The women trying to impeach Trump — and the men making it so damn hard
From Lindsey Boylan to Nancy Pelosi, women are proving to be the president’s most formidable obstacles

OPINION — Not all heroes wear capes, but lots of them wear high heels. If you’re a Democrat watching the impeachment saga unfolding in Washington right now, nearly all of your superheroes are wearing heels today. That’s because when you look carefully at the pressure points in the widening impeachment inquiry against the president so far, women have been at the center of nearly all of them.

First, there was Lindsey Boylan, 35, a mom and former public housing advocate in New York City. Her name is probably unfamiliar to people outside New York, but Boylan is challenging Rep. Jerry Nadler in a Democratic primary next June. Not only has she absolutely hammered Nadler for what she says has been his failure to produce results for their district, she’s been relentless in calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment since February and criticizing Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee responsible for drafting articles of impeachment, for not doing more sooner to remove him from office.

Welcome to her wheelhouse — Trump’s living in Pelosi’s world now
President is no longer the one calling the shots

OPINION — Nancy Pelosi said it not once, not twice, but three times last week. “Mr. President, you have come into my wheelhouse.”

In other words, welcome to her world. After nearly two years of Congress leaning, bending and nearly breaking in response to the president's wrecking ball through it, the explosive whistle blower complaint against him has now put the president squarely in Pelosi’s territory of unavoidable congressional oversight.

Why Congress would be better off holding no hearings at all
Partisan circuses have debased the very concept of hearings

OPINION — Nobody loves a congressional hearing more than I do. The gavel, the suspense, the minutiae — I love it all. But until members of Congress can control their worst urges during televised hearings, they should suspend them altogether or risk losing the meaningful value of all congressional hearings in the process. 

I hate to “both sides” this one, but Democrats and Republicans were equally guilty of making an absolute mockery of the hearing process last week. Between the out-of-control Corey Lewandowski hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, the superficial embarrassments of the climate crisis hearing at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, and the decades-old partisan rehash of the D.C. statehood hearing in House Oversight and Reform, Congress managed to make an essential part of the legislative process look like a new form of political corruption.

Writing a speech for the boss? Two White House pros show you how to nail it
The best speechwriters are advocates for the audiences they’re trying to reach, Eric Schnure says

OPINION — Most job interviews for Capitol Hill speechwriters go something like this:  “The senator needs remarks for tomorrow. You need to write the remarks.” No interview. No preparation. Just a last-minute assignment and an equally fast turnaround for a legislative assistant, a legislative correspondent or whichever press office staffer picked up the phone first.

Over at the White House, speechwriting jobs usually come with more requirements than physical proximity, but not always. Eric Schnure scored his first speechwriting job for Vice President Al Gore when he was working in the White House mail room and helping Gore’s understaffed speechwriter, Bob Lehrman, before and after sorting letters.

Joe Biden is old. Who cares?
Certainly not voters over 65, who were key to the Democrats’ midterm success

OPINION — Julián Castro wants you to know that Joe Biden is old. Or at least it seemed that way during last week’s Democratic presidential debate, when Castro told Biden six times that Biden couldn’t remember what he just said.

“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” Castro asked the former vice president. “Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago? I mean, I can’t believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in and now you’re saying they don’t have to buy in. You’re forgetting that.”

With Washington missing in action, Walmart for President
Corporate America steps up as Congress, White House step back

OPINION — No need to rush back to Washington, senators. Walmart is here now. Along with everyday low prices and a surprisingly good produce section, the country’s largest retailer announced last week that it will also take a leadership role in the fight to end gun violence since Congress can’t or won’t.

The memo came Tuesday from the company’s CEO, Doug McMillon. With two shootings at Walmart stores in the last two months, including the horror unleashed in El Paso, Texas, that killed 22 people, McMillon told employees that the firm would take a series of steps in an effort to protect them as well as customers in its stores.

Why Georgia will be the wildest ride in politics heading into 2020
Peach State is playing host to several marquee races next year

OPINION — You could almost hear the collective “Holy #&%!” across Georgia last week after Sen. Johnny Isakson’s surprise announcement that he will retire from the Senate at the end of the year. The first reaction among Republicans and Democrats alike was that the highly respected GOP senator would be sorely missed.

The next reaction was the realization that for the next year and a half, politics in Georgia will be one wild ride. The 2020 ballot in the state had already been filled with marquee races — GOP Sen. David Perdue’s fight for a second term, two House seats up for grabs in once-solidly Republican suburban Atlanta, and President Donald Trump’s reelection bid. The addition of the race to replace Isakson makes Georgia a legitimate battleground for both parties for the first time in nearly two decades.

Democratic voters just want to beat Trump. Why are their leaders making it so hard?
Biden’s mix-ups aren’t great, but they’re nothing compared to Trump. The man just tried to buy Greenland

OPINION — Paging all Democratic candidates, campaign staffers and activists: Do yourselves a favor before it’s too late. Repeat after me: “But that’s nothing compared to Donald Trump.” Use this simple phrase every time you feel the need to criticize another Democratic candidate, or even your own candidate (you know who you are) in the press.

Because lately, two standards for 2020 contenders have emerged in the narratives that dominate campaign coverage. First, there’s the higher, tougher, almost impossible-to-meet standard used for Democrats. And then there’s the lower, he-always-does-that-so-what-do-you-expect measurement saved for the president they’re all trying to replace. If you’re not careful, your critiques of each other’s unfitness for office will send each other’s negatives soaring before Trump even has to get started on the job.

How about a crime bill for white people instead of black people?
Crimes that keep Americans up at night are no longer out of some scene from “Law & Order”

OPINION — At nearly every Democratic presidential event I’ve been to this year, the candidates have talked about the devastating effects of the 1994 crime bill on the black community.

The legislation, which President Bill Clinton signed and Joe Biden, then a Delaware senator, pushed through the Judiciary Committee, was written as a response to an explosion in violent crime in urban areas across the country. In New York City, for example, there had been 2,245 murders in 1990. (There were 289 last year.)

Biden vows to be less polite with Harris in Detroit debate. That won’t be enough
Ex-veep has to convince a changing party he’s the one to take them forward

OPINION — Before Kamala Harris and Joe Biden were bitter rivals, they were friends. That much was obvious in 2017 on the day Biden, then the outgoing vice president, swore in Harris as just the second African American woman ever elected to the Senate.

“Promise me, when I’m no longer vice president, you won’t say, ‘Joe who?’” he joked to a dozen of Harris’s closest friends and family who had come to see her get sworn in. With everyone in happy laughter, Harris gave Biden a pat on the back, the way you might a kindly grandfather. “Why don’t we have a standing get-together for coffee?” she said. “You can tell me some stories and give me some advice.”

Governor who? Hickenlooper, Inslee and Bullock are at 1 percent. Combined
Democrats are ho-hum on their governors in the 2020 presidential race. That’s a pity

OPINION — It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for John Hickenlooper. He did everything you’re supposed to do to become a White House contender. First, he started a successful business in Colorado — one of the first brewpubs around. He then launched a long-shot bid for Denver mayor, which he won. He was reelected four years later with 86 percent of the vote.

Then it was on to eight years as Colorado’s governor. Along with overseeing nearly a decade of a booming state economy, he also racked up Democrat-favored legislative wins from expanding Medicaid to passing gun safety measures limiting high-capacity magazines and requiring background checks to reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. By the time he left the governor’s mansion earlier this year, Colorado had 500,000 more new jobs than when he was first sworn in. So hello, top-tier presidential campaign, amiright? Uh, no.

Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez need a ‘chief of change’ or a change of staff?
Who is calling the shots in New York Democrat’s office?

OPINION — Mention the name Saikat Chakrabarti to Democratic chiefs of staff on Capitol Hill, and you’ll get an array of fed-up responses to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s high-profile top aide, from “Ugh” to “What the (expletive)?” to “He’s got to go.”

Although staffer feuds are not uncommon, the Harvard-educated former tech executive who leads AOC’s office has recently committed the two great sins against the unwritten code of Capitol Hill staffers. The first is to never upstage the boss.

The Democratic field is trying to win over black voters. Cory Booker already knows how
But there are only so many barber shops a bald man can visit in South Carolina before the voting begins

OPINION — Any presidential candidate who wants half a chance of winning the South Carolina primary in 2020 knew to show up to Rep. James E. Clyburn’s World Famous Fish Fry in Columbia last month. In fact, 22 of them did. But only one — Sen. Cory Booker — also knew to go see Clyburn’s barber, Herbert Toliver, the next morning.

At Toliver’s Mane Event on Columbia’s North Main Street, Booker showed up with a broad smile and a dad joke — the best way, it turns out, for a bald New Jersey politician to break the ice in a South Carolina hair cuttery. “Do you have anything to GROW hair?” he asked, to the roar of 20 or so men already at Toliver’s for their Saturday cut. And with that, the senator dove into an hourlong give-and-take with a collection of dads, police deputies, postal workers and Toliver’s regulars, executing his campaign’s early state strategy to win over voters over one by one.

Working with the enemy? Biden was just doing his job
Give Joe Biden a break. Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez finds common ground with Ted Cruz

OPINION — There’s a name for working with someone you can’t stand. It’s called “legislating.”

It used to happen all the time in Washington, and it still does, occasionally. But former Vice President Joe Biden became engulfed by progressive rage this week when he pointed to the late Sens. James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, two avowed segregationists, to describe the civility that Biden said he used to see on Capitol Hill.

Want a more diverse Congress? Bite the bullet and raise the pay
Paying your congressperson more than your plumber makes sense

OPINION — If there’s one thing less popular than Congress right now, it’s giving Congress a pay raise. Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy found that out the hard way last week when, despite a bipartisan agreement to quietly give a 2.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment to House members, the entire agreement blew up when House freshmen from both parties balked at voting to raise their own salaries.

Complaining about Congress and the money they make is a tradition as old as the country itself, especially in times of recession or government debts. A 1955 political cartoon in the Richmond Times Leader once showed a bag of money labeled “Pay Raise for Congress” running like a thief down a dark alley, and the sentiment in America hasn’t changed much since then.

Democrats running for president should run for the Senate. The state Senate.
State legislatures have taken over the issues that Washington can’t or won’t deal with

OPINION — Maybe it’s the book sales. Maybe it’s the national press. Maybe they really do think they’re just “born for it.” Whatever the allure of running for president is this year, about two dozen Democrats are giving it a shot.

The fact that only about five of them have a legitimate chance of winning the nomination has left several hopefuls from purple states getting criticized for wasting a perfectly good chance to knock off an incumbent Republican senator and flip the Senate to the Democrats in the process.

5 reasons Nancy Pelosi is absolutely right about impeachment
She’s deliberate, even cautious. Democrats are lucky to have her

OPINION — If anyone understands how badly a perfectly good impeachment can go, it’s Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi was in the House chamber on Dec. 19, 1998, when the House voted to impeach President Bill Clinton. Less remembered is the moment earlier in the day when speaker-designate Bob Livingston, Republicans’ choice to succeed Newt Gingrich after a disastrous midterm election performance, shocked his caucus and announced on the floor that he, too, would resign from the House after Hustler magazine threatened it would go public with his numerous extramarital affairs.

The politics of abortion surge to forefront of 2020 debate
Georgia, other states move polarizing topic to front burner with new laws

OPINION — It’s the worst day of your life. You’ve been told that your unborn baby is dying inside of you and you are presented with two horrible options: medically induce labor to deliver her early or carry the dangerous pregnancy to term, when your baby will suffocate outside of your womb.

At that gruesome moment, your state representative, a 63-year-old part-time farmer, walks into the exam room and tells you what he thinks you should do. If you choose anything else, you and your doctor could both be prosecuted for murder.

‘Grimmer by the day’ — Farmers’ love for Trump in peril
President’s trade actions are testing farmers in ways they never imagined

OPINION — The love affair between President Donald Trump and rural America has always made sense to me.

When I covered the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump often went to remote farm communities where Democrats, and even other Republican candidates, never bothered.

Today I’m getting boring. Please, Congress, join me
You know what I’m about to do? Write about infrastructure

OPINION — Let me tell you what is probably not going to make this column go viral: Me writing about infrastructure. But you know what I’m about to do? Write about infrastructure. That’s because, even though a journalist’s livelihood has come to depend on generating traffic, tweets and sticky, sharable content, somebody somewhere in America has got to do the boring stuff. Today I’m that person. Hopefully soon, Congress will join me in doing boring too.

Boring stuff, by definition, is so much a part of our everyday lives that nobody pays much attention to it. It’s turning on your water faucet and seeing clear water flow from the spigot. It’s going to the store for groceries and driving on a road that’s so smooth you never worry if you’ll complete the entire journey. It’s crossing a bridge and never thinking twice whether you’ll get to the other side, or plugging in your phone to charge it overnight and assuming you’ve got enough power for the job, because you want to have enough power for it.