The impeachment holiday gift catalog
John Bolton may be counting his book deal money, but he needs to think about future sales too

OPINION — Flush with the holiday spirit, I have decided to hand out my presents early. Of course, given the economics of 21st-century journalism, I am offering the only gifts that I can afford — free advice.

Luckily, with the House Judiciary Committee kicking off impeachment hearings this week, Washington is filled with troubled and misguided souls in both parties who would benefit from my sage and selfless counsel.

The befuddling Democratic presidential race
Harris’ apparent collapse exposes the folly of the political prediction game

OPINION — Declaring that America was at an “inflection point,” Kamala Harris launched her presidential candidacy in January with a stunning 20,000-person outdoor rally in Oakland.

Reflecting the conventional wisdom at that moment, Lisa Lerer wrote for The New York Times, “There’s one thing many leading Democrats seem to agree on: Kamala Harris is a formidable contender.” And Joe Scarborough gushed in an op-ed for The Washington Post, “Kamala Harris has what it takes to fill a big political stage. … The California senator looked very much like a political contender who belongs in the big leagues.”

Playing Chutes and Ladders with impeachment
Plenty of risks ahead for over-zealous Democrats and skittish Republicans

OPINION — “With the president impeached — in effect, indicted — by the House, the frenzied trial for his conviction or his acquittal under the Articles of Impeachment began on March 5. … It was a trial to rank with all the great trials in history — Charles I before the High Court of Justice, Louis XVI before the French Convention, and Warren Hastings before the House of Lords.”

That overwrought description of the 1868 Senate impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson comes from John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage,” which won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize.

There’s got to be a ‘Morning After’ for American democracy
Impeachment would be wrenching for the country, but doing nothing would be worse

OPINION — As Richard Nixon speechwriter William Safire tells it, another campaign aide first noticed the sign during a whistle-stop train tour of the rural Midwest in the waning days of the 1968 campaign. The hand-lettered message held aloft during a stop in tiny Deshler, Ohio, spoke to the cleavages of a bitter political year defined by assassination, rioting and Vietnam.

Nixon made the sign the centerpiece of his victory speech the morning after his election. As the president-elect said earnestly, “A teenager held up a sign, ‘Bring Us Together.’ And that will be the great objective of this administration at the outset, to bring the American people together.”

Startling discovery: Impeachment is not bringing out the best in Trump
It seems quaint to recall a time when president appeared merely guilty of obstruction of justice

OPINION — Thomas Jefferson created his own Bible, deleting with a penknife those portions of the New Testament that troubled his deist views. In similar fashion, Donald Trump has apparently created his own Constitution by ripping out any clause that challenges his power or deflates his blimp-sized ego.

Monday, in the midst of the reality show that he called a Cabinet meeting, Trump denounced what he called “this phony emoluments clause.” In most versions of the Constitution, Article 1, Section 9 bans “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

Trump’s smoking-gun summary
Republicans face a choice: follow the course of honor or continue in servitude to an unethical president

OPINION — We now have the smoking-gun summary, the most incriminating White House document since Watergate. Even with ellipses and maybe redactions for national security reasons, the reconstruction of Donald Trump’s July 25 conversation with newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is chilling in its specificity.

Instead of subtly alluding to Joe Biden or hinting that a little private help might be appreciated, Trump instead bluntly instructed Zelenskiy, “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.”

2020 Democrats may dream big now, but reality will bite them later
Maybe it’s time Warren, Sanders et al admit their plans are aspirational rather than legislative blueprints

OPINION — The bidding war that has defined the Democratic presidential race reached its apogee of absurdity earlier this month when Bernie Sanders had to explain that, no, he had no plans to erase voters’ credit card bills.

Questioned about his proposal to wipe away $81 billion in personal medical debt in a New Hampshire interview, the Vermont socialist told the Concord Monitor and NHTalkRadio.com: “I don’t believe we wipe out credit card debt. You want to buy… a yacht, and you go in debt, hey, that’s your decision.”

Moderation in the Trump era? Democrats, it’s futile
What’s the point of careful issue proposals when Trump will just bellow that they’re coming for your cars, air conditioning and straws?

OPINION — The tone of the letter from the Columnists’ Guild I’m expecting any minute now will be as stiff as the old-fashioned stationery it’s printed on. It will note that I am “derelict in your duties” and “an embarrassment to the profession of opinion slingers” because I’ve failed to write a single column loudly lamenting the Democratic Party’s lurch to the far left.

We have all read versions of this column written by skittish liberals, nervous centrists and panicked never-Trump Republicans: “Don’t the Democrats understand that many voters like their employer-provided health care plans and will rebel over being forced into a rigid ‘Medicare for All’ system? Eliminating criminal penalties for crossing the border illegally would be an invitation for immigration chaos. And do Democrats really believe that Americans will sacrifice their lifestyles to comply with the extreme provisions of a Green New Deal?”

Unlike Joe Biden, I was a pro-busing Democrat in 1972
And the issue upended my bid for Congress that year

OPINION — A long time ago — in fact, the same year that Joe Biden ran for the Senate as a precocious 29-year-old — I sought a Michigan congressional seat as an even more precocious 25-year-old.

The cause that propelled me into a Democratic primary and a quest to become the youngest member of Congress was my fierce opposition to the Vietnam War. But the issue that upended my congressional race is one that unexpectedly has contemporary relevance — federal court-ordered busing.

Running for re-election the Trump way — with half the country against you
President’s Orlando kick-off could be the high point of his re-election campaign

OPINION — When Donald Trump declares his candidacy for a second term Tuesday night in Orlando, the line of supporters fighting to get in will stretch from Disney World to the Everglades.

Many people are already saying that Trump is such a favorite for re-election that all 23 Democrats will withdraw after they make fools of themselves criticizing the Greatest Economy in World History during next week’s debates. Already, there is a huge movement to repeal the 22nd Amendment so Donald J. Trump can be anointed as President for Life.

The GOP’s secret roadmap to undermine the 2020 census
Somehow gerrymandering is not enough for the Republicans any more

OPINION — Thomas Hofeller was always precise about the pronunciation of his chosen profession. He correctly called it a “gerrymander” with a hard “G” rather than the far more common usage that makes rigged political mapmaking sound reminiscent of “Jerry Ford.”

Hofeller, who died last August, was the most artful and devious Republican cartographer of his generation. The sweeping Republican legislative and gubernatorial victories in 2010 gave him a vast canvas on which to jigger the voting districts — and produced the widespread theory (disproven in 2018) that the Democrats would never win back the House in this decade.

What Justin Amash can teach Nancy Pelosi
When it comes to impeachment, congressional Democrats are missing the point

OPINION — At worst, Justin Amash will be the answer to a trivia question about which House member bucked a president of his own party to call for impeachment. At best, Amash will someday be hailed as prescient in trying to save the Republican Party from being Donald Trump’s devoted, yet unprincipled, enablers.

Amash’s decision to endorse impeachment was prompted (as he tweeted) by being a rare legislator who actually read the Mueller report. And as a dedicated libertarian who has been a longtime Trump critic, this lonely position fits Amash’s political persona.

Trump’s Gold-Plated, Monogrammed Presidency
Imperial presidencies of Johnson and Nixon look like the good old days compared to Trump

OPINION — In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a mournful chorus of warnings about the dangers of what historian and former John Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger called “The Imperial Presidency.”

Schlesinger wrote in 1973, as Richard Nixon twisted slowly, slowly in the wind, “The constitutional presidency — as events so apparently disparate as the Indochina War and the Watergate affair showed — has become the imperial presidency and threatens to be the revolutionary presidency.”

If Trump had been a master builder instead of a malevolent tweeter
Why is infrastructure week always followed by can’t-pay-for-it week?

OPINION — Imagine an alternative universe where Donald Trump understands words like “presidential” and “emotional self-control.” In that science fiction world, the 45th president’s Tuesday meeting with the Democratic congressional leadership would have served as a model for his entire administration.

In case you missed this rare moment of calm and comity, Trump put tantrums and tumult aside for 90 minutes to discuss infrastructure. The result: an agreement on the broad outlines of a $2 trillion plan to upgrade roads, bridges, airports, broadband and probably Pony Express relay stations.

Biden’s path to 2020 is strewn with cautionary tales
Trying to make sense of the former VP’s run? Here’s what to read

OPINION — When Joe Biden finally declared for president, it marked a record-setting 32-year gap between his first hat-in-the-ring moment and his latest.

It would be like Franklin Roosevelt first trying to be president in 1900 when his cousin, Theodore, was on the GOP ticket as William McKinley’s running mate. Or JFK (as an 11-year-old) seeking to oppose Herbert Hoover in 1928.

In his White House drama, Trump’s favorite word is ‘acting’
Any random anti-immigration zealot who sets foot in the DHS cafeteria may be drafted for a top position

OPINION — Henry Ford, famous for both revolutionizing the auto industry and his anti-Semitism, declared more than a century ago, “History is more or less bunk.”

Donald Trump doesn’t even think history is that important. He remains a bit shaky about whether anything of significance ever occurred before the world was graced by his presence on June 14, 1946.

Forget the fundraising money. Democrats are jockeying for a different kind of capital
A presidential primary race should never be confused with a quest for moral and political purity

OPINION — Sixteen years ago, at the beginning of the last wide-open Democratic presidential race, John Kerry and John Edwards vied to wow the media with their first-quarter fundraising prowess. Edwards narrowly won the spirited early 2003 competition by raking in $7.4 million, much of it from trial lawyers.

The campaign finance boasts of Edwards and Kerry soon were silenced by a little-known former Vermont governor. Iraq War opponent Howard Dean, harnessing the potential of online fundraising for the first time, corralled what was then a stunning $7.6 million in the second quarter.

Some post-Mueller advice for Democrats: Watch ‘Jaws’
‘Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water ...’

OPINION — “Jaws” movie posters can go a long way toward explaining politics after the release of the William Barr letter that maybe — or maybe not — accurately summarizes the Mueller report.

Republicans may have been lulled into a false sense of security about Donald Trump’s legal jeopardy, especially with the continuing federal investigations in New York. Eventually most of the Mueller report will be released (or leaked) — and it could hit with a bombshell if Barr baldly misrepresented its contents.

Trump’s latest self-inflicted wound: Medicare cuts
Attacking Medicare is about as popular as a national program to confiscate kittens

OPINION — Donald Trump’s political problems are almost all rooted in his personality.

The nonstop lying and boasting that have led to a credibility canyon seemingly flow from the president’s fragile ego. His vicious temperament when crossed produces the torrent of below-the-belt Twitter attacks. His apparent inability to trust anyone beyond his immediate family has produced outrages like Jared Kushner’s dubious security clearance. And Trump’s own tough-guy fantasies are probably connected to his hero worship of Vladimir Putin and his avuncular affection for the murderous Kim Jong Un.

With both parties awash with cash, maybe campaign reform isn’t so quixotic
Republicans may need to rethink their knee-jerk opposition to HR 1

OPINION — After months of polls, focus groups and strategy sessions, Michael Bloomberg came to the obvious conclusion — unlimited money cannot buy a presidential nomination in 2020.

Yes, the news stories talked about competition from Joe Biden and the difficulty that a moderate would have in surviving the Democratic primaries. But Bloomberg implicitly conceded that even a billionaire’s bankroll would not be enough to dominate simultaneous March 3, 2020, primaries in California and Texas.