David Winston

Opinion: Digital Discourse, Not Division
The deep anger driving partisan politics is a problem for everyone

After a Facebook user posted an old satirical Onion spoof on teachers, guns and the National Rifle Association as an expression of her political opinion on the gun control issue, one of her buddies on the social media platform lamented, “I can’t tell Onion headlines from NYT and WaPost ones any longer.”

In this case, the issue was the Parkland school tragedy, hardly the stuff of satire, but when it comes to digital literacy and political discourse in general, this exchange only illustrates a larger point, that some folks may need a crash course in just how to tell when they’re being played — by the Russians or anybody else.

Opinion: America Doesn’t Care How the Sausage Is Made
Both parties need to outline the outcomes of their policies first

Process rather than outcome has become the new definition of governing in D.C. and that’s not good for America.

The inside story of how a controversial bill is passed or a presidential decision is reached has historical value. But when day-to-day political discourse thrives on gossipy renditions of process as we see now rather than focusing on the outcomes these actions will deliver, a disillusioned electorate is the unfortunate consequence.

Opinion: To Filibuster or Not to Filibuster
The American public wants government to act

To filibuster or not to filibuster. That is the question and only Senate Democrats can supply an answer. The choice is clear. More uncertainty for the country and putting economic growth at risk — or a willingness to accept compromise neither side may like but both can live with.

Yet a government shutdown looms once again, the markets are rattled and frustration is rising — especially for House Republicans who have sent bill after bill to the Senate only to have Democrats block consideration.

Opinion: The Schumer Chaos Strategy
Democrats have good reason to be afraid of the economy

The loss of the House in 2006 and the election of Barack Obama two years later led political pundits, prematurely as we now know, to declare the Republican Party dead, doomed to remain a minority party, perhaps permanently. In the summer of 2009, the weak economy was still the top issue, and Republicans on the Hill found themselves debating strategic options as they looked for a way back from the political wilderness.

There were plenty of opinions among leadership and the rank and file on how to move forward. But one conversation stands out: It not only helped determine the party’s strategic path, but the dynamics at play then are not that different from the political environment we’re seeing unfold today.

Opinion: Independents Can Help GOP Withstand Blue Wave
Key voting bloc was the driving factor behind 2017 Virginia and Alabama races

The Democrats’ recent upset win in a Wisconsin state Senate race has led to dire predictions of a blue wave election this fall. Even Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker expressed his concern.

Without exit polling data, it’s hard to know exactly what happened in the Badger State. But given the mostly data-free speculation about implications for this year’s midterms, a deeper dive into Alabama and Virginia, where we do have actual exit polls, seems overdue.

Opinion: Groundhog Day in America
Sensationalism, not substance, drives the daily conversation

When it comes to Washington politics, it feels a lot like we’re all living in the comedy “Groundhog Day,” where every day starts the same way, over and over and over again. In the movie, Bill Murray wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. as the clock radio blares Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You Babe.”

America wakes up every day to the diatribe du jour from morning show anchors Mika and Joe, Chris and Alisyn, and from the “Friends” in the opposition. Soon after, the president sends out his first tweet of the day. Cable explodes, shrieking, “This time, it’s really Armageddon.”

Opinion: The Perils of Impeachment
Democratic refrain may seem like shrill partisan rhetoric

Washington is beginning to resemble a political version of TMZ — sensational headlines and “breaking news” alerts, blockbuster behind-the-scenes books that tell all or nothing depending on your point of view, and messy political divorces that rival Hollywood for backstabbing and jaw-dropping tweet wars.

On-air political interviews turn into verbal Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, and the media’s race to scoop the competition has further damaged the credibility of a profession already held in low esteem. This week kicked off with questions like “Will Oprah run?” and “Is Trump watching too much TV?”

Opinion: New Year — Same Volatile Electorate
Hard and fast assumptions about 2018 midterms are premature

New Year’s is always a time for reflecting on past mistakes and resolving not to make them again. And then we do.

Listening to Beltway pundits since the Democrats’ Alabama Senate victory, Republicans might as well hand over their majorities now. They’re toast. Conventional wisdom has it that the Republicans’ losing performances in the off-year elections are the harbinger of bad things to come. A blue wave is about to sweep the country and carry Democrats to control of Congress.

Opinion: Tax Cuts by the Numbers
Historic data makes the case for Republicans

The 2017 Republican tax cuts will soon become law, but the debate over the GOP’s economic plan to jump-start a growth economy is just beginning. As often happens with tax cut proposals, it can be a tough sell initially for reasons beyond usual voter skepticism.

Any legislation moving through Congress, but especially tax legislation, is usually more “work-in-progress” than fait accompli in the best of circumstances. Marketing a product in development may work for Apple, but it’s got the brand to generate a potential sale. The Republican congressional brand, like its Democratic counterpart, is challenging.

Opinion: Issues Matter in Elections Even More Than You’d Think
Both parties need to recognize that the electorate has a clear set of priorities

Deciphering what happened in the 2016 election has become a predictable exercise in misinformation for too many people seeking either exoneration or vindication — neither a good pretext for objective analysis. A lot of people got the election wrong before Nov. 8, and even more since.

For most people, the election wasn’t about the Russians or Clinton’s emails. It wasn’t that voters were uneducated or didn’t understand the issues. Quite the opposite. Issues, not party or demographics, drove the 2016 vote.

Opinion: Bottom of the Ninth
Republicans must deliver on tax reform

“Something has to change. The middle class is shrinking and this is our last chance. This is the bottom of the ninth and there are two outs.”

These were the sobering words of a middle-aged man in a postelection focus group conducted for the Congressional Institute in one of the swing Rust Belt states that tipped the scales for Donald Trump. In all the focus groups I did during and after the last election, this man, more than any other, captured the underlying emotions that drove so many voters to cast their ballot not only for Trump but for a Republican Congress who together, they hoped, would deliver dramatic change.

Winston: Obama, Democrats Misjudged Mandate

"I won."

Those were President Barack Obama's pointed words to Republican Congressional leaders when they challenged his proposed stimulus package in a White House meeting held just three days after his swearing-in. As he was to do for the next 20 months, Obama ignored GOP concerns and went on to cram a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus package through Congress, promising unemployment would not go above 8 percent.

AIG Bonuses Raise Questions About Obama’s Leadership

Last Thursday, as the American International Group scandal exploded in Washington, Congressional Democrats and Team Obama, panicked by live cable coverage, provided one of the most surreal moments in recent political memory. It was a perfect storm of political posturing.

[IMGCAP(1)]On Capitol Hill, Democratic Members were raking the company’s CEO, Edward Liddy, over the coals for bonuses they had voted to protect just weeks before. At exactly the same time and a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue, President Barack Obama, flanked by his economic team, was lavishing praise on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner despite the fact that it was his staff who forced language into the stimulus bill preserving the bonuses.

Obama Opens With a Very High-Stakes Game of Chess

Ben Franklin wisely called life “a kind of chess.—

For the past six weeks, Democrats and Republicans have been engaged in the biggest, riskiest, most costly game of political speed chess in the nation’s history.

Tonight’s Address Will Be Obama’s Positioning Statement

Washington’s main event last week featured presidential spokesman Robert “The Enforcer” Gibbs taking on CNBC’s Rick “Tea Party” Santelli over the housing bailout package, and it wasn’t pretty. Gibbs got personal at the podium, sarcastically unloading on the former trader with undisguised disdain.

[IMGCAP(1)]His shots may have gotten a laugh in the White House briefing room, but across America, homeowners who are “playing by the rules” and paying their mortgages on time were cheering for Santelli, who clearly struck a nerve. Round One goes to Santelli.

Obama Would Do Well to Study His New Deal History

"Those who presided over the last eight years ... that brought us to the point where we inherit trillions of dollars of deficit, an economy that’s collapsing more rapidly than at any time in the last 50 years, don’t seem to me in a strong position to lecture about the lessons of history.” So lectured President Barack Obama’s economic point man, Larry Summers, Sunday on ABC.

[IMGCAP(1)]Summers’ self-serving recast of history reflects the Democrats’ political narrative du jour, whereby they avoid any blame for the country’s current economic crisis and justify the biggest spending bill likely to pass Congress in its 220-year history.

Democrats’ Stimulus Mired in Invalidated Ideas From the 1930s

Almost 40 years ago, as Apollo 13 made its way to the moon, an explosion threatened the mission and the lives of the three astronauts on board.

[IMGCAP(1)]When the control room erupted into chaos, Flight Director Gene Kranz told his team to settle down, “Let’s work the problem, people,” he said. “Let’s not make things worse by guessing.”

Obama Better Realize That Honeymoons Do Not Last Forever

There is a widely told story of Nikita Khrushchev’s ousting as the first secretary of the Communist Party more than 40 years ago. As the tale goes, just before leaving office the short-tempered, shoe-pounding leader sat down and wrote two letters to his successor along with a short note of instructions.

[IMGCAP(1)]The note supposedly said, “To my successor: When you find yourself in a hopeless situation, open the first letter and it will save you. Later, when you again find yourself in a hopeless situation, open the second letter.”

GOP, Rothenberg Should See Futility of Relying on Attacks

In his critique of my Dec. 2 column, my Roll Call colleague, Stuart Rothenberg, in essence, defended the Republican political status quo — an attack-based campaign doctrine that has failed both the party and its candidates, much to the delight of Democrats. If I were on the other side hoping for a permanent political majority, I’d encourage Republican operatives to keep doing what they’ve been doing for years, too.

[IMGCAP(1)]Clearly, the American people have moved on and want more from political leaders than negative campaigns and pork-barrel politics. To suggest, as he did, that “when your party’s reputation is in the toilet, trying to drive up your opponents’ negatives is one of the few things you can do,” is “simply wrong.”

A Modern Agenda Would Lead the GOP out of the Wilderness

After three weeks of explaining to disheartened Republicans exactly what happened on Nov. 4, I’m beginning to feel more like a grief counselor than a political analyst. In the days leading up to the presidential election, with poll numbers trending the wrong way, most Republicans were in a state of group denial — “This can’t be happening.”

[IMGCAP(1)]By the morning after the election, anger quickly replaced denial and the blame game was in full swing. “It’s the media’s fault. It’s George Bush’s fault. It’s Sarah Palin’s fault. John McCain was a lousy candidate. Barack Obama bought the election. The base was unhappy.”