By George Will February 16, 2014 6 a.m.
Many "Downton Abbey" watchers are nostalgia gluttons who grieved when Lord Grantham lost his fortune in Canadian railroad shares. There are, however, a discerning few whose admirable American sensibilities caused them to rejoice about Grantham's loss: "Now perhaps this amiable but dilettantish toff will get off his duff and get a job."
By George Will January 26, 2014 6 a.m.
Disabusing the Republican Party of a cherished dogma, thereby requiring it to forgo a favorite rhetorical trope, will not win Clark M. Neily III the gratitude of conservatives who relish denouncing "judicial activism." He, however, and his colleagues at the libertarian Institute for Justice believe America would be more just if judges were less deferential to legislatures.
By George Will January 19, 2014 6 a.m.
Viewed from Washington, which often is the last to learn about important developments, opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative still seems as small as the biblical cloud that ariseth out of the sea, no larger than a man's hand. Soon, however, this education policy will fill a significant portion of the political sky.
By George Will January 5, 2014 6 a.m.
It was naughty of Winston Churchill to say, if he really did, that "the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Nevertheless, many voters' paucity of information about politics and government, although arguably rational, raises awkward questions about concepts central to democratic theory, including consent, representation, public opinion, electoral mandates and officials' accountability.
By George Will December 29, 2013 6 a.m.
Federal Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York says documents called "statements of reasons" are an optional way for a judge to express "views that might be of interest." The one he issued two months ago is still reverberating.
By George Will December 22, 2013 6 a.m.
"To contend that the obligation imposed on the president to see the laws faithfully executed implies a power to forbid their execution is a novel construction of the Constitution, and is entirely inadmissible." — U.S. Supreme Court, 1838
By George Will December 15, 2013 6 a.m.
The education of Barack Obama is a protracted process as he repeatedly alights upon the obvious with a sense of original discovery. In a recent MSNBC interview, he restocked his pantry of excuses for his disappointing results, announcing that "we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly.
By George Will December 8, 2013 6 a.m.
In his disproportionate praise of the six-month agreement with Iran, Barack Obama said: "For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program." But if the program, now several decades old, had really been "halted" shortly after U.S. forces invaded Iraq, we would not be desperately pursuing agreements to stop it now, as 10,000 or so centrifuges spin to enrich uranium.
By George Will December 1, 2013 6 a.m.
In 2011, tens of thousands of government employees and others, enraged by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's determination to break the ruinously expensive and paralyzing grip that government workers' unions had on the state, took over the Capitol building in Madison.
By George Will November 24, 2013 6 a.m.
For concision and precision in describing Barack Obama's suddenly ambivalent relationship with his singular — actually, his single — achievement, the laurels go to Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. After Obama's semi-demi-apology for millions of canceled insurance policies — an intended and predictable consequence of his crusade to liberate Americans from their childish choices of "substandard" policies sold by "bad apple" insurers -- Scalise said:
By George Will November 17, 2013 6 a.m.
One reason Washington makes so much bad history is that so many people here know so little history. This helps explain why "comprehensive" immigration reform is foundering: Too few of today's legislators know what happened 163 years ago.
By George Will October 20, 2013 6 a.m.
Much is wrong with Washington these days, including much of what is said about what is wrong. Many Americans say there is "too much politics" in Washington. Actually, there is too little. Barack Obama deplores "politics as usual" here. But recently Washington has been tumultuous because politics, as the Framers understood it, has disintegrated. Obama has been complicit in this collapse.
By George Will October 13, 2013 6:01 a.m.
"Ex-Marine Asks Soviet Citizenship"-- Washington Post headline, Nov. 1, 1959 (concerning a Lee Harvey Oswald)"He didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. It's -- it had to be some silly little Communist."-- Jacqueline Kennedy, Nov. 22, 1963
By George Will October 6, 2013 6 a.m.
WASHINGTON — "If Reince Priebus from Kenosha, Wisconsin, is the Republican 'establishment,' God help us," says the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. His physical presence is almost as unprepossessing as James Madison's was. But with meticulous — Madisonian, actually — subtlety, he is working to ameliorate a difficulty that has existed for two centuries and in 2012 wounded the GOP.
By George Will September 29, 2013 6 a.m.
When Dwight Eisenhower asked Gen. Georgy Zhukov how the Red Army cleared minefields, Zhukov replied: "We march through them." Being profligate with lives is a perquisite of command and a luxury of those with an abundance of lives at their command. Some congressional Republicans, who do not command their party but can implicate it in their marches through minefields, might resuscitate Barack Obama's presidency by restocking his pantry of excuses: The economy's continuing anemia will ever after be blamed on any government shutdown.
By George Will September 22, 2013 6 a.m.
Like baby birds with yawning beaks, college football fans clamor to be fed. So fasten the chin strap on your helmet -- ignore the warning label on it ("No helmet system can protect you from serious brain and/or neck injuries including paralysis or death. To avoid these risks, do not engage in the sport of football.") and enjoy the seasonal festival of physical carnage, institutional derangement and moral seaminess.
By George Will September 15, 2013 6:01 a.m.
At 4 a.m. on Jan. 1, 1959, an hour when there never were commercial flights from Havana, David Atlee Phillips was lounging in a lawn chair there, sipping champagne after a New Year's Eve party, when a commercial aircraft flew low over his house. He surmised that dictator Fulgencio Batista was fleeing because Fidel Castro was arriving. He was right. Soon he, and many others, would be spectacularly wrong about Cuba.
By George Will September 8, 2013 6:01 a.m.
On Jan. 20, 1981, Michael Deaver, a political aide, peered into a bedroom in Blair House, across from the White House, and said to the man still abed, "It's 8 o'clock. You're going to be inaugurated as president in a few hours." From beneath the blankets, Ronald Reagan said, "Do I have to?"
By George Will September 1, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Barack Obama's foreign policy dream -- cordial relations with a Middle East tranquilized by "smart diplomacy" -- is in a death grapple with reality. His rhetorical writhings illustrate the perils of loquacity. He has a glutton's rather than a gourmet's appetite for his own rhetorical cuisine, and has talked America to the precipice of a fourth military intervention in the crescent that extends from Libya to Afghanistan.
By George Will August 25, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Nowadays the federal government leavens its usual quotient of incompetence with large dollops of illegality. This is eliciting robust judicial rebukes, as when, last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia instructed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to stop "flouting the law." Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh said: "It is no overstatement to say that our constitutional system of separation of powers would be significantly altered if we were to allow executive and independent agencies to disregard federal law in the manner asserted in this case."
By George Will August 18, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Barack Obama's increasingly grandiose claims for presidential power are inversely proportional to his shriveling presidency. Desperation fuels arrogance as, barely 200 days into the 1,462 days of his second term, his pantry of excuses for failure is bare, his domestic agenda is nonexistent, and his foreign policy of empty rhetorical deadlines and redlines is floundering. And at last week's news conference he offered inconvenience as a justification for illegality.
By George Will August 11, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Detroit is the broken tooth in Michigan's smile. Nevertheless, the preternaturally optimistic governor, from whom never is heard a discouraging word, cheerfully describes his recent foray with a crew cleaning up a park in a particularly, well, challenging neighborhood:
By George Will August 4, 2013 6:01 a.m.
DETROIT -- In 1860, an uneasy Charles Darwin confided in a letter to a friend: "I had no intention to write atheistically" but "I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars." What appalled him had fascinated entomologist William Kirby (1759-1850): The ichneumon insect inserts an egg in a caterpillar, and the larva hatched from the egg, he said, "gnaws the inside of the caterpillar, and though at last it has devoured almost every part of it except the skin and intestines, carefully all this time avoids injuring the vital organs, as if aware that its own existence depends on that of the insect on which it preys!"
By George Will July 21, 2013 6:01 a.m.
When Houston was competing with a Brazilian city to be the site of a Japanese-owned plant, Houston could provide the Japanese with pertinent information about the educational attainments and other qualities of its workforce and the number of Japanese speakers in the area. The plant is in Texas partly because Houston had superior statistics, thanks to an inexpensive federal program currently under attack from some conservatives. They may not know that its pedigree traces to the Constitution's Framers.
By George Will July 14, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi knows neither Thomas Jefferson's advice that "great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities" nor the description of Martin Van Buren as a politician who "rowed to his object with muffled oars." Having won just 52 percent of the vote, Morsi pursued his objective -- putting Egypt irrevocably on a path away from secular politics and social modernity -- noisily and imprudently.
By George Will June 30, 2013 6:01 a.m.
"But history did not end in 1965." — Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday
By George Will June 23, 2013 6:01 a.m.
In May 1918, with America embroiled in World War I , Iowa Gov. William Lloyd Harding dealt a blow against Germany. His Babel Proclamation -- that was its title; you cannot make this stuff up -- decreed: "Conversation in public places, on trains and over the telephone should be in the English language." The proscription included church services, funerals and pretty much everything else.
By George Will June 16, 2013 6:01 a.m.
As soon as the Constitution permitted him to run for Congress, Al Salvi did. In 1986, just 26 and fresh from the University of Illinois law school, he sank $1,000 of his own money, which was most of his money, into his campaign to unseat an incumbent Democratic congressman. Salvi studied for the bar exam during meals at campaign dinners.
By George Will June 9, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Texting while driving is dangerous, especially if you are driving a train. A commuter train engineer was texting on Sept. 12, 2008, near Los Angeles, when he missed a stop signal and crashed into a freight train. Twenty-five people died.
By George Will June 2, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Lord Byron was, according to one of his legion of lovers, "mad, bad and dangerous to know," but he also loved dogs, which explains his cameo appearance in a recent Texas Supreme Court opinion. It answered an interesting question in a way that shows how courts can avoid creating opportunities for trial lawyers.
By George Will May 26, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Early in an opinion issued recently by a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge A. Raymond Randolph says: "Although the parties have not raised it, one issue needs to be resolved before we turn to the merits of the case." The issue he raised but could not resolve — that is up to the Supreme Court — illuminates the Obama administration's George Wallace-like lawlessness. It also demonstrates the judiciary's duty to restrain presidents who forget the oath they swear to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution."
By George Will May 19, 2013 6:01 a.m.
"He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to … cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner."-- Article 2, Section 1, Articles of Impeachment
By George Will May 12, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Thirty-one months ago Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell affronted the media and other custodians of propriety by saying something common-sensical. On Oct. 23, 2010, he said: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." He meant that America needed conservative change from the statist course of Obama's presidency (the stimulus, Obamacare, etc.), therefore America needed a president who would not veto such change.
By George Will May 5, 2013 6:01 a.m.
People who talk incessantly often talk imprecisely, and Barack Obama, who is as loquacious as he is impressed with his verbal dexterity, has talked himself into a corner concerning Syria and chemical weapons. This is condign punishment for his rhetorical carelessness, but the nation's credibility, not just his, will suffer. His policy is better than his description of it, and his description is convoluted because he lacks the courage of his sensible conviction that entanglement in Syria would be unwise.
By George Will April 28, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Two of the three most infamous Supreme Court decisions were erased by events. The Civil War and postwar constitutional amendments effectively overturned Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which held that blacks could never have rights that whites must respect. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which upheld legally enforced segregation, was undone by court decisions and legislation.
By George Will April 21, 2013 6:01 a.m.
America's most interesting development since November is the Republican Party becoming more interesting. Consider the congressman from Grand Rapids, Mich., who occupies the seat once held by Gerald Ford, embodiment of vanilla Republicanism. Justin Amash, 33, may seek the Senate seat being vacated by six-term Democrat Carl Levin, who was elected in 1978, two years before Amash was born.
By George Will April 14, 2013 6:01 a.m.
She had the eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe. So said Francois Mitterrand, the last serious socialist to lead a major European nation, speaking of Margaret Thatcher, who helped bury socialism as a doctrine of governance.
By George Will April 7, 2013 6:01 a.m.
The real vocation of some people entrusted with delivering primary and secondary education is to validate this proposition: The three R's -- formerly reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic -- now are racism, reproduction and recycling. Especially racism. Consider Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction. It evidently considers "instruction" synonymous with "propaganda," which in the patois of progressivism is called "consciousness-raising."
By George Will March 31, 2013 6:01 a.m.
As America tiptoes toward a fourth intervention in an opaque and uncontrollable conflict — now Syria, after Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya — Webb's words require two minor modifications: Obama has demonstrated a power, not an authority; only the Constitution authorizes. And as Webb understands, Obama has been able to do so only because Congress, over many years, has become too supine to wield its constitutional powers.
By George Will March 24, 2013 6:01 a.m.
When on March 26 the Supreme Court hears oral arguments about whether California's ban on same-sex marriages violates the constitutional right to "equal protection of the laws," these arguments will invoke the intersection of law and social science. The court should tread cautiously, if at all, on this dark and bloody ground.
By George Will March 17, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Rodney Francis is insufficiently ambitious. The pastor of the Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church in St. Louis has entered the fray over guns, violence and humanity's fallen nature with a plan for a "buyback" of children's toy guns. And toy swords and other make-believe weapons. There is, however, a loophole in the pastor's panacea. He neglects the problem of ominously nibbled and menacingly brandished breakfast pastries.
By George Will March 10, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Progressives are remarkably uninterested in progress. Social Security is 78 years old and myriad social improvements have added 17 years to life expectancy since 1935, yet progressives insist the program remain frozen, like a fly in amber. Medicare is 48 years old and the competence and role of medicine have been transformed since 1965, yet progressives cling to Medicare "as we know it." And they say the Voting Rights Act, another 48-year-old, must remain unchanged, despite dramatic improvements in race relations.
By George Will March 3, 2013 6:01 a.m.
RICHMOND, Va. -- A display case in the lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank here might express humility. The case holds a 99.9 percent pure gold bar weighing 401.75 troy ounces. Minted in 1952, when the price of gold was $35 an ounce, the bar was worth about $14,000. In 1978, when this bank acquired the bar, the average price of gold was $193.40 an ounce and the bar was worth about $78,000. Today, with gold selling for around $1,600 an ounce, it is worth about $642,800. If the Federal Reserve's primary mission is to preserve the currency as a store of value, displaying the gold bar is an almost droll declaration: "Mission unaccomplished."
By George Will February 24, 2013 6:01 a.m.
'Zero Dark Thirty," a nominee for today's Oscar as Best Picture, reignited debate about whether the waterboarding of terrorism suspects was torture. This practice, which ended in 2003, was used on only three suspects. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of American prison inmates are kept in protracted solitary confinement that arguably constitutes torture and probably violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishments."
By George Will February 17, 2013 6:02 a.m.
Before Ronald Reagan traveled the 16 blocks to the White House after his first inaugural address, the White House curator had, at the new president's instruction, hung in the Cabinet room a portrait of Calvin Coolidge. The Great Communicator knew that "Silent Cal" could use words powerfully -- 15 of them made him a national figure -- because he was economical in their use, as in all things.
By George Will February 3, 2013 6:01 a.m.
TRENTON, N.J. -- Coyness is not part of Chris Christie's repertoire, which does not stress subtlety, delicacy and intimation. New Jersey's governor is more Mickey Spillane than Jane Austen and his persona, which sometimes is that of a bulldog who got up on the wrong side of the bed, is so popular he seems to be cruising toward re-election this November and does not deny that he might look beyond that.
By George Will January 27, 2013 6:01 a.m.
A willow, not an oak. So said conservatives of Chief Justice John Roberts when he rescued the Affordable Care Act -- aka Obamacare -- from being found unconstitutional. But the manner in which he did this may have made the ACA unworkable, thereby putting it on a path to ultimate extinction.