Doyle McManus is Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He has been a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, a White House ...

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Doyle McManus

Doyle McManus

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Hillary Clinton's problem: Too much prose.

Hillary Clinton's problem: Too much prose.

February 7, 2016

At last week's Democratic debate in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton repeated her central criticism of her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders: He's an unrealistic, ineffective utopian.

  • Marco Rubio's Goldilocks strategy

    February 3, 2016

    This should be Marco Rubio's moment. The Florida senator achieved an impressive third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, behind Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Third place may not sound like much, but Rubio outperformed his poll numbers handily and finished only a hair behind Trump. That was enough to allow him to indulge in a victory speech — and proceed to New Hampshire as the presumed front-runner in the mini-field of candidates not named Cruz or Trump.

  • Donald Trump's women problem

    January 31, 2016

    Improbably but relentlessly, Donald Trump is marching toward the Republican Party's presidential nomination. Polls suggest that he may pull off a surprise win in the Iowa caucuses on Monday. He's an even stronger frontrunner in New Hampshire and other primary states. And last week, he showed that it's possible to win a debate by not showing up.

  • Iran's dilemma: a country or a cause

    January 24, 2016

    To Americans, Iran's actions over the last two weeks may have seemed not merely surprising, but also contradictory.

  • Democrats must decide between a revolutionary and a pragmatist

    January 20, 2016

    As their party's caucuses and primaries get underway, Democrats face as stark a choice as any in modern times. They must decide between a revolutionary and an incrementalist: Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist who wants to transform the political system, and Hillary Clinton, a more cautious, conventional — you might even say Clintonian — liberal.

  • A race to claim the mantle of anger

    January 17, 2016

    Early in last week's pyrotechnic debate among Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump was confronted with the charge that he's made the GOP sound too angry.

  • Sadly, Trump is right in this case: Bill Clinton is fair game

    January 13, 2016

    Is Bill Clinton's sexual history fair game in the 2016 campaign? Donald Trump certainly thinks so.

  • The Saudi-U.S. relationship: Shakier than ever

    January 10, 2016

    Saudi Arabia's royal family is frightened — and that's a problem for the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

  • Obama's teary, yet mild, gun reform

    January 6, 2016

    The president of the United States wept on Tuesday. He wept when he came to the part of his speech about the first-graders.

  • What's the biggest problem facing the country? Democrats and Republicans disagree.

    January 3, 2016

    As they barnstorm across the caucus and primary states, the Republican and Democratic frontrunners for the presidential nomination often sound as if they're from different countries, not just different parties.

  • Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and other things I got wrong in 2015

    December 30, 2015

    The biggest political story of 2015 was the rise of Donald Trump — but if you were reading my column, you almost missed it.

  • Obama's legacy depends on the 2016 election

    December 27, 2015

    President Obama had a pretty good 2015 by most measures. The economy grew and unemployment fell. He achieved a long-sought nuclear deal with Iran, a long-sought trade deal with Asia and a long-sought climate agreement in Paris. He even signed some bipartisan legislation, including an old-fashioned compromise over spending and taxes.

  • Democrats and Republicans agree--regime change is out of fashion

    December 20, 2015

    Whatever happened to regime change?

  • Ted Cruz's slippery sales pitch for a tax overhaul

    December 16, 2015

    It's looking more and more as if Ted Cruz, the firebrand conservative from Texas, will be Donald Trump's main rival for the Republican presidential nomination. So it's worth digging a little more deeply into Cruz's views to see what kind of conservative he is.

  • Ted Cruz taps into disaffected conservatives' anger in a bold play that just might work

    December 13, 2015

    All year long, smart Republicans have been whispering: Keep a close eye on Ted Cruz. He's got a message that appeals to the party's most conservative voters. He's running a good campaign, well-organized and well-funded. He's going to be a finalist — and he might just win the nomination.

  • Trump backers embrace ban on Muslims; 'there is no line he cannot cross'

    December 10, 2015

    When Donald Trump called for a ban on allowing Muslims to enter the United States, he was roundly denounced by many other Republicans — not only rival presidential candidates (Jeb Bush called him "unhinged), but House Speaker Paul Ryan (who said, "This is not conservatism") and former Vice President Dick Cheney (who said Trump's idea "goes against everything we stand for").

  • It's not the economy anymore, stupid

    December 9, 2015

    Last year, Islamic State seized control of big chunks of Iraq and Syria. This year, it's hijacking the U.S. presidential campaign.

  • Sending special forces to Iraq and Syria is a quiet — and important — shift in policy by Obama

    December 6, 2015

    The Obama administration quietly announced a significant new escalation in its war against Islamic State last week: It's deploying U.S. special operations troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria to go after leaders of the Islamist movement.

  • Why horse race campaign polls are mostly worthless this far ahead of the voting

    December 2, 2015

    The first votes for the Republican presidential nomination won't be cast until February, but the polls have already provided enough drama for a full campaign cycle. Donald Trump surged to the top, faltered for a moment, then regained his lead. Ben Carson challenged him, but appears to be fading. Now Ted Cruz is coming on strong — or, to quote a newspaper story that unabashedly lapsed into horse race language, “making his move.”

  • After Paris, we must keep unreasonable fears in check

    November 29, 2015

    There was good news last week, but you might not have noticed it, since it was the kind of news that doesn't normally get headlines: In a world transfixed by terrorism, life is getting back to normal.

  • What fuels Trump's rise? Anger and fear

    November 25, 2015

    Donald Trump is still on top of the polls — defiantly, loudly, implausibly on top, even after saying things that would doom any candidate in a normal year.

  • Obama is right: Destroying Islamic State will take time and patience, not bluster

    November 22, 2015

    President Obama is tired of all the critics who say his strategy to destroy Islamic State isn't working.

  • Overheated rhetoric won't solve the Syrian refugee issue

    November 18, 2015

    Judging from some of the more extreme rhetoric on the presidential campaign trail, the biggest threat to U.S. national security today comes from frightened Syrian families fleeing the brutality of Islamic State.

  • Despite recent law and order rhetoric, the old lock 'em up mentality is out of favor with Republicans

    November 15, 2015

    Are we heading back to the 1960s, when cities and campuses spiraled into chaos and conservatives won elections by demanding law and order? In a period that has seen riots over police conduct in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, attacks on police officers in New York and other cities, and now student protests, it sometimes feels that way.

  • Why Ben Carson has no business near the Oval Office

    November 11, 2015

    I don't really mind that Ben Carson thinks the pyramids in Egypt were used to store grain; that's a folk belief that's been around since the Middle Ages. At least he dismisses the theory that the pyramids were built by space aliens.

  • The great Trans-Pacific Partnership debate

    November 8, 2015

    The White House released the text of its new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, last week, and like any good citizen, I tried my best to read it. But the 12-country agreement is more than 2,700 pages long, plus annexes, and a lot of it sounds like this: "The parties shall at all times endeavor to agree on the interpretation and application of this agreement, and shall make every attempt through cooperation and consultations to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution."

  • Obama tries a Band-Aid for Syria

    November 4, 2015

    When President Obama decided last week to send several dozen U.S. troops into Syria as advisors, the outcry was quick from both sides. Democrats fretted that by breaking his promise of no boots on the ground, Obama was inching toward deeper intervention. Republicans charged that Obama was intervening too little and accused him of acting without a strategy.

  • Campaign 2016's quixotic quest for 'authenticity'

    November 1, 2015

    Joe Biden has it, and so does Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump and Ben Carson have it too — at least, they seem to. But Hillary Rodham Clinton strains to achieve it. And Jeb Bush? He doesn't seem to want to try.

  • The GOP has two contests going on

    October 28, 2015

    To most of us, the Republican presidential campaign looks like an exercise in untrammeled chaos. Ben Carson is surging. Donald Trump is raging. Jeb Bush is floundering. And a long list of others, from Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to Carly Fiorina, are jostling for position in the polls.

  • Paul Ryan and the fight for the GOP's soul

    October 25, 2015

    Less than a year ago, after Republicans rolled up big majorities in the 2014 congressional elections, their leaders set out to show the nation that conservatives were up to the challenge of governing.

  • Bernie Sanders has some explaining to do

    October 21, 2015

    Bernie Sanders, the insurgent candidate for president, says he plans to give "a major speech" soon explaining what he means when he calls himself a democratic socialist.

  • Benghazi, Sid-ghazi and Huma-ghazi: Can Clinton weather the storm?

    October 18, 2015

    One of the biggest events in the 2016 presidential campaign will unroll in a quiet hearing room in Washington this week: Hillary Rodham Clinton's long-awaited interrogation by the House of Representatives' Select Committee on Benghazi.

  • Democratic debate a talking-point triumph for Hillary Clinton

    October 14, 2015

    Warning to all would-be Democratic presidential challengers: Debate Hillary Rodham Clinton at your own risk. Of all the candidates currently running in either party, Clinton has spent more hours in presidential-level debates than anyone else. She debated Barack Obama more than 20 times in 2008, and even won in some of those contests.

  • The hijacking of the House of Representatives

    October 11, 2015

    Less than a year ago, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and his fellow House Republicans were triumphant. In November 2014, they elected more conservatives to Congress than any time since the 1920s. In the same election, the GOP won the Senate, giving the party control of both houses for the first time since 2006.

  • Can Hillary Clinton change the gun debate?

    October 7, 2015

    Hillary Rodham Clinton proposed a list of tough new gun control measures this week, seeking to channel public outrage after yet another mass murder on a school campus. Her package was ambitious, even bold, but it's not likely to go anywhere even if she's elected president, which tells us something about the state of gun control politics in America.

  • What does Russia want in Syria?

    October 4, 2015

    Russia's airstrikes against Syrian rebels last week came as a surprise to many Americans — including, it seems, many in the Obama administration. They shouldn't have.

  • Who wins with the GOP tax plans? Mostly the wealthy.

    September 30, 2015

    Donald Trump unveiled a detailed plan for tax reform this week — four pages, complete with numbers and a graph. It didn't win universal praise; one conservative economist dismissed it as "unserious." But merely having a plan vaulted Trump into an elite group: the GOP presidential candidates who have bothered to lay out specific economic proposals.

  • Boehner heard the pope's message, but did GOP hard-liners?

    September 25, 2015

    House Speaker John A. Boehner's sudden decision to resign Friday came as a thunderclap in Washington, but it shouldn't have surprised anyone who witnessed Boehner's frustration grow with his fractious Republican caucus.

  • Why did voters abandon Scott Walker? He wasn't up for the job.

    September 23, 2015

    Five months ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker stood atop the national polls for the Republican presidential nomination. Less than two months ago, he was the front-runner in Iowa, where the first caucuses will be held next year. Yet on Monday, Walker abruptly dropped out of the presidential race after one of the most precipitous collapses in modern electoral history.

  • Why the rebel candidates are on the rise

    September 20, 2015

    It wasn't difficult for pundits to spin instant explanations for why "outsider" candidates such as Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders have been surging in recent polls. Opinion surveys have long shown that American voters are unhappy about the state of the nation, frustrated with politics as usual and skeptical that conventional politicians can fix the problem. Lately, however, voters seem to have reached the "I can't take it anymore" stage.

  • Blowhard or no, Trump has shaken up the GOP policy debate

    September 16, 2015

    Say what you like about Donald Trump: He's a blowhard, a braggart and not remotely qualified to be president — all true. But Trump can claim at least one substantive achievement on his improbable way to the top of the polls in the Republican presidential race: He's broadened the GOP's internal policy argument, and not only on immigration.

  • The debate over the Iran deal is far from over

    September 13, 2015

    The suspense over the immediate fate of President Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran is over; last week, Republicans in Congress tried to block the deal from moving forward, and failed. But the bitter, polarized debate over the deal will continue; the complexity of the agreement and the need to make sure Iran complies with its provisions mean it will remain a live issue for the foreseeable future.

  • As the Middle East's refugee crisis grows, why so few humanitarians?

    September 9, 2015

    It's been nothing short of astonishing to watch Germany embrace the role of moral leader in Europe — no, make that the world — on the migration crisis that has sent thousands of Syrians and others streaming into the continent by land and sea.

  • Trump can't actually win, can he?

    September 6, 2015

    I talked with Republican wise men last week — sober establishment strategists who have seen many presidential campaigns come and go — to ask them how long the improbable popularity of Donald Trump can last. Reassure me, I said: He can't actually win, right?

  • A Biden candidacy could divide the Democrats

    September 2, 2015

    Joe Biden hasn't decided whether to run for president, but he tells almost everyone who asks that he's giving it serious thought.

  • The hip dullness of Canada's politics

    August 30, 2015

    I spent part of August on vacation in Canada, only to find myself on what was once called a busman's holiday: Canadians are in the throes of a national election campaign, just like us. And, just like us, they're grouchy about the state of their democracy.

  • Can Hillary Clinton win the angry voters?

    August 16, 2015

    While Donald Trump has kept the political world transfixed, Hillary Rodham Clinton has spent her summer methodically rolling out a long list of policy proposals. They add up to a platform you might call "soft populism." It's not the insurrectionist socialism of Bernie Sanders but still progressive enough to keep most Democratic primary voters on her side.

  • The GOP's woman problem goes beyond Trump

    August 12, 2015

    After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election, Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus commissioned an autopsy to determine what had gone wrong. High on the list: a yawning gender gap. Romney won the votes of most men but lost among female voters by 11 percentage points; among single women, the margin was a daunting 36 points. "Our candidates … need to use language that addresses concerns that are on women's minds in order to let them know we are fighting for them," the Republican National Committee recommended.

  • Is Obama's strategy against Islamic State working?

    August 8, 2015

    One year ago this weekend, President Obama launched airstrikes in Iraq to prevent the insurgent armies of Islamic State from advancing to the gates of Baghdad and conquering the country. Within weeks, American aircraft began bombing Islamic State's bases in neighboring Syria, too, and Obama declared his war aims: “to degrade and ultimately destroy” the militant group.A year later, who's winning the war? The answer depends on whom you ask.

  • A quick guide to the candidates in Thursday's Republican debate

    August 5, 2015

    The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, hasn't had many nice things to say about Donald Trump lately, but he ought to thank the trash-talking mogul for this: Trump will draw millions of viewers to the GOP's first presidential debate on Thursday, giving the party a chance to reach millions of voters who wouldn't normally interrupt a summer evening to watch politicians talk.

  • Hillary Clinton's summer slump

    August 2, 2015

    This isn't a glorious summer for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • Are there really only two options on Iran?

    July 29, 2015

    Ever since negotiators finished work on a nuclear agreement with Iran, President Obama and his aides have been fending off critics with a recurring refrain: What's the alternative?

  • Republicans are embracing many versions of Reaganism

    July 26, 2015

    The Republican Party has a bigger problem than Donald Trump: It hasn't figured out what it wants to be.

  • Lift the ceiling on campaign donations

    July 22, 2015

    A remarkable thing just happened in the chaotic race for the Republican presidential nomination, and it wasn't the rise of Donald Trump. It was the impressive numbers reported for the first stage of the GOP's "money primary": the competition to raise the hundreds of millions of dollars a White House campaign requires.

  • Hillary Clinton's fair growth gambit

    July 19, 2015

    For most of a generation, Democrats have divided into two broad camps on economic policy. There are "growth Democrats," who argue that a rising tide will lift all boats; that was the reigning view during the Bill Clinton administration under Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence H. Summers. And there are "fairness Democrats," who argue that the central problem is inequality. That's the view of the party's progressive wing, led today by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

  • Don't like the Iran deal? What's the alternative?

    July 15, 2015

    The nuclear agreement the U.S. and its allies concluded with Iran on Tuesday isn't perfect; diplomatic compromises rarely are. The deal allows Iran to continue enriching uranium within limits, but the limits begin to phase out after 10 years. It lifts the international arms embargo on Iran after five years. And it relies heavily on inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency to make sure Iran doesn't cheat.

  • In Syria: $36 million to train 60 opposition fighters?

    July 12, 2015

    A little more than a year ago, President Obama asked Congress for $500 million to train and equip some 15,000 opposition fighters in Syria, arguing that the best way to defeat Islamic State terrorists was to arm local forces.

  • How far can Bernie Sanders go?

    July 8, 2015

    Bernie Sanders is on a roll. The independent socialist from Vermont, still not a registered Democrat, is drawing big crowds with his gruff populism: 2,500 people in Council Bluffs, Iowa; 7,500 in Portland, Me.; 10,000 in Madison, Wis. He's raised more than $15 million in mostly small donations — "not from billionaires," he crows. He's rising steadily in the polls; one survey shows him only 8 points behind the once untouchable front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the early primary state of New Hampshire.

  • Through fiction, veterans present a clearer truth on U.S. wars

    July 5, 2015

    Here's a summer reading suggestion you probably didn't see coming: Try some of the excellent recent fiction produced about America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, much of it by veterans.

  • France's toxic mix of demographics, terrorism and a presidential election

    July 1, 2015

    If you think immigration is a poisonous issue in American politics, spare a moment of sympathy for France, where demographics, terrorism and a presidential election have collided to produce a truly toxic mix.

  • French worries over Islamic State point to Syria

    June 27, 2015

    Six months after the Jan. 7 attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, Paris remains a city on guard. Black-uniformed military police of the Republican Security Companies patrol tourist sites with submachine guns. Museums, concert halls and even bookstores funnel visitors through security checks under signs reading Vigipirate, the national state of alert that still hasn't been lifted.

  • A French take on the U.S. presidential race

    June 24, 2015

    I visited friends last week in Brittany, the French province whose wild Atlantic coast resembles Northern California or Maine. And what do you think a dinner table full of smart French people wanted to talk about? The American presidential campaign.

  • Fox appoints itself a GOP primary gatekeeper

    May 30, 2015

    It's finally official: Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News, will decide which candidates can compete in Republican presidential primaries next year.

  • Bernie Sanders: Why the guy who won't win matters

    May 27, 2015

    Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist who kicked off his presidential campaign on Tuesday with a characteristically fiery speech, isn't going to win the 2016 Democratic nomination unless lightning strikes. To be really effective, in any case, the lightning would have to strike Hillary Rodham Clinton, who holds a prohibitive lead in every poll. But Sanders will still have a major impact on the Democratic race, and that could, paradoxically, be good for Clinton.

  • Obama has a strategy for fighting ISIS -- one that isn't working

    May 23, 2015

    Obama administration critics often charge that the president has no strategy in the war against Islamic State, but that's not true.

  • Is the American dream really dying?

    May 20, 2015

    Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who's running for the Republican presidential nomination, issued a stark warning recently.

  • Can the government reduce poverty while also slashing the budget?

    May 16, 2015

    An important but often neglected debate broke out in Washington last week: Which political party can do more for the nation's poor?

  • A flock of GOP hawks try out their presidential wings

    May 12, 2015

    Nearly a dozen of the Republicans who are running for president spent last weekend in South Carolina talking about foreign policy, and to any viewer who stumbled across the event on C-SPAN, it sounded like a contest in ferocity.

  • What the Persian Gulf states want: Iran kept at bay

    May 9, 2015

    This week, President Obama will gather kings, emirs and sheiks from the oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf at Camp David for a summit aimed at bolstering the U.S. alliance with their Sunni Muslim government.

  • Does Congress know we're at war?

    May 5, 2015

    When President Obama announced nine months ago that the United States was going to war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Congress reached an unusual near-consensus on two big points: Entering the fight was a good idea, but it was also important that the legislative branch formally authorize the campaign.

  • Hillary Clinton's conflict-of-interest problems

    May 2, 2015

    The harshest charges against Hillary Rodham Clinton — that she made decisions that favored donors to her family's charitable foundation when she was secretary of State — aren't sticking. Yes, the Obama administration approved a donor's sale of U.S. uranium mines to a Russian firm, but Clinton does not appear to have been involved. Yes, the administration concluded a trade treaty with Colombia that benefited Clinton Foundation donors, but that was President Obama's decision, not Clinton's. And yes, Clinton lobbied foreign governments on behalf of donors such as General Electric and Boeing — but that's part of every secretary of State's job description.

  • Is Jeb Bush too reasonable for Republicans?

    April 28, 2015

    For a Republican who once called himself a "head-banging conservative," Jeb Bush has said some surprisingly nice things about President Obama lately.

  • Are we winning the drone war?

    April 25, 2015

    Almost two years ago, President Obama announced that he was tightening the rules under which the CIA carries out drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. “Before any strike is taken, there must be a near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured — the highest standard we can set,” he said.

  • For the GOP, it's the billionaires' primary

    April 21, 2015

    The news that delivered the biggest jolt to the 2016 presidential campaign this week wasn't anything the candidates said or did.

  • Democrats' hunt for the white working-class male voter

    April 18, 2015

    Democrats were once the party of the white working man — but that was a long time ago.

  • What are the Democrats' alternatives to Clintonland?

    April 14, 2015

    Don't despair, political junkies. There's still going to be a vigorous debate in the Democratic presidential primary campaign — even though it won't really be about who the nominee should be. Unless she stumbles, Hillary Rodham Clinton seems to have the nomination pretty well sewn up.

  • Will the GOP try to broaden its appeal or purify party for 2016?

    April 11, 2015

    As the number of declared candidates in the presidential campaign grows, two competing theories have emerged among Republicans as to how one of their candidates can win the GOP nomination and, ultimately, the White House.

  • Obama's hurdles to shielding any Iran deal from Congress' tinkering

    April 7, 2015

    President Obama faces two serious problems as he tries to protect his still-unfinished nuclear agreement with Iran from congressional tinkering — or destruction. One is the ferocious opposition of Republican hawks who view the deal as insufficiently tough on Tehran. The other is nervousness among Democrats who view the deal as promising but politically risky.

  • Nuclear deal unlikely to make Iran a docile U.S. partner

    April 4, 2015

    When the United States and Iran began inching toward an agreement to limit Tehran's nuclear technology, optimists suggested that a deal could open the way for a broader rapprochement between the two countries. That no longer seems like even a remote possibility.

  • Republicans love to hate the IRS, but it's a model of efficiency

    March 31, 2015

    As you labor over your tax returns this month, spare a moment of sympathy for the least-loved agency in the federal government: the Internal Revenue Service.

  • Ted Cruz's ride on the Obamacare train wreck

    March 28, 2015

    When Sen. Ted Cruz, the conservative firebrand from Texas, launched his presidential campaign last week at the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, he earned grudgingly glowing reviews from otherwise skeptical pundits. The very next day he drove straight into a pothole on his already-narrow road to the Republican nomination: Obamacare.

  • Joe Biden is Democrats' 2016 understudy, in the wings in case Hillary Clinton falters

    March 24, 2015

    Joe Biden still wants to run for president. At least, his friends tell me, a big part of him does. He talks about the prospect readily, whenever reporters or voters ask. He doesn't sound as if the ambition that fired him to run when he was 44 or 64 has diminished at 72.

  • After Netanyahu's reelection, tough love and damage control by the U.S.

    March 21, 2015

    When President Obama began his second term — the time presidents traditionally build foreign policy legacies — he had two major projects in the Middle East: a nuclear agreement with Iran and a peace settlement based on a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planted himself firmly in the way of both.

  • How 'social air bags' for rich kids exacerbate unequal opportunity

    March 17, 2015

    What's the difference between growing up in an affluent family and growing up poor in America?

  • That GOP letter to Iran? Not illegal, but not smart either.

    March 14, 2015

    It seemed like a good idea at the time. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a rising conservative star, persuaded 46 fellow Republicans to sign a letter to Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei et al warning that Congress could revoke any nuclear deal that President Obama makes.

  • John Boehner's minority government of pragmatic Republicans

    March 10, 2015

    Last week's drama in the House of Representatives, when Speaker John A. Boehner needed Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to rescue him from his own rebellious party, looked like a messy disaster for Republicans. But it could have been worse.

  • Will Clinton let email issue mushroom into a major problem?

    March 7, 2015

    It's impossible to know whether Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of a private email account to conduct business as secretary of State is a serious scandal or merely a tempest in a teapot. Impossible, because Clinton and her aides have ducked the most important questions.

  • Netanyahu's speech to Congress has politics written all over it

    March 3, 2015

    If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu really didn't want his speech on Tuesday to look political, he chose a strange place to deliver it: the U.S. House of Representatives, one of the most politicized places on Earth.

  • Who killed at CPAC, the GOP's red meat 2016 auditions?

    February 27, 2015

    The fervent Republicans who throng the Conservative Political Action Conference every year aren't representative of the American electorate. They aren't even representative of the GOP electorate. For four of the last five years, their straw poll for president has chosen Rand Paul or Ron Paul. These are not everyday Republicans.

  • Question Ted Cruz should ask: Can a foreign-born American be president?

    February 24, 2015

    Sen. Ted Cruz is getting close to announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. The Texan is spending almost as much time in Iowa and New Hampshire as he does on Fox News; he's hired a staff and collected a long list of fiercely conservative supporters.

  • 'Islamic' extremism or 'violent' extremism? The president is mincing words and there's a reason for that

    February 20, 2015

    For weeks, Republicans have lambasted President Obama for what they claim is a major foreign policy failure: His refusal to use the term “Islamic” to describe the terrorists of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

  • Forget it, liberals: Elizabeth Warren is not running for president

    February 17, 2015

    Sorry to break the bad news to all you dreamy-eyed liberals, but it's time to stop wishin' and hopin': Elizabeth Warren isn't running for president. Really and truly.

  • Republicans haven't quite worked out a foreign policy beyond 'not Obama'

    February 13, 2015

    Most presidential campaigns focus mostly on domestic issues such as the economy, taxes and healthcare, not foreign policy. But the 2016 presidential campaign is already shaping up to be an exception to that rule.

  • Obama's sadder but wiser foreign policy

    February 11, 2015

    When he entered the White House in 2009, Barack Obama had grand ambitions in foreign policy. He planned to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, build a better relationship with Russia, broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians and offer a hand of friendship to Iran and the Muslim world.

  • Why the U.S. is courting the Houthis taking control in Yemen

    February 7, 2015

    The Houthis, Shiite Muslim rebels who announced that they were taking control of Yemen's government last week, don't seem much like natural allies of the United States.

  • Obama's wish-list budget doesn't make things easy for the GOP

    February 3, 2015

    When one party owns the White House and the other holds Congress, the president's annual budget is a strange, almost fictional document. It's not a draft from which the real federal budget will be written; Congress controls that process from beginning to end. Instead, it's merely the president's announcement of what he'd do if Congress weren't there. It's a party platform with numbers.

  • In the nuclear talks, what if Iran can't get to yes?

    January 30, 2015

    The news from U.S. negotiators who are trying to persuade Iran to accept binding limits on its nuclear technology was not good last week.

  • Democratic Party is suddenly a fount of ideas

    January 27, 2015

    Only a few months ago, it looked as if Republicans had recaptured their old claim to be the party of ideas, especially on the economic issue that has seized the attention of most Americans: the stagnation of middle-class incomes.

  • A conspicuous failure of U.S. foreign policy in Syria

    January 24, 2015

    In 2011, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, a mild-mannered diplomat named Robert S. Ford, became the face of American support for the Arab Spring when he boldly visited opponents to the brutal regime of Bashar Assad in the northern city of Hama.

  • In State of the Union, Obama goes on offense

    January 21, 2015

    President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday didn't contain any surprises, but it did unveil the clearest picture yet of the strategy Obama has adopted for the final two years of his presidency.

  • What another Romney run means

    January 16, 2015

    Technically, the number of formal contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination is still zero. But a huge and impressive field of almost-candidates has already turned the contest into a crowded, noisy brawl.

  • After the vote and the veto, the Keystone XL pipeline could make a comeback

    January 13, 2015

    The U.S. Senate launched its first great debate of 2015 this week, on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the refineries of Texas. Predictably, the rhetoric was apocalyptic.

  • Mitch McConnell sings 'Kumbaya'

    January 10, 2015

    The triumphant Republican class of 2014 formally took control of both halves of Congress last week, and here's what it has changed so far: not much.

  • The invisible 2016 primary...revealed

    January 6, 2015

    This early stretch of presidential campaigns used to be known as the invisible primary. The action — would-be candidates drawing up strategies, courting donors and recruiting aides — occurred beyond the sight of ordinary voters.

  • 'Selma' and why, half a century later, we're still struggling with the 1960s

    January 3, 2015

    The powerful film “Selma” is stirring audiences across the country with its compelling portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. and the heroism of ordinary African Americans as they demanded the right to vote a half century ago.

  • Doyle McManus' 2014 hits and misses

    December 27, 2014

    "Prediction is difficult, especially about the future,” Yogi Berra once said. Wait — let me correct that. It wasn't Yogi Berra; it was Niels Bohr. Or maybe Mark Twain.

  • Obama's fourth-quarter foreign policy surprises

    December 20, 2014

    Six months ago, President Obama's foreign policy looked stymied. Negotiations with Israel and the Palestinians were at a dead end. Russia was gaining ground in eastern Ukraine. U.S. efforts to end the war in Syria were ineffective. A new extremist army, Islamic State, was marching into Iraq.

  • PolitiFact's liars of the year: The politicians who played the Ebola fear card

    December 16, 2014

    Remember Ebola?

  • That ugly spending bill? That's what compromise looks like

    December 13, 2014

    The trillion-dollar spending bill that the House of Representatives passed last week had something for everyone to hate. But it was still a step, however awkward, toward making the United States governable again.

  • Torture remains a political football

    December 9, 2014

    The catalog of horrors contained in Tuesday's report from the Senate Intelligence Committee ought to settle one argument for good: Yes, the CIA did use torture on suspected terrorists in its secret detention program a decade ago.

  • The interim nuclear agreement with Iran may be as good as it gets

    December 5, 2014

    Some of the world's leading diplomats including Secretary of State John F. Kerry worked right up until their self-imposed deadline of Nov. 24 trying to reach agreement with Iran on limits to that country's nuclear program.

  • Zealous conservatives appear unlikely to compromise in next Congress

    December 2, 2014

    After November's midterm election, polls found that most Americans wanted their members of Congress to seek compromise — anything to end the gridlock that has plagued Washington. An NBC-Wall Street Journal survey found that even among Republicans, more favor compromise over intransigence. Four years ago, only 27% of GOP voters were in the compromise camp; now 49% are, while just 45% want their legislators to stand firm.

  • How corruption abroad threatens U.S. national security

    November 29, 2014

    When the militants of Islamic State swept across Iraq last June, they numbered no more than 12,000 and they faced a U.S.-trained, U.S.-equipped Iraqi army that boasted some 200,000 troops.

  • GOP ponders its next move in wake of Obama's immigration action

    November 25, 2014

    When President Obama announced his decision to allow roughly 4 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation, Democrats and Republicans in Washington disagreed furiously about the move. No surprise there.

  • Obama steps away from the Powell Doctrine

    November 21, 2014

    We're three months into our newest war, the one against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and nobody's happy with how it's going.

  • A Bernie Sanders candidacy could help Hillary Clinton

    November 18, 2014

    I'm going out on a limb here, but Bernie Sanders is not going to be our next president. Still, the independent socialist senator from Vermont is sounding more and more like a man who intends to defy the doubters and run. And he could play an important role in the campaign.

  • Sage advice for Hillary Clinton

    November 15, 2014

    It's been almost two weeks since their stinging defeat in midterm elections, but Democrats are still licking their wounds and trying to figure out where they went wrong. They don't have much time to extract the right lessons: The 2016 presidential campaign will begin in earnest any minute now.

  • Americans rally 'round Obama's war on Islamic State, but not Obama

    November 11, 2014

    Remember when pundits were worried that Americans had turned isolationist? As recently as August, polls showed big majorities opposed to military intervention in Iraq, Syria or anywhere else.

  • Can Obama's presidency be saved?

    November 8, 2014

    Even before the drubbing his party suffered in last week's congressional election, President Obama was visibly frustrated by Republicans' tenacious opposition to his second-term agenda. Now he's heading into the final years of his presidency facing a Congress that will be even harder to deal with. Does this mean Obama's last lap is destined to be a hopeless, unrewarding slog?

  • A new GOP mandate?

    November 5, 2014

    How many victories add up to a mandate?

  • After this election, expect more, not less, confrontation

    November 1, 2014

    At some point during the last two weeks, Democrats in Washington began privately acknowledging that they will almost certainly lose their majority in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Rather than discussing strategies for winning, they have shifted to excuses and explanations for the probable loss: an unpopular president, an economic recovery hardly anybody feels, a map dominated by conservative states, voters unsettled by terrorism and Ebola.

  • America's epidemic of fear over Ebola

    October 28, 2014

    Beware of epidemics in election years.

  • The new Rand Paul vs. the old Rand Paul

    October 24, 2014

    Rand Paul, the heretofore libertarian senator from Kentucky, gave a foreign policy speech to Republican grandees in New York last week with a clear message: I'm not an isolationist like my dad.

  • An Islamic State stalemate

    October 21, 2014

    The United States and its allies are no longer losing the war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and in the Middle East, that counts as progress.

  • The Republicans' midterm advantage: reliable voters

    October 14, 2014

    National polling on the Nov. 4 midterm elections confirms a doleful trend that's been firming up all year: Voters aren't enthusiastic about their choices — on either side.

  • Three key questions in the GOP's quest for a presidential nominee

    October 11, 2014

    Officially, not a single candidate is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

  • Best and worst ads in this year's U.S. Senate races

    October 7, 2014

    It's autumn in an even-numbered year, time for the hard-fought playoffs in our national sport. I am speaking, of course, about congressional elections.

  • We're not getting the federal government we deserve

    October 4, 2014

    Whatever happened to good old American know-how?

  • Why so many voters care so little about the midterm elections

    September 30, 2014

    The looming midterm elections, which will decide whether the U.S. Senate is run by Democrats or Republicans, has been called "the Seinfeld election," because so much of the campaign seems to be about nothing.

  • President Obama will go out with a war cry

    September 27, 2014

    Anyone who wondered how Barack Obama was going to spend the last two years of his presidency got an answer last week: He'll be fighting a war.

  • Clinton's lead among Democrats in 2016 is clear -- which is complicated

    September 23, 2014

    The 2016 presidential election is more than two years away. Heck, the 2014 midterm election is still more than a month away. But it's never too early to speculate about presidential nominations, especially for politicians who are thinking about running.

  • In Iraq, closing the gap between Obama's goal and means

    September 20, 2014

    Discordant notes from the Obama administration last week were widely interpreted as a collision between a war-weary president and a gung-ho military. And it was easy to see why.

  • Old echoes in America's new Mideast policy

    September 13, 2014

    Here's the nightmare scenario that kept Obama administration officials awake at night this summer as they watched the black-masked guerrillas of Islamic State sweep across Iraq: First, the insurgents could invade Baghdad, toppling Iraq's government and forcing a Saigon-style evacuation of the U.S. Embassy. Then they could move into Jordan, a close U.S. ally that has maintained a peaceful border with Israel for a generation. From there, they could even threaten Saudi Arabia, the linchpin of the world's oil markets.

  • The GOP's Iraq quandary

    September 9, 2014

    For most of the summer, Republicans had it easy when it came to the Islamic State. All they had to do was complain that President Obama wasn't tough enough, accuse him of lacking strategic vision and demand that he do more.

  • Obama's strategy to defeat Islamic State: a coalition of frenemies

    September 6, 2014

    A month ago, it was difficult to tell whether President Obama's heart was in the fight against the Islamic State, the terrorist group that has seized a swath of territory in Iraq and Syria.

  • Can a columnist survive a two-week vacation, unplugged?

    September 2, 2014

    Last year I ruined my summer vacation — a two-week idyll at my wife's family cabin on a lake in northern Ontario — by bringing along a modern convenience that was too convenient for my own good: the demon iPad.

  • Obama tests the bounds of lame-duckery

    August 16, 2014

    There are two words every president, including Barack Obama, hates to hear: "lame duck."

  • Make no mistake: We're back in an Iraq war

    August 12, 2014

    Every time Barack Obama thinks he has succeeded in establishing restraint as the central doctrine of his foreign policy, a new outburst of chaos in the Middle East draws him back in. In 2011, fears that Libya's Moammar Kadafi would massacre opponents led the United States into an air war. In 2013, Syria's use of chemical weapons against civilians almost drew Obama into another. Now it's Iraq, where the president thought he had disentangled the United States, only to see a new threat arise in the form of the terrorist army of the Islamic State.

  • What's the secret of Nixon's unpopularity?

    August 9, 2014

    Most American presidents' reputations improve after they leave office. In the warm light of history, once-derided chief executives seem to gain retroactive stature.

  • President Obama's troubling dinner party

    August 5, 2014

    The Obama administration erred on the side of inclusion in deciding which leaders to invite to its ambitious U.S.-Africa summit this week — at least in the view of human rights advocates.

  • Gridlock's other component: The House GOP's enduring civil war

    August 2, 2014

    The emergency immigration bill House Speaker John A. Boehner initially proposed last week was never going to become law — and he knew it. President Obama had already promised a veto, so the bill was mostly a political message, designed to show that House Republicans could act decisively in a crisis.

  • Is global chaos the new normal?

    July 29, 2014

    It's a chaotic world out there. But we'd better get used to it; this may be the new normal.

  • Anti-poverty talk from conservative Paul Ryan?

    July 26, 2014

    Quick quiz: Which potential 2016 presidential candidate had this to say about federal anti-poverty programs last week?

  • Putin has a new headache in Ukraine: Now Europe is watching

    July 22, 2014

    It's neither pleasant nor polite to say it, but the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 may have been the best thing to happen to President Obama's policy on Ukraine in weeks.

  • Why Germany feels dissed

    July 19, 2014

    I arrived in Berlin last week hoping to see something rare: a country that's prosperous, well-governed and even happy, if only because it was just crowned champion of soccer's World Cup.

  • The drone warfare drawbacks

    July 5, 2014

    The drone has become America's counter-terrorism weapon of choice. But does drone warfare really further U.S. goals abroad?

  • War lite -- Obama's limited Iraq goals

    June 21, 2014

    The United States is stepping into its third Iraq war in 24 years. But if President Obama has his way, this one will be fought under different rules.

  • ISIS -- is it too extreme to survive?

    June 17, 2014

    Just how terrifying is the Sunni Muslim extremist group that's taken over a huge swath of territory in northern Iraq? Here are some clues:

  • The Cantor defeat: A voters' revolt against, but against what?

    June 14, 2014

    Voters' revolts are always instructive. But first you have to figure out what the voters were trying to say. And in the days since Rep. Eric Cantor, the second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, lost his GOP primary election, there's been plenty of disagreement about that.

  • Hillary Clinton: She's no Obama

    June 10, 2014

    Hillary Rodham Clinton wants you to know that when it comes to foreign policy, she's one tough lady. Tougher, say, than President Obama.

  • Russian saber-rattling has Eastern Europe craving NATO protection

    June 6, 2014

    Red lines haven't been kind to President Obama. When he warned Syria's Bashar Assad against using chemical weapons, Assad used them anyway. When he warned Russia against seizing Crimea, Vladimir Putin went ahead and annexed the place.

  • Hillary Clinton's book tour: It's about a lot more than selling books

    June 3, 2014

    Get ready for a new round of Clintonmania.

  • Why Obama has changed his mind on Syria

    May 31, 2014

    President Obama's foreign policy speech at West Point last week was in large part a list of all the things he doesn't want to do. He doesn't want to withdraw from the world. At the same time, he doesn't want to use military force to solve every problem. Above all, he doesn't want to get stuck in another war in the Middle East, or anywhere else, for that matter.

  • Vladimir Putin, master player

    May 27, 2014

    Let us now praise Vladimir Putin.

  • VA scandal fits an established Obama narrative: skilled politician, lousy manager

    May 24, 2014

    We don't normally expect our presidents to pay close attention to how long veterans are being asked to wait for care in the vast medical system run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  • GOP puts its tea party 'civil war' behind it

    May 20, 2014

    Sen. Mitch McConnell's easy victory over his tea party opponent in Kentucky's Republican primary Tuesday presents a tidy storyline: the establishment strikes back.

  • To achieve the American dream, mind the opportunity gap

    May 17, 2014

    Ever since the financial crash of 2008, we've been having an anxious national debate about the growing income gap. What does it mean for American society when most workers' wages are flat and almost all economic gains flow to the top 1% — or to the top one-tenth of 1%?

  • Will Elizabeth Warren run?

    May 13, 2014

    In her recently published memoir, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) relays a chilling anecdote about how Washington really works. In 2009, she was running a congressional panel to oversee the Treasury Department's bailout of the financial industry, and the new Obama administration was unhappy that she was being as tough on them as she had been on its Republican predecessors. So the president's top economic advisor, Lawrence H. Summers, took Warren out for a friendly dinner.

  • The GOP does the climate change dance

    May 10, 2014

    Last week, the White House issued a new and alarming edition of its national report on climate change. How did leading Republicans respond?

  • Democrats, uncurb your enthusiasm

    May 6, 2014

    Polling hasn't brought much good news to Democrats this spring. In the latest blow, a Pew Research survey for USA Today reported Monday that 47% of voters said they expect to vote for Republican candidates in November's congressional election, against only 43% who plan to vote Democratic. If those numbers hold up, control of the Senate is likely to flip from the Democrats to the GOP.

  • What Americans really want in a foreign policy

    May 3, 2014

    To understand how President Obama feels about the frustrations of foreign policy in an uncooperative world, just look at his testy response to a question from a Fox News reporter last week.

  • Why the rich are rattled

    April 29, 2014

    The Milken Institute Global Conference, an annual gathering of investment bankers plus a smattering of social entrepreneurs, scientists and Hollywood stars, is a sea of expensive suits and beautiful shoes — a convention not of the top 1% but of the top 0.1%.

  • Will Clinton run?

    April 27, 2014

    Hillary Rodham Clinton sure sounds like a woman who wants to run for president.

  • Bangladesh's sweatshops: A boycott is not the answer

    April 22, 2014

    One year ago this week, the eight-story Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh's capital city of Dhaka, killing 1,129 people. The building's top floors had been added illegally, and their weight caused the lower stories to buckle. Many of the victims were young women who had been sewing low-priced clothes for Western brands, earning a minimum wage of about $9 a week. It was the worst disaster in garment industry history.

  • What Putin wants, and how he plans to get it

    April 20, 2014

    It was tempting to look at last week's diplomatic agreement to pull Ukraine back from the brink of war and see the beginning of a grand compromise between Russia and the West.

  • Is Jeb Bush too old school for the new GOP?

    April 15, 2014

    Is Jeb Bush's moment over?

  • Reading between the lines in Washington

    April 11, 2014

    Reading is such an improbable idea -- a miracle, really. Yet simple squiggles on a page, arranged just so, can convey ideas that change the way we think or introduce to us characters we love for a lifetime. In celebration of reading -- and of this weekend's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books -- we asked four readers (who also happen to be writers) to celebrate books that mattered in their lives.

  • The GOP's 2016 handicap -- immigration

    April 8, 2014

    In case you missed it, here's what former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had to say last week when asked about people who come to America illegally to make better lives:

  • Is Obamacare too big to fail?

    April 6, 2014

    When Obamacare's first open-enrollment period ended last week, the tally was impressive: 7.1 million Americans signed up for insurance on federal and state exchanges by the March 31 deadline, several million more signed up for Medicaid and a whole lot of under-26 Americans got covered by their parents' plans.

  • America's evangelicals return to seeking souls, not votes

    April 2, 2014

    Only a decade ago, Christian social conservatives were a commanding force in American politics. They helped elect one of their own, George W. Bush, to two terms. They were a cornerstone of a GOP coalition that appeared to hold a permanent electoral majority. But today, the movement has lost its momentum — in part because one of its assets has become a liability.

  • Chuck Hagel: The Asia pivot is still on

    March 30, 2014

    Russian troops are massing menacingly on Ukraine's eastern border. The civil war in Syria is still raging, and 33,000 American troops fight on in Afghanistan. So where is Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel headed this week? To Hawaii — for a meeting with defense ministers from Asia, the region the Obama administration still considers its top foreign policy priority.

  • The president, the pope and practical politics

    March 26, 2014

    President Obama is scheduled to visit Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday, and the meeting will probably take the usual form of encounters between presidents and pontiffs: a polite conversation about their common agenda on poverty and world peace, plus a gentle remonstrance from the Holy Father on abortion and religious liberty.

  • What would a Republican president do about Ukraine?

    March 23, 2014

    Here's what the United States has done so far in an attempt to deter further Russian incursions into Ukraine: applied two rounds of economic sanctions and asked Congress to approve $1 billion in loan guarantees for Kiev.

  • Putin conducts 'Russia Marches On'

    March 18, 2014

    Last week, before Vladimir Putin annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea to Russia, I asked a leading Putinologist, Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution, what the Russian president was likely to do.

  • Are the Democrats doomed?

    March 16, 2014

    This year was always going to be a difficult one for Democrats, as they battle to keep their five-seat majority in the Senate. But in recent months, the political landscape has grown bleaker.

  • Millennials rising

    March 12, 2014

    The young are different from you and me — unless, of course, you happen to be one of them.

  • Obama and the diplomacy pendulum

    March 9, 2014

    When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, one of his selling points was the promise of a more modest foreign policy than that of his predecessor. And when Obama won reelection 16 months ago, he renewed that pledge. Drone strikes against Al Qaeda would continue, and Navy visits to the South China Sea would increase, but the U.S. footprint around the world was being resolutely downsized.

  • The dawn of Cold War II

    March 5, 2014

    Here's a chilly thought: We are seeing the dawn of a second Cold War between Russia and the West. But this one should be easier to manage than the first was.

  • Democrats go a-courting as the Senate hangs in the balance

    March 2, 2014

    Nearly a generation ago, MSNBC's Chris Matthews coined a description of our two political parties that may turn out to be his most enduring contribution to American punditry. Republicans, Matthews wrote, were the "Daddy Party," all about military security and self-reliance; Democrats were the "Mommy Party," all about health, education and nurturing.

  • Chuck Hagel's nuclear exemption

    February 26, 2014

    The headlines on the Pentagon budget unveiled by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week were all about austerity: the smallest U.S. Army since 1940; fewer aircraft, ships and armored vehicles; even some modest belt-tightening on future military pay and benefits.

  • Leading from behind in Syria

    February 23, 2014

    Faced with bad options in Syria, President Obama is reviving a tactic he tried in an earlier war: leading from behind.

  • The tea party grows up

    February 16, 2014

    Ever since a wave of conservative insurgents arrived in Washington after the congressional election of 2010, Congress has careened from one tea party-inspired fiscal crisis to another, from the debt-ceiling showdown of 2011 to last year's 16-day government shutdown.

  • For Obama, procrastination on Keystone XL might be a virtue

    February 12, 2014

    The debate over the Keystone XL pipeline may look like just another example of the partisan divide on Capitol Hill. If only it were that easy.

  • Bill Gates: The world is better than ever

    February 8, 2014

    Bill Gates wants you to feel much better about the future of mankind. Things are looking up, he says, way up.

  • Red vs. blue: The battle lines of 2014

    February 5, 2014

    The conventional wisdom is that this fall's congressional election will be all about Obamacare. Republicans, it's argued, will try to expand their majority in the House and take the Senate with a campaign focused mostly on the failings of President Obama's health insurance law; Democrats will fire back with warnings that the GOP would simply repeal the law and leave consumers on their own.

  • Henry Waxman, the 'tougher than a boiled owl' congressman

    February 2, 2014

    Most members of the House of Representatives have a "wall of fame" in their office — meant-to-impress photographs of the often obscure incumbent with presidents, senators and hometown sports heroes.

  • State of the Union: Obama's era of limits

    January 29, 2014

    The rap against President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday was that his agenda, once ambitious and transformational, has suddenly turned modest.

  • Harry Reid earns an assist on Iran

    January 26, 2014

    The most important person in the U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations right now may be Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader from Searchlight, Nev.

  • The GOP discovers inequality

    January 22, 2014

    "Poverty is not some rare disease from which the rest of us are all immune," a leading American politician said last week. "It is but the worst strain of a widespread disease otherwise known as economic insecurity. Most families worry about making ends meet."

  • A new day at the NSA

    January 19, 2014

    Individually, the concrete steps President Obama announced Friday toward reforming the National Security Agency's surveillance programs were modest. Taken together, though, they signal the end of an era of unfettered escalation in U.S. intelligence-gathering.

  • John Kerry's bicycle diplomacy in the Middle East

    January 15, 2014

    Peace negotiations, a wise U.S. diplomat once said, are like riding a bicycle: No matter how slow you're moving, it's best to keep going — because if you try to stand still, you'll fall.

  • Syria and the perils of proxy war

    January 12, 2014

    The first war I covered as a foreign correspondent was the civil war in Lebanon. When the conflict began in 1975, it was just a series of skirmishes, a nasty but limited little war for control of a small nation.

  • Edward Snowden, in shades of gray

    January 8, 2014

    Is Edward Snowden a whistle-blower or a traitor?

  • McManus: The president's hump year

    January 5, 2014

    The sixth year of a two-term presidency is rarely kind.

  • A Beltway pundit's cloudy crystal ball

    December 29, 2013

    To err is human. To err twice a week, you have to be a columnist.

  • 2014 forecast for D.C.: Still stormy

    December 22, 2013

    "Congress is finishing this year less popular than a cockroach," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the other day. The reason, he charged, was simple: "mindless, knee-jerk obstruction from Republicans."

  • What Edward Snowden started

    December 18, 2013

    Edward Snowden should be proud.

  • Moonwalking in Syria

    December 15, 2013

    Here's how feeble U.S. influence on the outcome of Syria's dreadful civil war has become: For the Obama administration's diplomacy to succeed, it now needs help from an armed group with the unpromising name of the Islamic Front.

  • Piling on the Murray-Ryan budget deal

    December 11, 2013

    Here's what counts as success in Washington these days: a budget deal that almost everyone hates and that doesn't solve any of the country's major problems.

  • John Kerry's high-wire diplomacy

    December 8, 2013

    Has John F. Kerry turned into the unexpected star of President Obama's second term?

  • For Obama, it's all about Obamacare

    December 4, 2013

    President Obama's speech Tuesday announced the relaunch of his healthcare program's website. But he was also aiming to relaunch his entire second term, which has careened from high ambition to near-catastrophe in less than 11 months.

  • Dance of the GOP governors

    December 1, 2013

    Don't look now, but auditions for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination are already underway in Washington. And the flavor of the moment is — governors.

  • Iran sanctions: Dancing with Tehran

    November 27, 2013

    If economic sanctions were key to forcing Iran to accept limits on its nuclear program, wouldn't more sanctions have an even greater effect?

  • Will the NSA be reformed?

    November 24, 2013

    Remember Edward Snowden? For a while, the National Security Agency's renegade contractor seemed like the most influential man in American intelligence, even though he's been hiding out in Moscow. Snowden's disclosures touched off a wave of enthusiasm in Congress for reforming the NSA's surveillance practices — and anger overseas when he revealed that American spies were listening to foreign leaders' cellphone calls.

  • Obama's reversal of fortune

    November 20, 2013

    When it comes to his healthcare law, President Obama faces a political version of what insurance folks call "adverse selection": All the bad news is sticking to him and most of the good news is sticking to someone else.

  • JFK, a presidency on a pedestal

    November 17, 2013

    Fifty years after the death of John F. Kennedy, there's no mystery about why his brief presidency remains an object of fascination: It was glamorous, photogenic, and cut short by an assassination that still seems an insoluble puzzle. Compared to the full-color images of Kennedy and his wife on our television screens this month, other figures of his era seem gray.

  • Dreaming of the White House

    November 13, 2013

    Is it too early to think about who's running for president in 2016, three years from now?

  • No longer the Greatest Generation's VA

    November 10, 2013

    Just in time for Veterans Day, the embattled secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, announced last week that his department had reduced its backlog of overdue disability claims from more than 600,000 in March to about 400,000.

  • The answer on Iran? Yes.

    November 6, 2013

    After years of fruitless negotiations, the United States may soon face an unfamiliar problem in its long confrontation with Iran: Are we willing to take yes for an answer?

  • A plague on both your parties

    November 3, 2013

    Only two weeks ago, President Obama looked like a man on the rise. He and his party had successfully stared down Republicans in a 16-day government shutdown. Voters were angrier at the GOP than any time since, well, the last government shutdown. A confident-looking Obama declared it was time to get the country back on track with quick action on a budget agreement, immigration reform and a bipartisan farm bill.

  • Turning away from the Mideast

    October 30, 2013

    Two years ago, when the Arab Spring was in bloom, President Obama declared that promoting democracy in the Middle East would be "a top priority" for the United States. "We know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security, by history and by faith," Obama said.

  • Obamacare's next hurdle

    October 27, 2013

    One of these weeks, now that the Obama administration has recruited a SWAT team of computer whizzes, will recover from its shambolic debut and turn into, well, just another website. After all, it's only a website, and websites can be fixed.

  • Poof goes the middle class

    October 23, 2013

    Imagine a future in which real wages for most workers decline year after year; a future in which middle-class jobs that disappeared in the Great Recession won't be coming back; a future in which young Americans either squeeze into an increasingly wealthy elite or tumble to the bottom, with fewer and fewer in what we once called the middle class.

  • Government shutdown: Plenty of lessons to go around

    October 20, 2013

    Obama and the Democrats won; Republicans and the tea party lost. And both sides are gearing up for next time.

  • McConnell delivers; Boehner can't

    October 16, 2013

    God bless Mitch McConnell.

  • For the GOP, rightward ho!

    October 13, 2013

    The Republican Party is at war with itself. It's divided over how best to shrink the federal budget and how to undo President Obama's healthcare law. It hasn't been notably successful at either, which helps explain why the GOP's standing in the eyes of most voters has plummeted to depths not seen in three decades of modern polling.

  • The uncompromiser in chief

    October 9, 2013

    If you wanted to hear words of sweet conciliation, the White House was the wrong place to go this week.

  • The unsettled healthcare law

    October 6, 2013

    Ever since Obamacare's stormy passage in early 2010, Democrats have been waiting anxiously for the program to go into effect and hoping that a dose of reality would calm the partisan battles over the health insurance plan. Once everything was up and running, they hoped, skeptical Americans would see that Obamacare was a good idea all along — and reward the party that brought it to them.

  • Government shutdown: A way out for the GOP

    October 2, 2013

    Last week, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and his Republicans declared that they had two clear goals in this fall's battle over federal spending: no government shutdown, and no implementation of Obamacare.

  • Charmed by Rouhani, but only to a point

    September 29, 2013

    NEW YORK — How long does it take for a charm offensive to wear thin?

  • Another Clinton presidential campaign?

    September 25, 2013

    So, will Hillary Rodham Clinton run for president?

  • In Washington, countdown to a shutdown

    September 22, 2013

    "The American people don't want the government shut down, and they don't want Obamacare. The House has listened to the American people."

  • On foreign policy, a consistently inconsistent president

    September 18, 2013

    In the wake of his dizzying reverses over chemical weapons in Syria, President Obama has been blasted as inconsistent, impulsive and amateurish in his conduct of foreign policy. But when you look at his actions rather than his words, there's more consistency than meets the eye. Consider the evidence.

  • In America, not isolationism but skepticism

    September 15, 2013

    President Obama and his aides were surprised this month by the strength of public opposition to their call for military action against Syria. They shouldn't have been.

  • Obama, the reluctant warrior on Syria

    September 11, 2013

    On Tuesday, President Obama made the case for a limited military strike in Syria if diplomacy fails.

  • To strike, or not to strike, Syria?

    September 8, 2013

    After two weeks of furious debate about whether the United States should attack Syria, the arguments on both sides are now clear.

  • The Syria vote's political stakes

    September 4, 2013

    Every member of the Senate with a glimmer of ambition to run for president — and that's most of them — knows that a vote for war can make or break a political career. The example of Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose vote to authorize the 2003 invasion of Iraq crippled her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, is vivid in every mind on Capitol Hill.

  • How a demon iPad stole my summer vacation

    September 1, 2013

    I plan to remember this year's vacation season with just two words: Never again.

  • Obama's limited Syria goals

    August 28, 2013

    President Obama appears increasingly ready to launch a military strike in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad's apparent use of chemical weapons against civilians.

  • In the Arab world, U.S. is low on leverage

    August 10, 2013

    The "Arab Spring" may not have succeeded in bringing democracy to the Middle East. But it has provided powerful evidence of a different phenomenon: the illusion of U.S. influence over governments we once considered our clients.

  • Have the terrorists won?

    August 7, 2013

    Last year, in the heat of his campaign, President Obama boasted that he had put Al Qaeda "on the path to defeat." This year, with 19 U.S. consulates and embassies closed and the State Department issuing vague warnings against travel anywhere in the world, Al Qaeda suddenly seems resurgent — and as frightening as ever.

  • Ted Cruz, wacko like a fox

    July 31, 2013

    Ted Cruz is on a roll.

  • McManus: Obama's defensive offensive

    July 28, 2013

    President Obama sounds like a man back on the offensive.

  • McManus: A FISA court devil's advocate

    July 24, 2013

    The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a tribunal that oversees government eavesdropping, is a strange judicial creation. It lacks many of the usual features of a court. Its proceedings are secret. Its rulings are secret.

  • McManus: Europe's continental drift

    July 20, 2013

    RIMINI, Italy — You think we have it bad, caught between a stagnant economy and gridlocked politics? Then take a trip to Europe, where the economy is going not sideways but backward — and the politics are too.

  • McManus: The GOP's immigration blues

    June 26, 2013

    For a moment there, immigration reform almost looked easy.

  • McManus: Chance for a new approach on Iran

    June 22, 2013

    We don't know yet whether Hassan Rowhani, the surprise winner of Iran's presidential election, will turn out to be a reformer or just another frontman for the clerical establishment. He won't even be inaugurated until Aug. 4.

  • McManus: Congress kicks the can

    June 19, 2013

    It almost seems like distant history now, but it was really just a few short months ago that President Obama and Senate Republicans, spurred by fear of fiscal chaos, did the unthinkable: They went out to dinner and talked civilly about the possibility of a "grand bargain," a compromise that would shrink the deficit through revenue increases and long-term spending cuts.

  • McManus: Obama, Syria and the Aspin Doctrine

    June 15, 2013

    As President Obama contemplates his many bad options in Syria, he may want to consider the Aspin Doctrine, an argument for intervention abroad made by President Clinton's first secretary of Defense, Les Aspin.

  • McManus: Head-in-the-sand Congress

    June 12, 2013

    Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) , a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is hopping mad. Sensenbrenner considers himself the father of the Patriot Act, the 2001 law that gave the federal government new powers to investigate potential terrorists. But he thinks the National Security Agency's program to collect records on every telephone call in the country goes well beyond what he intended.

  • McManus: Obama's foreign policy reset

    June 9, 2013

    The appointment of Susan Rice as national security advisor sends an important signal about the kind of foreign policy President Obama wants to pursue for the remainder of his second term: activist, assertive, occasionally even pugnacious. With three years to shape a legacy in world affairs, Obama wants to play offense, not defense.

  • McManus: Where's the enemies list?

    June 5, 2013

    Who exactly is the enemy in the continuing U.S. war against terrorism?

  • McManus: 'Tea party' tempest brewing

    June 2, 2013

    The "tea party" is back and is brewing trouble for the Republican establishment.

  • McManus: The long haul in Syria

    May 29, 2013

    The civil war in Syria is heading in the wrong direction. In the last year, rebels had won control of big slices of territory, including much of the country's largest city, Aleppo. But those gains prompted a surge of military aid to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime: urban guerrillas from Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraq's Shiite Muslim militias, combat advisors from Iran's Revolutionary Guard and antiaircraft missiles from Russia (to prevent "hotheads" from trying to impose anything like a no-fly zone, an official in Moscow said Monday). As a result, the Assad regime has seized at least a temporary advantage.

  • McManus: Rebooting the war on terror

    May 26, 2013

    President Obama's speech last week on the future course of America's 11-year-old war against Al Qaeda was long overdue.

  • McManus: Obama's IRS choice

    May 22, 2013

    Message to the president: Resistance is futile.

  • McManus: The second-term scandal plague

    May 18, 2013

    What is it about presidents' second terms that makes them seem so scandal-ridden? Simple: The iron law of longevity. All governments make mistakes, and all governments try to hide those mistakes. But the longer an administration is in office, the more errors it makes, and the harder they are to conceal.

  • McManus: Mother knows best

    May 12, 2013

    There are two things you can do for your mother on Mother's Day. One is to say "thank you." (Over lunch, with flowers.) The other is to ask her for advice — even if she's not convinced you really want it.

  • McManus: Obama's plan to avoid lame-duckery

    May 8, 2013

    For the last two months, President Obama has been mired in Washington's inside game, caught up in backroom congressional politics as he tried unsuccessfully to pass a bill on gun control and nudge Republican senators toward compromise on the budget.

  • McManus: Obama's Gitmo woes

    May 4, 2013

    President Obama sounded genuinely outraged last week when he talked about the Kafkaesque situation at the Guantanamo prison camp, where the United States has been holding 166 men without trial for terms that are, at this point, officially endless.

  • McManus: Obama plays for time to avoid 'red line'

    May 1, 2013

    Barack Obama really, really does not want to get tangled up in Syria.

  • McManus: Obama's war on red tape

    April 28, 2013

    Here are three things the Obama administration has done that you probably didn't know about:

  • McManus: Boston -- clash of the talking points

    April 24, 2013

    A terrorist attack is like a national Rorschach test. Everybody sees in it what they want — usually something that proves a point they've been making all along.

  • McManus: Inching closer to entanglement in Syria

    April 14, 2013

    The White House finally made it official last week: Yes, the civil war in Syria is a slippery slope, and yes, we're on it.

  • McManus: Can Obama sell 'chained CPI'?

    April 10, 2013

    President Obama won't release his proposed budget for 2014 until Wednesday, but liberals and AARP have been howling all week about something they expect to be in it.

  • McManus: Let's talk GOP and fantasy politics

    April 7, 2013

    Almost four years ago, long before the 2012 presidential campaign heated up, CNN took a poll to learn who Republicans might choose as their party's next nominee. There were two clear front-runners: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, limped in third.

  • McManus: Gun control, DOA

    April 3, 2013

    President Obama pleaded with Congress last week to remember the victims of December's schoolhouse shootings in Connecticut and tighten the nation's gun laws. "Shame on us if we've forgotten," he said. "Don't get squishy."

  • McManus: SCOTUS-induced chaos on gay marriage?

    March 31, 2013

    If the Supreme Court decides the two gay marriage cases it heard last week the way most court watchers believe it will, expect legal and political chaos.

  • McManus: Inching toward Syria

    March 27, 2013

    Military intervention in the Muslim world seems to bring the United States nothing but grief. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya: None looks much like a success story now.

  • McManus: 'Sequester' causing pain -- to Congress

    March 24, 2013

    Think the automatic budget cuts Congress ordered at the beginning of March — the so-called sequester — haven't caused any pain yet?

  • McManus: Republican 'autopsy' reveals a divide in the party

    March 20, 2013

    It's never too early to start thinking about the next presidential race — especially if you're a political party that has managed to lose the popular vote in five of the last six elections, as the Republican Party has.

  • Iraq war: Lessons learned?

    March 17, 2013

    Ten years have passed since the United States invaded Iraq, a decision that almost everyone now ranks as one of the worst foreign policy blunders of our time. Why "almost"? Former President George W. Bush and his top aides still maintain that the invasion was a good idea, even though the premise on which the war was based — that Saddam Hussein had acquired weapons of mass destruction — proved false, and even though the ensuing war claimed the lives of more than 4,500 Americans and an estimated 127,000 Iraqis.

  • McManus: Sadder but wiser pols

    March 13, 2013

    President Obama took a posse of Republican senators to dinner last week, and this week he's giving Congress the unusual courtesy of no fewer than four presidential visits to Capitol Hill.

  • McManus: Following Rove's muddy path

    March 10, 2013

    President Obama owes Karl Rove a thank-you note.

  • McManus: Fiscal crisis? What crisis?

    March 6, 2013

    Here's what is most maddening about the "Perils of Pauline" fiscal crises that President Obama and Congress have led us into during the last year: Both sides have known from the beginning what the final deals would look like, but neither side has been willing to budge before it had to.

  • McManus: Do-nothing Congress does something

    March 3, 2013

    OK, so Congress hasn't managed to pass a budget, fix the tax code or avert the automatic spending cuts of the dreaded "sequester."

  • McManus: Gridlock, Tehran-style

    February 27, 2013

    With the United States locked in confrontation with Iran, was it good or bad for diplomacy that "Argo," a movie about U.S. spies getting the best of the Iranians, won this year's Academy Award for best picture?

  • McManus: D.C. doubles down on the sequester

    February 24, 2013

    The sequester, those $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to hit the federal government on March 1, was designed to be stupid.

  • McManus: A team of rivals on Syria

    February 20, 2013

    Last August, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and then-CIA Director David H. Petraeus proposed that the United States change its policy and send weapons and other aid to the rebels fighting the Syrian government. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, signed on too, an unusual step for the normally cautious Pentagon.

  • McManus: President Obama 3.0

    February 17, 2013

    We got a good long look at the second-term edition of Barack Obama last week, and he's sounding more like Bill Clinton every day.

  • McManus: Obama's less-is-more agenda

    February 13, 2013

    President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday, the first of his second term, won't be long remembered. It didn't offer much in the way of new ideas. It was short on memorable lines — except, perhaps, his demand for congressional action on gun control because Gabby Giffords and the families of Newtown "deserve a vote."

  • McManus: The other drone question

    February 10, 2013

    It has been 11 years since the United States began using missile-firing drones to attack Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. But only now are we beginning a full public debate on this new form of warfare, and it took the nomination of the Obama administration's drone czar, John Brennan, as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to force it.

  • McManus: Immigration reform's new fans

    January 30, 2013

    Can Republicans find a way out of the political dead end they marched into during the 2012 campaign? Can President Obama make his second term more productive than the final gridlocked years of his first? Can Democrats and Republicans in Congress relearn the forgotten art of compromise after years of angry polarization?

  • McManus: The GOP's tactical retreat

    January 27, 2013

    A well-organized retreat is said to be one of the most difficult military maneuvers: You're under enemy fire, your troops are likely to be demoralized, and you've got to avoid a rout.

  • McManus: Obama's call to arms

    January 22, 2013

    On the eve of Inauguration Day, White House political strategist David Plouffe promised that President Obama's inaugural address would include a call for bipartisan cooperation.

  • McManus: Obama, Version 2.0

    January 19, 2013

    Four years ago, on a bright, cold Jan. 20, Barack Obama took his first oath of office as president and proclaimed a new post-partisan era. "The stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply," the Obama of 2009 said.

  • McManus: For Democrats, unity and its pitfalls

    January 16, 2013

    It's hard to recognize the Democratic Party these days. In recent decades, it's been a divided, brawling tribe. But this year, Democrats are one big, happy family.

  • McManus: Confronting Iran -- again

    January 13, 2013

    Here's a prediction I don't think I'll have to apologize for at the end of the year: Some time in the coming months, probably this spring, there will be another crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

  • McManus: The GOP looks inward

    January 9, 2013

    No political party enjoys losing an election, but a healthy party reacts to defeat — after a suitable period of grieving — by trying to figure out what went wrong.

  • McManus: The worst job in Congress

    January 6, 2013

    Spare a little sympathy, if you can, for John A. Boehner of Ohio, speaker of the House of Representatives.

  • McManus: The perils of political punditry

    January 1, 2013

    Back in 2011, at the dawn of a long presidential campaign, I established a fine baseline for my credentials as a political prognosticator: I told readers that Mitt Romney's strongest challengers for the Republican nomination would be Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

  • McManus: After Benghazi, reassessing risk

    December 23, 2012

    Soon — perhaps very soon — the Syrian government of Bashar Assad will fall. On that day, and for months after, Damascus will probably be a disorderly and dangerous place, a risky place for American diplomats to be.

  • McManus: Susan Rice, done in by the 'fiscal cliff'

    December 16, 2012

    It's no secret that Senate Republicans, led by John McCain, took aim at Susan Rice. The only question is, why?

  • McManus: Will it be Clinton? Cuomo? Warren?

    December 12, 2012

    Shortly after the 1988 presidential election, pollsters asked Democrats whom they favored to be their party's nominee in 1992. The strongest candidates were Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York. The governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, didn't even register.

  • McManus: Doubts about drones

    December 2, 2012

    When President Obama came to office in 2009, it didn't take his new administration long to settle on a favorite anti-terrorist tactic: drone strikes. In his first three years in office, the number of drone strikes against targets in Pakistan and Yemen increased dramatically, from 35 in 2008 to 121 in 2010, before dropping back to 79 so far this year, according to the Long War Journal, a website that has attempted to keep track of reported strikes.

  • McManus: What would Lincoln do?

    November 28, 2012

    In the rest of the country, it may be just another movie, but in Washington, Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" has become a political Rorschach test.

  • McManus: Petraeus, the comeback general

    November 25, 2012

    Gen. David H. Petraeus, long the most famous overachiever in the U.S. Army, is already on his way to a new career distinction: breaking the land speed record for rehabilitation from a scandal.

  • McManus: Grover Norquist the has-been

    November 21, 2012

    Grover Norquist is losing his grip.

  • McManus: Reshuffling Obama's Cabinet

    November 14, 2012

    "Second terms are hard work," a veteran of the Bill Clinton White House told me Tuesday. "It's a good idea to get some fresh blood in there."

  • McManus: Wielding wedge issues

    November 11, 2012

    Once upon a time in American politics, there were things called "wedge issues," and they generally terrified Democrats. They were mostly social and cultural issues: abortion, feminism, gay rights, illegal immigration and race. Conservatives wielded them to divide working-class Democrats. Wedge issues helped elect Ronald Reagan to the presidency and dozens of other Republicans to Congress.

  • McManus: Obama's second act

    November 7, 2012

    Second terms have rarely been kind to American presidents.

  • McManus: The likely winner -- gridlock

    November 4, 2012

    After a year of campaign sound and fury, we're about to hold an election that will probably fail to usher in the one thing voters of all stripes would like to see: an end to the partisan gridlock in Congress.

  • McManus: Ohio's deluge of spin

    October 31, 2012

    Be glad you don't live in Ohio. It's a fine old state with pretty towns, friendly people and a fairly healthy economy. But over the last six months, its citizens have endured a volume of political advertising unequaled in the history of Western civilization.

  • McManus: The Ohio presidential equation

    October 28, 2012

    If there's a ground zero in this presidential campaign, it might just be the parking lot of a downscale shopping center in North Columbus, Ohio, halfway between Papa John's Pizza and Payless Shoes.

  • McManus: A kinder, gentler Romney

    October 23, 2012

    It's a safe bet that President Obama misses the old Mitt Romney — the one who described himself as "severely conservative."

  • McManus: Applying the 'ground game'

    October 21, 2012

    Outside the old red-brick City Hall in Manassas, Va., Dorothy Cummings was beaming. She had finally persuaded her son Charles to register to vote — and now she was marching him into the registrar's office to make sure he got it done.

  • McManus: Who wins a tied debate?

    October 17, 2012

    When two presidential candidates battle roughly to a tie in a debate, is there a winner?

  • McManus: Romney's big bounce

    October 10, 2012

    Last week's debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney was an even bigger win for Romney than it appeared at the time. That's what the polls are telling us.

  • McManus: Moderate Mitt? Don't count on it

    October 7, 2012

    Who is the real Romney?

  • McManus: Real presidential debate is possible

    October 3, 2012

    There are two ways that Wednesday's debate between President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, could change the course of the presidential campaign.

  • McManus: The prophets of budget balancing

    September 30, 2012

    Here's one thing the two presidential candidates agree on: the federal government's current fiscal course will lead to disaster.

  • McManus: A Rove 'money bomb'?

    September 26, 2012

    Here's a short list of Democrats who secretly hope Mitt Romney gets his presidential campaign turned around fast and gives President Obama a run for his money: Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic Senate candidate in North Dakota; Jon Tester, the Democratic senator from Montana; and Rep. Shelley Berkley, the Democratic Senate candidate in Nevada.

  • What the presidential polls show

    September 22, 2012

    Only six weeks to go in the presidential campaign, and the public opinion surveys have developed a case of the jitters. Last week, one respected poll reported that President Obama had opened an eight-point lead over Mitt Romney, but another reported that the race was dead even. Other surveys were scattered in between. What's a poor voter supposed to believe?

  • McManus: Are businessmen better presidents?

    September 19, 2012

    It's one of Mitt Romney's favorite lines: America needs a businessman in the White House. It's "a basic qualification" for the job, he said in his speech at the Republican convention last month, "one that's essential to [the] task."

  • McManus: Romney vs. Obama on foreign policy

    September 16, 2012

    In a presidential campaign dominated by voters' unhappiness with the economy, it took a tragedy — the killing of a U.S. ambassador by Libyan extremists — to prompt a real debate on foreign policy.

  • McManus: Who's still undecided?

    September 12, 2012

    Do you know how you'll vote in November's presidential election?

  • McManus: Conventions without compromise

    September 8, 2012

    Attending two political conventions back to back is like visiting two parallel universes: one conservative, one liberal; one overwhelmingly white, the other emphatically multiculti; and each one strangely confident that its candidate is on a steady course to victory.

  • McManus: Clinton's common touch

    September 5, 2012

    There's something delicious about Bill Clinton being asked to serve as the chief character witness for Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention. Clinton, let's recall, was a very messy president. His meetings didn't start on time; his speeches didn't end on time. His biggest legislative project, healthcare reform, never passed (unlike Obama's). He made compromises with Republicans; he made Democratic liberals furious. He even got impeached (and ultimately acquitted) over sexual peccadilloes, though nobody seems to remember the details now.

  • Between conventions, both sides still looking for a breakout moment

    September 2, 2012

    It's halftime in America, as Clint Eastwood once said.

  • For Mitt Romney, the election hinges on the middle class

    August 28, 2012

    TAMPA, Fla. — The conventional wisdom is that this week's Republican National Convention needs to make Mitt Romney more "likable" — to replace his image as a frosty billionaire with the warmer (and, friends say, more accurate) picture of a family man, devout Mormon and private do-gooder.

  • It's Medicare vs. the economy

    August 26, 2012

    ARCADE, N.Y. — Kathy Hochul is a young, first-term Democratic congresswoman fighting for her political life in a solidly Republican district outside Buffalo, N.Y. Unlike most of that liberal state, this is Romney country; a poll last week showed the GOP candidate ahead of President Obama in her district by a whopping 12 points.

  • Gridlock likely in Washington no matter who wins presidential race

    August 23, 2012

    There are plenty of things not to like about this year's presidential campaign, including how nasty and negative a mud fight it's become, with both sides engaging in shameless distortion.

  • McManus: In politics, accentuate the negative

    July 29, 2012

    When the Olympic Games began almost 30 centuries ago in ancient Greece, rulers of city-states proclaimed an "Olympic truce," a ban on warfare to allow athletes, poets and spectators to attend without getting speared.

  • McManus: The NRA has won

    July 25, 2012

    Politicians haven't always been allergic to gun control, not even Republicans.

  • McManus: The candidates play gotcha

    July 22, 2012

    There's no argument about one thing this election year: The biggest issue on Americans' minds is the economy and which presidential candidate could better help it grow. So why does what should be a serious policy debate sound so much like a schoolyard spat?

  • McManus: All quiet on the war front

    July 18, 2012

    Here's an important fact you haven't heard much about in the presidential campaign: The armed forces of the United States are at war in at least four countries, and that number could increase any day.

  • McManus: Attack-dog days of summer

    July 15, 2012

    The dog days of July were once a slow time in our presidential campaigns, a time when candidates could take vacations and voters could take a break. The party conventions were still a month or more away; aside from fundraising and backroom strategizing, there wasn't much to see.

  • McManus: Campaign ads -- an American art form

    July 11, 2012

    Today's topic: the billions (yes, with a "b") that will be spent on advertising in this year's presidential and congressional campaigns, and what kind of messages that money is sending.

  • McManus: Attack ad politics

    July 8, 2012

    In this pivotal election year, fellow citizens, I give you a chilling vision of two Americas.

  • McManus: Obama's victory is now his challenge

    July 1, 2012

    "In my first term, we passed healthcare reform," President Obama joked this spring. "In my second term, I guess I'll pass it again."

  • McManus: The Obama edge

    June 28, 2012

    On paper, June looked like a bad month for President Obama. It began with a gaffe, his lighthearted comment that "the private sector is doing fine." Then the Federal Reserve revised its growth forecast downward, making it clear that 8% unemployment is likely to linger past election day. Consumer confidence has sagged to a five-month low, and in one poll released this week, 61% of Americans said they think the country's on the wrong track.

  • McManus: Romney's arithmetic problem

    June 24, 2012

    Here's an issue that hasn't been debated much in the presidential campaign but ought to be: How much should we spend on defense?

  • McManus: Romney breaks the stained-glass ceiling

    June 21, 2012

    If Mitt Romney wins the presidential election this fall, he'll have Harry Reid partly to thank.

  • McManus: An election referendum or a choice?

    June 17, 2012

    Is November's presidential election a referendum on President Obama's record or a choice between two different approaches to government? How voters answer that question could well determine the outcome.

  • McManus: All pain, no gain in southern Europe

    June 14, 2012

    Milan, Italy — From the American side of the Atlantic, the debate over Europe's economic future often sounds like a bloodless, mind-numbing discussion of currency zones, bank recapitalization and interest rates. But in countries with fragile economies like Spain and Italy, it takes on real-life urgency.

  • McManus: A campaign bombshell

    May 20, 2012

    The Supreme Court is about to toss a judicial bomb into the middle of the presidential campaign, and nobody knows what impact it will have.

  • McManus: Americans Elect meets reality

    May 17, 2012

    What happens if you start a political party and nobody comes? Six months ago, a newfangled third party burst onto the scene, full of hope and promise. It was called Americans Elect, and it sought to give voters a choice many said they were looking for: "centrist" candidates who could break the partisan gridlock paralyzing Washington.

  • McManus: Lies, damned lies and political advertising

    May 13, 2012

    The television commercial is designed to spark outrage. "Billions of taxpayer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries," it intones. "The Obama administration admitted the truth — that $2.3 billion of tax credits went overseas, while millions of Americans can't find a job…. American taxpayers are paying to send their own jobs to foreign countries."

  • McManus: Obama evolves on gay marriage

    May 10, 2012

    President Obama's announcement Wednesday that he was done "evolving" and now supports same-sex marriage was, in retrospect, inevitable. Vice President Joe Biden made it so Sunday, when he remarked almost casually that he had grown "comfortable" with gay marriage.

  • McManus: Coming clean on drones

    May 6, 2012

    In recent weeks, a parade of top officials has given sober, underpublicized speeches explaining why President Obama not only considers "targeted killing" drone strikes against terrorists legal but has massively expanded their use, even approving a strike against a U.S. citizen, the New Mexico-born Al Qaeda preacher Anwar Awlaki, in Yemen last year.

  • McManus: Bin Laden and ballots

    May 3, 2012

    We're far enough away from it now that we can probably all agree: It was a mistake for George W. Bushto land on that aircraft carrier in a flight suit to proclaim "Mission Accomplished." And not just because the war in Iraq was far from over at that point.

  • McManus: Mitt Romney stays put

    April 29, 2012

    If you've been holding your breath to see whether Mitt Romney would pivot to the center now that it's a two-man race between him and President Obama, you can exhale; he won't.

  • McManus: And Romney's veep choice is ...

    April 26, 2012

    The "Veepstakes" are on — but the smart money says they're already over.

  • McManus: A smaller, smarter military

    April 22, 2012

    President Obama has called a halt to the decade-long rise in defense spending that began after Sept. 11, and has proposed shrinking the Army and Marine Corps by about 14%.

  • McManus: The Iran squeeze

    April 19, 2012

    The Obama administration faces two dangers in its nuclear negotiations with Iran, which began in a burst of optimism last weekend after the two sides managed to get through a day and a half of talks without anyone walking out.

  • McManus: The bottom line on taxes

    April 15, 2012

    On April 15, everyone's in favor of tax reform.

  • McManus: Romney, the worst candidate?

    April 12, 2012

    In the spring of 1980, the race for the Republican presidential nomination got nasty. The front-runner, Ronald Reagan, said his main challenger,George H.W. Bush, wasn't a real conservative. Bush went on the attack, accusing Reagan of peddling "voodoo economics" and "a list of phony promises."

  • McManus: A ticking clock on Syria

    April 8, 2012

    The interventionist liberals of the Obama administration were a doleful bunch last week. It was the 20th anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo, when a Bosnian Serb army battered a city full of civilians with artillery while the United States issued ineffective cries of alarm. The comparison with this year's massacres in Syria was painfully apt.

  • McManus: Time for a presidential campaign experiment

    April 5, 2012

    We got our first real glimpse this week of how President Obama and his now-almost-certain Republican rival, Mitt Romney, intend to wage their campaigns in the lead-up to the general election.

  • McManus: The nuclear countdown in Iran

    April 1, 2012

    Not long ago, an astute reader noted that it has been nearly two years since I wrote in a column that "most experts now estimate that Iran needs about 18 months to complete a nuclear device and a missile to carry it."

  • McManus: Obama's 'tax' lapse

    March 29, 2012

    In 2009, President Obama was asked whether the individual mandate in his healthcare plan was really just a tax in disguise. "I absolutely reject that notion," he responded.

  • McManus: Fuming about gas

    March 25, 2012

    When the price of gasoline rises, the supply of hot air expands.

  • McManus: Don't close the GOP show

    March 22, 2012

    We in the mainstream media harbor a dirty little secret: Most of us are rooting for Rick Santorum. It's nothing personal, although Santorum is a reasonably appealing guy. And it's not ideological; most of us aren't yearning for Bible-based social conservatism to become the law of the land. It's worse than that. We're just hoping to see the gaudy spectacle of this primary campaign continue as long as possible.

  • McManus: Will Romney be the GOP's Dukakis?

    March 18, 2012

    There's an old saying in Republican politics: Massachusetts produces only two exports — lobsters and liberals — and neither one travels well.

  • McManus: A Plan C for Afghanistan

    March 15, 2012

    President Obama has long been criticized by Republicans for his purportedly inadequate zeal in pursuing the war in Afghanistan. He was criticized sharply from the right for his plan to draw down troops over three years; too fast, they said.

  • McManus: No quit in these presidential candidates

    March 8, 2012

    Poor Mitt Romney. He won six of 10 states on Super Tuesday, including hotly contested Ohio. He lengthened his lead in the count of delegates who will actually choose the Republican presidential nominee. But he's still a long way from claiming victory.

  • McManus: Israel's brinkmanship, America's peril

    March 4, 2012

    Last week, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, confirmed a no-longer-surprising fact: the Pentagon has sent the White House a menu of options for going to war with Iran.

  • McManus: Romney won't be a pushover in November

    March 1, 2012

    Mitt Romney started as the odds-on favorite for the GOP nomination, and he's never really lost that spot. Still, he's had a rough six weeks.

  • McManus: Campaign 2012's lessons so far

    February 23, 2012

    It sometimes feels as if the struggle for the Republican presidential nomination has been going on forever, but if you measure the campaign by the number of delegates chosen so far, we're only about 10% done.

  • McManus: Mixing Medicare and mudslinging

    February 19, 2012

    Don't look now, but the 2012 election is turning into a national referendum on what to do about Medicare.

  • McManus: Santorum's surge

    February 16, 2012

    When this year's presidential campaign began, Rick Santorum looked like a fringe candidate, consigned permanently to the outside edge of an overcrowded debate stage. But as earlier conservative front-runners sputtered, Santorum plugged away, sticking doggedly to his unfashionable message of uncompromising social conservatism.

  • McManus: Romney's pain, Obama's gain

    February 12, 2012

    The rest of the country may be tiring of it, but the drawn-out, high-decibel battle for the Republican presidential nomination is just fine with the Obama campaign.

  • Those mudslinging Republicans

    February 9, 2012

    This was the week Mitt Romney should have sealed the Republican presidential nomination. He was expected to win Tuesday's caucuses in Colorado, to win or tie in Minnesota and to do credibly well in Missouri. Instead, the former Massachusetts governor managed to lose all three contests to Rick Santorum, a candidate who has spent most of the campaign stuck near the bottom of the polls.

  • McManus: Who reviews the U.S. 'kill list'?

    February 5, 2012

    When it comes to national security, Michael V. Haydenis no shrinking violet. As CIA director, he ran the Bush administration's program of warrantless wiretaps against suspected terrorists.

  • McManus: The Gingrich playbook

    February 2, 2012

    Newt Gingrich says he's staying in the Republican presidential race all the way to the GOP convention in August, and that he's willing — even eager — to fight for the nomination on the convention floor. But does he have a chance?

  • McManus: A Gingrich presidency?

    January 29, 2012

    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that if Mitt Romney won the South Carolina primary, the Republican presidential race would be over and he would be the nominee. But Romney didn't win, and that means it's time to consider the unthinkable: What would life under President Gingrich be like?

  • McManus: Obama's common touch

    January 25, 2012

    The State of the Union address is a political exercise in the best of times. But when a president is running for reelection and Congress is dominated by his most bitter opponents, there's even less pretense than usual.

  • McManus: Is Romney a true conservative?

    January 22, 2012

    For months, Mitt Romney's rivals in the Republican presidential race have hammered him as a closet moderate, especially on third-rail social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

  • McManus: Red meat for the tea party

    January 15, 2012

    Mitt Romney isn't a naturally eloquent man. His stump speeches are nearly content-free. They combine exaggerated denunciations of President Obama ("a pessimistic president," "the great complainer") and ardent professions of patriotism. "I love our country," Romney announces at every stop. "I love our national anthem.... I love it dearly. I love putting my hand over my heart." He often closes speeches by reciting lines from "America the Beautiful."

  • McManus: Romney's 'electability' is key

    January 12, 2012

    New Hampshire Republicans are practical people.

  • McManus: Obama's modest proposal on defense

    January 8, 2012

    As he unveiled his administration's new blueprint for U.S. defense strategy last week, President Obama sought to vaccinate himself against charges that he was gutting the nation's military.

  • McManus: Oops! That was the year that wasn't

    December 29, 2011

    A year ago, soon after the Tunisian uprising, I demonstrated my powers of prediction in a column about the democracy movement in the Arab world. The revolution in Tunisia, I wrote, "arose from local circumstances that don't foretell what will happen anywhere else." Three weeks later, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak fell, and the Arab Spring was in full bloom.

  • McManus: Change in Saudi Arabia

    December 25, 2011

    Women in Saudi Arabia won a small but promising victory this year. No, they aren't being allowed to drive; that's still forbidden. Most of the time, they still can't work, travel or even open bank accounts without the approval of a male guardian. But they do have this: Saudi women can now buy lingerie in stores from female salesclerks, instead of the sometimes leering men who used to staff the counters. If this modest wave of liberalization continues, they may even get fitting rooms.

  • McManus: A long goodbye to Afghanistan

    December 22, 2011

    This week, the last convoy of U.S. troops in Iraq drove noisily across the border into Kuwait and shut the gate behind them. The next drawdown comes in Afghanistan, where American forces are scheduled to disengage from most combat by the end of 2014.

  • McManus: An elusive victory in Iraq

    December 18, 2011

    With the final headlong withdrawal this month of U.S. troops from Iraq, President Obama fulfilled a campaign promise to end the war. But was the nearly nine-year mission a success?

  • Could Rubio save the GOP ticket?

    December 15, 2011

    Florida's new Republican senator, 40-year-old Marco Rubio, is handsome, personable and smart. He can talk with intelligence and ease about foreign policy, the federal budget and the aspirations of the American people. And he has a Reaganesque gift for sounding reassuring, even when he's arguing for Tea Party positions such as a complete overhaul of Social Security and Medicare.

  • McManus: Obama sides with the 99%

    December 11, 2011

    Conservatives were quick to accuse President Obama of embracing class warfare in his speech last week in Osawatomie, Kan. And liberal Democrats were thrilled to see a hint of the populist president they had hoped they were voting for in 2008.

  • McManus: Tough guys on illegal immigration

    December 4, 2011

    "I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though some time back they may have entered illegally."

  • McManus: Slugging it out with Gingrich

    December 1, 2011

    The Romney camp is worried.

  • McManus: The super committee that wasn't

    November 27, 2011

    Here's an assessment from the Republican co-chairman of Congress' unfortunate "super committee" of why the bipartisan panel failed to produce a deficit reduction plan last week:

  • McManus: For GOP, it's bland vs. firebrand

    November 24, 2011

    Republican voters face a choice: Do they want to play it safe, or do they feel like taking risks?

  • McManus: Will 'New Newt' prevail?

    November 17, 2011

    When Richard M. Nixon ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968, he faced a daunting problem: A lot of voters just didn't like him. Nixon had made his name in politics as an angry, partisan hatchet man, famous for lashing out against Democrats and the news media. To win the presidency, he needed to find a way to soften that too-harsh image.

  • McManus: Facing a nuclear Iran

    November 13, 2011

    The United Nations report on Iran's nuclear program released last week should end the debate, if any debate remained, over whether Iran is moving toward acquiring the ability to build a nuclear weapon. In cautious but convincing detail, the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency listed evidence that Iran is still conducting research that would lead to an atomic bomb, much of it in secret military laboratories. And Iran has refused to answer the U.N.'s questions or allow U.N. inspectors to see much of what it's doing, the easiest way to refute its critics' charges.

  • McManus: Can Barack Obama be more like Bill Clinton?

    November 10, 2011

    Bill Clinton feels Barack Obama's pain.

  • McManus: Presidential crystal balls

    November 6, 2011

    Unemployment is mired at 9%, and President Obama's poll ratings are mired too. Democrats are dispirited. Republicans are fired up and ready to go. Activists on both the right and the left are demanding change.

  • McManus: What about Afghanistan?

    November 3, 2011

    Republicans usually enter a presidential campaign with a built-in advantage on at least one issue: national security. Historically, voters trust the GOP to be tougher than Democrats on defense and foreign policy.

  • McManus: The third-party wild card

    October 27, 2011

    American voters have fired two modern presidents after just one term, Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992. Both suffered because the economy was in poor shape, and both faced disaffection within their own parties. But there was another thing those candidates had in common: They both faced relatively strong third-party candidates in the November election.

  • McManus: Mosque and state

    October 23, 2011

    At a conference two years ago, I sat in on a meeting between U.S. officials and young Islamist politicians from Tunisia, Jordan and other countries in the Middle East. The Islamists wanted to know: Would the Americans allow them to run in free elections, even if it meant they might come to power? The Americans turned the question back at them: Would the Islamists, if they won, allow free and democratic elections, even if it might mean losing power?

  • McManus: Obama in the Occupy Wall Street camp

    October 20, 2011

    If you're one of the thousands of demonstrators sleeping in parks, carrying signs and banging on drums to protest Wall Street's hammerlock on American politics, President Obama wants you to know he feels your pain.

  • McManus: Merkel intent on keeping Eurozone united

    October 16, 2011

    Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's impossible prime minister, has committed almost every sin that modern politics affords. He entertains barely-of-age girls as overnight guests and brags about it. He appoints business cronies and television starlets to government jobs. He's under perpetual investigation for corruption.

  • McManus: Mitt Romney and the Not-Romneys

    October 13, 2011

    There may still be half a dozen contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, but the race has always had room for only two: Mitt Romney and someone who isn't Mitt Romney. After four full-scale debates, that second spot, reserved for a more conservative candidate, is still unfilled; the fiscal firebrands of the tea party haven't found an ideal alternative to Romney, leaving the party's right wing divided. It's beginning to look as if the former Massachusetts governor will win the nomination almost by default — an odd outcome to a year that began with the tea party triumphant.

  • McManus: The GOP's hard-right tilt

    September 25, 2011

    We've now seen three full-dress debates among the Republican politicians who want to be the next president of the United States, and here's what we've learned:

  • McManus: Pity the 'super committee'

    September 22, 2011

    Pity the poor "super committee." Congress' special task force on the deficit already had a mission that looked nearly impossible: producing a plan to reduce the federal government's fiscal gap by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. And then the job got harder.

  • McManus: Technology that protects protesters

    September 18, 2011

    Early this year, as street protests began spreading across the Arab world, a young Internet expert from Germany, Katrin Verclas, asked Egyptian democracy activists what kind of technology they needed most. More laptop computers? Better access to the Web? Tools to evade censorship? Software to post videos?

  • McManus: Touching the 'third rail'

    September 15, 2011

    "We have not had the courage to stand up and look Americans in the face," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said when he was asked about Social Security at the Republican presidential candidates' debate this week. "It has been called a Ponzi scheme by many people long before me. But no one's had the courage to stand up and say, 'Here is how we're going to reform it.'"

  • McManus: Obama's new tone

    September 8, 2011

    We already know the outlines of what President Obama plans to say in his long-awaited jobs speech before Congress on Thursday night. He will propose a list of job-creation measures — tax cuts, infrastructure spending, aid to state governments, training for the unemployed — that will probably add up to about $300 billion worth of economic stimulus.

  • McManus: Palin the procrastinator

    September 1, 2011

    Sarah Palin is giving indecision a bad name.

  • McManus: A two-man GOP presidential race?

    August 28, 2011

    Until a few weeks ago, the race for the Republican presidential nomination seemed wide open. There was a presumptive front-runner, Mitt Romney, but he held first place mostly because he was a familiar face; his support among Republican voters appeared broad but not deep.

  • McManus: Will there be a Libya bounce for Obama?

    August 25, 2011

    Twenty years ago this summer, American cities staged noisy, flag-waving parades to celebrate the U.S. victory in a war we've almost forgotten: the Persian Gulf War against Iraq. The president at the time, George H.W. Bush, saw his poll ratings soar in the war's afterglow. But 18 months later, on election day in 1992, the victory parades were ancient history. The voters, impatient with the economy's slow recovery from a recession, turned Bush out of office after a single term.

  • Obama's biggest challenge: Jobs

    August 7, 2011

    The central question facing Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign is this: Can the president persuade voters to let him keep his job when so many of them have lost theirs?

  • McManus: Obama's clarity gap

    August 4, 2011

    We all know by now that the eleventh-hour deal to raise the federal debt ceiling didn't solve much. Federal debt is still ballooning, healthcare costs are still rising, and we're nowhere close to an agreement on raising tax revenue.

  • McManus: The write stuff

    July 31, 2011

    The news from Washington — bickering over the debt ceiling, poor prospects for the economy — hasn't been uplifting lately. It's time for some beach reading.

  • McManus: The political angle of the debt-ceiling debate

    July 28, 2011

    It's not hard to see what a compromise solution on the debt ceiling would look like. It's just hard to see how we get there from here before the Treasury begins running out of money Aug. 2.

  • McManus: A boomlet of Perrymania

    July 24, 2011

    For a man who hasn't formally decided whether to run for president, Texas Gov. Rick Perry sure sounds a lot like a candidate.

  • McManus: Doomsday doubters and the debt ceiling

    July 21, 2011

    President Obama says that if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, the consequences will be dire. A long list of economists and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce agree. Even the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate agrees.

  • McManus: A deal with the Khartoum devil?

    July 17, 2011

    How do you deal with a genocidal dictator who says he wants to reform?

  • McManus: One good debt debate deserves another

    July 14, 2011

    Republican leaders blinked this week in their standoff with President Obama over raising the nation's debt ceiling. That means we're unlikely to face a financial crisis next month, when the Treasury said it would run short of money to pay the federal government's bills. But it doesn't mean we've solved any of our fiscal problems.

  • McManus: A measured U.S. response in Syria

    July 10, 2011

    When pro-democracy demonstrations erupted in Syria this spring, President Obama offered Syrian President Bashar Assad one more chance to embrace reform. "He can lead that transition [to democracy] or get out of the way," Obama said in May.

  • McManus: Team Obama's victory plan

    July 7, 2011

    President Obama faces an uphill struggle in his campaign for reelection next year. His job approval rating is stuck just below 50%. The unemployment rate appears likely to remain above 8% until election day. And, though it's too soon to mean much, early polling puts the nominal Republican front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, within striking distance.

  • McManus: Debt-limit delay in the real world

    July 1, 2011

    In 2008, as financial crisis threatened the U.S. banking system, President George W. Bush asked Congress to approve an emergency bailout. Leaders of both parties blessed the idea; both presidential candidates — Barack Obama and John McCain — endorsed it. But conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats rebelled, the House defeated the bill — and the stock market plummeted in real time during the roll call. It took the prospect of economic meltdown to get the House to reverse itself and approve Bush's Troubled Asset Relief Program.

  • McManus: Obama's popular in Europe, where it doesn't count

    June 26, 2011

    In a deservedly obscure village among the green hills and dairy farms of Ireland's midlands stands a pub that has been turned into a shrine to Barack Obama. In the back room of Ollie Hayes' saloon, a large and markedly unattractive fake-bronze bust of the president sits on a pedestal flanked by beer glasses; over the fireplace there's a portrait of the great man hoisting a pint of Guinness, and other Obama memorabilia covers the walls.

  • Doyle McManus: The West is still waiting for its Libya gamble to pay off

    June 12, 2011

    Hope isn't a strategy. But it was a major part of NATO's decision to launch an air war against Libya's Moammar Kadafi almost three months ago.

  • Doyle McManus: Shifting sands of religion and politics

    June 5, 2011

    Of the 44 U.S. presidents, all but a handful have been affiliated with a relatively narrow list of traditional Protestant denominations.

  • Doyle McManus: Newt takes his shot

    May 29, 2011

    Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker running for the GOP presidential nomination, is trying to put some distance these days between himself and, well, himself.

  • Doyle McManus: Middle East hopes and fears

    May 22, 2011

    We may be the world's only remaining superpower, but we've been a secondary factor in the wave of change sweeping the Arab world.

  • Fighting mosques in the name of freedom

    May 19, 2011

    Last year, a Muslim congregation in Murfreesboro, Tenn., a pleasant college town of about 110,000 people southeast of Nashville, decided that the time had come to build a proper mosque.

  • Doyle McManus: Tim Pawlenty's gambit

    May 8, 2011

    Last week's Republican mini-debate may not have been the most auspicious way for a presidential candidate to introduce himself to a national audience. The stage in South Carolina didn't include most of the party's top names; instead, it boasted former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who wants to focus on gay marriage; Atlanta pizza magnate Herman Cain, who wants to run the government like a business; Rep. Ron Paul, the vinegary Texas libertarian; and Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico who hopes to be the next Ron Paul. "It looked like the bar scene from 'Star Wars,'" said Republican strategist Scott Reed.

  • Doyle McManus: Al Qaeda's very bad year

    May 5, 2011

    Al Qaeda is having a very bad year. And from the terrorists' standpoint, the death of Osama bin Laden isn't even the worst of it. The biggest potential blow is the spread of democratic politics in the Arab world. If it succeeds, Al Qaeda will be deprived of its reason for being.

  • Doyle McManus: The right budget battle to watch

    April 28, 2011

    You've no doubt been hearing the harrowing warnings about what might happen if Congress refuses to lift the federal government's debt ceiling, as some conservative Republicans have threatened.

  • Doyle McManus: GOP wannabes

    April 21, 2011

    Here's a not very bold prediction: Donald Trump won't be the Republican presidential nominee next year. He's not a credible national leader. His strategy for restoring American economic vigor boils down to threatening China with a trade war. It's not even clear that he's a conservative; he once backed Barack Obama, and he appears to favor abortion rights. The GOP can do better, and will.

  • Libya's only a part of Mideast equation

    April 17, 2011

    The eyes of the world are on the battle for Libya. It's undeniably a compelling drama: Spirited but untrained rebels, plus NATO airstrikes, pitted against an eccentric dictator with a cinematic wardrobe.

  • Drawing budget battle lines

    April 14, 2011

    In case it wasn't clear already, we now know what the 2012 election will be about: how fast to cut federal spending, whether to raise taxes and what to do about healthcare, especially Medicare.

  • Doyle McManus: The choice between low taxes vs. Medicare benefits

    April 7, 2011

    Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, won praise from his fellow Republicans this week for proposing a federal budget that would reduce the deficit by slashing spending in almost every domestic program.

  • No party for John Boehner

    April 3, 2011

    For a man who's getting most of what he wanted, House Speaker John A. Boehner looked pretty unhappy last week.

  • Doyle McManus: The GOP's Libya dilemma

    March 24, 2011

    Republican presidential hopefuls have been scrambling to figure out the right vocabulary for denouncing President Obama's decision to launch U.S. planes and ships into action against Libya's Moammar Kadafi.

  • Examining torture in the Bush era

    April 26, 2009

    Dick Cheney is right. President Obama should release any evidence the government has that shows whether torture -- sorry, "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- induced Al Qaeda detainees to give up information that saved American lives.

  • State officials pan for gold in D.C.

    April 12, 2009

    Last month, a flock of Californians streamed through Washington's halls of power seeking federal money for the state's slumping economy, gridlocked transportation system and troubled schools. To their delight, they found a Democratic administration with a sympathetic ear for the state's problems -- plus a big bag of stimulus funding to spend.

  • Obama's bipartisan moment on foreign policy

    April 5, 2009

    Don't look now, but the United States is experiencing something unusual in its recent history: a moment of bipartisan consensus on foreign policy.

  • Obama's uphill climb at the G-20 summit

    March 29, 2009

    The last time Barack Obama went to Europe, he was cheered by 200,000 rapturous Germans. This week, he faces a tougher audience.

  • Geithner can still pay off for Obama

    March 22, 2009

    Is Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner becoming a toxic asset for the Obama administration?

  • A 'back channel' appeal to Iran

    March 15, 2009

    President Obama and his aides are preparing to send a secret message to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, inviting him to open a clandestine "back channel" for direct talks between the United States and Iran.

  • Fear and loathing in Pakistan

    March 8, 2009

    Late last month, the chief of Pakistan's army, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, made an unpublicized visit to the White House to meet President Obama's new national security advisor, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr.

  • The power of Obama's oratory

    February 25, 2009

    Speechmaking has always been good for Barack Obama.

  • For Obama, governing isn't campaigning

    February 15, 2009

    Barack Obama made running for president look easy. As a candidate, he was famously steady and cool, and his campaign team was a marvel of internal harmony. "No drama Obama," they called him.

  • Obama the pragmatic idealist

    February 8, 2009

    Until last week, the nation's late-night comedians were having a hard time coming up with jokes about the Obama administration. The young new president came across as both idealistic and competent, which was nice for the country but a potential disaster for the satire industry.

  • New president, new battlefield

    February 1, 2009

    In his presidential campaign, Barack Obama sometimes made foreign policy sound like a simple matter of changing the tone, turning the page -- and moving 10,000 troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

  • Great expectations -- by Americans and by Obama

    January 21, 2009

    Barack Obama has been criticized for being too cool, too aloof, even too serene. But the President Obama who delivered the inaugural address on Tuesday was anything but aloof. He was passionate and pleading, somber and demanding. And he did something his predecessor, George W. Bush, never quite did: He asked Americans to sacrifice for the common good.

  • What Bush leaves behind

    January 18, 2009

    After eight unreflective years, George W. Bush has suddenly turned contemplative, arguing in a flurry of exit interviews that his record (as Mark Twain said of Wagner's music) is better than it sounds. He could turn out to be right -- but his standing in the eyes of history now depends, oddly enough, on the fortunes of his successor, Barack Obama.

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