Opinion & Analysis

Opinion: Bickering Democrats — Still Mired in the 20th Century
Time for a new agenda and an end to self-destructive proxy battles

Only Democrats get into a deep funk over the failure of Jon Ossoff — a 30-year-old first-time candidate — to win the Georgia 6th district special election, Walter Shapiro writes. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Only the downtrodden and dispirited Democrats could work themselves into a bout of I’m-on-the-ledge-and-thinking-about-jumping depression over the failure of a 30-year-old first-time candidate to win a House seat in a Georgia district where he didn’t even live.

Equally ludicrous are the recriminations over Democratic tactics in Georgia-6. Last Tuesday’s special election in the upscale Atlanta suburbs might be a bellwether if it were typical for both sides to spend $50 million on a single House race. At that rate of spending, the 2018 House races would cost about $21 billion.

Opinion: Of Shakespearean Lessons and Art That Makes Us Think
The president doth tweet too much, methinks

The artistic licenses taken by The Public Theater’s production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” would be appreciated by the bard himself, Curtis writes. (Courtesy Public Theater)

When Barack Obama burst onto the national stage and consciousness with his eloquent speech of unity at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, listeners delighted at its deliberate thoughtfulness — the flip side of the George W. Bush “everyman” style. (And yes, that the polished orator was the child raised without a father and the other had a lineage of political privilege was part of the irony and appeal of the shiny, new package.)

President Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, was, as everyone knows, the opposite of all that — a man of immediate reaction and few, sometimes incoherent and contradictory words, often strung together in 140 characters or less. Those who favored this new style eventually read the former’s quality of reflection as indecision, and compared President Obama, often unfavorably, to “Hamlet.”

Capitol Ink | Magic Act

Opinion: Jon Ossoff and the New Breed of Yellow Dog Democrats
How politics in a onetime Southern GOP stronghold have changed

By the kind of campaign he ran in Georgia’s 6th District, Jon Ossoff is emblematic of a New Southern Democrat, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — It’s Election Day in Georgia, so this column goes to print before we know the outcome of the 6th District special election to replace Dr. Tom Price in Congress. But whether Karen Handel, the Republican, pulls off a win or Jon Ossoff, the Democrat, manages an upset, it is well-understood here that the politics of this once solidly Republican district have changed, almost overnight.

The fact that Ossoff became so competitive, so quickly in this race was almost entirely because of Donald Trump. Trump was certainly the reason Democratic activists across the country pumped $20 million into a district where the biggest tourist attraction is a giant red chicken in front of a vintage KFC. Trump was also the reason countless Ossoff volunteers told me they were working for him “because at least it is something I could do” after Trump won in November.

Capitol Ink | Behind Closed Doors

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

Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., right, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., conduct a news conference in the Capitol to introduce an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban on May 25, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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.”

Capitol Ink | Donald JFK Trump

Opinion: Donald Trump — the Affirmative Action President and His Enablers
Different rules — or no rules — for different people

President Donald Trump is the guy who doesn’t bother to read the book but tries to bluff his way through the oral support, Curtis writes. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

House Speaker Paul Ryan offered the excuse “He’s just new to this” for Donald Trump after former FBI chief James Comey’s testimony that the president has done and said things that were inappropriate, even if they don’t turn out to be illegal. It sounded like something you would say in defense of a toddler who dives face-first into the birthday cake because he hasn’t yet learned what a fork is for.

President Trump is that guy — and it’s a guy 99 percent of the time — who doesn’t bother to read the book but tries to bluff his way through the oral report. Sometimes that guy is funny. When he is in a position to weaken long-held European alliances, jeopardize troops on a base in the Middle East or shred America’s safety net as well as ethical guidelines set by the founders in the U.S. Constitution, no one should be laughing. A “gentleman’s C” won’t cut it when so much is at stake.

Capitol Ink | Fighting Words

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

An FBI evidence response team gathers outside of the Aldi grocery store near Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Va., where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot during baseball practice on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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?

A Note to Our Readers
Roll Call extends its longtime support for the Congressional Baseball Game

Reps. Cedric Richmond, D-La., right, and Steve Scalise, R-La., play during the Republicans' 8-7 victory in the 55th Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park, June 23, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

To our readers,

Partisan rancor reached new levels during the past election season and has persisted through political tussles over policy.

Opinion: Two Shootings in Less Than Seven Years Is Two Too Many
A lesson from Giffords, Scalise and Trump: tone it down

Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords hugs President Barack Obama at his 2012 State of the Union address as then-Rep. Jeff Flake looks on. (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call file photo)

I’ll never forget the moment when my sense of professionalism as a journalist failed me most.

It was Jan. 25, 2012. I had raced to the corridor behind the back door of the House chamber to catch a glimpse of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. A year had passed since a deranged lunatic fired a bullet into her brain and killed six others in a Tucson parking lot, and Giffords had just resigned her House seat.

Opinion: Republicans’ Biggest Problem in Georgia Isn’t the Special Election
Health care looms large in the 6th District

Whether or not Democrat Jon Ossoff wins in Georgia’s 6th District next week, health care could spell serious trouble for the GOP in 2018, Murphy writes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

ATLANTA — Of all of the numbers that should give Republican leaders heartburn in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, where a special election runoff is scheduled for next Tuesday, the most worrisome number might be in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll from last week.

That survey of likely and early voters showed Democrat Jon Ossoff leading Republican Karen Handel by 7 points. That’s not great news in the district where its former congressman, HHS Secretary Tom Price, won 62 percent of the vote just six months ago. But special elections being what they are, no one can confidently predict the result of this contest until it happens next week.

Capitol Ink | New Government Jobs

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

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party of the United Kingdom, arrives at party headquarters in London on June 9. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

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.