WASHINGTON — The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but for governments it’s not that easy. Once something is given — say, health insurance coverage to 20 million Americans — you take it away at your peril. This is true for any government benefit, but especially for health care. There’s a reason not one Western democracy with some system of national health care has ever abolished it.
WASHINGTON — When he was Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, George Shultz was once asked about the CIA’s disavowal of involvement in a mysterious recent bombing in Lebanon. Replied Shultz: “If the CIA denies something, it’s denied.”
WASHINGTON — Among the many unintended legacies of Barack Obama, one has gone largely unnoticed: the emergence of a novel form of resistance to executive overreach, a check-and-balance improvised in reaction to his various presidential power grabs. It’s the revolt of the state attorneys general, banding together to sue and curb the executive. And it has outlived Obama.
WASHINGTON -- At the heart of Donald Trump’s foreign policy team lies a glaring contradiction. On the one hand, it is composed of men of experience, judgment and traditionalism. Meaning, they are all very much within the parameters of mainstream American internationalism as practiced since 1945. Practically every member of the team -- the heads of State, Homeland Security, the CIA, and most especially Defense Secretary James Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster -- could fit in a Cabinet put together by, say, Hillary Clinton.
WASHINGTON — It’s a Watergate-era cliche that the coverup is always worse than the crime.
WASHINGTON — Stupid but legal. Such is the Trump administration’s travel ban for people from seven Muslim countries. Of course, as with almost everything in American life, what should be a policy or even a moral issue becomes a legal one.
WASHINGTON — There are many people to thank for the coming accession of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Donald Trump for winning the election. Hillary Clinton for losing it.
WASHINGTON — The flurry of bold executive orders and of highly provocative Cabinet nominations (such as a secretary of education who actually believes in school choice ) has been encouraging to conservative skeptics of Donald Trump.
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama did not go out quietly. His unquiet final acts were, in part, overshadowed by a successor who refused to come in quietly and, in part, by Obama’s own endless, sentimental farewell tour. But there was nothing nostalgic or sentimental about Obama’s last acts. Two of them were simply shocking.
WASHINGTON — The shortest honeymoon on record is officially over. Normally, newly elected presidents enjoy a wave of goodwill that allows them to fly high at least through their first 100 days. Donald Trump has not yet been sworn in and the honeymoon has already come and gone.