One thing that never changes in Washington is the difference in metabolism between the House and Senate. Have you ever watched pet-rehabilitation shows like “The Dog Whisperer”? The House is the deranged Pomeranian that yelps and throws itself against the window and tears up the upholstery 24/7. The Senate, meanwhile, is like a narcoleptic Great Dane you can hardly rouse for dinner.
A warning to all women whose mammograms show an abnormality: If your surgeon says you need a surgical biopsy to determine if you have cancer, be sure to get a second opinion. The odds are good that you should get a needle biopsy. That is safer, less invasive, and cheaper.
Current events in the Middle East highlight the urgency of adopting at the global level what true democracies apply at the national level - a universal code for participation in democratic elections. This would include requiring every party running for office to embrace, in word and deed, a set of core democratic principles: the renunciation of violence and the acceptance of state monopoly over the use of force, the pursuit of aims by peaceful means, commitment to the rule of law and to equality before the law, and adherence to international agreements to which their country is bound.
Such a code could guide election monitors and individual nations in deciding whether to grant parties democratic legitimacy. It would put all societies on notice that electing an undemocratic party would have negative international consequences.
The intent here is not to stifle disagreement or to suggest that democracy be uniform, disregarding local cultures and values. The goal is to advance a democratic process that is inclusive but that cannot be hijacked for non-democratic ends.
There have been worse times to start a new job in Washington. When Abraham Lincoln arrived in the capital 150 years ago this week, for example, the South had already seceded.
Jay Carney, the new White House press secretary, didn't have anything quite so dire on his hands when he took over the briefing room podium last week. But President Obama has put his new spokesman in an unenviable position: He is the mouthpiece of an administration that has painfully little to say.
[Gov. Chris Christie] Christie's big straight-talk credential so far is his willingness to stare down the teachers unions. Their archaic practices need to be challenged, and Christie deserves credit for taking them on. But is it really "courageous"? Courage is when a politician tells his strongest supporters things they don't want to hear. I'm a little tired of Republicans calling for an "adult conversation" that mainly takes things away from adults who don't vote Republican.
Mayor Rahm. It will be a hoot. It could even be good for Chicago.
And in a way he has never had to do before, Rahm Emanuel will finally reveal who he really is.
One of the many dramas of a Rahm mayoralty - roll over, Fiorello La Guardia - will be its status as a controlled (or, perhaps, uncontrolled) experiment in how a brilliant political operative translates campaigning skills into governing achievement. Bill Clinton was an elected official who happened to be one of the country's smartest consultants. Rahm is the go-to adviser who happens to be good at running for office.
But first, a word of warning: All columns about Rahm should carry a consumer advisory. No person in public life has been more assiduous about courting journalists, and he is an aficionado of the column-writing trade.
Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama deserve some credit for what has happened. Bush put the problem of the Middle East's politics at the center of American foreign policy. His articulation of a "freedom agenda" for the Middle East was a powerful and essential shift in American foreign policy (as I wrote at the time). But because so many of Bush's policies were unpopular in the region, and seen by many Arabs as "anti-Arab," it became easy to discredit democracy as an imperial plot. In 2005, Hosni Mubarak effectively silenced a vigorous pro-democracy movement by linking it to Bush.
Obama has had a quieter approach, supporting freedom but insisting that the United States did not intend to impose it on anyone. As unsatisfying as this might have been as public rhetoric, it has had the effect of allowing the Arab revolts of 2011 to be wholly owned by Arabs. This is no small matter, because the success of these protests hinges on whether they will be seen as organic, indigenous, national movements.
PRESIDENT OBAMA and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. declared on Wednesday that the Justice Department would no longer be an advocate for the indefensible - a law that relegates the nation's gay and lesbian citizens to second-class status.
It was a decision as bold as it was risky.
The administration is right to question a law that singles out a group of people for discriminatory treatment. But the best way to eliminate its invidious effects is to work with lawmakers to erase the law from the books.
The firestorm ignited in Wisconsin over public employee unions is now spreading to Indiana and Ohio, and will probably spark elsewhere before it's extinguished. As union members man the barricades to protest efforts to strip them of collective bargaining rights, Democratic lawmakers flee their home states to forestall action and conservatives vow to prevent unions from sucking government treasuries dry, what's striking about the debate is how little the opposing sides seem to understand or acknowledge each other's arguments. Wisconsin's approach to unions is decidedly the wrong one, but that doesn't mean the status quo is sustainable.