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The GOP as the party of reform

WASHINGTON — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair came to prominence in the 1990s as an expert in political renovation, transforming the Labour Party from a creaky, socialist relic to a modern, center-left, governing institution. Before Blair, Labour had not won back-to-back victories in a hundred years. Blair secured three.

Me Inc. offers plenty of dividends

WASHINGTON — “Checked the tax code,” wrote a friend who’s engaged to a woman from a low-tax country. “Unfortunately, marrying [my fiancee] does not entitle me to a tax inversion like the big U.S. companies are getting. Thanks for nothing IRS.”

In Oregon, a doctor calls

PORTLAND, Ore. — “Are you kidding ?” This is Monica Wehby’s amiable response to people who wonder whether she will be able to bear the pressures of office if she wins her race as a Republican Senate candidate. For 17 of her 52 years she has been a pediatric neurosurgeon, holding in steady hands sharp steel and the fate of children’s brains. She probably can cope with the strains of legislative life.

Goldwater 2.0

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Fifty Julys ago, up the road near San Francisco, in the unfortunately named Cow Palace, the Republican National Convention gave its presidential nomination to Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, who knew he would lose: Americans were not going to have a third president in 14 months. Besides, his don’t-fence-me-in libertarian conservatism was ahead of its time. His agenda, however, was to change his party’s national brand.

The dystopia next door

WASHINGTON — In 1993, Lois Lowry wrote a slim book for youth about totalitarianism, euthanasia, suicide, sexual awakening and infanticide. “The Giver” created a blooming genre — the dystopian youth novel — and considerable controversy. Some parents wanted the book banned from schools, thus unintentionally re-asking the book’s central question: How comprehensively should children (and other humans) be protected from risk and pain?

A lawsuit with little merit

WASHINGTON — Rep. Pete Sessions, the House Rules Committee chairman who led Wednesday’s hearing on Republicans’ plans to sue President Obama, presented the legal credentials that have put him in this position of responsibility.

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Let’s sue the president

WASHINGTON — Republicans, after years of squabbling with President Barack Obama, have decided to resolve their differences with him according to a time-honored American tradition.

Mississippi votes its appetite

WASHINGTON — Chris McDaniel, 41, the flawed paladin of the tea party persuasion who in Mississippi’s Republican Senate primary failed to wrest the nomination from the faltering hands of six-term incumbent Thad Cochran, 76, came into politics after a stint in talk radio. There practitioners do not live by the axiom that you don’t have to explain something you never said, and McDaniel had some explaining to do about some of his more colorful broadcast opinions and phrases, which may have given a number of voters pause about whether he is quite senatorial, whatever that means nowadays.

An arrogant and lawless IRS

WASHINGTON — Noted management expert and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was apparently called out of retirement — like the Ted Williams of evasive, unapologetic bureaucrats — to destroy what is left of his agency’s credibility.

Who had worst week in Washington? Obama

Six years ago, Barack Obama ran for president promising to end what he described as “a dumb war” in Iraq. And in 2012, he campaigned for re-election by declaring that he’d achieved that goal. But this past week, Obama decided to send 300 troops back into the country — one deeply riven by sectarian violence and teetering on the edge of chaos.

Stopping a lawless president

WASHINGTON — What philosopher Harvey Mansfield calls “taming the prince” — making executive power compatible with democracy’s abhorrence of arbitrary power — has been a perennial problem of modern politics. It is now more urgent in America than at any time since the Founders, having rebelled against George III’s unfettered exercise of “royal prerogative,” stipulated that presidents “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”