By George Will August 17, 2014 6 a.m.
This far into the human story, only the historically uninstructed are startled by what they think are new permutations of evil. So, when Russia sliced Crimea off Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry was nonplussed: "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext." If, however, Vladimir Putin is out of step with the march of progress, where exactly on history's inevitably ascending path (as progressives like Kerry evidently think) does Kerry, our innocent abroad, locate the Islamic State?
By George Will August 10, 2014 6 a.m.
At about 5:15 p.m. on June 17, 1971, in the Oval Office, the president ordered a crime: "I want it implemented on a thievery basis. Goddamn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it."
By George Will August 3, 2014 6 a.m.
With metronomic regularity, there is a choreographed minuet of carnage. Israel is attacked. It defends itself. Affirmations of Israel's right of self-defense are followed by accusations that Israel's military measures are disproportionate. Then come demands for a cease-fire, and the attackers replenish arsenals.
By George Will July 27, 2014 6 a.m.
Fifty Julys ago, up the road near San Francisco, in the unfortunately named Cow Palace, the Republican National Convention gave its presidential nomination to Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, who knew he would lose: Americans were not going to have a third president in 14 months. His agenda, however, was to change his party's national brand.
By George Will July 13, 2014 6 a.m.
Two 5-4 decisions on the final decision day of the Supreme Court's term dealt with issues that illustrate the legal consequences of political tactics by today's progressives. One demonstrated how progressivism's achievement, the regulatory state, manufactures social strife and can do so in ways politically useful to progressives. The other arose from government coercion used to conscript unwilling citizens into funding the progressives' party.
By George Will June 29, 2014 6 a.m.
Chris McDaniel, 41, the flawed paladin of the Tea Party persuasion who in Mississippi's Republican Senate primary failed to wrest the nomination from the faltering hands of six-term incumbent Thad Cochran, 76, came into politics after a stint in talk radio. There, practitioners do not live by the axiom that you don't have to explain something you never said, and McDaniel had some explaining to do about some of his more colorful broadcast opinions and phrases, which may have given a number of voters pause about whether he is quite senatorial, whatever that means nowadays.
By George Will June 22, 2014 6 a.m.
Two hundred and nine years after Marines visited those shores, dispatched by President Thomas Jefferson to punish Barbary pirates for attacking U.S. vessels in the Mediterranean, Marines are again in that sea, poised to return. If they are sent ashore, their mission will be to rescue U.S. citizens from the consequences of U.S. policy. Then they might have to do the same thing in Baghdad.
By George Will June 15, 2014 6 a.m.
The morning after, at breakfast at the Republicans’ Capitol Hill Club, Virginia Rep. Robert Goodlatte was, as befits one of Washington’s grown-ups, measured in his reaction to what 36,120 Virginia voters did the day before. It would, he says, be wise “to take a step back and a deep breath until we find out how everyone” — meaning, especially, House Republicans — “reacts to this.” By “this” he indicates, with a wave of a hand, the one-word headline on Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Congress: “Stunner.”
By George Will June 1, 2014 6 a.m.
It is said that the problem with the younger generation — any younger generation — is that it has not read the minutes of the last meeting. Barack Obama, forever young, has convenient memory loss: It serves his ideology. His amnesia concerning the policies that produced the robust recovery from the more severe recession of 1981-82 (measured by its 10.8 percent unemployment rate) has produced policies that have resulted in 0.1 percent economic growth in 2014's first quarter — the 56th, 57th and 58th months of the recovery from the recession that began in December 2007.
By George Will May 25, 2014 6 a.m.
Minnesota says it has 10,000 lakes. The state also has, according to Anthony Sanders, "10,000 campaign finance laws." He exaggerates, but understandably. As an attorney for Minnesota's chapter of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, Sanders represents several Minnesotans whose First Amendment rights of free speech and association are burdened by an obviously arbitrary, notably complex and certainly unconstitutional restriction.
By George Will May 18, 2014 6 a.m.
Democracy can be cruel because elections deprive the demos of the delight of alibis and the comfort of complaining. Illinois voters have used many elections to make theirs the worst-governed state, with about $100 billion in unfunded public pension promises and $6.7 billion in unpaid bills. The state is a stark illustration of prolonged one-party rule conducted by politicians subservient to government employees unions.
By George Will May 11, 2014 6 a.m.
WASHINGTON — After the marshal spoke the traditional "God save the United States and this honorable court," the Supreme Court ruled that the upstate New York town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment's prohibition of "establishment of religion" by opening its board of supervisors' meetings with a prayer. This ruling would not scandalize James Madison and other members of the First Congress, which drafted and sent to the states for ratification the First Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights. The Congress did this after hiring a chaplain.
By George Will April 20, 2014 6 a.m.
In a 2006 interview, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said the Constitution is "basically about" one word — "democracy" — that appears in neither that document nor the Declaration of Independence. Democracy is America's way of allocating political power. The Constitution, however, was adopted to confine that power in order to "secure the blessings of" that which simultaneously justifies and limits democratic government — natural liberty.
By George Will April 6, 2014 6 a.m.
The human kindling that makes up the flammable Republican base may soon burst into flames, again. Portions of that excitable cohort are looking — some with fawnlike eyes filled with hurt, others with sparks shooting from eyes narrowed like gun slits — askance at other Republicans urging Jeb Bush to seek the 2016 presidential nomination.
By George Will March 30, 2014 6 a.m.
Igor Stravinsky, the Russian composer, said of Poland, perilously positioned between Russia and Germany: “If you pitch your tent in the middle of Fifth Avenue, it is quite likely you will be run over by a bus.” Poland has been run over hard and often; indeed, between 1795 and 1918 it disappeared from the map of Europe.
By George Will March 23, 2014 6 a.m.
Someone who is determined to disbelieve something can manage to disregard an Everest of evidence for it. So Barack Obama will not temper his enthusiasm for increased equality with lucidity about the government's role in exacerbating inequality.
By George Will March 16, 2014 6 a.m.
In September 1958, a future columnist, then 17, was unpacking as a college freshman when upperclassmen hired by tobacco companies knocked on his dormitory door, distributing free mini-packs of cigarettes. He and many other aspiring sophisticates became smokers.
By George Will February 23, 2014 6 a.m.
This year's most important election will not occur in November, when more than 90 million votes will be cast for governors and national legislators. The most important election, crucial to an entire region's economic well-being and to the balance of the nation's political competition, has already occurred.
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