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Tests for an Unbending Pope . . .

Wed Apr 20 00:00:00 EDT 2005

ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, is not afraid to be unpopular. That is why he was elected pope Tuesday. It is also why he will face excruciating difficulties in holding together the most ethnically, geogr aphically and ideologically diverse religious institution in the world.

Cardinal Ratzinger's Challenge

Tue Apr 19 00:00:00 EDT 2005

ROME -- The words broke like a thunderclap inside St. Peter's Basilica. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, addressing the world's cardinals just hours before they sequestered themselves Monday to choose the next leader of the world's 1 billion Catholics, decided to define this conclave.

Tom DeLay And the Wright Stuff

Fri Apr 15 00:00:00 EDT 2005

Being Tom DeLay means never having to say you're sorry. So when the embattled House majority leader apologized Wednesday for the "inartful" way in which he attacked the federal judiciary after Terri Schiavo's death, it was the surest indicator that DeLay's days are numbered.

A Papacy of Spirit

Tue Apr 05 00:00:00 EDT 2005

The pope's plane was heading to the Ivory Coast from Togo on a journey that was to end that evening in Cameroon. In the press section, my friend Victor Simpson of the Associated Press had just read through the thick packet of speeches that John Paul II was to give on that long August day.

Stepford Town Meetings

Fri Apr 01 00:00:00 EST 2005

If President Bush is so insistent on the need for his political adversaries to talk to him about fixing Social Security, then why does he keep throwing them out of his campaign rallies -- excuse me, "town meetings" -- on the subject?

Conservative, Liberal, Principled

Tue Mar 29 00:00:00 EST 2005

Liberals have so little respect for conservatives these days that people on the left are genuinely astonished when people on the right have principled disagreements with each other. The left assumes the right marches in lock step under orders from the White House.

Destined for Deficits

Fri Mar 18 00:00:00 EST 2005

The sexy issues in budget fights get the headlines, and, Lord knows, drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a big deal. But the budget's most revealing details are hidden in plain sight and thus ignored.

Rolling the Dice on a GOP Rift

Tue Mar 15 00:00:00 EST 2005

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ethics troubles threaten more than his own political future. They have the potential to create a much wider scandal over lobbying on the Indian gambling issue and to open a rift among socially conservative Republicans.

The GOP's Lesson on Abortion

Sat Mar 12 00:00:00 EST 2005

Why are George W. Bush and his party so skillful in dealing with the abortion issue, and why are Democrats so clumsy?

Bush's Misplayed Hand

Wed Mar 09 00:00:00 EST 2005

American politics has been so corrupted by concepts such as "positioning" and "message discipline" that citizens don't get credit for their ability to decide issues on the merits. But when the public knows and cares a great deal about what's at stake, it is quite discerning about what's true and what's not.

Good-News Bind

Fri Mar 04 00:00:00 EST 2005

When the news from abroad is good, what is the political opposition to do? Should Democrats let President Bush crow about favorable developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lebanon and Iraq? Should they crow with him? And how should Democrats deal with Bush's appropriation of what Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) calls "Wilsonian" and "Kennedyesque" rhetoric promoting the spread of democracy? If Bush pushes policies that are both "Democratic with a large D and a small d," Lieberman asks, shouldn't Democrats encourage him?

A Bill Bankrupt Of Pity

Tue Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2005

My late parents, who came of age during the Great Depression, offered my sister and me a couple of simple rules about money: Never take on financial burdens you can't bear, and always pay your bills. Many years later, I still think they were right.