Opinion: A Don’t-Blame-Us Congress Ducks on Syria
Be bipartisan and authorize a war

It is, of course, not nearly as important as the struggle in GA-6 that is testing what happens when you inject more than $50 million into a single House race and batter the voters into submission with attack ads.

And the topic could not possibly compete with the learned analyses of Megyn Kelly’s NBC interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — a TV show that was probably the biggest broadcast since King Edward VIII went on British radio to announce his abdication to marry “the woman I love.”

Opinion: In Praise of Congressional Openness
Why the tension at the core of American democracy is worth it

In the tear-stained hours after the baseball field shootings, House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy sounded the right note as he said in his opening prayer, “We are blessed by a free and open society. … But once again, we are reminded there is a vulnerability that comes with that openness.”

That is the tension at the core of American democracy as we stumble through this terror-soaked century. How do we maintain the close connection between the government and the governed without elected officials having to don bulletproof vests every morning along with their American flag pins?

Opinion: Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Challenge of 2018
Over-interpreting British results a risk for Democrats

If campaign consultants in both parties had their way, congressional challengers would never utter an interesting word and incumbents would have their Capitol Hill voting records airbrushed from history. Politics would be reduced to a clash between two physically attractive candidates (preferably with photogenic families), obediently reciting robotic talking points.

The major problem with this beguiling fantasy is a pesky group of human beings known as voters. Increasingly, voters crave authenticity, a hard-to-define attribute that comes across as the antithesis of poll-tested and blow-dried.

Opinion: Pro Tip — Never Cross James Comey
Trump attacks described as ‘lies, plain and simple’

The noun “lie” has been part of the English language for more than a thousand years, since before the Norman Conquest. But never before Thursday morning had it been repeatedly brandished by a defrocked FBI director testifying under oath to describe the president of the United States.

In his opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee, James Comey bluntly referred to presidential attacks on his competence as “lies, plain and simple.”

Opinion: How a Textbook in 2067 Might View Donald Trump
Alternate history that the president didn’t make up

Perspective is nearly impossible when you are living through tumultuous events on a daily basis. But by slightly bending the space-time continuum, this column has exclusively obtained a copy of a 2067 tenth-grade American history textbook entitled “Many Peoples, Many Voices, Many Perspectives.”Turning to the chapter on America after the 2016 election, it was fascinating to discover with 50 years hindsight how everything turned out. Actually, because of a quirk in quantum physics, three versions of the chapter were provided with radically different outcomes. Some excerpts:

“...President Trump remained defiant throughout the early summer of 2017. He often rallied his supporters through a primitive form of messaging called Twitter (see “obsolete technologies” on Page 821). Republicans in Congress, fearing the wrath of Trump supporters, avoided a public break with the president, although many (see “Profiles in Courage” page 619) grumbled privately.

Opinion: Truth the Pill for Trump’s Dysfunction
Congress must counter president’s mendacity and meanness

The Associated Press, the nation’s leading and most respected wire service, has always erred on the side of caution. Buried deep in the AP’s DNA is the hazy memory that its leading competitor, the United Press, stained its credibility for decades by prematurely announcing the end of World War I.

But never in the following century did the Associated Press write anything this blunt about any American elected leader: “President Donald Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad.”

Opinion: American Isolationism From the League of Nations to Trump
President’s climate change decision effectively makes U.S. a rogue nation

On November 19, 1919, the Senate failed to muster a two-thirds majority to ratify the Versailles Treaty ending World War I and establishing the League of Nations. As a banner headline in The (New York) Sun shouted, “PEACE TREATY DEFEATED … SECOND BALLOT KILLS ALL HOPE OF LEAGUE.”

The Senate’s refusal to join the League of Nations ushered in two decades of isolationism culminating in an America First movement that argued that Hitler’s takeover of Europe was of no concern to us. At the heart of the America First mindset was a belief that Pittsburgh mattered infinitely more than Nazi-occupied Paris.

Opinion: Trump — A President Without a True Party on Capitol Hill
Tweets suggest the chief executive is increasingly isolated

Entire journalism school courses can be constructed around the knotty question of how to cover Donald Trump’s tweets.

There is a case that these 140-character eruptions force reporters to chase irrelevancies such as Trump's fact-free claim that he really won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” But you can also argue that anything like Twitter that provides an unfiltered window into the mind of a president deserves to be scrutinized as much as a staff-written speech read off a Teleprompter.

Opinion: A GOP Guide to Running for Cover on Health Care
Three ways to overcome troubling diagnosis from the CBO

Long ago (that is, back in the days when James Comey was still FBI director), House Republicans rushed their health care bill through by a two-vote margin without waiting for the verdict of the Congressional Budget Office. That early May, haste was understandable since the victorious House Republicans were due at the White House for an Oval Office celebration of a bill that (“Whoops, we forgot about the Senate”) had not actually become a law.

There appeared to be no need for House Republicans to fret about the CBO score since, after all, Donald Trump had already promised in a tweet that “healthcare is coming along great … and it will end in a beautiful picture!” So it was easy for GOP legislators to imagine that the nonpartisan experts at the CBO would find that their bill provided quality affordable health insurance for every single American while saving the Treasury trillions of dollars.

Opinion: Montana Special Election Unlikely to Predict Larger Political Trend
But get ready for a barrage of talking points

Sometime after 10 p.m. Thursday in Washington, everyone in politics will feign being an expert on Montana or, as they will call it with an insider’s flourish, Big Sky Country. The returns from the first statewide race of the Trump era will inevitably trigger the type of frenzied over-analysis reserved for special elections at moments of political turmoil.

If the Republicans hang on to the House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the sighs of relief from imperiled GOP incumbents may set off every wind chime in the D.C. area. Greg Gianforte, who ran 47,000 votes behind Donald Trump in a losing 2016 bid for governor, brings to the race two decided advantages — he is rich (he sold his software company for $1.5 billion in 2011) and he is a Republican.

Opinion: Red-Scare Henchman a Role Model for Russia-Challenged President
Roy Cohn mentored Donald Trump

Even before the president ominously hinted at a secret White House taping system, the supposed similarities between Donald Trump and Richard Nixon had all but made “Watergate Studies” a required course in journalism departments.

But as we grope to understand the 45th president and (to put it charitably) his erratic behavior, the best historical guide remains the life and times of Roy Cohn, Trump’s original mentor.

Opinion: The Refrain Across Washington — ‘Not Since Watergate ...’
There are indeed similarities between Comey and Archibald Cox’s 1973 ouster

The abrupt firing of James B. Comey as FBI director revealed an enduring truth about the next four years — there will never be a normal day as long as Donald Trump is in the White House. When things seem placid and uneventful in this administration, it is probably because we do not yet know about the abnormalities that are transpiring beneath the surface.

Tuesday seemed like an ordinary spring day in Washington. There were no high-octane congressional hearings, legislative showdowns or significant protests in the streets. Even the FBI director felt secure enough in his position to leave town to attend a meeting in the Los Angeles field office.

Opinion: White House Dysfunction Is Stranger Than Fiction
Michael Flynn case a lasting and dangerous embarrassment

It would have been a climactic scene in any Cold War spy novel. The acting attorney general rushes across town to tell the White House legal counsel that the president’s national security adviser “could be blackmailed by the Russians.”

In this fictional universe, a wave of panic sweeps through the White House as the legal counsel with the attorney general in tow bursts into the Oval Office to warn the president. “Mr. President,” the legal counsel says ominously, “the AG believes that the Russians may be able to turn your national security adviser.”

Opinion: What the Vote on Health Care Means — Republicans Now Own It
Even low-information voters know that the GOP controls the levers of government

Now that the buses have returned from the White House victory-lap rally and House Republicans have headed home for what undoubtedly will be ticker-tape parades, it is time to step back from the partisan talking points to try to realistically gauge the meaning of Thursday’s health care vote.

It is no exaggeration to say that Thursday may have been Paul Ryan’s best day in politics since he was named Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. Especially since being elected House speaker brought Ryan so many heartaches and headaches that it doesn’t count.

Opinion: The Seduction of Washington’s Big-Money Bonanza
Cashing in shouldn’t be the reward — or the goal — for public service

We are entering the season when fledgling 2018 congressional candidates reveal their Capitol Hill ambitions in Facebook posts, tiny rallies in makeshift headquarters and even old-fashioned declarations on the courthouse steps. These candidate announcements will be brimming over with earnest words about “public service,” “the wonderful people of this district,” and “bringing change to Washington.”

Lurking beneath the boilerplate oratory is a more complex set of motivations explaining why a candidate in his or her prime earnings years is willing to gamble away the next 18 months in the uncertain quest for a job paying $174,000. Idealism and ideology often do play a role, but so does a hunger for fame and a restlessness with one’s current life.

Opinion: Scorecard — America After 100 Days of Trump
The good news is maybe the nation will endure the next four years

It may be news to Donald Trump that the original One Hundred Days ended with Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. In fact, if Trump learned about Napoleon from “Fox & Friends,” he would probably snarl, “I like my conquerors of Europe not to end up exiled to an island so remote you can’t even build a world-class hotel on it.”

The news media may be reeling in an era of fake news, but nothing halts the journalistic passion for predictable rituals like toting up presidential accomplishments after 14 weeks and 2 days in office. Trump himself would admit that he is no Franklin Roosevelt. After all, the 45th president would have spurned marrying a woman like Eleanor Roosevelt — who was never mistaken for an international fashion model when she was touring coal mines on behalf of FDR.

Opinion: Trump Must Resist His Inner MacArthur on Korea
A miscalculation could be very costly

Melissa McCarthy ended her latest impersonation of Sean Spicer — delivered in Easter garb on “Saturday Night Live” — by offhandedly mentioning, “And, by the way, the president's probably going to bomb North Korea tonight.”

Beyond the incongruity of a presidential press secretary announcing impending war while wearing a bunny suit, what made this moment funny was its small glimmer of plausibility.

Opinion: Would Trump Nuke Congressional Budget Rules?
They could stand in the way of president’s infrastructure plans

If real life resembled apocalyptic 1950s movies, the triggering of the nuclear option would have left a radioactive cloud all over North America and Europe. And the remnants of humanity would be hunkering down in Australia, calculating how long it would take for the deadly wind currents to reach that far south.

Instead, when the Senate went nuclear, Neil Gorsuch was elevated to the Supreme Court and Congress went home for recess without needing Geiger counters or fallout shelters. In fact, amid the thrill-a-minute gyrations of the Donald Trump White House, the nuclear option is already half-forgotten as all punditry is now raining down on the cruise missile strike in Syria.

Opinion: Trump-Carter Comparison a Sign of Historical Amnesia
People forget Carter remained fairly popular during his first year as president

I rise on a point of personal privilege as a former Jimmy Carter speechwriter.

For those looking for a glib analogy to describe the disarray of the Donald Trump White House, it has suddenly become fashionable to pick on Carter, the last one-term Democratic president.

Opinion: Can Trump Learn From His Own Bay of Pigs?
JFK wrote the script in how to deal with early setback

The fledgling president, ridiculed for his inexperience during the recent campaign, had just suffered a stunning setback less than 100 days after taking office. He ruefully admitted afterward, “No one knows how tough this job is until he has been in it a few months.”

Talking with a friend, the embarrassed president raged over his gullibility in accepting the advice of his top advisers. As he put it, “I sat around that day and all these fellas all saying, ‘This is going to work.’ … Now, in retrospect, I know they didn’t have any intention of giving me the straight word on this thing.”