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Mark Shields

Stories by Mark

MARK SHIELDS: Early returns from Ohio

How important politically is Ohio? Of the nation’s first 10 Republican presidents, seven of them — from Ulysses Grant to Warren Harding — were native sons of Ohio. In fact, no Republican has ever won the White House who did not first carry Ohio. And in the most recent 13 presidential elections, Ohio has voted for the winning White House candidate.

MARK SHIELDS: Henry Hyde and the 2016 Republican race

Yes, it is true that, as a political reporter, you do find yourself liking some people you cover a lot more than you like others.

MARK SHIELDS: Who wrote the 2016 campaign script?

It first hit me on a Tuesday morning in March at a Washington presidential forum sponsored by the International Association of Fire Fighters. One 2016 White House contender spoke the following: “We’ve seen over the past number of years two Americas emerge. At the very top, top 1 percent today, with the largest federal government we’ve ever had, the top 1 percent earn a higher share of our income (than at any time) since 1928.”

MARK SHIELDS: Why Republican voters are not acting like the GOP

In the important matter of choosing their parties’ presidential nominees, Republicans and Democrats have behaved entirely differently. Republicans have preferred their presidential candidates to be familiar and well-credentialed and to have previously run well, if unsuccessfully, for the nomination.

MARK SHIELDS: House Republicans, meet Haley Barbour

Haley Barbour, the former two-term governor of Mississippi and, before that, successful Republican Party chairman, is a candid and witty man who, in newspaper slang, “gives a great quote.”

MARK SHIELDS: Correcting the record

William McGurn is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal who, according to his company bio, “writes speeches for CEO Rupert Murdoch. Previously he served as Chief Speechwriter for President George W. Bush.” McGurn is, from all indications, quite a smart man, but he recently wrote something both ignorant and mean-spirited that I cannot let go uncorrected.

MARK SHIELDS: Why Bernie Sanders’ big crowds count

When Democratic presidential candidates have campaigned in Los Angeles, it has usually been around a private fundraising event featuring Barbra Streisand or Steven Spielberg or George Clooney — or some combination of the three.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, debates 15 months before Election Day do matter

Presidential debates, even those with 10 candidates held some 15 months before Election Day, do matter. Just recall the Aug. 11, 2011, GOP debate in Ames, Iowa, when Byron York of The Washington Examiner, in discussing the proposed combinations of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the federal budget deficit, asked former Sen. Rick Santorum: “Is there any ratio of (spending) cuts to (increasing) taxes that you would accept — 3-to-1, 4-to-1 or even 10-to-1?” Santorum replied, “No.”

MARK SHIELDS: The trap of becoming only a Congressional party

In five of the past six presidential elections, the Republican Party has lost the nation’s popular vote to the Democrats. In those same six presidential contests, 18 states and the District of Columbia, totaling among them 242 electoral votes (you need only 270 to win the White House), have voted every time for the Democratic ticket.

MARK SHIELDS: The personal touch

In the matter of selecting a 2016 presidential nominee, the Republican Party could go a lot farther and do a lot worse — and almost certainly will — than to choose U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

MARK SHIELDS: Uneasy coexistence — politics and religion

Regular readers may remember the “Shields rule,” about the tension between organized religion and politics. It goes like this: With but one exception, ministers, priests, rabbis and imams — men and women of the cloth — should stay out of all partisan American politics.

MARK SHIELDS: Surviving graduation day

It’s graduation time once again. And by some unwritten but strictly enforced law of nature, every graduation must have a speaker.

MARK SHIELDS: Chris Christie channels Ralph Perk

History, just by what it selects to remember, can indeed be cruel. Consider, for example, Republican Ralph Perk, who, during the 1970s in heavily Democratic Cleveland, was elected mayor three times.

MARK SHIELDS: Answer to one question unnerves Democrats

Hillary Clinton, according to the reliable Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released earlier this month, defines the 2016 presidential race.

MARK SHIELDS: The Clinton record unmasked

About the time the Dodgers abandoned Brooklyn for Los Angeles, my savvy precinct captain drilled into all her workers this rule: A week is a lifetime in politics, and a month is an eternity.

MARK SHIELDS: Stop invoking Reagan: Start heeding him

It was not a pretty sight. Republican officeholders in Indiana and Arkansas, having been charged by not just their political opponents but also their strongest corporate allies (think Wal-Mart and NASCAR) with damaging the states’ images and the business climate by passing legislation to effectively give legal sanction to discrimination against citizens who are gay, publicly panicked.

MARK SHIELDS: Laughter, still pretty good medicine

“There are three things which are real,” said John F. Kennedy, “God, human folly and laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension, so we must do what we can with the third.”

MARK SHIELDS: Boehner's dangerous gamble

Bipartisanship, that widely admired virtue so sadly rare in our nation’s politics, has been — since 1948, when President Harry Truman, rejecting the counsel of his own Cabinet secretaries, recognized the newborn nation — the hallmark of Unites States support for the state of Israel.

MARK SHIELDS: National epidemic of self-esteem

A half-century ago, Russell Baker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times, disclosed to his readers the existence of the mysterious kingmaker he called “The Great Mentioner,” who alone had the power to determine the handful of ambitious politicians who were ever lucky enough to get “mentioned” as potential presidential candidates.

MARK SHIELDS: You can delegate authority but not responsibility

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is that refreshing, if too rare, Washington type: a workhorse rather than a show horse. Kaine has been making a lot of his Capitol Hill colleagues uncomfortable by continuing to publicly point out during the six months U.S. troops have been at war against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria that by refusing to even debate the authorization of military force, they are guilty of an “unacceptable abdication” of their “most solemn responsibility” as members of Congress — to declare war.

MARK SHIELDS: The price of raising political money

Mark A. Hanna was a wealthy Cleveland businessman who shrewdly laid out the winning strategy and personally, out of pocket, paid all the costs required to secure the 1896 Republican presidential nomination for his fellow Ohioan William McKinley.

MARK SHIELDS: The lessons of Mr. Muskie of Maine

In 1976, Rep. Bill Cohen, who was a rising young Republican star, seriously considered running for the U.S. Senate against three-term incumbent Ed Muskie, who was the first Democrat in Maine history whom voters had ever elected to the Senate.

MARK SHIELDS: The end of an admirable era

After 42 years of steadfast service to his country, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ralph E. Rigby recently retired from the U.S. Army. More memorable than the official celebration ceremony, which rightly marked the end of this loyal American’s service, was the national policy that made his career possible. Ralph Rigby was almost certainly the last soldier on active duty who had been drafted into military service.

MARK SHIELDS: Recognizing heroes in our midst

The current Ebola scare in the U.S. is not 9/11. But once again, we need to recognize American heroes whom we see every day and whom we have too often taken for granted.

MARK SHIELDS: Truly right from the start

On the central foreign policy and national security decisions our country has confronted over the past 31 years, nobody in public life — nobody — has been so thoughtful, so fearless or so right as Jim Webb.

MARK SHIELDS: Exceptionally good luck

After enduring lavish praise while receiving an award before a big Hollywood dinner crowd, Jack Benny expertly deflected all the fawning with these words: “I don’t deserve this honor, but then I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that, either.”

MARK SHIELDS: A poll apart

A long time ago, maybe in the first Eisenhower administration, my precinct committeewoman taught me the unchanging rules of how to respond to public opinion polls.

MARK SHIELDS: When political loyalty mattered

After having worked in or reported on the last 12 U.S. presidential elections, I am convinced that successful politicians who regularly run for and win public office possess an extra olfactory nerve that enables them to sniff changing political winds, often long before the rest of us have even noticed the leaves stirring.

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Mark Shields: It's OK to smile -- even in Washington

Washington and American political life are suffering from an acute humor deficit.

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Mark Shields: William Faulkner and the Republican future

If history is a semi-reliable guide, then 2014 ought to be a pretty good year for Republicans.

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SHIELDS: Obama vs. the Caymen Islands

Barack Obama has never minced words about the Cayman Islands.

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Mark Shields: Washington snobbery distracts from the real issues

Edward Snowden has been relentlessly attacked by Washington pundits and politicians for one, unforgivable offense: He did not graduate from high school.

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Mark Shields: Beware the leader without friends who can tell him unpleasant truths

Mo Udall was never able to convince himself -- unlike basically every other presidential candidate can -- that the very survival of the Western World depended upon his winning the White House.

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Mark Shields: Obama's second term pitfalls

The president who benefits from personally giving the green light to Navy SEAL Team 6 will also be held accountable for the wrongful acts of his appointees.

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Mark Shields: Advice on graduation day

The graduation speaker's duty is to provide some rules or advice for the graduates.

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Mark Shields: A story too good to check out

Some stories are just too good to check out.

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Mark Shields: The language of American politics and Internet tax evasion

To listen to the language of American political campaigns, you could reasonably conclude that "big" is bad and "small" is good.

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Mark Shields: One man who gave politics a good name

Happy Chandler left the U.S. Senate in 1945, when the owners of the then-16 Major League teams elected him to be commissioner of baseball.

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SHIELDS: The gun lobby and state's rights

Florida wants to license individuals to be able to legally carry concealed firearms in public places.

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Mark Shields: Honeymoon for a pope

Pope Francis, less than a month in office, is enjoying what could be called a real political honeymoon.

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Mark Shields: A war with no victors

The United States 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq was indeed a war with no victors.

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Mark Sheilds: Am I being grumpy?

Let me stipulate at the outset: I do not qualify for any youth movement.

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Mark Shields: Can this marriage be saved?

The Great Public Squabble of 2013 may not be helping the nation. But it is manifestly hurting the Republican Party.

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Mark Shields: A maligned generation

This past Monday night, along with 680 other lucky people in Washington’s historic Ford’s Theatre, I was able to enjoy the wit and wisdom of America’s dominant political satirist, Mark Russell.

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Mark Shields: President not a fan of Washington

President Obama spends a lot of time knocking his adopted hometown of Washington.

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Mark Shields: The GOP's lost youth

Who the president is when we first come of voting age strongly influences our future voting allegiances.

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Mark Shields: Strangers to self-importance

Memorable leaders don't take themselves too seriously.

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Mark Shields: Yes, I'm a 'college' dropout

The Founding Fathers were not, it turns out, infallible. The Electoral College is absolutely anti-democratic.

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Mark Shields: Campaign 2012 deficits -- humility and humor

After watching the first two 2012 presidential debates, I only wish that President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could have personally observed New York City's 1969 election.

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Mark Shields: Traffic jam on the low road

To the elected public executive running for re-election -- whether mayor, governor or president -- there remain just two alternative campaign strategies to victory: the High Road or the Low Road.