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For GOP, no victory lap

WASHINGTON — On the theory that chickens should not only be counted before they hatch but killed, let us consider the downsides for Republicans of winning both houses of Congress.

Holding firm on Ukraine

Western leaders boast that the sanctions slapped on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine are inflicting real pain, and that’s true — even if Russia’s macroeconomic indicators still don’t look worse than those of France, Italy or even Germany. But there’s no indication that the punishment is having a salutary effect on Vladimir Putin. In a quick but high-profile trip to meet leaders in Milan last week, the Russian ruler was no more disposed than he has been to retreat from Ukraine or his larger neoimperialist agenda.

Gillespie’s plan would be worse than Affordable Care Act

Republicans calling for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are a dime a dozen. Fewer offer a plan to replace the law with something they claim would work better. To his credit, Virginia’s Ed Gillespie, a GOP Senate candidate, is in the more select group. Meanwhile, his Democratic opponent, Sen. Mark Warner, favors tweaking the law without upsetting its framework.

Putin should worry about the price of oil, not ‘blackmail’

Last week, as falling oil prices have hammered the Russian economy, President Vladimir Putin has warned repeatedly that his country, a nuclear superpower, must not be “blackmailed.” He was talking about economic sanctions, but there is a different lesson he should be drawing right now and it has nothing to do with the United States or the European Union.

The fictitious ‘war on women’

DENVER — One of the wonders of this political moment is feminist contentment about the infantilization of women in the name of progressive politics. Government, encouraging academic administrations to micromanage campus sexual interactions, now assumes that, absent a script, women cannot cope. And the Democrats’ trope about the Republicans’ “war on women” clearly assumes that women are civic illiterates.

Ebola is no one’s ‘fault’

The ebola virus reached this country at the height of the 2014 campaign, so perhaps it was inevitable that the political parties would try to exploit it. To Republicans, the situation proves once again that President Barack Obama has failed to protect Americans. In one of the milder versions of this allegation, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal published an op-ed faulting Obama for spending Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resources on grants for exercise and healthy diets rather than fighting infectious disease. Some Democrats say, meanwhile, that we wouldn’t have to worry about Ebola if not for budget cuts to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, for which the GOP alone is to blame. As one especially inflammatory TV ad puts it: “Republican cuts kill.”

Yemen unravels

President Barack Obama cited Yemen as a model for U.S. operations against the Islamic State last month, not long after he told an interviewer that the intervention in Libya was his greatest foreign policy regret. In fact, the two countries offer similar lessons in the deficiencies of Obama’s strategy. By backing local forces with airpower in Libya, the United States and its allies were able to overthrow a murderous regime — but, as Obama acknowledged, the failure to assist with building a state afterward has facilitated Libya’s collapse into chaos.

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Congress must act to help children in need

Before there was an Affordable Care Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program helped plug one of the many coverage holes in the nation’s health insurance system. At an annual cost of $13 billion, most of which comes from Congress and the rest from state governments, CHIP covers some 8 million children in families too well-off to qualify for Medicaid but too poor to afford private insurance. The uninsured rate for minors has fallen from 14 percent before the law’s enactment in 1997 to 7 percent today.

Gratitude? Fuggedaboutit

WASHINGTON — As Ken Burns’ superb documentary on the Roosevelts reminded us, “Happy Days Are Here Again” is one of the most evocative anthems in the history of the Democratic Party. You have to ask: Why aren’t the Democrats, and the country, singing it loudly now?

Ebola: Don’t be scared. Be careful.

Federal officials announced Tuesday that a passenger who flew from Liberia to Dallas last month had become the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. On Wednesday came word that health officials are monitoring several more people for signs of illness, including five school children who had contact with the first Ebola patient.

A Bell-ringer in New Jersey

PRINCETON, N.J. — Every 36 years, it seems Jeff Bell disturbs New Jersey’s political order. In 1978, as a 34-year-old apostle of supply-side economics and a harbinger of the Reagan Revolution, he stunned the keepers of the conventional wisdom by defeating a four-term senator, Clifford Case, in the Republican primary. Bell, a Columbia University graduate who fought in Vietnam, lost to Bill Bradley in the 1978 General Election, but in 1982 he went to Washington to help implement President Reagan’s economic policies that produced five quarters of above 7 percent growth and six years averaging 4.6 percent.