Will: Some questions for candidate Clinton

By George Will June 28, 2015 6 a.m.

Hillary Clinton's reticence is drowning out her message, which is that she is the cure for the many ailments that afflict America during a second Democratic presidential term. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has called her "the most opaque person you'll ever meet in your life," but when opacity yields to the necessity of answering questions, here are a few:

Will: 'Progressive' firms having identity crisis

By George Will June 21, 2015 6 a.m.

In January, McDonald's, leaning against the winds of fashion, said kale would never replace lettuce on its burgers. In May, however, it said it will test kale in a breakfast meal (breakfast is about 25 percent of McDonald's sales). Kale might or might not cause construction workers to turn at 6 a.m. into a drive-through line, where approximately two-thirds of McDonald's customers place their orders.

Will: GOP must save free trade

By George Will June 14, 2015 6 a.m.

Before presidential politics — the game of getting to 270 electoral votes — completely eclipses governing, there is the urgent task of getting to 217 votes in the House of Representatives to pass Trade Promotion Authority. This would guarantee a vote without amendments on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Will: Sanders' 'Socialist' charade

By George Will June 7, 2015 6 a.m.

Does any stricture of journalistic propriety or social etiquette require us to participate in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' charade? Is it obligatory to take seriously his pose of being an "independent" and a "socialist"? It gives excitable Democratic activists a frisson of naughtiness to pretend that he is both. Actually, he is neither.

Will: Super PACs protectors of free speech

By George Will May 31, 2015 6 a.m.

A simple apology would suffice. Instead, campaign finance reformers, horrified by the predictable results of their handiwork, aspire to yet more regulatory wrinkles to limit political speech. These, too, would have consequences unintended and undesired by reformers, "requiring" a new round of reforms. But the Constitution requires a wall of separation between campaign and state.

Will: Capital punishment's slow death

By George Will May 24, 2015 6 a.m.

Without a definitive judicial ruling or other galvanizing event, a perennial American argument is ending. Capital punishment is withering away.

Will: Government reaches into childhood

By George Will May 17, 2015 6 a.m.

Controversies about "free-range parenting" illuminate today's scarred cultural landscape. Neighbors summon police in response to parenting choices the neighbors disapprove. Government extends its incompetence with an ever-broader mission of "child protection." And these phenomena are related to campus hysteria about protecting infantilized undergraduates from various menaces, including uncongenial ideas.

Will: No faith in 'Apostle Mike'

By George Will May 10, 2015 6 a.m.

In the 1950s, during one of his two campaigns as the Democrats' presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson was invited to address a gathering of Baptists in Houston, where in 1960 John Kennedy would address a group of Protestant ministers to refute charges that his Catholicism rendered him unfit to be president. This was an opinion vociferously promulgated by Norman Vincent Peale, a broadcast preacher and author of "The Power of Positive Thinking."

Will: Ship's sinking was an effect, not a cause

By George Will May 3, 2015 6 a.m.

Owning a fragment of history — a Gettysburg bullet, a Coolidge campaign button — is fun, so in 1968, Gregg Bemis became an owner of the Lusitania. This 787-foot-long passenger liner has been beneath 300 feet of water off Ireland's south coast since a single German torpedo sank it 100 years ago Thursday. It contains the 4 million U.S.-made rifle bullets and other munitions that the ship had been carrying from neutral America to wartime Britain.

Will: Seeing past e-cigarettes' smokescreen

By George Will April 26, 2015 6 a.m.

Smoking, said King James I in 1604, is "loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs." Three years later, he planted a colony in Jamestown. Its tobacco enhanced the royal treasury until Virginia produced a bumper crop of revolutionaries, including the tobacco farmer George Washington.

Will: Higher ed divests self of respectability

By George Will April 19, 2015 6 a.m.

Syracuse University alumni are new additions to the lengthening list of persons who can stop contributing to their alma maters. The university has succumbed — after, one suspects, not much agonizing — to the temptation to indulge in progressive gestures. It will divest all fossil fuel stocks from its endowment. It thereby trumps Stanford, whose halfhearted exercise in right-mindedness has been to divest only coal stocks. Evidently carbon from coal is more morally disquieting than carbon from petroleum.

Will: Plethora of laws putting Americans at risk

By George Will April 12, 2015 6 a.m.

What began as a trickle has become a stream that could become a cleansing torrent. Criticisms of the overcriminalization of American life might catalyze an appreciation of the toll the administrative state is taking on the criminal justice system, and liberty generally.

Will: Cruz faces harsh math

By George Will April 5, 2015 6 a.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was born in 1970, six years after events refuted a theory on which he is wagering his candidacy. The 1964 theory was that many millions of conservatives abstained from voting because the GOP did not nominate sufficiently deep-dyed conservatives. So if in 1964 the party would choose someone like Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, hitherto dormant conservatives would join the electorate in numbers sufficient for victory.

Will: Bright side of income inequality

By George Will March 29, 2015 6 a.m.

Every day the Chinese go to work, Americans get a raise: Chinese workers, many earning each day about what Americans spend on a Starbucks latte, produce apparel, appliances and other stuff cheaply, thereby enlarging Americans' disposable income. Americans similarly get a raise when they shop at the stores that made Sam Walton a billionaire.

Will: Good news for dogs, bad for society

By George Will March 22, 2015 6 a.m.

The rate of dog ownership is rising ominously. How can a profusion of puppies be worrisome? A report from the Raymond James financial services firm concerning trends in the housing market explains: Increasing numbers of women "are adopting dogs for security and/or companionship," partly because of "the great education divide."

Will: A bank with Congress in its pocket

By George Will March 15, 2015 6 a.m.

Conservatives' next disappointment will at least be a validation. The coming reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank will confirm their warnings about the difficulty of prying the government's tentacles off what should be society's private sphere.

Will: IRS lawlessness won't escape scrutiny

By George Will March 8, 2015 6 a.m.

Rep. Peter Roskam is now chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee whose jurisdiction includes oversight of the Internal Revenue Service, and hence of Lois Lerner's legacy. He knows how interesting her career was before she, as head of the IRS exempt-organizations division, directed the suppression of conservative advocacy groups by delaying and denying them the tax-exempt status that was swiftly given to comparable liberal groups.

Will: Illinois governor reforms may help U.S.

By George Will March 1, 2015 6 a.m.

The most portentous election of 2014, which gave the worst-governed state its first Republican governor in 12 years, has initiated this century's most intriguing political experiment. By electing businessman Bruce Rauner, it initiated a process that might dismantle a form of governance that afflicts many states and municipalities.

Will: War question begs debate

By George Will February 22, 2015 6 a.m.

Americans, a litigious people, believe that rules for coping with messy reality can be written in tidy legal language. This belief will be tested by the debate that will resume when Congress returns from a recess it should not have taken, with a war to authorize. The debate concerns an Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State and also against . . .

Will: Pence a symbol of Republican conundrum

By George Will February 15, 2015 6 a.m.

Although he is always preternaturally placid, Mike Pence today exemplifies a Republican conundrum. Sitting recently 24 blocks from Capitol Hill, where he served six terms as a congressman, and eight blocks from the White House, which some Republicans hope he craves, Pence, now in his third year as Indiana's governor, discussed Common Core, which helps illustrate the following:

Will: Moynihan's statements still ring true

By George Will February 8, 2015 6 a.m.

Two phrases that Daniel Patrick Moynihan put into America's political lexicon two decades ago are increasingly pertinent. They explain the insufficient dismay about recent economic numbers.

Will: Wretched Excess Season

By George Will February 1, 2015 6 a.m.

Beer, Benjamin Franklin supposedly said but almost certainly didn't, is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Without cannonballing into deep theological waters, perhaps Deflategate proves the same thing.

Will: America less exceptional

By George Will January 25, 2015 6 a.m.

America's national character will have to be changed if progressives are going to implement their agenda. So, changing social norms is the progressive agenda. To understand how far this has advanced, and how difficult it will be to reverse the inculcation of dependency, consider the data Nicholas Eberstadt deploys in National Affairs quarterly:

Will: Obama shows cluelessness on Keystone

By George Will January 18, 2015 6 a.m.

Not since the multiplication of the loaves and fishes near the Sea of Galilee has there been creativity as miraculous as that of the Keystone XL pipeline. It has not yet been built but already is perhaps the most constructive infrastructure project since the Interstate Highway System. It has accomplished an astonishing trifecta:

Will: Pointed questions for AG nominee

By George Will January 11, 2015 6 a.m.

Senate confirmation hearings put nominees on notice that, as a Michigan state legislator reportedly once said, "I'm watching everything you do with a fine-toothed comb." Loretta Lynch, a talented lawyer and seasoned U.S. attorney, should be confirmed as attorney general. Her hearing, however, should not be perfunctory. Questions like the following would highlight some festering problems:

Will: Sen. Corker in key foreign policy role

By George Will January 4, 2015 6 a.m.

Standing at the intersection of three foreign policy crises and constitutional tension, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., incoming chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, may be the senator who matters most in 2015. As Congress weighs its foreign policy role regarding these three matters, Corker treads the contested terrain between deference to presidential primacy in foreign policy and the need for collective wisdom and shared responsibility.

Will: Cuban policy: Flawed logic

By George Will December 28, 2014 6 a.m.

Barack Obama has made a geopolitical irrelevancy suddenly relevant to American presidential politics. For decades, Cuba has been instructive as a museum of two stark failures: socialism and the U.S. embargo. Now, Cuba has become useful as a clarifier of different Republican flavors of foreign-policy thinking.

Will: Free speech has its plate full in Texas

By George Will December 21, 2014 6 a.m.

The Battle of Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, Texas, on May 13, 1865, is called the last battle of the Civil War, but the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, or SCV, might consider that judgment premature, given its conflict with the state's Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles. This skirmish is of national interest because it implicates a burgeoning new entitlement — the right to pass through life without encountering any disagreeable thought.

Will: Nation's web of laws can be criminal

By George Will December 14, 2014 6 a.m.

By history's frequently brutal dialectic, the good that we call progress often comes spasmodically, in lurches propelled by tragedies caused by callousness, folly or ignorance. With the grand jury's as yet inexplicable and probably inexcusable refusal to find criminal culpability in Eric Garner's death on a Staten Island sidewalk, the nation might have experienced sufficient affronts to its sense of decency. It might at long last be ready to stare into the abyss of its criminal justice system.

Will: Another case for term limits for Congress

By George Will December 7, 2014 6 a.m.

In 2010, Plymouth, Conn., was awarded $430,000 for widening sidewalks and related matters near two schools. This money was a portion of the $612 million Congress authorized for five years of the federal Safe Routes to School program intended to fight childhood obesity by encouraging children to burn calories by walking or biking to school. Really.

Will: 2016 election could restore balance

By George Will November 30, 2014 6 a.m.

America's Newtonian Constitution might again function according to Madisonian expectations if a provoked Congress regains its spine and self-respect, thereby returning our constitutional architecture to equipoise. But this is more to be hoped for than expected.

Will: Wisconsin schools fight to save choice

By George Will November 23, 2014 6 a.m.

It is as remarkable as it is repulsive, the ingenuity with which the Obama administration uses the regulatory state's intricacies to advance progressivism's project of breaking nongovernmental institutions to government's saddle.

Will: Prime time to rethink use of military force

By George Will November 16, 2014 6 a.m.

Barack Obama's coming request for Congress to "right-size and update" the Authorization for Use of Military Force against terrorism will be constitutionally fastidious and will catalyze a debate that will illuminate Republican fissures. They, however, are signs of a healthy development — the reappearance of foreign policy heterodoxy in Republican ranks.

Will: 6 measures Republicans should act on

By George Will November 9, 2014 6 a.m.

Unlike the dog that chased the car until, to its consternation, he caught it, Republicans know what to do with what they have caught. Having completed their capture of the legislative branch, they should start with the following six measures concerning practical governance and constitutional equilibrium:

Will: We may be shaken, stirred on Tuesday

By George Will November 2, 2014 6 a.m.

Mix a pitcher of martinis Tuesday to fortify yourself against the torrent of election returns painting a pointillist portrait of the nation's mind. Before you become too mellow to care, consider some indexes of our civic tendencies.

Will: McConnell key to dignity in Senate

By George Will October 26, 2014 6 a.m.

Barack Obama lost Kentucky in 2012 by 23 points, yet the state remains closely divided about re-electing the man whose parliamentary skills uniquely qualify him to restrain Obama's executive overreach. So Kentucky's Senate contest is a constitutional moment that will determine whether the separation of powers will be reasserted by a Congress revitalized by restoration of the Senate's dignity.

Will: Will the FCC try to tackle 'Redskins'?

By George Will October 19, 2014 6 a.m.

Wretched excess by government can be beneficial if it startles people into wholesome disgust and deepened distrust, and prompts judicial rebukes that enlarge freedom. So let's hope the Federal Communications Commission embraces the formal petition inciting it to deny licenses to broadcasters who use the word "Redskins" when reporting on the Washington Redskins.

Will: Christie could scale Blue Wall

By George Will October 12, 2014 6 a.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could be forgiven if he had chips on both shoulders as big as those shoulders. This year, the first of his second term, has been overshadowed by often partisan investigations, more protracted than productive, of the involvement of several of his former aides — he fired them — in the closing of some access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.

Will: Term limits will balance government

By George Will October 5, 2014 6 a.m.

"The legislative department is everywhere ... drawing all power into its impetuous vortex."

Will: Kansan calculates Senate control

By George Will September 28, 2014 6 a.m.

Tacked to the wall of Greg Orman's campaign office is a print of a John Steuart Curry painting, "Tragic Prelude," that hangs in the capitol in Topeka. It depicts John Brown of Osawatomie, 39 miles south of here, as what he was, a deranged product of "bleeding Kansas," the Civil War's overture. Today, Orman, who is as calm as Brown was crazed, is emblematic of fascinating Kansas.

Will: Californians may cash in at voting booth

By George Will September 21, 2014 6 a.m.

The pursuit of perfection is usually foredoomed, but the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, which has a latitudinarian understanding of ethical behavior, has a perfectly awful idea. It is urging the City Council to consider ways of paying — starchier ethicists might call it bribing — people to vote.

Will: Democratic senators try to muzzle speech

By George Will September 14, 2014 6 a.m.

Since Barry Goldwater, accepting the Republicans' 1964 presidential nomination, said "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," Democrats have been decrying Republican "extremism." Actually, although there is abundant foolishness and unseemliness in American politics, real extremism — measures or movements that menace the Constitution's architecture of ordered liberty — is rare. Last week, however, extremism stained the Senate.

Will: Putin poses Hitlerian threat to West

By George Will September 7, 2014 6 a.m.

The Islamic State is a nasty problem that can be remedied if its neighbors, assisted by the United States, decide to do so. Vladimir Putin's fascist revival is a crisis that tests the West's capacity to decide.

Will: China may help shape future of U.S. Navy

By George Will August 31, 2014 6 a.m.

Russia's ongoing dismemberment of Ukraine and the Islamic State's erasing of Middle Eastern borders have distracted attention from the harassment of U.S. Navy aircraft by Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea. Beijing calls this sea, and the Yellow and East China seas, the "near seas," meaning China's seas. The episodes involving aircraft are relevant to one of Adm. Jonathan Greenert's multiplying preoccupations — CUES, meaning Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.

Will: Government control is out of control

By George Will August 24, 2014 6 a.m.

In physics, a unified field theory is an attempt to explain with a single hypothesis the behavior of several fields. Its political corollary is the Cupcake Postulate, which explains everything, from Missouri to Iraq, concerning Americans' comprehensive withdrawal of confidence from government at all levels and all areas of activity.

Will: What's worth fighting for?

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?

Will: Nixon's long shadow, 40 years after his resignation

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."

Will: Aim for conservative view

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.

Will: Kashkari is California's Goldwater 2.0

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.

Will: Court cuts leftists' grip

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.