Opinion: I’m Sorry You’re Not Sorry
An apology is not a sign of weakness — even inside the Beltway

We all know that the fastest way to diffuse tension or end a fight is to say “I’m sorry.” Not “I’m sorry if …” or “I’m sorry that you …” Just a simple, clean, “I’m sorry.”

It’s obvious to nearly everyone that an apology would have been the fastest way to end the controversy last week over a head-snapping leaked comment from White House staffer Kelly Sadler, who said ailing Sen. John McCain’s refusal to support President Donald Trump’s pick for CIA director won’t matter because “he’s dying anyway.”

Opinion: The Case for Ugly Primaries
The process is messy, but it can reveal much

You can’t blame Republican leaders for trying to pick the winner of Tuesday’s West Virginia primary ahead of time when the words “prison” and “supervised release” show up in nearly every story about Don Blankenship. The Senate hopeful and former coal executive did a year behind bars recently for the dangerously unsafe conditions in his coal mines, but is now somehow surging in the polls.

Republicans want a strong general election candidate to take on Sen. Joe Manchin in November, and trying to block a jailbird from the GOP nomination seems like a no-brainer. Add to that Blankenship’s willingness to savage Mitch McConnell as “Cocaine Mitch” and call the father of his wife, Elaine Chao, a “Chinaperson,” and it would take a Herculean amount of strength for the Senate majority leader and his supporters not to get sucked into a fight against one of their own.

Opinion: A New Religious Schism — What’s the Chaplain’s Job?
Lawmakers need to leave politics out of the job

When Rev. Patrick J. Conroy was preparing to take over as House Chaplain in 2011 after being appointed by Speaker John Boehner, the Jesuit priest told The New York Times that he readied himself, in part, by reading “American Lion,” Jon Meacham’s biography of President Andrew Jackson. Conroy told the Times that reading about the vicious rivalry between Jackson and Henry Clay in Congress showed him that “it’s not an unprecedented thing in American politics for there to be recriminations and a lack of civility.”

That much has always been true. But what is unprecedented, seven years after Conroy accepted the job, is that the House chaplain himself is now at the center of the recriminations and lack of civility in Congress that he once sought to counsel members beyond. For the first time in history, the House chaplain has been asked to resign and nobody seems to know why.

Opinion: Negotiating Advice From Capitol Hill to Emmanuel Macron
The last shall become the first. And assume nothing

Bienvenue to Washington, Emmanuel Macron! You’ve got a lot on your plate, and we’re not talking about the jambalaya that’s on the menu for President Donald Trump’s first-ever state dinner that he’s throwing in your honor Tuesday night.

From convincing the president to stay in the Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate accords to making the case that new steel tariffs shouldn’t apply to the European Union and urging continued cooperation in Syria, there’s no shortage of items on your negotiating list.

Opinion: When the Party of Conscience Slinks From the Fight
What was supposed to be a power struggle for the ages has turned out to be more like a used-car sale

Ever since Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for president, national headlines have predicted an epic fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party sometime in the very near future. In this corner is the big-mouthed New York billionaire untethered to any particular policy besides winning. In the other are the conscience-driven, high-minded intellectuals of modern-day conservatism, who see themselves as the keepers of the party flame.

Two ideologies will enter the fight, but only one can emerge, and the good money up to now has been on the conservatives. After all, they have the experience, the knowledge and each other to count on, while Trump has only himself.

Opinion: The Real Facebook Scandal
Congress has been unwilling to do anything significant to protect Americans

If Congress wants someone to blame for the massive data breach at Facebook that compromised 87 million users’ personal information leading up to the 2016 presidential campaign, it could start with Mark Zuckerberg, who will testify on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday.

As the CEO of the massive social media company, Zuckerberg has engineered a platform that collects more information about more people than any entity or government in the history of the world and then sells access to that information for huge profits. Zuckerberg alone made $23 billion in the first eight months of 2017, including a $1 billion gain in a single day in August.

Opinion: It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country
Acting with integrity no longer a requirement for public service — and may be impossible

Do you remember the days when people in Washington used to say they were leaving their power jobs to “spend more time with their families?”

It was almost always a cover story for something less pleasant or more nefarious. But with a wink and a gentleman’s or lady’s agreement not to say more than necessary, the Cabinet secretary or member of Congress was gone like that.

Opinion: Will the Marches Make a Difference?
Marches are where change can start, but elections are where the change happens

The National Rifle Association went into the 1994 midterm elections with a plan: Target politicians who had voted for that year’s crime bill.

A Washington Post story just before Election Day detailed a granular and aggressive plan inside the NRA to unseat anyone who had failed to support the group’s position on the landmark legislation pushed by President Bill Clinton that included a ban on new sales of some assault weapons.

Opinion: Some Dems Want to Dump Nancy Pelosi. Are They Nuts?
Democratic leader a tough act to follow

I have often believed that Nancy Pelosi is the only real man in Washington.

She’s got skin thicker than a rhinoceros. She raises money like a hedge fund chairman. Her personal ambitions are as obvious as they are legendary and, unlike the male congressional leaders before her and around her, she never, never, never gives up.

Opinion: Why the Pennsylvania Special Election Is Not So Special
Such contests are more about storylines than winning

All elections have consequences, but on a scale of zero-to-life-changing, Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb has fewer real-world consequences than most.

You wouldn’t know it from the screaming national headlines or the colossal amount of cash both parties are putting up to occupy the seat for the next nine months (almost $12 million in ad spending alone), but the reality of special elections this cycle is that they are more about winning a storyline than about winning any House seat.

Opinion: Donald Trump Has Already Won His Trade War
President makes good on promise to people who put him in office

One dark, cold night in 2016, Donald Trump made a promise to 6,000 chanting fans and potential voters who had come to see him speak in an unheated, dirt floor rodeo hall in Pendleton, South Carolina.

“We’re going to make America great again. We’re going to make it rich. We’re going to bring our jobs back from China and Mexico.”

Opinion: Time’s Up for DiFi? Not If Democrats Are Smart
Veteran California senator fights a good fight

When Democrats chanted, “Time’s up! Time’s up!” at the California state convention this weekend, they weren’t protesting serial sexual harassers, as the Hollywood-based #TimesUp movement was founded to do. And they definitely weren’t calling for equal opportunities for women in leadership, the other goal of the Time’s Up movement.

Instead, the protesters were heckling Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California’s senior senator, as she walked off the convention stage where she made her case for re-election in 2018.

Opinion: Save the RINOs, Save Yourselves
Mitt Romney would add a voice of moderation

 

Mitt Romney is running for Senate. He found new political life by bashing President Donald Trump — who on Monday proceeded to endorse him anyway. (Even a candidate video that sideswiped Trump at least twice wasn’t enough to deter the president.)

Opinion: Meet the Deficit Doves
Deficit hawks soar like a rock

Do you remember the deficit hawks of the last decade, that breed of budget cutter so single-minded and focused on reducing, rather than growing, government debts and deficits that you knew what they were going to say before they said it?

Military spending needed a pay-for. Medicare Part D? Too expensive. For every legislative idea their congressional colleagues cooked up to solve a problem, the deficit hawks rightly pointed out that spending money the country doesn’t have is itself a problem, especially without a plan to reduce spending in the out years.

Opinion: Crumbs? ‘I’ll Take It!’ And Democrats Should Too
Tax cuts are showing up in paychecks, and that’s definitely not hurting the GOP

Democrats could not believe their luck this weekend when House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted — and then deleted — a boast about the $1.50 raise a high school secretary received as a result of the GOP tax cut bill that President Donald Trump signed at the end of the year.

“She said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year,” Ryan tweeted.

Opinion: Why Democrats Are Desperate for Some Kennedy Dazzle
The JPK3 boomlet is upon us, and it starts with the State of the Union

It’s hard to describe the full swoon among progressives that’s been underway since House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi announced that Rep. Joe Kennedy III, known among liberal super-fans as “JPK3,” had accepted the deceptively difficult task of delivering the response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

“My God, he looks like a red-headed Ted,” wrote a contributor on The Daily Kos, the website that re-established itself in 2017 as a hugely influential forum for progressive activists.

Opinion: Women Played a Key Role in Harassment Bill
In the #MeToo era, some lawmakers may be scurrying for cover

When people talk about women running for office, we hear a lot about numbers. X-number of women are running. Women make up y-percent of Congress or elected officials. When x and y are equal, then we’ll finally see a difference in our government.

But beyond the numbers, if you really want to see the difference it makes to have women from both parties at the table when legislation is drafted, look no further than the bill introduced last week to finally begin to change the way sexual harassment has been dealt with in Capitol Hill offices since the Congressional Accountability Act passed in 1995.

Opinion: Welcome to S-Town
Congress should try fixing problems instead of creating them

You have to wonder what’s going through newly elected Sen. Doug Jones’ mind as he experiences his second full week in the Senate. Can you imagine winning an election against an accused pedophile, only to arrive in the one square mile of America that is crazier than the circumstances that brought you here?

What about Sen. Tina Smith, who replaced Al Franken after he voluntarily resigned for sexual harassment he said he mostly never committed?  Congress made even less sense on Tuesday, when the prevailing debate among senators was not about Korea or nuclear war or the economy or education, but over whether President Donald Trump had called Haiti and all of Africa a “shithole” or a “shithouse” in a meeting with senators last week.

Opinion: The Women Who Could Take Back the House for Democrats
Trump presidency a catalyst for action

In a typical election cycle, EMILY’S List hears from 900 or so women who are interested in running for political office. As of this week, less than a year after President Donald Trump took office, more than 25,000 women have reached out to the group, whose goal is to help elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.

That unprecedented number tracks with what I’ve seen covering special elections for the House and Senate in 2017. Particularly in Alabama and Georgia, I kept seeing female voters showing up in huge numbers to work for Democratic candidates, even when the women themselves weren’t Democrats, or had never been particularly political at all.

Opinion: Democrats’ Picks to Repeat Alabama Upset in the South
Some feel good about their chances in the 2018 midterms

When Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race last week, Jones became the first Democrat to be elected statewide there since 2006. When he is sworn into the Senate a few weeks from now, he will notice he’s not like the others, since he and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida will be the only two Democrats to represent states in a deep red swath of the Deep South from Texas to North Carolina.

But a combination of the Jones victory, along with a group of unusually promising candidates and a polarizing president in the White House, has Democrats in the South feeling genuinely decent about their chances in the 2018 midterm elections. They’re not exactly whistling Dixie, but they are humming a different tune for once.