WASHINGTON — The 2016 presidential election is shaping up as an unpopularity contest of unprecedented proportions. Assuming, as now appears most likely, that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination and that either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz becomes the Republican nominee, the general-election ballot is set to feature a choice between two candidates more negatively viewed than any major-party nominee in the history of polling.
WASHINGTON — Politicians like to bet that reporters and their pesky questions will go away. Too often, they’re right. Thus, the drumbeat of demands for Donald Trump’s tax returns faded after he waved it all away with claims that a pending audit prevented the transparency he would otherwise be delighted to provide. With Trump’s demurral, so, too, subsided requests for a fuller accounting from the other remaining presidential candidates. Aside from Hillary Clinton, they have been unprecedentedly parsimonious with tax information.
WASHINGTON — Perhaps the laws of political gravity are about to take hold in the case of Donald Trump. But the lesson of this appalling primary season cautions against discounting Trump’s appeal — which prompts another Trump column, this one on the utter incoherence of his policy views. It’s not simply that Trump is wrong on policy. Ted Cruz is wrong on policy. Trump is wrong on policy and argues for policy positions glaringly inconsistent with his asserted principles. All politicians do this, sure. But Trump’s incoherence is classically Trumpian — huge, glitzy, unembarrassed.
WASHINGTON — This may sound strange coming from someone who doesn’t expect Hillary Clinton to be indicted and doesn’t think she should be, but I’ve been worrying about what will happen if she isn’t. There is a school of people — a big school, judging from my email — for whom there are only two possibilities:
WASHINGTON — “I think the retweet speaks for itself,” said Donald Trump’s senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, about the candidate’s posting of an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, juxtaposed against...
WASHINGTON — As he edges closer to winning the Republican nomination, it is possible to discern, at intermittent intervals and in trace amounts, an instinct in Donald Trump to act presidential. There was Trump in a debate earlier this month with a paean to the relative civility of the encounter. There was Trump in his Super Tuesday victory lap pronouncing himself a “unifier.” But Trump being Trump, the presidential urge can never proceed very far before being overtaken by his real self: Trump the bullying thug and Trump the self-pitying victim.
WASHINGTON — Maybe sometimes, even in this crazy town and in this crazy season, the best policy turns out to be the best politics. In the context of the Supreme Court vacancy, President Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland may be the hardest for Republicans to reject — or, as they would prefer to have it, ignore.
WASHINGTON — For those of you salivating — or trembling — at the thought of Hillary Clinton being clapped in handcuffs as she prepares to deliver her acceptance speech this summer: deep, cleansing breath. Based on the available facts and the relevant precedents, criminal prosecution of Clinton for mishandling classified information in her emails is extraordinarily unlikely. My exasperation with Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state is long-standing and unabated. Lucky for her, political idiocy is not criminal.
WASHINGTON — I write today to confess error. A few months back, pondering the ghastly parlor game of choosing between President Donald Trump and President Ted Cruz, I opted — reluctantly, disbelievingly — for Trump, as the lesser of two dangers. Yes, the real estate tycoon is a know-nothing, uninterested-in-learning-anything buffoon. Also: a demagogue and a bully whose emotional instability would pose a threat to national security.
WASHINGTON — Transparency is not the natural instinct of the politician. The political mind tends to think: What voters don’t know can’t hurt you. What political opponents, and media, do...