveness
If what the president did wasn’t illegal, it was certainly more than improper

Perhaps President Donald Trump didn’t technically obstruct justice when he fired Jim Comey, the FBI director who was investigating his associates and campaign. Maybe he did.

Either way, Trump’s actions were scandalous. Congress and the American public should expect a higher standard of conduct from the American president than the bare-minimum bar of “it wasn’t technically illegal.”

Opinion: Pardon Me? A Constitutional Amendment Would Fix That
Congress should act quickly

There’s at least one big hole in the Constitution when it comes to the president’s power: He can pardon himself.

“He shall have the power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment,” the founders wrote. Simple, straightforward, easy to understand. Maybe the revolutionary generation didn’t give much thought to the possibility that a president would find it necessary or advisable to pardon himself. The Federalist Papers: No. 74, which deals with the powers of the chief executive to grant leniency, doesn’t even contemplate a self-pardon.

Opinion: Pelosi’s ‘Medicare for All’ Problem
Democrats want it, but at what cost?

Last month, Democratic House members were given polling data and a set of talking points on health care.

The thrust: Hammer Republicans on their Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan, but do it with precision. More implicit, but just as clear, Democrats were advised to stay away from promoting the “Medicare for All” plan that has energized the party’s grass-roots activists and its rank and file in Congress.

Opinion: Trump Troubles Not an Excuse for Hill GOP’s Failures
Republicans on the Hill should be desperate to strike some deals

The distractions of Donald J. Trump are creating opportunity as much as crisis for Capitol Hill Republicans — even if they’re unwilling to seize it.

By now, it’s conventional wisdom in Washington that the Trump agonistes have frustrated the GOP agenda. But like much considered and collective inside-the-Beltway thought, that argument is pure horse hockey.

Opinion: Yes. Cancel the White House Press Briefing
How to tell when Trump aides lie — moving lips

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that, because his aides can’t speak with “perfect accuracy,” it might be best “to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy.”

I agree.

Opinion: With Health Care Vote, House GOP Landed on Sitting Duck
Bill was legislative and political malpractice of the highest order

House Republicans would have been better off passing a blank bill than the rancid stack of used toilet paper that squeaked by, 217-213, on Thursday.

All we really know about this bill for sure is that it would strip insurance entirely from tens of millions of Americans; endanger minimum health benefits previously guaranteed; slash Medicaid for the poorest and sickest in our country; create a $138 billion slush fund for state health programs; and give healthy tax cuts to the investor class.

Opinion: An Opening for Reform
What do Democrats have to lose?

Since Donald Trump shocked the world by winning the presidency in November, Democrats have had a tendency to bury their heads in the sand.

They want very badly to attribute their defeat to external factors, but the truth is they ceded a lot of basic political turf to Trump and his Republican Party in the last election. Their campaigns, up and down the ballot, had the feel of a party satisfied with communicating only to parts of the electorate that already agreed with them.

Opinion: Figure It Out, Mr. President
Congress isn’t built to just do what Donald Trump says

If it were up to President Donald Trump — and a lot of Americans — Congress might not exist. After all, the legislative branch is the kind of inert obstacle that a disruptor business executive doesn’t have to contend with as he innovates and improvises in the private sector. 

Alas, for Trump, the Founding Fathers believed that wild swings in direction could tear a fragile nation asunder. They made it difficult for a president — any president — to rewrite public policy, push the nation to war or enter into treaties.