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.
By Ruth Marcus February 21, 2014 6 a.m.
The treatment helped. The patient is recovering. The doctor is still being accused of malpractice.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Ruth Marcus July 26, 2013 6:01 a.m.
She had the ghastly, frozen look of a prisoner in a hostage video.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Ruth Marcus May 3, 2013 6:01 a.m.
I am so looking forward to the end of firsts.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Ruth Marcus December 28, 2012 6:01 a.m.
Like so many other people these days, I regain my composure only to see it crumble in an instant at the piercing sight of a photograph, Daniel Barden with his impish smile and missing front teeth. At the devastating power of a simple sentence, about Charlotte Bacon's Girl Scout troop: "There were 10 girls in the group. Only five are left."
By Ruth Marcus December 14, 2012 6 a.m.
For those who believe in marriage equality, the Supreme Court's decision to tackle the subject of same-sex marriage is both exhilarating and scary.
By Ruth Marcus November 30, 2012 6 a.m.
Before the fiscal cliff comes the political roller coaster. Agreement will seem unattainable until, suddenly, it isn't. The sickening plunge will feel endless until the car starts to climb again. But at the moment, things are not looking good.
By Ruth Marcus November 16, 2012 6 a.m.
As the debt ceiling loomed last year, President Obama believed Republicans had him over a barrel. They had won the midterm election. More important, calling the GOP's bluff seemed too big a bet: Defaulting on the debt risked plunging the global financial system into chaos.
By Ruth Marcus October 26, 2012 6 a.m.
What we learned — and didn't — from the debates:
By Ruth Marcus September 28, 2012 6 a.m.
Three fallacies and two dangers are at the heart of Mitt Romney's tax policy.
By Ruth Marcus September 14, 2012 6 a.m.
Here are some proposed questions, concentrating on budget, taxes and entitlements for the upcoming presidential debates:
By Ruth Marcus August 31, 2012 6 a.m.
TAMPA, Fla. — Loved the ironing board. Hated the patronizing pander to women. The most affecting part of Ann Romney's convention speech was — no surprise here — the personal testimonial.
By Ruth Marcus August 17, 2012 6 a.m.
The Republican National Committee chairman says President Obama has "blood on (his) hands" for cutting Medicare. Mitt Romney blasts the president for having "robbed" the program of $700 billion. Vice President Biden accuses Romney and running mate Paul Ryan of "gutting" Medicare. And, inevitably, President Obama warned that Romney-Ryan would "end Medicare as we know it." Aren't you glad we're having a sober policy discussion about how to rein in entitlement spending?
By Ruth Marcus August 3, 2012 6 a.m.
The 2012 presidential campaign has witnessed the full flowering of the faux gaffe, in which a candidate is skewered, generally out of context, for saying something that he clearly did not mean but that the other side finds immensely useful to misrepresent. Mitt Romney's "I like being able to fire people" and "I'm not concerned about the very poor" fall into this category. So do Barack Obama's "the private sector is doing fine" and "you didn't build that."
By Ruth Marcus July 12, 2012 6 a.m.
Consider the enlightening -- and depressing -- tale of two governors. One is the face of what the Republican Party could, and should, be. The other is the face of what it is and seems determined to remain. The first governor, not coincidentally, has "former" before his name: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The second is current and fresh off his recall victory: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
By Ruth Marcus June 29, 2012 6 a.m.
In the age of eight-figure checks to super PACs, is it time for a constitutional amendment that could end this dangerous farce? The notion of fiddling with the First Amendment should make anyone nervous -- especially anyone who has spent a career benefiting from it. Then again, so does Sheldon Adelson's $10 million check to Mitt Romney's super PAC. A system that lets one individual pump so much money into supporting a favored candidate threatens to substitute oligarchy for democracy.
By Ruth Marcus June 15, 2012 6 a.m.
Judging the wisdom of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on super-size sugary sodas depends on where you draw the line between nudge government and noodge government. Nudge government makes sense. It harnesses human nature to steer citizens to smarter choices.
By Ruth Marcus June 1, 2012 6 a.m.
You have to wonder what George and Lenore Romney would have made of their son the candidate. The last week has brought two insightful profiles of Mitt Romney's parents, offering an implicit, and disappointing, contrast with their more successful son.
By Ruth Marcus May 18, 2012 6 a.m.
I wrote two weeks ago that same-sex marriage had turned into a test of character and leadership for President Obama. With his interview on May 9, the president passed the test, saying for the first time that he supports the right of gay and lesbian Americans to marry.
By Ruth Marcus May 4, 2012 6 a.m.
It is a seemingly immutable law of modern Republican rhetoric that the word “regulation” can never appear unadorned by the essential adjective: “job-killing.” Take for example nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney’s comments after winning the Illinois primary: “Day by day, job-killing regulation by job-killing regulation, bureaucrat by bureaucrat, this president is crushing the dream.” Or House Speaker John Boehner denouncing “the president’s job-killing regulatory agenda” last month after the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new limits on coal-fired power plants. Or Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann who, during her presidential campaign, said EPA should be renamed the “Job-Killing Organization of America.”
By Ruth Marcus April 20, 2012 6 a.m.
Outsourcing the job to his wife isn’t going to solve Mitt Romney’s problem with women voters, although that does seem to be the candidate’s first instinct. When Romney was asked recently about the gender gap, he twice said he wished his wife could take the question. “My wife has the occasion, as you know, to campaign on her own and also with me,” Romney told newspaper editors, “and she reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy.”
By Ruth Marcus April 6, 2012 6 a.m.
The most compelling sentences in the Obama administration’s brief defending the constitutionality of the health care law come early on. “As a class,” the brief advises on page 7, “the uninsured consumed $116 billion of health care services in 2008.” On the next page: “In 2008, people without insurance did not pay for 63 percent of their health care costs.”