Opinion: Career Advice for Restless Capitol Hill GOP Staffers
Stay put — Congress will be the center of action for rest of Trump’s term

This column is written for every Republican staffer on Capitol Hill who — even now — is debating whether to join the Trump administration. It is also directed at those who have already followed their dreams of striding along the corridors of power and entered the White House.

My advice to you sounds like the dialogue in a disaster movie: “Don’t do it. Run. Get out now. It’s the only escape.”

Opinion: Congress’ Passive Response to North Korea: ‘Not My Table’
Lawmakers need to step up

Just as he did back during Black History Month in February with his startling discovery that Frederick Douglass “is being recognized more and more,” Donald Trump demonstrated in Monday’s White House statement on Charlottesville, Virginia, that he can learn and grow in office.

In 48 short hours, Trump discovered that “racism is evil” and groups like “the KKK, neo-Nazis [and] white supremacists … are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Opinion: Trump’s Two-Front War Against McConnell and North Korea
And why Democrats are in no position to laugh

If we survive the tweets of August, a Wall Street Journal headline should be immortalized as a symbol of this long hot summer in Trumpland. In the online edition of Friday’s Journal, the subhead on a stock-picking article actually read: “Analysts are trying to work out what happens to the markets they cover in the event of an all-out nuclear war.”

Here’s my personal stock tip for the apocalypse: Invest in personal hygiene companies like Procter & Gamble since we will need plenty of deodorant in our crowded fallout shelters.

Opinion: GOP Tax Dilemma — Somebody’s Got to Pay More
There’s a reason tax reform doesn’t happen often

“Any deduction you look at in the tax code has a constituency behind it,” John Thune said last week as we chatted about taxes in his Senate office. “If you are going to do tax reform that is revenue-neutral … that means that you have to kill some deductions or scale them back.”

Too often Republican oratory depicts tax reform as across-the-board rate reductions where everyone wins and nobody loses. It is like Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon — “where all the children are above average” — but a lot richer.

Opinion: Question for Congress, What Did You Do During the Trump Reign of Error?
History will judge lawmakers by their behavior during the Trump years

I like to imagine that the next president — regardless of party — will reassure the nation in words similar to Jerry Ford’s memorable line after Richard Nixon’s resignation: “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”

I do not have the temerity to predict the timetable for the transfer of power. But I have long nurtured the fantasy that on the morning of Jan. 20, 2021, Donald Trump (whose popularity will have slipped below Chris Christie levels) will be alone in the Oval Office screaming at his TV set as even “Fox & Friends” has turned against him.

Opinion: Summertime and the Living Is Easy in Trump’s Washington
But there’s still time for a cornered chief executive to lash out

Thursday was the kind of molasses-slow news day in Washington, reminiscent of the summers before air-conditioning when Congress and most of the Executive Branch fled the capital for sea breezes and temperate climes.

For the sake of historians chronicling the torpor of the Trump years, here are some of the things that happened on this forgettable Thursday:

Opinion: Democrats Cut the Cards in Search of a Better Deal
Sending a message to Joe Sixpack

Under the bright sun in Berryville, Virginia, Monday afternoon, the congressional Democrats demonstrated that they can change. Or, at least, they can paper over their differences.

At the beginning of an hourlong rollout of their 2018 economic agenda, “A Better Deal,” Chuck Schumer labeled as a “false choice” the debate over “whether Democrats should spend all our energy focusing on the diverse Obama coalition or the blue-collar Americans in the heartland who voted for Trump.”

Opinion: The Freewheeling John McCain — An Appreciation
Flawed, but still the embodiment of honor, civility, patriotism and bipartisanship

For all their outward cynicism, campaign reporters tend to be closet idealists who dream of covering a candidate who will summon forth the better angels of the American people. Such a mythic candidate is not aloof like Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, but rather is a flawed figure who transforms himself in the act of running for president.

The doomed Bobby Kennedy of 1968 was that kind of uplifting candidate for an earlier generation of reporters. For a few short months during the primaries, Kennedy rose above his life of privilege and his reputation for ruthlessness to become the tribune of the poor and the dispossessed of all races.

Opinion: History Lessons — Ted Kennedy, Watergate and the Bravest Senate Vote
And stay tuned for a fake news alert …

John McCain’s surgery for a blood clot serves as a reminder that the fate of health care legislation is yet again being shaped by the frailties of the giants of the Senate.

Had Ted Kennedy lived long enough to see the victory of what he called “the cause of my life,” congressional Democrats would have been able to refine the Affordable Care Act. Instead, the victory of Republican Scott Brown in the January 2010 Massachusetts special election to fill the Kennedy seat (effectively a family fiefdom since 1952) deprived Democrats of their filibuster-proof majority.

Opinion: The New Senate Health Care Bill — A Little Bit Louder and a Little Bit Worse
Republicans violating the ‘first, do no harm’ principle

 

The single number that Senate Republicans should dwell on before they vote next week on health care will not bear the imprimatur of the Congressional Budget Office. Rather the most relevant statistic comes courtesy of the Gallup poll: Democrats hold a 19-point edge (55 percent to 36 percent) as the party most trusted to handle health care.

Opinion: Russia Scandal — Where’s the Caviar Atop the Blini?
Divergent goals for investigations could help president contain crisis

One of the small joys of a political scandal is the way it enriches the English language. Entire college courses could be constructed around the linguistic analysis of such Watergate expressions as “cover-up,” “smoking gun,” “cancer on the presidency,” “third-rate burglary” and “twist slowly, slowly in the wind.”

So, too, with the current Trump-Russia furor that resembles — to borrow a line from Winston Churchill — “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

Opinion: Fourth of July — A Time to Rate Baseball Teams and Presidents
Considering the unexpected aspects of the first reality show president

LA MALBAIE, Quebec — The choice to spend the long Fourth of July weekend gazing across the broad St. Lawrence River was based entirely on beauty and food. It was not a political decision, so I will spare you any transnational mooning over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Still, there is something intoxicating about being in a spot where the word Trump was not overheard for three days in any conversation whether in French or English. If nothing else, it should offer a tiny bit of perspective on an in-your-face presidency whose Twitter tantrums upend any attempt at dispassionate analysis.

Opinion: Wanted — Three Senate Republicans to End the Mean Season for Health Care
GOP plan is a cure worse than the disease

In a January 2010 speech at Hillsdale College, Paul Ryan decried Barack Obama’s efforts to expand access to health care. The future House speaker declared in apocalyptic tones, “The national health care exchange created by this legislation, together with its massive subsidies for middle income earners, will be the greatest expansion of the welfare state in a generation and possibly in history.”

Then Ryan uttered the fateful words: “Our message must be, ‘We will repeal and replace this government takeover, masked as health care reform.’”

Opinion: Bickering Democrats — Still Mired in the 20th Century
Time for a new agenda and an end to self-destructive proxy battles

Only the downtrodden and dispirited Democrats could work themselves into a bout of I’m-on-the-ledge-and-thinking-about-jumping depression over the failure of a 30-year-old first-time candidate to win a House seat in a Georgia district where he didn’t even live.

Equally ludicrous are the recriminations over Democratic tactics in Georgia-6. Last Tuesday’s special election in the upscale Atlanta suburbs might be a bellwether if it were typical for both sides to spend $50 million on a single House race. At that rate of spending, the 2018 House races would cost about $21 billion.

Opinion: A Don’t-Blame-Us Congress Ducks on Syria
Be bipartisan and authorize a war

It is, of course, not nearly as important as the struggle in GA-6 that is testing what happens when you inject more than $50 million into a single House race and batter the voters into submission with attack ads.

And the topic could not possibly compete with the learned analyses of Megyn Kelly’s NBC interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — a TV show that was probably the biggest broadcast since King Edward VIII went on British radio to announce his abdication to marry “the woman I love.”

Opinion: In Praise of Congressional Openness
Why the tension at the core of American democracy is worth it

In the tear-stained hours after the baseball field shootings, House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy sounded the right note as he said in his opening prayer, “We are blessed by a free and open society. … But once again, we are reminded there is a vulnerability that comes with that openness.”

That is the tension at the core of American democracy as we stumble through this terror-soaked century. How do we maintain the close connection between the government and the governed without elected officials having to don bulletproof vests every morning along with their American flag pins?

Opinion: Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Challenge of 2018
Over-interpreting British results a risk for Democrats

If campaign consultants in both parties had their way, congressional challengers would never utter an interesting word and incumbents would have their Capitol Hill voting records airbrushed from history. Politics would be reduced to a clash between two physically attractive candidates (preferably with photogenic families), obediently reciting robotic talking points.

The major problem with this beguiling fantasy is a pesky group of human beings known as voters. Increasingly, voters crave authenticity, a hard-to-define attribute that comes across as the antithesis of poll-tested and blow-dried.

Opinion: Pro Tip — Never Cross James Comey
Trump attacks described as ‘lies, plain and simple’

The noun “lie” has been part of the English language for more than a thousand years, since before the Norman Conquest. But never before Thursday morning had it been repeatedly brandished by a defrocked FBI director testifying under oath to describe the president of the United States.

In his opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee, James Comey bluntly referred to presidential attacks on his competence as “lies, plain and simple.”

Opinion: How a Textbook in 2067 Might View Donald Trump
Alternate history that the president didn’t make up

Perspective is nearly impossible when you are living through tumultuous events on a daily basis. But by slightly bending the space-time continuum, this column has exclusively obtained a copy of a 2067 tenth-grade American history textbook entitled “Many Peoples, Many Voices, Many Perspectives.”Turning to the chapter on America after the 2016 election, it was fascinating to discover with 50 years hindsight how everything turned out. Actually, because of a quirk in quantum physics, three versions of the chapter were provided with radically different outcomes. Some excerpts:

“...President Trump remained defiant throughout the early summer of 2017. He often rallied his supporters through a primitive form of messaging called Twitter (see “obsolete technologies” on Page 821). Republicans in Congress, fearing the wrath of Trump supporters, avoided a public break with the president, although many (see “Profiles in Courage” page 619) grumbled privately.

Opinion: Truth the Pill for Trump’s Dysfunction
Congress must counter president’s mendacity and meanness

The Associated Press, the nation’s leading and most respected wire service, has always erred on the side of caution. Buried deep in the AP’s DNA is the hazy memory that its leading competitor, the United Press, stained its credibility for decades by prematurely announcing the end of World War I.

But never in the following century did the Associated Press write anything this blunt about any American elected leader: “President Donald Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad.”