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Preview: Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate

Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate

Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber.

Last Build Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2018 03:44:38 -0800


'Always Proud He Was My President' for 01/13/2018

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800

Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, who created the international scholarship program that bears his name and that has produced 59 Nobel Prize winners among its estimated 360,000 alumni, was not, for entirely legitimate reasons, a humble man. Admitted to the University of Arkansas at 15, he would become a star halfback on the school's football team and a Rhodes scholar. He also studied at Oxford for three years before being named president of his alma mater at 34.

By the time of his last Arkansas campaign, in 1974, when I worked for Fulbright, he had already won national attention as an outspoken critic of Sen. Joe McCarthy's anti-communist witch hunts and for, longer than anyone in U.S. history, chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he conducted, much to the anger of President Lyndon B. Johnson, nationally televised hearings opposing the U.S. war in Vietnam. During that 1974 campaign, Fulbright chatted late one evening about the six U.S. presidents who had served with him. What I remember today was Fulbright's description of John F. Kennedy: "Whenever I went to the White House for any occasion during his administration, I was always proud, as an American, that Kennedy was my president."

Updated: Sat Jan 13, 2018

A Prophet Who Deserves a Little Honor for 01/06/2018

Sat, 06 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800

Anyone who cannot resist the temptation to offer public predictions about public events invites and can expect public ridicule.

Even pre-eminent 20th-century American columnist and public intellectual Walter Lippmann, who was courted by presidents and prime ministers, is regularly remembered for dismissing in print then-New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt for being "no tribune of the people." Lippmann wrote: "He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President."

Updated: Sat Jan 06, 2018

Our Sore President for 12/30/2017

Sat, 30 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

During his winning campaign to capture the White House, Democrat Barack Obama was harshly critical of the White House record of his predecessor George W. Bush. But once in office, Obama — like nearly all presidents before him — heeded the sage advice of a great chief executive also from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, who, when faulted for speaking kindly about the South during the Civil War, countered, "Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

President Obama said about Bush: "To know the man is to like the man, because he's comfortable in his own skin. He knows who he is. ... He takes his job seriously, but he doesn't take himself too seriously. He is a good man."

Updated: Sat Dec 30, 2017

Resolutions and Predictions for 12/23/2017

Sat, 23 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

The calendar reminds us that it's that special time of the year to make reckless predictions and fleeting resolutions. So let us do a little of both.

I predict that with history and national poll numbers warning them daily that 2018 is shaping up as a truly bad year electorally for Republican candidates, there will be a sharp increase in the number of GOP incumbents announcing that rather than seek re-election, they have decided to spend more time with their families. Before doing so, each would be wise to check with David Letterman, who, having retired after his career as the longest-tenured late-night host in TV history, explained that he was now leaving his two-year retirement to return to work: "Here's what I have learned: If you retire to spend more time with your family, check with your family first."

Updated: Sat Dec 23, 2017

Normal Speech for 12/16/2017

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

Contrary to what my beloved junior high coach taught us, defeat does not build character. However, defeat can often reveal character. So, too, can victory reveal character, as it seemed to do late on a December Tuesday night in a raucous ballroom at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel.

There we saw a happy winner who declined to pump his fist in self-congratulatory pleasure but rather insisted on giving credit to others. He would not stop thanking — by name — family members, friends and campaign staffers for the win. He was optimistic, repeating his belief that he and all those either listening or not have more things in common than they have issues that divide them, adding, "This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which ZIP code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life."

Updated: Sat Dec 16, 2017

Francisco Franco and the 2018 Republicans for 12/09/2017

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

To understand the discouraging plight for Republicans heading into the 2018 midterm elections, it might help to recall a joke popular in Spain in 1975, when Generalissimo Francisco Franco, that nation's long-ruling and ruthless dictator, lingered for endless weeks on his deathbed.

Alejandro: "There is good news, and there is bad news."

Updated: Sat Dec 09, 2017

Understanding Republicans for 12/02/2017

Sat, 02 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

It's important for us to remember that even though President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, successfully lobbied the nation and eventually signed into law the historic civil rights laws a half-century ago, a higher percentage of congressional Republicans than congressional Democrats voted for those bills. By then, the Republican Party, which was born to preserve the union and abolish human slavery in the United States and had elected Abraham Lincoln, had come to stand for smaller, less intrusive government, lower taxes and balancing the federal budget.

Then came 1980 and a charismatic Republican presidential nominee from California, who offered a painlessly appealing prescription for the nation's malaise: He would double defense spending, cut Americans' taxes by one-third and balance the federal budget. A 10-term Republican congressman, John B. Anderson of Illinois, also ran for president in 1980, first as a Republican and then as an independent. Anderson chose candor over cant and effectively burned his bridges with fellow Republicans who preferred to believe in the "tooth fairy" approach to political policy when, in a nationally televised debate, he dared to say: "How do you balance the budget, cut taxes and increase defense spending at the same time? It's very simple. You do it with mirrors."

Updated: Sat Dec 02, 2017

'Punching Up' Is American; 'Punching Down' Is Not for 11/25/2017

Sat, 25 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800

Americans have traditionally responded more positively to humor that "punches up" rather than "punches down." To "punch up" means to make a joke at the expense of those who have more power, privilege or property than the audience or the humorist. "Punching down" is the opposite — mocking or disparaging someone or some group that is less influential, privileged or affluent than are the mocker and his audience.

When you're president of the United States or even a presidential candidate, you're pretty much at the top of the social heap, which makes it difficult, when being humorous, to punch up believably. The record does show that popular American presidents have effectively used self-deprecating humor to make jokes at their own expense. The message to an audience is clear: I am not self-important; I do not take myself all that seriously; I am one of you.

Updated: Sat Nov 25, 2017

The Powerful Waging War on the Weak for 11/18/2017

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800

The story is as timeless as it is ugly. The names of the actors change, but the plot remains the same. The powerful — whether the undocumented maid's employer, the factory owner who signs the teenage worker's paycheck or the producer who can cast an aspiring actress — are in control, and the weak are, too often, at their mercy.

Henry Kissinger was wrong when he said, "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac." No, instead of being some magical love potion, power has too often been some bulletproof E-ZPass for the powerful, admitting them to the private club of entitlement, where they can sexually exploit less powerful human beings who lack the resources or the status or the self-confidence to stop such abuse. Power has been the powerful's get-out-of-jail-free card.

Power has been almost always male. But not always, as I wrote some 36 years in The Washington Post: "The Boss was famous, influential, rich and married. The young woman was none of the above and 23 when she became the Boss's secretary and lover (some nine years earlier). ... There were trips, and there were gifts, and whether there were legally enforceable promises, made by the Boss, may be decided in a courtroom. That's where Marilyn Barnett is seeking financial support from her married ex-lover and ex-boss, Billie Jean King."

Updated: Sat Nov 18, 2017

First 'Pre-mortem' of the 2018 Elections for 11/11/2017

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800

American voters, almost invariably dissatisfied with the political status quo, generally endorse change. In 2016, Donald Trump was certainly the candidate of change, and Hillary Clinton, seeking a third consecutive Democratic term in the White House, represented continuity. Voters' enthusiasm for change, in the abstract, often cools when they're actually confronted with the specific changes that the winning change candidate seeks to impose once in office.

Recall the smashing and historic 2008 victory of the classic change agent, Democrat Barack Obama, who, as president and with his party in control of both the House and the Senate, pushed hard — and eventually successfully — to enact national health care, which his party had long championed but which had never been realistic as long as Republicans controlled at least one side of Capitol Hill. During the 2010 midterm elections, voters, unsure about the economy and the actual changes wrought, gave President Obama only a 44 percent favorable job rating and took 63 House seats — and the majority — away from the Democrats.

Updated: Sat Nov 11, 2017

To Be a Great President, You First Have to Like Politics for 11/04/2017

Sat, 04 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0700

On the consensus list of the most significant American presidents following George Washington, there is a common trait. Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson and Harry Truman — each of these great leaders was first a very good politician who actually enjoyed politics.

Lincoln, who served four terms in the Illinois Legislature, where he helped to move the state's capital from Vandalia to Springfield, conveyed to people that he understood their struggles and he stood squarely on their side, in contrast with Woodrow Wilson, who professed his love for mankind in the abstract but preferred to avoid the company of ordinary human beings, who frequently sweat and burp.

Updated: Sat Nov 04, 2017

An American President and the World for 10/28/2017

Sat, 28 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700

The release by the Trump administration of thousands of pages of classified documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy brought to mind two anecdotes about the 35th president and his legacy.

After the shock of Dallas, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was then an assistant secretary of labor and would later become a significant U.S. senator, said to his friend and fellow Irish-American journalist Mary McGrory, who would become the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, "I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually." According to Moynihan, McGrory said, "We'll never laugh again." Moynihan replied, "Heavens, Mary, we'll laugh again. It's just that we'll never be young again."

Updated: Sat Oct 28, 2017

Who Will Not Be the 2020 Presidential Nominee for 10/14/2017

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700

In 1963, the legendary Russell Baker, writing in The New York Times, explained how we in the press, years before the nation's next presidential campaign, are miraculously able to agree upon who qualify — and, perhaps more importantly, who do not qualify — as plausible White House contenders. Baker identified the "Great Mentioner" as the mythical author of this list. (We say such things as, "Sen. Striving and Gov. Driven are frequently mentioned for the national ticket.")

Even though the next presidential election is more than three years away, the Great Mentioner has already come up with a roster of challengers, which includes, in addition to current and former officeholders, more than a few outside-the-box private-sector possibilities: the billionaire CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg; the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban; former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz; and Disney CEO Bob Iger. Here I will venture one categorical guarantee (but understand that this comes from the same sage who, in 2000, confidently predicted that "President" John McCain would not seek a second term in 2004): The 2020 nominee will not be an outsider, a non-politician who has achieved professional success and personal celebrity.

Updated: Sat Oct 14, 2017

War Is Not a Spectator Sport for 10/07/2017

Sat, 07 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700

On Oct. 15, 2010, a father who knew from painful personal sacrifice the terror and the loss of combat, wrote to his son, who was at that moment leading a Marine platoon enduring almost relentless combat: "I know you guys have taken some licks in the last few days. ... Robert you will likely lose one or more of your precious Marines if you haven't already. Do not let the men mope or dwell on the loss. ... Do not let them ever enjoy the killing or hate their enemy. ... Combat is so inhumane; you must help your men maintain their humanity as well as their sense of perspective and proportion."

Just over three weeks later, at 6 a.m., that same father would answer the doorbell at his home at the Washington Navy Yard. There, in Marine Corps dress blues, stood the father's friend Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who was there to tell Gen. John Kelly, who is currently White House chief of staff, that his 29-year-old son, Lt. Robert Kelly, had, after stepping on a land mine, been killed in southern Afghanistan. John Kelly — who, as a Marine officer, had himself written hundreds of letters of condolence to families after the deaths of their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers — now had to wake Robert's sleeping mother to tell her the awful news.

Updated: Sat Oct 07, 2017

Democrats, Don't Blame the Voters Who Are Not Racist for 09/30/2017

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

One of the great fringe benefits of working around American politics during the past 10 American presidencies has been the colorful characters I've gotten to meet. Characters do not come more colorful than Dick Tuck. Having just learned that he had lost a California state Senate primary, he was asked by a Los Angeles radio reporter for a statement, and without missing a beat, Tuck offered an original concession: "The people have spoken, the bastards."

A half-century later, that witty one-liner has been misconstrued by some contemporary Democrats into their rationalization for their party's 2016 presidential defeat. While conceding that their nominee and her campaign were imperfect, these post-mortems — woefully lacking Tuck's humor and insight — attribute Donald Trump's victory and Hillary Clinton's defeat to the mental and moral deficiencies of the nation's voters.

Updated: Sat Sep 30, 2017

3 Men Who Saved Baseball From Itself for 09/23/2017

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

From Aug. 10, 1994, to April 25, 1995, Major League Baseball went on strike. The 1994 World Series was canceled. Fans, furious at both management and the players, voted with their feet by staying away afterward. Average attendance at games fell by more than a fifth, and — of more urgent concern to the owners — total revenues dropped by one-third.

To remedy its money problems, baseball made a bargain with Lucifer by illegally and immorally sliding into a prolonged dark night, when players who "juiced" on performance-enhancing steroids and human growth hormones grew bigger and bigger before all our eyes. When these chemically enhanced Paul Bunyan look-alikes began hitting more and more home runs, fans came back to the ballparks, paying higher prices for their seats. There were 40 percent more home runs hit in 2000 than in 1995. Occasionally, some player's drug abuse would be exposed, and appropriately, the baseball owners and the baseball commissioner would be "shocked" and vaguely pledge that there would be increased testing.

Updated: Sat Sep 23, 2017

The Vietnam War 2017 for 09/16/2017

Sat, 16 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Three aging U.S. veterans of the war in Vietnam, each of whom still bears the scars of battle, took their seats on the stage of Washington's Kennedy Center on a cool September evening. They were there to discuss Ken Burns' historic 18-hour PBS project, "The Vietnam War," which will deservedly earn the nation's attention. The three — John Kerry, a former presidential nominee, U.S. senator and secretary of state; Chuck Hagel, a former secretary of defense and U.S. senator; and John McCain, a former presidential nominee and current U.S. senator — received a sustained standing ovation from an unimpressionable Washington crowd.

Kerry credited the Burns film for teaching that "we should never confuse the warriors with the war" and that it can "take a long time for a family to get to a place where they can say, 'My brother, my son did not die in vain. They served our country. They are patriots.'" But it was McCain who made this comfortable room more than a little uncomfortable by reminding his fellow citizens of an abandoned American value — the need for shared sacrifice.

Updated: Sat Sep 16, 2017

Happy New Year for 09/09/2017

Sat, 09 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Labor Day has already come, and summer is all but over. Autumn — with shorter days, cooler nights and a new school year — is upon us. Now — in beautiful September and not in the dead of winter, overshadowed by Christmas — ought logically to be New Year's Day, which means resolutions and predictions.

I personally resolve to break my bad habit of stupidly assuming that every other driver on the road who is driving faster than I am must be a certifiable lunatic and of stupidly assuming that a driver who is driving more slowly than I am driving has to be a moron.

Updated: Sat Sep 09, 2017

Reprimand to Trump from Pittsburgh Voters: 'It's Not About You' for 09/02/2017

Sat, 02 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

On a late summer night, some 230 days into the Trump presidency, a dozen Pennsylvania voters gathered around a conference table in Pittsburgh and were asked by respected Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart to just give "a word or a feeling about Donald Trump."

The answers from this group — five of whom had voted for Trump in November — ought to induce a serious anxiety attack in the White House's West Wing and in Republican Party headquarters across the nation: "outrageous," "dishonest," "disappointed," "narcissist," "abject disappointment," "unique," "not ready to be president," "off the scale," "crazy," "completely unfit to be president," "unbelievable" and "contemptible."

Updated: Sat Sep 02, 2017

Needing an 'Enemy' for 08/26/2017

Sat, 26 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Eric Hoffer, a San Francisco longshoreman and philosopher who died in 1983, the year President Ronald Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, could have been analyzing contemporary American politics when he wrote, some 66 years ago, that "mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil."

Campaigns are easy. Candidates can often succeed by running all out against widely unpopular, sometimes even sinister, forces. Think of big government or big banks or big labor. Some candidates have chosen to campaign against other "un-American" influences that somehow threaten our national well-being. These regularly include people who go to a different place to worship, people whose families do not speak English as their first language and people who have come here, often with a different skin color, from non-European countries.

Updated: Sat Aug 26, 2017