Marcus: Portrayal of Rice's wife as anything but victim is villainous

By Ruth Marcus September 12, 2014 6 a.m.

Reader, she married him. The day after he was indicted on a charge of aggravated assault for knocking her unconscious. I would say allegedly knocking her unconscious, but there's no doubt: Janay Palmer — now Janay Rice — was out cold after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice unleashed his left hook on her.

Marcus: Obama's erratic leadership stalls immigration debate

By Ruth Marcus September 5, 2014 6 a.m.

The word of the day is herky-jerky, which is a polite way of saying erratic. And which, I regret to report, is a fitting description of President Obama's handling of immigration. And, I regret even more, a metaphor for his stumbling stewardship.

Marcus: Journalist's beheading can draw lines for social media

By Ruth Marcus August 29, 2014 6 a.m.

"Don't watch the video. Don't share it. That's not how life should be."

Marcus: If Watergate happened today, how would nation react?

By Ruth Marcus August 8, 2014 6 a.m.

Forty years after he slunk out of office, Richard M. Nixon retains the capacity to astonish and disgust. Just when you thought you could no longer be shocked by Nixon's willingness to abuse power, his seething resentments and paranoia, and his florid anti-Semitism, another round of tapes emerges.

Marcus: Ted Cruz has some nerve for putting blame on Dems

By Ruth Marcus August 1, 2014 6 a.m.

Ted Cruz must be Texan for chutzpah.

Marcus: Palin, not Boehner, follows her convictions on Obama

By Ruth Marcus July 18, 2014 6 a.m.

Sarah Palin is right about impeaching President Obama.

Marcus: Don't blame Clinton for doing her job as a lawyer

By Ruth Marcus July 11, 2014 6 a.m.

It should not be necessary to write this column. Lawyers represent clients. Criminal defense lawyers represent clients accused of crimes — sometimes horrible, evil clients accused of heinous crimes. It is the ethical and professional responsibility of these lawyers to defend those clients as vigorously as possible.

Marcus: Expert says legal pot a risky social experiment

By Ruth Marcus June 27, 2014 6 a.m.

BETHESDA, Md. — From her perch as head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow watches anxiously as the country embarks on what she sees as a risky social experiment in legalizing marijuana.

Marcus: Obama misreads history at peril of himself, his nation

By Ruth Marcus June 20, 2014 6 a.m.

WASHINGTON — Two instincts — one predictable, the other surprising — help explain the arc of Barack Obama's presidency. The predictable instinct is Obama's tendency to overlearn the lessons of history. The second, more surprising but related to the first, is Obama's frequent audacity deficit.

Marcus: Hillary Clinton can learn from 'dead broke' comment

By Ruth Marcus June 12, 2014 6 a.m.

Hillary Clinton's tone-deaf comments about being "dead broke" after she and her husband left the White House were unfortunate, revealing and — if Clinton chooses to learn from them — instructive for the likely presidential campaign ahead.

Marcus: Tiananmen Square has little meaning for China's youth

By Ruth Marcus May 30, 2014 6 a.m.

The young man approached with an air of furtive urgency, covering his mouth with his hand. "Please can you tell me," he asked, "what happened in 1989?"

Marcus: As climate evolves, Rubio's attitude toward it devolves

By Ruth Marcus May 16, 2014 6 a.m.

'I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it," said Sen. Marco Rubio. Thus did the Florida Republican undermine his other assertion, to ABC's Jonathan Karl: that he is prepared to be president.

Marcus: NBA racist, gold-digger girlfriend deserve each other

By Ruth Marcus May 2, 2014 6 a.m.

Race is, hands down, the most repulsive aspect of the Donald Sterling scandal. But sex is a close second. To listen to the taped conversation between the octogenarian owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and the 30-something V. Stiviano is to glimpse the tawdry and inherently unequal arrangement between — well, let's put it primly, benefactor and recipient.

Marcus: Trying to keep politics out of a political institution

By Ruth Marcus April 25, 2014 6 a.m.

The law operates with bright-line rules but also with balancing tests and concerns over image. The appearance of impropriety. The appearance of corruption. And so it is with lawyers, starting at the top.

Marcus: Good reasons to oppose the Paycheck Fairness Act

By Ruth Marcus April 18, 2014 6 a.m.

Here's a radical notion: It is simultaneously possible to believe that women are entitled to equal pay and to not support the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Marcus: An emotional double standard permeates politics

By Ruth Marcus April 11, 2014 6 a.m.

Let's have a rational discussion about the word "emotional."

Marcus: It's finally time to free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard

By Ruth Marcus April 4, 2014 6 a.m.

"A Dupont Circle neighbor said he seemed ‘more like a nerd than a spy.’ ” “The rabbi of the South Bend, Ind., temple where he was bar mitzvahed described him as an ‘outstanding scholar and your prototype all-American boy.’ ” Those were my words as a young reporter at The Washington Post, writing 28 years ago about the arrest of Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard outside the Israeli Embassy.

Marcus: Rand Paul youth movement gets to crust of the matter

By Ruth Marcus March 28, 2014 6 a.m.

Rand Paul is the most intriguing — and for Democrats, perhaps the most frightening — figure in today's Republican Party. The Kentucky senator, who is more than flirting with a 2016 presidential run, is making a smart play for the millennial generation that was key to President Obama's twin victories and that his own party has convincingly repelled.

Marcus: Era of law-stopping leads to big changes in Congress

By Ruth Marcus February 28, 2014 6 a.m.

In his more than 58 years in Congress, John Dingell has never been known to mince words. So it was no surprise that the 87-year-old Michigan Democrat announced his departure with a characteristically acerbic bang.

Marcus: Demonizing stimulus could be harmful the next time

By Ruth Marcus February 21, 2014 6 a.m.

The treatment helped. The patient is recovering. The doctor is still being accused of malpractice.

Marcus: Time to tame rhetoric about presidential lawlessness

By Ruth Marcus February 7, 2014 6 a.m.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan calls President Obama's tenure "an increasingly lawless presidency." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz cites "the president's persistent pattern of lawlessness." House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte called a hearing to examine how Obama "has blatantly disregarded the Constitution's mandate to faithfully execute the laws."

Marcus: Self-accountability is a rare trait in the political realm

By Ruth Marcus January 24, 2014 6 a.m.

In the narrative of every political scandal comes the accountability moment. New facts slow to a trickle, and the next, insistent demand becomes: Who is being held accountable? This is often a dumb question, asked for lack of a more fruitful topic and fueled by partisans more interested in point-scoring than problem-fixing.

Marcus: Two shades of loyalty bring duty into sharp relief

By Ruth Marcus January 17, 2014 6 a.m.

Loyalty is a quality that requires careful calibration. Too much can be dangerous; too little, demoralizing.

Marcus: If you aren't nervous, you must be smoking something

By Ruth Marcus January 6, 2014 6 a.m.

Marijuana legalization may be the same-sex marriage of 2014 — a trend that reveals itself in the course of the year as obvious and inexorable. At the risk of exposing myself as the fuddy-duddy I seem to have become, I hope not.

Marcus: A nation in a muddle over metadata and precedent

By Ruth Marcus December 30, 2013 6 a.m.

In policymaking, as in life, there is an important difference between can and should. Whether or not a particular practice is constitutional does not make it sound. Whether the government is permitted to do something or not does not mean that it ought to.

Marcus: Report reveals a mother both tragic and infuriating

By Ruth Marcus November 29, 2013 6 a.m.

'The mother did the shooter's laundry on a daily basis as the shooter often changed clothing during the day."

Marcus: Despite flaws, Obamaton could be near-perfect leader

By Ruth Marcus November 8, 2013 6 a.m.

If only some mad (political?) scientist could build a creature combining Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Frankenstein, meet Obamaton, except this version would be an improvement on the originals. With the best attributes of each, you could create the near-perfect president.

Marcus: Serious series of missteps has White House in a swirl

By Ruth Marcus November 1, 2013 6 a.m.

In thermodynamics, entropy is a measure of the energy unavailable for useful work. It is (and, yes, I had to look it up) both a reflection of disorder and a trend line; an isolated system proceeds in the direction of maximum entropy. The description feels disconcertingly apt for the chaotic reality of the Obama administration's second term.

Marcus: Voice of experience: Washington governing by crisis

By Ruth Marcus October 18, 2013 6 a.m.

Leon Panetta served in Washington with nine presidents, starting with Lyndon Johnson. He has been a member of Congress, Office of Management and Budget director, White House chief of staff, director of Central Intelligence, and secretary of defense — the last two under President Obama. He is a man who knows Washington and knows how to choose his words. So Panetta's implicit rebuke of the president's hands-off approach to the budget crisis at a breakfast Monday was striking.

Marcus: Obama, Republicans both try to balance on tightrope

By Ruth Marcus October 11, 2013 6 a.m.

In summer 2011, as the debt ceiling loomed, Barack Obama saw his predicament in Solomonic terms. He was the president, charged with safeguarding the national economy. Republicans threatening default therefore had the leverage. They might have been prepared to split the baby. Obama was not willing to let that happen.

Marcus: Obama's fumbling on Syria diminishes his power

By Ruth Marcus September 20, 2013 6 a.m.

Style points? Seriously? Style points? That's what President Barack Obama thinks the criticism of his zigzag Syria policy amounts to? As presidential spin, this is insulting. As presidential conviction -- if this is what he really believes -- it's scary.

Marcus: Hillary Clinton finds comfort in the political arena

By Ruth Marcus September 13, 2013 6:01 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA — If you're still wondering — despite the coy tweets, the impending avalanche of speeches, the assiduous fundraising for the renamed Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation — whether Hillary Clinton is running for president, consider her reference Tuesday night to Teddy Roosevelt's man in the arena.

Marcus: Obama's enters dangerous territory with Syria move

By Ruth Marcus September 6, 2013 6:01 a.m.

President Obama is betting his presidency on the hope of cooperation from an institution that he disdains and has proved incapable of taming. His roll-the-dice gamble for a congressional go-ahead in Syria may well succeed. Still, the risk is enormous for Obama's fraying credibility, and the implications are significant, not only for the power of this president but for his successors.

Marcus: Justice Ginsburg puts court critics, colleagues on notice

By Ruth Marcus August 30, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Maybe it's good that the justices have another month off before the Supreme Court starts up again. The wounds from last term don't seem fully healed.

Marcus: Common-sense justice requires balance of discretion

By Ruth Marcus August 17, 2013 6:01 a.m.

A healthy criminal justice system — one that is simultaneously effective and fair — demands neither too much discretion nor too little. Monday's welcome news about stop-and-frisk searches and mandatory minimum drug sentences illuminates both aspects of that moral imperative.

Marcus: Weiner's wife can forgive him but we don't have to

By Ruth Marcus July 26, 2013 6:01 a.m.

She had the ghastly, frozen look of a prisoner in a hostage video.

Marcus: Don't sweat over delay to health law's employer rules

By Ruth Marcus July 12, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Maybe it was the too-cute way the Obama administration let slip the news about delaying the requirement that employers provide health care -- policymaking by early evening blog post. Any announcement so deliberately low-key had to signal bad news. Maybe it was wishful thinking on the part of the health care law's legions of enemies.

Marcus: Can Justice Roberts hold back tide of same-sex marriage?

By Ruth Marcus June 28, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Ten years ago to the day, dissenting in the case of Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Antonin Scalia played the role of Cassandra, warning darkly -- and at the time, it seemed, hyperbolically -- that the ruling invalidating laws against homosexual conduct would lead inexorably to creation of a constitutionally protected right to same-sex marriage.

Marcus: Women have come a long way, but hurdles still remain

By Ruth Marcus June 14, 2013 6:01 a.m.

The two photos serve as powerful visual bookends for any discussion of gender and the Obama White House. The first was worth its thousand words, and sparked even more: the president sitting in the Oval Office with 10 men arrayed in front of him, and Valerie Jarrett's leg barely visible.

Marcus: Obama must do more than just identify problems

By Ruth Marcus May 31, 2013 6:01 a.m.

No doubt: Barack Obama has what it takes to be a terrific law student. It's less clear those are the ingredients of a successful president.

Marcus: IRS scandal overshadows another failure by agency

By Ruth Marcus May 16, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Sputtering adjectives -- outrageous, appalling, intolerable -- can scarcely do justice to the fiasco involving the Internal Revenue Service's reported targeting of conservative groups. But the current scandal obscures -- and, ironically, threatens to prevent action on -- another, equally corrosive failure on the part of the IRS when it comes to scrutinizing political groups.

Marcus: Out and proud NBA player leaves us pining for last 'first'

By Ruth Marcus May 3, 2013 6:01 a.m.

I am so looking forward to the end of firsts.

Marcus: Obama's reasonable budget faces unreasonable GOP

By Ruth Marcus April 19, 2013 6:01 a.m.

The conundrum of President Obama's budget is that he has produced a "come let us reason together" proposal aimed at a Republican Party that has demonstrated no interest in being reasonable.

Marcus: Supreme Court arguments hint at overturning DOMA

By Ruth Marcus April 5, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Supreme Court justices recently seemed tempted to put off deciding the question of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. But they appear prepared to take the significant step of overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and granting full federal benefits to same-sex couples in states that recognize their marriages. Indeed, the juxtaposition of the two cases may have the beneficial effect, from the perspective of those supporting same-sex marriage, of making the DOMA case look like a relatively easy and modest move.

Marcus: Obama must work with GOP, even if they dislike him

By Ruth Marcus March 22, 2013 6:01 a.m.

When it comes to Republicans, President Obama sees himself as a kind of reverse Sally Field: "They don't like him. They really, really, don't like him."

Marcus: Both sides dig in deep on debt-reduction standoff

By Ruth Marcus March 8, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Paul Ryan says he doesn't spend much time worrying about Republicans being blamed for sequester pain. The bruises, in his view, go with the territory. "We have to get right in our minds that the bully pulpit will always probably get better press than we will," the House Budget Committee chairman and the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee told me recently. "That cannot deter us."

Marcus: Freshman senator crosses line with Hagel criticism

By Ruth Marcus February 22, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Ted Cruz is not going to win Senator Congeniality. Not that he cares. The newly arrived Texas Republican has come out, well, guns blazing -- and not just on guns.

Marcus: Guns, even scary-looking ones, don't make women safer

By Ruth Marcus February 8, 2013 6:01 a.m.

The latest weapon in the war against reasonable restrictions on access to guns is the straw woman. Don't fall for her.

Marcus: Obama looks to get much done in limited time frame

By Ruth Marcus January 25, 2013 6:01 a.m.

President Obama launched his second term with a surprisingly lengthy and bold to-do list, coupled with new recognition of the painful limits of power, politics and time.

Marcus: Obama, GOP on collision course over debt ceiling

By Ruth Marcus January 11, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Recently, I described the "fiscal cliff" deal as a pathetic punt. In light of later developments, I am worried that characterization was overly optimistic.