opinion

How the Republicans Fell for Trump’s Overconfidence Game
With the base seeing all criticism as ‘Fake News,’ the GOP could be in for a rough November

Convinced that polls are rigged for the Democrats, strong backers of President Donald Trump have convinced themselves that the Republican Congress is an impregnable fortress, Shapiro writes. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION  — The topic never pops up in statistical analyses or pundit roundtables on cable TV, but one of the most underappreciated factors shaping politics is overconfidence.

Historically, second-term presidents have been particularly vulnerable to arrogant overreach. For eight decades, the prime example has been Franklin Roosevelt’s ill-fated plan following his 1936 landslide re-election to pack the Supreme Court with six new justices. (A personal plea: Please don’t mention this scheme to Donald Trump.)

Brett Kavanaugh Isn’t Clarence Thomas, but It’s Still About Race
Black and brown kids don’t get their slates wiped clean

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, left, has urged his colleagues to see past sexual assault allegations and consider who Brett Kavanaugh “is today.” But only certain folks get their slates wiped clean, Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Orrin G. Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, is nothing if not consistent.

His words about distinguished lawyer and professor Anita Hill in 1991 — when she testified in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings before the Judiciary Committee on which he sat — were clear. He said there was “no question” in his mind that she was “coached” by special interest groups. “Her story’s too contrived. It’s so slick it doesn’t compute.” Hatch mused she may have cribbed some of her testimony from the novel “The Exorcist” — the horror!

What Constitutes a Wave Election?
With half of independents still up for grabs, a blue wave is not a foregone conclusion

Democrats may be predicting a blue wave, but surveys show many independents are still up for grabs and Republicans could yet win that battle of ideas, Winston writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Is 2018 going to be a wave election? The better question is: “What constitutes a wave election?”

In a CNN interview last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Christiane Amanpour, “People ask me, is this a tsunami or is it wave? And I said, in neither case, it’s many drops of water and it’s all very close. So it won’t be a big margin, it will be small margins in many races that will produce the victory.”

Kavanaugh’s Fate Lies in Women’s Hands — As It Should Be
Female voters will also be judging how Republicans treat him and his accuser

Responses by some male Republican lawmakers to the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh show that many still don’t understand what it takes for a woman to come forward and tell her story, Murphy writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — This was the point. This was always the point of the “Year of the Woman,” in 1992 and every election year since then. To have women at the table, to have women as a part of the process in the government we live by every day. Women still aren’t serving in Congress in the numbers they should be, but it is at moments like this one — with a nominee, an accusation, and a Supreme Court seat in the balance — where electing women to office matters.

When Anita Hill told an all-male panel of senators in 1991 that Clarence Thomas had repeatedly sexually harassed her when she had worked with him years before, the senators on the all-male Judiciary Committee seemed to put Hill on trial instead of Thomas. Why didn’t she quit her job and get another one, they asked. Why did she speak to him again? Why didn’t she come forward and say something about Thomas sooner if he was such a flawed nominee?

Congress Has a ‘Lame Duck’ Shot at Fixing Retirement Security
Legislation to help Americans save more for retirement is already moving forward

The months after an election aren’t exactly prime time for legislating. But with a bill long championed by Senate Finance leaders Orrin G. Hatch, right, and Ron Wyden nearly through the chamber and a similar measure moving in the House, Congress could buck the trend and act on retirement security, Conrad and Lockhart write. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — As the midterms approach, the American public’s expectations of any productive policy coming out of Washington are near rock bottom. The postelection “lame duck” session, particularly in the current partisan atmosphere, would normally be a lost cause.

Leadership by a group of lawmakers, however, has given Congress a rare opportunity: bipartisan legislation that would improve the retirement security for millions of Americans.

Teen Activists to Young Hill Aides: Stand With Us
Civil rights advocates call on young congressional staffers to end gun carnage

Student protesters in Montgomery County — including MoCo Students for Change founder Brenna Levitan, left, and co-president Dani Miller, second from right — join a national walkout on March 14. (Courtesy William Ahn)

Dear Capitol Hill staffers:

These past few months have been a milestone time in America. Not since the student civil rights movement in the ’60s has our country seen such mass mobilization of young people.

Midterms Show We’re Not Any Closer to a Post-Racial America
Racially charged language is a trademark rather than a flaw to many

Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, warned state voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his Democratic opponent, who is African-American. Above, DeSantis and Trump appear at a rally in Tampa, Fla., in July. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Remember the time when Trent Lott got in a heap of trouble for remembering the time?

It was 2002, and the Senate Republican leader representing Mississippi was waxing nostalgic for what he considered the good old days at a 100th birthday celebration for South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond. Carried away by the moment — and in remarks that recalled similar words from 1980 — Lott said: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

What’s Missing From Bob Woodward’s Book? Ask Ben Sasse
With McCain gone, the Nebraska Republican may be the closest thing left to a never-Trumper

Sen. Ben Sasse says he’s committed to the party of Lincoln and Reagan as long as there’s a chance to reform it. The true test would be a 50-50 Senate, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Bob Woodward’s book “Fear” — which might better have been called, Hunter Thompson-style, “Fear and Loathing in the White House” — is filled with revealing anecdotes that have gotten overlooked amid the incessant rounds of TV interviews and cable news panels.

One of my favorites comes from the early days of John Kelly’s White House tenure, as the new chief of staff briefly labored under the illusion that he could tame the erratic president.

Why Voters Are Still Wary 10 Years After the Economic Collapse
Despite many positive economic signs, people have long memories

In the face of today’s extraordinary bull market and other positive economic signs, memories of the Great Recession remain strong for many voters, Winston writes. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — This September marks the 10th anniversary of the economic collapse and failure of Wall Street banks and companies. It recalls one of the most scarring events for Americans, as they remember the fears, anxieties and financial trauma that they, their family and friends, their communities, and the country as a whole experienced. 

In exit polls from the 2008 presidential election, 85 percent of voters said they were worried about the direction of the nation’s economy, with 50  percent “very worried.” Eighty-one percent said they feared that the economic crisis would harm their family’s finances over the next year, with almost half “very worried.” That level of personal concern about finances doesn’t go away overnight.

Congress Handled 9/11 and Anthrax. Now It Brings Catastrophe on Itself
17 years later, lawmakers have brought us to the doorstep of a constitutional crisis

Members of the House and Senate stand behind their leadership on Sept. 11, 2001, during a statement on the terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s funny how catastrophe can exaggerate the best and worst parts of ourselves.

In the moments after two airplanes hit the World Trade Center in New York, I managed to stay unusually calm at my desk in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. I called my father, found my sister, and returned frantic press calls until the Capitol Police yelled to get out of the building.