opinion

Don’t Call Mazie Hirono a Badass. Call Her a Leader.
Hawaii Democrat is much more than a meme

Sen. Mazie Hirono dropped some choice remarks on her Judiciary Committee colleagues, and the internet went wild. Americans have been without female leadership for so long that it knocks them over when they see it, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Sen. Mazie Hirono is a badass, in case you haven’t been following the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. 

Also, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is notorious, like a rapper. And when Rep. Maxine Waters reclaimed her time last year, she suddenly became everybody’s favorite feisty aunt who isn’t putting up with your fresh talk anymore.

He Made Politics a Knockdown Brawl. (Hint: It Wasn’t Trump)
Contrary to the cries of ‘It’s never been worse,’ politics has always been personal, passionate and contentious

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams didn’t found America with backslaps and empty platitudes. They were as passionate as any politician since, write Heineman and Beebe. (Courtesy White House Historical Association and National Gallery of Art)

OPINION — In the presidential election of 1800, John Adams’ camp, through the Connecticut Courant newspaper, said that should Thomas Jefferson win the presidency, the United States would become a nation where “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced.”

Jefferson’s camp in turn accused Adams of being a “gross hypocrite” and “one of the most egregious fools on the continent.”

When Fried Pickles Lead to Better Policymaking
Ace program helps lawmakers build personal and working relationships

From right, Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr and California Rep. Jimmy Panetta visit a farm outside Lexington, Ky., during an exchange trip in June with the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Courtesy Bipartisan Policy Center)

OPINION — A California congressman, born in Mexico, introduces a Republican colleague in America’s heartland to traditional Mexican hibiscus water while attending a Cinco de Mayo festival, like the one he started in his home district. Within 24 hours, they receive a classified defense briefing nearby at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters. In ways both lighthearted and serious, that’s how relationships are built under the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Congressional Exchange program, or ACE.

Relationships are foundational. Just as it is hard to trust someone you don’t know, it’s also difficult to disparage a person with whom you’ve broken bread — or shared hibiscus water, eaten fried pickles or tasted olive oil on ice cream. And experiencing the world through the eyes and perspective of another is frequently illuminating.

How the Republicans Fell for Trump’s Overconfidence Game
With the base seeing all criticism as ‘Fake News,’ the GOP could be in for a rough November

Convinced that polls are rigged for the Democrats, strong backers of President Donald Trump have convinced themselves that the Republican Congress is an impregnable fortress, Shapiro writes. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION  — The topic never pops up in statistical analyses or pundit roundtables on cable TV, but one of the most underappreciated factors shaping politics is overconfidence.

Historically, second-term presidents have been particularly vulnerable to arrogant overreach. For eight decades, the prime example has been Franklin Roosevelt’s ill-fated plan following his 1936 landslide re-election to pack the Supreme Court with six new justices. (A personal plea: Please don’t mention this scheme to Donald Trump.)

Brett Kavanaugh Isn’t Clarence Thomas, but It’s Still About Race
Black and brown kids don’t get their slates wiped clean

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, left, has urged his colleagues to see past sexual assault allegations and consider who Brett Kavanaugh “is today.” But only certain folks get their slates wiped clean, Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Orrin G. Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, is nothing if not consistent.

His words about distinguished lawyer and professor Anita Hill in 1991 — when she testified in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings before the Judiciary Committee on which he sat — were clear. He said there was “no question” in his mind that she was “coached” by special interest groups. “Her story’s too contrived. It’s so slick it doesn’t compute.” Hatch mused she may have cribbed some of her testimony from the novel “The Exorcist” — the horror!

What Constitutes a Wave Election?
With half of independents still up for grabs, a blue wave is not a foregone conclusion

Democrats may be predicting a blue wave, but surveys show many independents are still up for grabs and Republicans could yet win that battle of ideas, Winston writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Is 2018 going to be a wave election? The better question is: “What constitutes a wave election?”

In a CNN interview last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Christiane Amanpour, “People ask me, is this a tsunami or is it wave? And I said, in neither case, it’s many drops of water and it’s all very close. So it won’t be a big margin, it will be small margins in many races that will produce the victory.”

Kavanaugh’s Fate Lies in Women’s Hands — As It Should Be
Female voters will also be judging how Republicans treat him and his accuser

Responses by some male Republican lawmakers to the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh show that many still don’t understand what it takes for a woman to come forward and tell her story, Murphy writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — This was the point. This was always the point of the “Year of the Woman,” in 1992 and every election year since then. To have women at the table, to have women as a part of the process in the government we live by every day. Women still aren’t serving in Congress in the numbers they should be, but it is at moments like this one — with a nominee, an accusation, and a Supreme Court seat in the balance — where electing women to office matters.

When Anita Hill told an all-male panel of senators in 1991 that Clarence Thomas had repeatedly sexually harassed her when she had worked with him years before, the senators on the all-male Judiciary Committee seemed to put Hill on trial instead of Thomas. Why didn’t she quit her job and get another one, they asked. Why did she speak to him again? Why didn’t she come forward and say something about Thomas sooner if he was such a flawed nominee?

Congress Has a ‘Lame Duck’ Shot at Fixing Retirement Security
Legislation to help Americans save more for retirement is already moving forward

The months after an election aren’t exactly prime time for legislating. But with a bill long championed by Senate Finance leaders Orrin G. Hatch, right, and Ron Wyden nearly through the chamber and a similar measure moving in the House, Congress could buck the trend and act on retirement security, Conrad and Lockhart write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — As the midterms approach, the American public’s expectations of any productive policy coming out of Washington are near rock bottom. The postelection “lame duck” session, particularly in the current partisan atmosphere, would normally be a lost cause.

Leadership by a group of lawmakers, however, has given Congress a rare opportunity: bipartisan legislation that would improve the retirement security for millions of Americans.

Teen Activists to Young Hill Aides: Stand With Us
Civil rights advocates call on young congressional staffers to end gun carnage

Student protesters in Montgomery County — including MoCo Students for Change founder Brenna Levitan, left, and co-president Dani Miller, second from right — join a national walkout on March 14. (Courtesy William Ahn)

Dear Capitol Hill staffers:

These past few months have been a milestone time in America. Not since the student civil rights movement in the ’60s has our country seen such mass mobilization of young people.

Midterms Show We’re Not Any Closer to a Post-Racial America
Racially charged language is a trademark rather than a flaw to many

Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, warned state voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his Democratic opponent, who is African-American. Above, DeSantis and Trump appear at a rally in Tampa, Fla., in July. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Remember the time when Trent Lott got in a heap of trouble for remembering the time?

It was 2002, and the Senate Republican leader representing Mississippi was waxing nostalgic for what he considered the good old days at a 100th birthday celebration for South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond. Carried away by the moment — and in remarks that recalled similar words from 1980 — Lott said: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”