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Jules Witcover has reported and analyzed the news from Washington and around the country for more than half a century. His column, "Politics ...

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Jules Witcover

Jules Witcover

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The endless campaign marathon is out of hand

April 24, 2015

WASHINGTON -- Now that Hillary Clinton has finally declared her presidential candidacy for 2016, the country can look forward to another interminable stretch of pre-election shadow boxing, until the first voting in the Iowa caucuses early next year.

  • Count on GOP candidates to gang up on Hillary

    April 22, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- For one reason or another, some Democratic friends and foes alike of Hillary Clinton contend that she needs a serious challenger for their party's 2016 presidential nomination. She will benefit, they say, from having a punching bag who can clarify her positions on key issues and bring out the best in her personal qualifications for the job.

  • Taking the early presidential plunge

    April 19, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- With Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio now in active competition for their parties' 2016 presidential nominations, it's guaranteed that voters will be subjected to one of the longest preludes to the actual election yet recorded.

  • Rubio's youth is no advantage without ample war chest

    April 17, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- In announcing his formal candidacy for the presidency, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio started out in the shadow of a video -- Hillary Clinton's electronic declaration that she is after the same job.

  • Hillary drops the other shoe

    April 15, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- In finally declaring her 2016 presidential candidacy, Hillary Clinton put a reverse twist on the old break-up line, "It's not you. It's me." Her pitch, she said, is all about you -- the voters and what you need -- not about me and my ambition to follow my husband into the Oval Office.

  • Probing Hillary's vulnerability

    April 12, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- As the 2016 Republican presidential aspirants assess the best way to confront Hillary Clinton as the Democratic frontrunner, a Republican-turned-Democrat, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, thinks he's found her weak spot, and may take her on for the Democratic presidential nomination.

  • Rand Paul: Vive le difference

    April 10, 2015

    WASHINGTON--In the continuing competition among 2016 Republican presidential aspirants, freshman Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is out front in his bid to be the party's Un-Romney.

  • Rolling Stone's journalistic credibility is called into question

    April 8, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- The implosion of a Rolling Stone story describing an alleged rape at the University of Virginia has dealt yet another blow to the American press, which was already held in suspicion and low regard among much of the nation's reading public.

  • Obama's Iranian gamble

    April 5, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- The deal tentatively struck with Iran to divert its path to a nuclear weapon will affect American domestic as well as foreign policy in determining President Obama's legacy, as he winds down his White House occupancy.

  • Jerry Brown's latest water woes

    April 3, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- California Gov. Jerry Brown has reason to appreciate the saying that what goes around, comes around. Some 38 years after coping with a massive drought in the Golden State in his first governorship, he's beleaguered again by the same natural disaster.

  • Martin O'Malley makes a case for challenging Hillary

    April 1, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Former Baltimore mayor and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley made the case Sunday for a challenge to Hillary Clinton, from himself or some other Democrat.

  • Obama can't escape war

    March 29, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- There's a certain irony in the fact that the American president who won the office vowing to end the two wars he inherited finds himself after six years as much a wartime president as the man he succeeded.

  • Netanyahu casts a pall over US-Israeli relations

    March 27, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- The recent series of events involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress, his election-eve disavowal of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israel dilemma and his subsequent election backtracking on it have brought a new low to U.S.-Israeli relations.

  • Cruz zeroes in on his base

    March 26, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the first Republican hopeful to formally enter the race for his party's 2016 nomination, is not one for subtlety. In his choice of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., a fundamentalist Christian hotbed, he preached his true-faith conservative message to the choir.

  • Bibi's bait-and-switch on Palestine

    March 22, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election victory -- won on the strength of his temporary promise never to approve a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel -- was akin to pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

  • Democrats have a weak bench should Hillary falter

    March 20, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- The furor over Hillary Clinton's private email account has brought undesired attention to her pre-candidacy for president. It resurrects old questions not only about her penchant for privacy but also about her political skills and those of the chief advisers around her.

  • Curtis Gans, a man who changed the course of history

    March 18, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- In high-stakes politics, sometimes the action of a little-known player drastically alters the chessboard with significant results. Such was the case of Curtis Gans, a serious game-changer who, as a University of North Carolina graduate, helped engineer the end of the Lyndon Johnson presidency.

  • For Hillary, the past is prologue

    March 15, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton must have experienced deja vu the other day, facing a demanding press bombarding her with questions about her penchant for privacy. The specifics of the interrogation were different, but the response was essentially the same as in her encounters as first lady in the 1990s, in her 2008 presidential campaign and her four years as secretary of state.

  • Partisanship goes overboard

    March 13, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- It used to be said that partisanship stops at the water's edge. That is, it's fine and expected that our political parties differ on domestic affairs, but when it comes to conducting foreign policy, it should be left in the hands of the president.

  • 50 years after Selma

    March 11, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Every once in a while, a historic event occurs that eloquently meets the needs of a contemporary national trial. Just such an occasion occurred last weekend with the 50th anniversary of the bloody civil rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

  • Open season on Hillary

    March 8, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- After months of seeming invulnerability, Hillary Clinton's penchant for privacy has given her frustrated Republican foes a possible opening to bring to earth her high-flying pre-candidacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

  • Bibi does D.C.

    March 6, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- That was quite a performance Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives, courtesy of Speaker John Boehner in his continuing campaign to impede and discredit the presidency of Barack Obama.

  • Jeb Bush yet to pass the tea party litmus test

    March 4, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- The significance of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) recently held in a Washington suburb was what it revealed about how far the speakers were willing to go to establish their credentials for being there.

  • Boehner on the hot seat

    March 1, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- One of this city's current mysteries is why Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner wants to hold onto the job. His roughly four years in the post have been a nonstop struggle not only with the Democrat in the Oval Office but also with his fractious GOP membership.

  • Obama finds his veto pen

    February 27, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- With the Republicans now in control of both houses of Congress, President Obama has finally invoked his weapon of last resort against being run over by them, by vetoing the Keystone XL pipeline bill.

  • Giuliani sucker punches Obama on patriotism

    February 25, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- In the dustup over Rudy Giuliani saying he doesn't believe that the president loves America, it's a tossup who deserves more to be sent to the woodshed, him or the fellow Republicans who rushed to justify his remark.

  • Family legacy looms over Jeb Bush's campaign

    February 22, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- The sure-footed start of Jeb Bush's bid for the Oval Office began with a money blitzkrieg that helped drive Mitt Romney out of the running for 2016. It may well claim other casualties among the large crowd of other Republican presidential hopefuls before the first party caucuses and primaries.

  • GOP's unchanging game plan: Gang up on Obama

    February 20, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- The determination of conservative Republicans to thwart Barack Obama at every turn was clear from the first days after his election in 2008, as their Senate leader Mitch McConnell publicly vowed to make him "a one-term president."

  • Another reluctant warrior in the White House

    February 15, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama's latest war strategy makes one wonder: Is another Woodrow Wilson in the Oval Office debating with himself about how to meet the existential threat that faces him?

  • Obama goes to Congress on the war

    February 12, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- After nearly 14 years of war in the Middle East, President Obama's pitch to Congress for authorization to continue it conforms with his own defined purpose -- eventually to end America's "perpetual war footing" that began under his predecessor, George W. Bush.

  • Obama's uncertain trumpet in Middle East, Ukraine

    February 10, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama's outward calm in the face of the peril of Russian adventurism in Ukraine is in keeping not only with his personality. It squares with his dogged determination to extract the United States from what he has decried as a permanent war footing existing since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

  • Brian Williams' fib and credibility in the anchor chair

    February 8, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Back during the Vietnam War, CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite was judged in the polls to be "the most trusted man in America" for his straightforward nightly reports. When he went to Vietnam and returned saying the war was "mired in stalemate," it was widely reported that President Lyndon Johnson had observed, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America" -- or some variation thereof.

  • New congressional leadership, same stalemate

    February 6, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- All through the 2014 midterm campaign and thereafter. the Republican leaders boasted that once they got their hands on the reins of Congress they would come out smoking with their long-stymied agenda for getting the country out of the doldrums.

  • Jeb Bush tastes first success in 2016 nomination stakes

    February 3, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- The early decision of Jeb Bush to jump-start a Republican race for the 2016 presidential nomination has already bagged its first victim in Mitt Romney.

  • Crowded field seeks GOP nomination for 2016

    February 1, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Never in memory have so many presidential hopefuls plunged this early before an election year into the money chase to put themselves on the path to the White House. And for whatever reason, all of them are Republicans.

  • Netanyahu takes center stage in Boehner's latest folly

    January 30, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Not since Gen. Douglas MacArthur was called on to address Congress after being fired by President Harry Truman in 1951 has such an invitation to an outsider caused such a stir as House Speaker John Boehner's welcome mat to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • A sorry Republican preview for 2016

    January 28, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- As the likely coronation of Hillary Clinton as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee quietly progresses without serious opposition, the Republicans seem to be working overtime publicizing an abundance of long shots hoping to be her challenger.

  • The Republicans take over, sort of

    January 25, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- With the Republicans now totally in charge of Congress, they have the chance to make good on their promise that things are going to change on Capitol Hill. But their opening moves suggest more of the same old same old.

  • Obama faces reality

    January 23, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Perhaps six years too late, President Obama gave strong indications in his State of the Union address that he's finally bought into Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over against and expecting different results.

  • 'Class war' themes resurface in party rhetoric

    January 21, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- There's something eminently straightforward about President Obama's State of the Union proposal to raise taxes on the richest Americans and boost income for the middle class. Robin Hood had the same idea, and the Republican Party has endlessly declared it "class warfare."

  • On debating the war vs. ISIS

    January 18, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama has an opportunity for a quick recovery from his Paris no-show gaffe. He can and should move swiftly to ask Congress for new authorization to use the military force he's already initiated against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

  • Is a Bush-Romney faceoff ahead?

    January 16, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- If Jeb Bush's early disclosure that he's clearing the decks for a 2016 presidential bid was meant to scare off all Republican opposition, it appears to have backfired on him.

  • AWOL in Paris: What was Obama thinking?

    January 14, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- One song President Obama probably isn't singing to himself right now is "The Last Time I Saw Paris."

  • Can Jeb Bush clear the field for the GOP nomination in 2016?

    January 9, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- In preparing his path for a 2016 presidential bid, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is unlikely to emulate the brash and even flippant style of his brother, the 43rd president. He is too level-headed and thoughtful for that. But on the tactical side, he appears to be firmly in step with the George W., who ran and won in 2000.

  • Can the two parties disagree without being disagreeable

    January 9, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Mitch McConnell's debut as the new Senate majority leader served at least one worthy Republican cause. It made Speaker of the House John Boehner, who easily turned back an intraparty challenge on the other side of the Capitol, seem the soul of sweet reasonableness by contrast.

  • Truth takes a back seat in another historical movie

    January 7, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- As the uproar died down over the Hollywood comedy that depicted the fictitious assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, another movie came under fire for taking liberties with the truth. The film in question, "Selma," seemed to some critics to characterize the late President Lyndon B. Johnson as a reluctant dragon against civil rights.

  • Mario Cuomo, a faithful New Yorker

    January 4, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Most politicians would do anything to become president. Mario Cuomo, who died at his home in Manhattan on New Year's Day at age 82, twice turned down the chance to run for the job, essentially because his heart always remained in New York.

  • Obama bids good riddance to a dismal political year

    January 1, 2015

    WASHINGTON -- Despite a late-year appearance of hopeful economic indicators and an 11th-hour boost in his Gallup Poll approval, 2014 bowed out as a distinct disappointment for President Obama as he faces the last two lame-duck years in his presidency.

  • Afghan War is over, except that it's not

    December 31, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In a ceremony in Kabul Sunday, the U.S. commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan grandly proclaimed the "end" of the 13-year combat mission against the Taliban and other terrorist foes. But in doing so, he emphasized that NATO personnel will continue to train home-grown Afghan forces taking up the actual fighting.

  • U.S. torture was illegal, but nobody is likely to be punished

    December 28, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In a rare case of editorial initiative, the New York Times editorial board has flatly called for an investigation of former Vice President Dick Cheney and other prominent George W. Bush administration figures involved in authorship of the so-called torture memos, which authorized use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" against suspected terrorists captured in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • A Merry Christmas economy

    December 25, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama in Hawaii and Americans elsewhere found an unexpected present under their Christmas trees this week in a surprisingly growing economy, lifting some of the gloom otherwise hovering over the national outlook.

  • North Korea, Sony and good taste

    December 24, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama certainly was right to step in as a defender of freedom of the press in America by criticizing Sony Entertainment's decision to withdraw from theaters its comic movie featuring an assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. After first blaming theater owners who said they were acting out fear for the safety of attendees, Sony tried to recover by saying it would release the film to a limited number of theaters.

  • New U.S.-Cuba era

    December 21, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama's surprise Christmas present to Cuba -- restoration of American diplomatic ties with the communist-run regime created by Fidel Castro and now run by his brother Raul -- follows a century of tumultuous dealings between the two not-always good neighbors.

  • In 2016, voters might have to choose between two dynasties

    December 19, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's candid interest in seeking the presidency in 2016 raises skepticism about whether the voters would vote for a third Bush in the Oval office.

  • On torture, Obama content to leave dispute 'in the past'

    December 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Upon release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the George W. Bush administration's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on captured al-Qaida suspects, two prominent American figures stoutly defended the practice -- former Vice President Dick Cheney and current CIA director John Brennan.

  • The shape of things to come in Congress

    December 14, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The cost President Obama was willing to pay to avert another government shutdown -- wiping out protections against the sorts of financial excesses that greatly contributed to the Great Recession -- risks a divisive final two years of his presidency within his own Democratic Party.

  • CIA strikes back after the Senate torture report

    December 12, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- There has been much gnashing of teeth over the Senate Intelligence Committee's report documenting use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," widely labeled as torture, that were approved in the George W. Bush presidency and then outlawed by successor Barack Obama in 2009.

  • CIA strikes back after the Senate torture report

    December 12, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- There has been much gnashing of teeth over the Senate Intelligence Committee's report documenting use of "enhanced intelligence techniques," widely labeled as torture, that were approved in the George W. Bush presidency and then outlawed by successor Barack Obama in 2009.

  • The Senate torture report, Bush and Obama

    December 10, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, released a report Tuesday condemning the use of torture on detainees, claiming it entailed far more brutal conduct than the "enhanced interrogation techniques" previously disclosed, in quest of information that could have been obtained without it.

  • New enemy, another presidential war

    December 7, 2014

    WASHINGTON--Ever since George W. Bush in 2002 began driving up public frenzy for his invasion of Iraq on trumped-up justifications a year later, Congress's constitutional role to declare war has continued to be cold-shouldered.

  • Taxes still fund 'perpetual war footing,' at home and abroad

    December 5, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Two disparate news items caught my eye recently that demonstrate how our government can act in ways that mystify and anger the taxpayers who support it with their hard-earned money.

  • Will new Congress intensify partisan strife?

    December 3, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- With barely a week to go before another government shutdown could be upon us, the Republican leaders in Congress vow it won't happen this time. They have been huddling over ways to avert it, while other congressional Republicans plot other ways to continue their effort to undermine the presidency of Barack Obama in the little time he has left.

  • Obama asserts 'no boots on the ground,' but others dissent

    November 30, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama's firm determination that no more American combat forces will be introduced in the Middle East battlefield may well thwart his intention to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the new threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

  • Jim Webb explores candidacy in 2016

    November 28, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Political crystal-ball gazers widely predicting a cakewalk for Hillary Clinton to the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination are not likely to change their minds in light of former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb's decision to form an exploratory committee to evaluate his own prospects.

  • Chuck Hagel leaves Obama's war against war

    November 26, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The surprising decision of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to leave his Pentagon post after only 21 months of service has been widely greeted as a combination of his frustration in the job and a conclusion at the White House that he turned out to be the wrong man for the job.

  • Obama's immigration gamble a bid to salvage legacy

    November 23, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama's decision to follow through on his plan to reform immigration policy through an executive order is an uncharacteristically bold gamble, made in the hope of salvaging the final two years of his presidency and his own political legacy.

  • It's time to kill the lame duck session

    November 21, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The current lame duck session of Congress, which ends on Jan. 3 and includes senators and representatives defeated on Nov. 4, began with the same old partisanship that characterized the last few years in Washington, as the Senate rejected the Keystone XL pipeline construction bill by a single vote.

  • Obama must secure authorization for force in Middle East

    November 19, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Before President Obama does anything else in the lame-duck Congress or the new one in January, he needs forthrightly to seek an update or new authorization for the new war he's fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

  • Lincoln's vice-presidential switch changed history

    November 16, 2014

    CHICAGO--The other day I found myself at the famous Abraham Lincoln Bookshop here, talking about my latest effort, a history on the evolution of the American vice presidency. The visit brought to mind a little-discussed Lincoln story in the book that I will convey here in necessarily abbreviated form.

  • A lethargic electorate stuck in place

    November 14, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- For all the millions spent on advertising in both parties for the midterm elections, voter turnout was the lowest since World War II, according to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida.

  • Where the buck really stops

    November 12, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The thrashing that voters administered to the Democrats in the midterm congressional elections confirmed the old admonition Harry Truman kept on his White House desk: "The buck stops here."

  • President's foreign policy intentions lie in ruins

    November 9, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Now that the usual vows of good intentions are over between President Obama and the elected Republican leaders of the House and Senate -- all vowing willingness to work together to break the long legislative stalemate on Capitol Hill -- the question is will it really happen?

  • Is Obama now irrelevant?

    November 5, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton's Democratic Party lost control of the House of Representatives in the midterm congressional elections. Thereafter, he felt the need to declare at a press conference that "the president is relevant here."

  • Nixing midterm elections a good idea, but an unlikely one

    November 5, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- As American political junkies pore over the mid-term congressional election results to appraise President Obama's fate for his final two years in office, a very welcome idea has emerged from the hallowed halls of Duke University.

  • Cruz is the Republican who needs a history lesson

    November 2, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, in again throwing previous Republican presidential nominees Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney under the bus of his own White House ambitions, needs to brush up on his political history.

  • Bradlee receives a royal Washington sendoff

    October 30, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In the closest thing in the nation's capital to royalty, the mighty of the news capital of the world gathered at the Washington National Cathedral Wednesday in a regal farewell to their departed sovereign, editor Ben Bradlee.

  • Remembering Frank Mankiewicz, a respected professional in politics and media

    October 29, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In the hard-boiled if fading world of print journalism, it's often said that the only way to look at a politician is down. And the worst crime of all is to work both sides of the street, doubling as a reporter while working for a pol, or vice versa.

  • Hillary takes a leaf from Nixon's book and hits the campaign trail

    October 26, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- As 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton joins her party's push to survive the challenges it faces in the Nov. 4 midterm congressional elections, she is taking a page from the comeback playbook of another one-time presidential loser: Richard Nixon in 1966.

  • Ben Bradlee, nonpareil editor

    October 22, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The death at 93 of the Washington Post's incomparable editor Benjamin C. Bradlee is both a journalistic and personal loss to all of us who had the opportunity to work for and under his driving and joyous leadership of one of America's truly great newspapers.

  • Old Obama magic proves elusive on campaign trail

    October 22, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- As the final two weeks of the midterm congressional campaign unwind, President Obama is searching for the political magic that put him in the Oval Office six years ago but that seems to have slipped away.

  • Obama unveils his Ebola response

    October 19, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Harry Truman's old adage, "The buck stops here," has been confirmed, at least politically, in President Obama's highly visible response to the Ebola crisis. His lengthy talk on the subject televised from the Oval Office was clearly devised not only to calm mushrooming public fears but also to reassure fellow Americans he was personally on the case.

  • Bush administration's chemical weapons cover-up reignites old argument

    October 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The New York Times report that the George W. Bush administration discovered old chemical bombs and rockets in Iraq and withheld the knowledge "from troops it sent into harm's way" is an echo of the discussion over alleged new weapons of mass destruction that triggered its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

  • Romney stands tall amid weak Republican field for 2016

    October 15, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- An early indication of the paucity of prospective Republican presidential candidates for 2016 is the recent boomlet for Mitt Romney, the loser in 2012. His reputation for defending big business while being tone-deaf to the needs of the middle class undid him two years ago.

  • Troubles all around, Obama's legacy is clouded

    October 12, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- It's often said and written that presidents, to achieve greatness, require great challenges. Washington had the challenge of creating a new nation; Lincoln had the Civil War; FDR faced the Great Depression and World War II. All clearly qualified by that standard and achieved greatness.

  • Catalogue of woes puts Washington in the doldrums

    October 10, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Baseball lore recalls that legendary manager Casey Stengel, when running the hapless 1962 New York Mets, forlornly asked his charges: "Can't anybody here play this game?" It's an appropriate question right now in the nation's capital concerning not only baseball but also football and politics.

  • Another cabinet veteran laments Obama's wartime leadership

    October 8, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Less than a month away from the midterm congressional elections that may determine Barack Obama's chances to rebuild public confidence in himself and his presidency, there seems to be little rallying around him, even within his own Democratic ranks.

  • A timely history lesson for the Secret Service

    October 5, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Secret Service agents nursing their wounds from the recent disclosures of incompetence in protecting the president should read Carl Sandburg's account of how one of their forebears failed in his assigned task on the fateful night in April 1865 when Abraham Lincoln went to Ford's Theater.

  • Secret Service SNAFU a wake-up call for the White House

    October 3, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The latest disclosures of Secret Service breakdowns in the agency's prime mission, the physical protection of the president, are grim reminders of a most disturbing particularly American malady -- the assassination of the nation's political leaders.

  • Despite Obama's wishful thinking, prospects grim in Middle East

    October 1, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In striving to sell his strategy for taking on the jihadist terror group the Islamic State, President Obama has offered a heavy dose of wishful thinking about the new Iraqi leadership and his coalition of the willing that includes Arab allies.

  • Timing a debate on war-making

    September 26, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Now that President Obama has laid his case before the United Nations for a concerted international war on the emerging Islamic State, if and when should the argument be debated in Congress?

  • UN speech may indicate a tougher Obama

    September 26, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The President Obama many fellow Democrats have been looking for ever since his 2008 election may have shown up this week at the United Nations. His tough and direct call on the rest of the international community to step up to the challenge of global terrorism displayed a spine they have long felt missing in action.

  • Sometimes the gaffe police go too far

    September 24, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- A wit once observed that a bachelor is a man who never makes the same mistake once. That would be good advice for politicians who are prone to repeating ill-chosen words or behavior that tags them forever thereafter as dumb, careless or mean-spirited.

  • Obama's wartime nightmare

    September 21, 2014

    WASHINGTON--Congress has now temporarily bought into what has become President Obama's war against the terrorist Islamic State. Both the House and Senate have voted limited funds to arm and train Syrian rebels to fight, not against their country's dictator, but against this new brutal peril from the region.

  • Obama's promise about combat troops is a rhetorical dodge

    September 19, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In Barack Obama's determination to preserve his legacy as the president who got America off a permanent war footing after the 2001 terrorist attacks and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he is relying on transparent semantics.

  • Hillary and the Iowa steak fry

    September 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Democrats from around the country, and political chroniclers as well, again flocked to Iowa last weekend for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry, a traditional event for raising cholesterol levels and presidential ambitions.

  • Obama caught in a Catch-22 in Syria

    September 14, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In reluctantly deciding to take the fight against the terrorist Islamic State into Syria, President Obama finds himself caught in a political and military version of "Catch-22."

  • Reality impinges on Obama's Middle East strategy

    September 12, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The strategy President Obama has laid out to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the new Middle East terrorist peril reveals him as a man divided between combating the immediate threat and persevering in his determination get this country of "a perpetual war footing."

  • Obama's future may hinge on response to Islamic State

    September 10, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In his televised speech to the nation Wednesday evening, Barack Obama has a major opportunity to put his wavering presidency back on track by firmly and clearly saying how he intends to deal with the terrorist Islamic State. He must stop talking about containing it and start emphatically talking about and taking the necessary stops to destroy and eradicate it.

  • Is Mitt Romney contemplating another run?

    September 7, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- As the crystal ball on the 2016 Republican presidential nomination remains blurred , two-time loser Mitt Romney appears willing at least to entertain the possibility of trying a third time.

  • Facing threats abroad, Obama shores up party base at home

    September 5, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The Labor Day weekend just past marked the traditional Democratic pitch to American working stiffs. President Obama made it by asking them to put their collective shoulders to the wheel for the self-styled Party of the People in the November congressional midterm elections, so critical to his hopes for a more cooperative Capitol Hill in his last two White House years.

  • A cautious president, or a careless one?

    September 3, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In the wake of President Obama's surprising comment to reporters that "we don't have a strategy yet" to deal with the surging terrorist threat of the Islamic State threat in Syria and Iraq, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein has observed: "I've learned one thing about this president, and that is he's very cautious. Maybe, in this instance, too cautious."

  • War-weary president at a crossroads

    August 31, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Faced with a renewed Islamic terrorist threat in the Middle East as Russia raises the stakes for war in Ukraine, President Obama finds himself still trying to hold the line on the use of U.S. military manpower.

  • Obama in the lion's den

    August 29, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Addressing the annual American Legion convention in Charlotte earlier this week, President Obama sugar-coated his defense of selective use of military force by reciting what's been done to cope with the Department of Veterans Affairs' failures to deliver promised benefits to returning troops.

  • Obama needs no more 'red lines'

    August 27, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama, in his determination to get American foreign policy off what he has called "a perpetual war footing," must take care now not to box himself in with any more comments about "red lines" that restrict his options.

  • With an ill-timed slap at Obama, Hillary falters

    August 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton's tactical retreat in her soft apology and meet-up with President Obama at Martha's Vineyard, after her ill-timed criticism of his "failure" in aiding Syrian refugees, indicates she may not be quite ready to put her best foot forward for the 2016 presidential race.

  • Did Nixon commit treason to win presidency?

    August 15, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In an exhaustive new book, journalist and researcher Ken Hughes makes the case not only that Richard Nixon, as a presidential candidate, committed treason by interfering in peace negotiations in Vietnam, but also that he sought to use the circumstances to enhance his election chances on the eve of the 1968 presidential campaign.

  • A darker cloud falls over Nixon

    August 13, 2014

    WASHINGTON--In the flurry of new books on the Nixon tapes, another allegation worse than Watergate against the late president has been revisited by a researcher at the Miller Center of the University of Virginia, reviving charges of a possible treasonous act by Richard Nixon during the Vietnam war.

  • Obama doctrine put to the test

    August 10, 2014

    WASHINGTON--Even as President Obama continues to insist that there will be no return of American "boots on the ground" in Iraq, stark reality is severely testing what has come to be known as the Obama Doctrine--that the use of U.S. military power has limits defined by America's own national interests.

  • Finally, Nixon admits guilt

    August 8, 2014

    WASHINGTON--On the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation as president, his admission of guilt has finally been made public in a 1983 videotaped interview with him by an old White House aide.

  • Obama making less than he could of a do-nothing Congress

    August 6, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The 113th Congress has just slinked out of town for a five-week summer recess, leaving behind its lowest public approval rating in 25 years, according to the latest Washington Post/ABC News Poll. A majority of voters surveyed -- 51 percent -- expressed disgust with their own legislators for their inability to do their job.

  • Senate newbie Cruz stirs more trouble for Boehner in House

    August 2, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- No one could have been more pleased to see the arrival of Congress's five-week summer recess than House Speaker John Boehner. It offers a welcome breathing space in the seemingly endless civil war between his Republican caucus's far-right conservatives and its moderate establishment members.

  • Republicans shocked -- shocked! -- at speculation over Obama impeachment

    August 1, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- House Republicans were rushing out the door for Congress' five-week summer recess Thursday divided for once on how to oppose President Barack Obama: impeach him for failing to "faithfully executive the laws" or just sue him for it?

  • If Hillary doesn't run, why not Joe?

    July 30, 2014

    WASHINGTON --That Hillary Clinton will seek the presidency in 2016 is now widely taken as a given. Certainly she has given every sign of it, short of saying "Yes." But what if she doesn't?

  • The 2016 Republican presidential nomination: Whose turn?

    July 27, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- For more than 60 years with hardly a break, the Republican Party has chosen as its standard-bearer someone who has been able to claim it's his turn. Not since military hero Dwight D. Eisenhower defeated Sen. Robert A. Taft of Ohio, whose supporters so contended in 1952, has a conspicuous outsider run away with the prize.

  • Obama's relevance hangs on Dem showing in midterms

    July 25, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Congressional midterm elections, the poor cousin to presidential voting in the American political system, will take on a critical role for President Obama in November. The results may well determine whether he will become a premature lame duck two years before his second and last term expires.

  • The Obama doctrine under fire

    July 23, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- A major ramification of the downing of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine is how it challenges and imperils the Obama Doctrine as the president spelled it out in his speech at West Point on May 29.

  • Obama finally lashes out on downed plane

    July 20, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- On the day that saw the double whammy of the downing of a Malaysian Airlines over Ukraine and the Israeli invasion of Gaza, President Obama seemed at first conspicuously unengaged for a man customarily regarded as the leader of the "free world."

  • The Get Obama show goes on

    July 18, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- It's beginning to seem like the longest running off-Broadway show, the Republican effort to end the Obama presidency prematurely. The latest act was staged the other day before the House Rules Committee.

  • Pivoting to foreign policy, Rick Perry strikes two adversaries

    July 15, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama's yearning to become a peacetime president continues to be frustrated by the reality on the ground in the Middle East, and by Republicans' zeal to capitalize on it politically at home.

  • 'Photo op' gaffe reveals Obama's tin ear

    July 13, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama's comment that "I'm not interested in photo ops" about the border crisis during last week's visit to Texas was akin to your neighborhood pup not being interested in chasing squirrels.

  • At last, Cleveland gets another turn in the limelight

    July 11, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- After 80 years, the city of Cleveland, much maligned in lore as "the mistake on the lake," has been selected to host a national political convention in 2016. Famous Ohioans President William McKinley and Mark Hanna, the Karl Rove of his day, might well be turning in their graves.

  • Hillary's money 'problem'

    July 8, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's much-publicized book tour has kicked off with all the ballyhoo of a presidential candidacy now widely expected to occur. But it has already provided fodder for mild speculation that her Democratic nomination and election two years hence may not be a sure thing after all.

  • Obama's Iraq dilemma: Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't

    July 6, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama's decision to send another 200 U.S. troops to Baghdad to secure the American Embassy and the airport there could be called a victory of reality over wishful thinking -- the notion that the Iraq crisis could be resolved without more U.S. boots on the ground.

  • Obama stands firm on executive orders

    July 4, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- This Independence Day weekend is marked not only by patriotic, flag-waving parades and fireworks. It also features a sharp declaration of independence from Congress by a president frustrated by the legislative headlock its Republican members hold on him.

  • Republicans tentatively unfurl the impeachment flag

    July 2, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Some Republicans in Congress, having wasted the 2012 election trying to get rid of President Obama with Obamacare as their bludgeon, are now talking about crippling him in the 2014 midterm cycle by crying impeachment.

  • Howard Baker, the last of the Republican moderates

    June 29, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- At a time when the Republican Party needs a heavy dose of compromise to bring functionality back to government, one of its most admirable models of goodwill and working across the aisle has departed with the death at 88 of Howard Henry Baker Jr. of Tennessee.

  • GOP still needs to fix its minority voter deficit

    June 26, 2014

    WASHINGTON--The alleged "raid" on the Republican senatorial primary in Mississippi, wherein black Democratic voters were said to have crossed over to vote for longtime incumbent Thad Cochran, has outraged his tea-party challengers. It sounds like a version of the old Dixie lament that "those people" should stay with their own kind.

  • Not all media rolled over for Iraq War

    June 25, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- It's usual that an accusation against reporters comes from the political right, whether alleging they're in the tank for President Obama or that they're giving Hillary Clinton a free ride on the Benghazi terrorist attacks. But now a charge comes from the political left, passed on by a professional news kibitzer, Media Matters for America.

  • A black hole in American history

    June 20, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- When historians get around to appraising the start of the new century, what will they say about it? If circumstances continue as they have been, the period may well be deemed a deep black hole in the political life of this country.

  • Obama's foreign policy woes lead to sagging approval rating

    June 20, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- As critics debate whether President Obama is tough enough to lead America at war, he boosted his stock by ordering the capture of the alleged mastermind of the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Yet, at the same time, he appears to fiddle while Iraq burns.

  • Laurel and Hardy in the Oval Office

    June 18, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- As Oliver Hardy used to tell Stan Laurel is those old black-and-white movie comedies, "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!"

  • The heavy price of our folly in Iraq

    June 15, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The can of worms that George W. Bush cracked open in Iraq in 2003, which Barack Obama tried to close and essentially gave up on by the end of 2011, is now spilling over into a major Middle East catastrophe.

  • Few tears are shed for Eric Cantor

    June 12, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The stunning primary loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the first ever suffered by any congressional leader of either party, may well reflect his Virginia constituents' souring toward his personal hubris more than any cosmic policy issue.

  • With candid memoir, Hillary clears the ground for candidacy

    June 11, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Asking whether Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016 is getting to be like asking whether the pope is Catholic. She continues to insist she hasn't decided, but if you walk and quack like a duck, you must be one.

  • Playing the executive card

    June 8, 2014

    WASHINGTON--As President Obama contemplates November's congressional elections, the odds are they may produce Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. That would likely mean more of the same legislative frustration that has met his presidency to date for the rest of his presidency.

  • Bete noire McCain keeps Obama's feet to the fire

    June 6, 2014

    WASHINGTON--Sen. John McCain, whose failed challenge to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election still rankles fellow Republicans, is back in harness as his party's chief Obama scold and bête noire.

  • Jules Witcover: On presidential firings

    June 4, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama's firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, transparently dressed up as a resignation under congressional pressure, seemed somehow out of character for a chief executive known for patience and dislike of wielding the knife.

  • Obama defends his tenacious moderation

    June 1, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- President Obama, in his West Point commencement address the other day, went to unusual lengths to explain and defend a foreign policy that critics have argued is entirely too cautious in addressing America's challenges abroad.

  • Obama outlines the limits of foreign intervention

    May 30, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In keeping with his determination to get America off "a perpetual wartime footing" after more than a decade of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama's commencement address at West Point was a sobering preview of what lies ahead for the graduates.

  • On the 9/11 memorial and museum

    May 28, 2014

    NEW YORK -- The new memorial and museum commemorating the worst attack on the continental United States in history stands starkly as remembrance of that morning in lower Manhattan nearly 13 years ago when terrorism rained down on the Twin Towers from those two hijacked jetliners.

  • VA scandal offer Obama's critics yet more ammunition

    May 25, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The developing furor over waiting times for military veterans needing critical care for war wounds and trauma is a particular political dilemma for President Obama. It comes in the midst of his central effort to shift the nation's agenda of fighting wars away from what he calls a "perpetual wartime footing."

  • Democrats struggle to get voters interested in midterm elections

    May 23, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In terms of public interest in elections, the voting for members of Congress in off-years, when no presidential candidates are on the ballot, is historically low. The stakes generally seem not very great, and familiarity breeds success for incumbents, who are re-elected at a rate of about 90 percent.

  • Kerry warns of excessive isolationism

    May 21, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- As secretary of state, John Kerry has left no doubt that he is ready, willing and able to go anywhere and do anything to make headway in his unenviable pursuit of progress in international stalemates.

  • Turmoil, and intimations of gender bias, at the Gray Lady

    May 18, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The print journalism world has been shaken by the firing in no uncertain terms of Jill Abramson, the first female executive editor of the New York Times. The reaction has created as much buzz within the newspaper craft as the resignation little more than a year ago of Pope Benedict XVI.

  • Rove stirs the pot with Hillary inuendo

    May 16, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton hasn't even thrown her hat into the 2016 presidential ring yet, but Republican tremors over the very thought have already unleashed red flares about her age and health that question her qualifications for the office.

  • Midterm elections may seal fate of Obama's legacy

    May 14, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Every two-term president since the 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951 has faced being a lame-duck upon his re-election. Barack Obama clearly is no exception. With approximately 28 months left in his presidency, the clock is running out as he seeks to achieve a favorable legacy.

  • Beating the dead horse called Benghazi

    May 11, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- After endlessly trying to repeal and replace "Obamacare," the GOP has come up empty-handed. The health-care law appears to be gaining more public acceptance. So congressional Republicans are doing what they can to revive another old hobby horse -- Benghazi.

  • Jules Witcover: Reading the early primary leaves

    May 9, 2014

    Is the Grand Old Party coming to its senses? The question arises from the latest Republican congressional primary elections, in which all party establishment incumbents were renominated over tea party favorites promising to move the GOP even farther to the right.

  • Black athletes are not charity cases

    May 6, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- The outrageously bigoted remarks attributed to the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team mock the positive role black athletes have played in professional sports, even as those sports have served as an exit ramp from poverty.

  • Economy is looking up, but politics are stuck in neutral

    May 4, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- On the surface, the news that the nation's unemployment rate dropped last month from 6.7 to 6.3 percent would seem to be cause to conclude that the American economy is finally recovering from the Great Recession of 2008. Instead, the cautionary flags continue to fly.

  • For D.C. insiders, name of the game is getting the 'get'

    May 2, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- In the highly competitive news business in this ultra-political town, a constant battle goes on among reporters to obtain interviews with the most knowledgeable governmental insiders from the White House to Congress. This is particularly so among television anchors vying to bag superstars for their shows.

  • Obama defends his foreign policy doctrine

    April 29, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- Why President Obama was off in the Asian Pacific while Russia was stirring up trouble in eastern Ukraine has caused critics to question his foreign policy priorities, not to mention his resolve. At one point he was asked what was "the guiding principle" of the Obama Doctrine.