How the Republicans Fell for Trump’s Overconfidence Game
With the base seeing all criticism as ‘Fake News,’ the GOP could be in for a rough November

OPINION  — The topic never pops up in statistical analyses or pundit roundtables on cable TV, but one of the most underappreciated factors shaping politics is overconfidence.

Historically, second-term presidents have been particularly vulnerable to arrogant overreach. For eight decades, the prime example has been Franklin Roosevelt’s ill-fated plan following his 1936 landslide re-election to pack the Supreme Court with six new justices. (A personal plea: Please don’t mention this scheme to Donald Trump.)

What’s Missing From Bob Woodward’s Book? Ask Ben Sasse
With McCain gone, the Nebraska Republican may be the closest thing left to a never-Trumper

OPINION — Bob Woodward’s book “Fear” — which might better have been called, Hunter Thompson-style, “Fear and Loathing in the White House” — is filled with revealing anecdotes that have gotten overlooked amid the incessant rounds of TV interviews and cable news panels.

One of my favorites comes from the early days of John Kelly’s White House tenure, as the new chief of staff briefly labored under the illusion that he could tame the erratic president.

Kavanaugh’s First Stand Was the Blandest Thing Since White Bread
To say even that is an insult to all the plastic-wrapped loaves on supermarket shelves

OPINION — It was Ben Sasse — the conservative Nebraska Republican who makes a fetish out of seeming like the last rational man in the era of Donald Trump — who crystalized the issues facing the Senate as it began the most consequential hearing on a Supreme Court nominee in decades.

Stressing the independence of the judiciary, Sasse said, “This is the last job interview that Brett Kavanaugh will ever have.”

A Post-McCain Mystery: Why Does the GOP Put Up With Trump’s Graceless Vulgarity?
With lack of respect shown for late senator, president continues to defy norms

OPINION — The adjective “graceless” has been part of the language for more than six centuries. A word frequently deployed by Shakespeare — “What is she but a foul contending rebel, And graceless traitor to her loving lord?” — it has never had a more appropriate use than in describing Donald Trump’s graceless lack of respect for John McCain.

Nothing better symbolizes the cruel vulgarity of the Trump administration than the president’s refusal to offer a public comment for 48 hours on McCain’s death beyond a barebones tweet combined with the White House raising the flag to full staff after midnight on Monday.

Think It’s Bad for the GOP Now? Wait for an October Surprise
A wild Tuesday for Republicans, complete with plea deals and indictments, may be just the tip of the iceberg

OPINION — This is the golden age of political horoscopes — sophisticated projection systems designed to forecast the 2018 elections.

Whether primarily based on the generic ballot (voters currently prefer the Democrats by an 8-point margin) or detailed rundowns of individual races (roughly three dozen GOP-held seats are seriously imperiled), these forecasts all assume that no major external events will upend the political mood before Election Day.

Instead of Oversight, This Congress Believes in Under-Sight
Omarosa saga reminds us that no Trump offense is so big that the GOP can’t ignore it

OPINION — In “Dr. Strangelove,” Stanley Kubrick’s scabrously funny 1964 sendup of nuclear war, a fanatical anti-Communist general starts pummeling the Russian ambassador for taking photographs in the inner sanctum of the Pentagon. The hapless president breaks up the scuffle by saying in an outraged tone, “Gentlemen. You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!”

If only Kubrick were still around to do justice to Omarosa Manigault Newman taping her own firing by John Kelly in the White House Situation Room. Even the fanatical Gen. Jack D. Ripper couldn’t match the deranged fury of Donald Trump’s Tuesday tweet calling Omarosa “a crazed, crying lowlife” and viciously likening her to a “dog.”

Why the Mueller Investigation Is the Wobble of Neptune
Nixon comparisons may be premature, but things can be anticipated before they are observed

OPINION — It was the summer of “Chinatown” and Elton John’s best-selling album “Caribou.” Top-rated TV shows like “All in the FamilyM*A*S*H” were in rerun season. But August 1974 was not lacking in drama cut with pathos.

On Aug. 8, Richard Nixon spoke to the nation, announcing his surrender in the battle of Watergate because “I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort.”

What If Trump Is Trying to Throw the 2018 Elections?
President could blame a Democratic House and Senate for everything

OPINION — In this time of tumult, political truths are being knocked off their pedestals faster than Confederate statues. But even now, it seems ludicrously self-evident that a president wants to elect a Congress of his own party.

Donald Trump, however, is a president who marches to a different brass band. Consider what he has done in just the last week.

No, Dems Aren’t Disarrayed, Riven, Imploding, Eating Their Young or Battling for the Soul of the Party
By the historical standards of Democratic warfare, today’s disputes are like 6-year-olds battling with foam swords

OPINION — “Democrats in disarray” is one of those alliterative phrases beloved by pundits and political reporters. Database searches can trace it back to the Eisenhower administration, and the expression came into its own during the period when the Vietnam War upended politics.

At the end of the first year of Richard Nixon’s presidency, New York Times columnist James Reston (under a headline that you can easily guess) wrote, “It is not only power that corrupts but sometimes the absence of power, and the Democrats are following the familiar pattern. They are complaining about the failure of Republican leadership and providing very little of their own.”

Opinion: Even Tricky Dick Didn’t Bow and Scrape to Brezhnev
Trump’s Helsinki performance alone is worse than Watergate

“Worse than Watergate” is an epithet that Donald Trump supporters hurl like a javelin at the FBI and the Robert Mueller investigation. But after looking back at the history, it is easy to conclude that Trump’s hellish Helsinki press conference was by itself worse than Watergate.

Like Trump with his shrill denials of any collusion with the Russians, Richard Nixon had publicly insisted that he had no knowledge of the 1972 Watergate break-in or the frenzied cover-up.

Opinion: Why the Kavanaugh Pick Is Not as Safe as It Seems
Collins and Murkowski aren’t the only Republicans who could balk at Trump’s choice

It is a memory seared into Brett Kavanaugh’s soul — and it may well be an image that briefly flickers through his mind every time a loud siren goes off in Washington.

In his Monday night East Room debut as Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Kavanaugh harked back to working for George W. Bush on 9/11. Introducing his wife, Ashley, Kavanaugh said, “We met in 2001 when we both worked in the White House. Our first date was on Sept. 10, 2001. The next morning, I was a few steps behind her as the Secret Service shouted at all of us to sprint out the front gates of the White House because there was an inbound plane.”

Opinion: Trump and the Case of the Missing 15 Percent
The president’s golden gut has told him to demonize immigrants, but where is that strategy leading?

It was a trademark Donald Trump performance down to his invoking a race of sycophants with the typically vague formulation “Some people have said.” In his self-absorbed ramble at a Monday night South Carolina rally, Trump boasted, “Some people have said I have the greatest political instinct in 50 years.”

Of course, 50 years gets us right back to Richard Nixon.

Opinion: When Even Ted Cruz Balks at Trump’s Excesses
Children’s screams are now the soundtrack of the Trump era

If the arc of history does indeed bend toward justice, then we know what soundtrack will greet future visitors to the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Golf Resort.

It will be the eight-minute audio recording, obtained and authenticated by ProPublica, of children in a Border Patrol detention facility screaming for their parents.

Opinion: Verdict on Singapore — Better Real Estate Deals Than Bombing Runs
Summit hype and hoopla may have the lasting significance of an infrastructure week

For a president who normally adheres to his own doctrine of infallibility, Donald Trump displayed a few flickering moments of uncertainty in the aftermath of the Singapore summit.

Asked by George Stephanopoulos in an ABC interview whether he trusts Kim Jong Un to dismantle his nuclear program, Trump replied, “I do trust him, yeah. Now, will I come back to you in a year and you’ll be interviewing and I’ll say, ‘Gee, I made mistake?’ That’s always possible.”

Opinion: Trump’s D-Day Gift to Canada: A Trade War
Earlier presidents understood Canadians’ shared sacrifice

When Ronald Reagan delivered one of the most stirring speeches of his presidency in Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, he hailed “the boys of Pointe du Hoc,” the Army Rangers, who, despite gruesome casualties, scaled the cliffs on Omaha Beach.

That June 6, 1984, speech, written by Peggy Noonan, also took pains to credit “the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who ... once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.” Of the 14,000 Canadian troops who landed on D-Day, more than 1,000 died in the first six days of the invasion.

Opinion: ‘Spider-Man’ Would Never Fly in Donald Trump’s America
What if Mamoudou Gassama had pulled off his heroic balcony rescue in the United States?

In this world of woe, it may have been the most inspiring news story of the last few days. An immigrant from Mali, in France with dubious papers, clambered up four stories of a Parisian building in defiance of gravity to rescue a small child who was dangling from a balcony.

Despite anti-immigrant feelings in France, President Emmanuel Macron granted the unlikely hero (now dubbed “Spider-Man”) legal residency and a quick path to citizenship. He also received a presidential recommendation for a job with the Paris fire department.

Opinion: A Letter to Republicans About Watergate, Trump and the Judgment of History
Excuses by lawmakers won’t hold up in the end

Dear Congressional Republicans,

As you spend time with your families over the recess, I suggest that you might invest a few hours reflecting on the Nixon era in Washington.

Opinion: John McCain’s Empty Seat at the Gina Haspel Hearing
Perspective as a POW and torture victim would have helped clarify the debate

The second Republican presidential debate of the 2008 campaign season was held in Columbia, South Carolina — the conservative state where John McCain’s dreams of upending the George W. Bush juggernaut died in 2000. So when Brit Hume from Fox News asked McCain a question about waterboarding and other forms of torture, the prudent political strategy would have been to pander to GOP fears of terrorism.

But for McCain, the only presidential candidate to have ever been a prisoner of war, this was not an abstract topic. In 1968, after he refused early release from a Hanoi prison camp, McCain was so brutally beaten by his North Vietnamese captors that he was driven to the brink of suicide.

Opinion: A Few Cracks in Trump’s GOP Wall on Capitol Hill
Senate Judiciary Committee saw a rare display of bipartisanship over Russia probe

Washington, as we know, is riven by vicious partisanship, with those on the right and left at each other’s throats over the most pressing issue that this nation has faced in decades. We are, of course, talking about the violently differing opinions and never-ending hot takes about Michelle Wolf’s comedy act at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

Amid the nonstop invective, it was easy to have missed Capitol Hill’s equivalent of Halley’s Comet — a rare celestial display of welcome bipartisanship in a matter relating to Donald Trump and Robert Mueller. The Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, by a 14-7 vote (with four Republicans joining the panel’s Democrats in the majority), approved legislation designed to safeguard the special counsel from being arbitrarily fired by Trump. The bill was designed to protect Mueller from the wrath of a cornered president.

Opinion: Best and the Brightest? Trump’s Troika of Troubled Nominees
Senate can stop president’s dismal choices for cabinet jobs

Senate confirmation fights have been the stuff of Washington drama from the fictional “Advise and Consent” (1960 Pulitzer Prize) to the real-life rejection of John Tower (a rumored alcoholic and inveterate skirt chaser) for Defense secretary in 1989. And of course, Mike Pence last year had to break a 50-50 Senate tie over the fate of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

But never in modern times has a president in the midst of his first term had three nominees as troubled as the Trump Troika.