Opinion: Unanswered questions of 2017

July 17, 2017


In the nervous Washington summer of 2017, with Republicans reeling from embarrassing disclosure after embarrassing disclosure, opposition Democrats, even before President Trump recently announced in Paris: “France is America’s first and oldest ally. A lot of people don’t know that,’’ have already been following the strategy first recommended by a great Gallic leader, Napoleon Bonaparte: “Never interfere with an opponent while he’s in the process of destroying himself.’’

As the Trump administration continues to bear an increasing resemblance to former President Warren Harding’s administration — but without the integrity — and as presidential intimates continue to amend their sworn statements about foreign individuals and interests with whom they have met, it may be time to restate the Two Iron Rules of Washington Scandals.

Rule No. 1: It is not the original act itself that eventually proves politically fatal; it is almost always the cover-up of that original act. And rule No. 2: Everybody always forgets rule No. 1. The beleaguered Jared Kushner, the fading star of the current production of “The Son-in-Law Also Rises,’’ appears to have a previously undiagnosed but serious case of chronic forgetfulness. If Kushner does not remember, as Mrs. Trump-Kushner requested, to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home, please go easy on him.

But this does not mean that the minority Democrats (who currently enjoy a comfortable lead over the GOP in polls asking which party voters want to win control of Congress in 2018) do not have some questions to answer. The Democrats’ campaign strategy is quite different. They want the next congressional election to be only about one thing: a referendum on the presidency of Donald Trump. If you like all that Trump is doing and how he is doing it, then, the Democrats argue, you should vote Republican. But if voters are disappointed, displeased or, heaven forfend, even disgusted with the Trump-GOP control, then such voters should make a midterm correction by voting Democrat.

The questions the Democrats must answer long before Election Day 2018 are not about the reform of health care, taxes, immigration, mass transit or highways. In fielding such questions, experienced candidates can be both plausible and, often, persuasive with their answers. In order to deserve to serve and lead the nation, the Democratic Party must first understand the basic difference between (please excuse the gender insensitivity) the boys and the men in American politics: The boys run for office in order to be something; the men run for office in order to do something.

We know from their 2016 campaigns that Democrats have a policy or platform plank for nearly every imaginable demographic subgroup — “Oh, you’re a cross-dressing agnostic linebacker who’s both lactose intolerant and gluten-free? Here’s the Democrats’ six-point position paper.’’

Voters remain unsure what Democrats are willing to stand for beyond “The Star-Spangled Banner.’’ Trump makes it easy to define yourself by what you’re against. But that alone is not acceptable. What three things — only three things — will Democrats with power after 2018 want to do? What laws — remember, just three — do they want to put on the books or take off the books? How will Democrats not coddle us, the voters, but challenge us so that we can begin to do for the next generation and our country what the first generations did for us? Simply being “the other guy’’ politically may permit you to win an election, but it does not qualify you to lead the nation.

— Mark Shields is a columnist with Creators Syndicate.


Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

  1. Reform campaign finance laws to remove legislators from the back pockets of big contributors
  2. Develop a taste for and embrace bipartisan legislation as a strength, not a liability
  3. Apply the first two points to address the issues that have proven to be intractable in the one-party, partisan-first, special-interest driven politics of today: affordable health care access, equitable system of funding the federal government, providing incentives to create a sustainable AND competitive economy.

Nothing more, nothing less. If the Dems embraced these objectives, the contrast with the Faustian bargains of the Republicans would be complete and they'd win in a landslide. Not that any of these would be easy, or maybe even successful--but improvement in any of these arenas would create tremendous rewards I would think.

Steve Hicks 9 months, 1 week ago

Right on, Ken.

Thanks for speaking that commonsense. Plain commonsense is one of the main things that's been lost in the wholly-partisan attitudes that are doing our country great harm today.

Bob Summers 9 months, 1 week ago

Liberals will create any fantasy they can to take other peoples money.

Healthcare would be "affordable" if everyone had skin in the game. Paid their own way.

Healthcare is not affordable because there are too many freeloaders milking the system.

Freeloaders make healthcare affordability unsustainable.

Here I thought the Liberal was all about sustainability too. I guess their sustainability just applies to global climate/warming/ liberal word of the day here/ change.

Steve Hicks 9 months, 1 week ago


Darn, BS, you're just too smart for us "liberals" (i.e., everybody who doesn't share your viewpoint: that is, everybody else in the world).

Your eternal vigilance and piercing intelligence catch us out every time we cook up some evil scheme to take your money.

Bob Summers 9 months, 1 week ago

Why do you support people to freeload?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 months, 1 week ago

Why do you continue to post these "broken record" posts with your curious accusations of people who disagree with you as.........."LIBERAL.....LIBERAL......LIBERAL??

Steve Hicks 9 months, 1 week ago

Dang, Bob, you got me again !! Guess my supporting "freeloaders" makes me as bad as "them," huh ?

Have a good day, BS.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 9 months, 1 week ago

He BS. If you don't like paying taxes, so you can drive on our streets, why don't you and your fellow Libertarians buy and island and create your libertarian paradise?

And you never answered my question. Did you attend a public school or a state supported university? Inquiring minds want to know?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 9 months, 1 week ago

Again, a conservative who refuses to admit that other people paid for his education, but he is too greedy to pay for others.

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