Opinion: The Flimsy Excuses That Congressional Republicans Whisper to Themselves
Trump’s outrages deserve more of a response

It has become easy to understand Donald Trump’s affection for coal miners. The president and the miners work underground — and each week Trump finds a way to descend to new depths.

As Trump heads to Florida on Wednesday for a “listening session” with students, it is important to remember the president’s most egregious recent mouth-off session.

Opinion: The ‘Dreamer’ Fight Could End in One of Three Ways
Senate has launched debate, House soon to follow

It began more than 16 years ago with two senators, a Democrat and a Republican, offering heart-tugging stories about young constituents buffeted by immigration laws.

For Utah’s Orrin Hatch, it was the tale of a boy named Danny, who was brought to this country as a six-year-old by his mother who had crossed the border illegally. By the time Danny was 14, he was roaming the streets of Salt Lake City without supervision.

Opinion: Give Trump His Parade — on One Condition
Remember the Cold War victory over the Soviet Union

The torch has been passed on Broadway as Bernadette Peters recently replaced Bette Midler in “Hello, Dolly!” But one of the signature tunes from the revival has clearly touched Donald Trump’s soul.

Before the Parade Passes By” captures the longing to hear “the cymbals crash and the sparklers light the sky.” The lyrics by Jerry Herman end with the lines: “Give me an old trombone/Give me an old baton/Before the parade passes by.”

Opinion: How Does Trump Kill Time Before the Midterms? Treason Season
Not clapping tops the president’s list of un-American activites

Since the State of the Union address now feels as historically distant as the Second Punic War (the one with Hannibal and the elephants), it is a risky proposition to claim that any Donald Trump speech will be long remembered.

But Trump’s Monday tax-cut speech was among the most emblematic — and inadvertently memorable — of his presidency. Gone was Teleprompter Trump, an alien figure who, if you squint hard enough, might seem vaguely like a normal president.

Opinion: Trump’s Brigadoon Moment — A Speech That Will Soon Vanish Into the Mist
#NeverTrump Republicans might have been dreaming about State of the Union might-have-beens

Squint your eyes and imagine that a mainstream Republican (Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or John Kasich) had somehow made it through the gauntlet of Donald Trump’s insults to win the GOP nomination and defeat Hillary Clinton. That mythical Republican president (Jeb John Rubio) might have given a State of the Union address with eerie similarities to Trump’s maiden effort.

President Rubio (or informally Jeb John) would have undoubtedly bragged about the buoyant economy.

Opinion: No Substance in the State of Trump’s Union
Don’t expect a deep dive into important issues

By Tuesday night, everyone this side of the Cape Verde Islands will know that this marks Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address because, in technical terms, his speech to Congress last February didn’t count. It’s one of those little grace notes that TV pundits love to add in grave voices normally reserved for royal weddings and state funerals.

More than any president since Woodrow Wilson resumed the tradition of personally delivering State of the Union addresses in 1913, Trump is ill-suited to formal oratory. Whenever the president recites a speech off a teleprompter, he sounds like an English-as-a-second-language student reading a practice text for the first time.

Opinion: It’s Not the Senate That Is Selling Out the Dreamers
The House has always been the problem

Two songs, familiar to every baby boomer, summed up Chuck Schumer’s predicament: Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” with the lyric “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em,” and the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which was the odd message blared out at the end of Donald Trump rallies in 2016.

For many Democratic activists, Schumer’s decision to make this the shortest government shutdown since 1990 represented a betrayal. The Senate minority leader seemingly put the re-election interests of Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Indiana’s Joe Donnelly over the future of the 690,000 Dreamers registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

Opinion: White People in Norway? Who Knew?
Kirstjen Nielsen displays the rhetorical contortions necessary to serve under Trump

At the conclusion of more than four hours of testimony Tuesday before an often hostile Senate Judiciary Committee, Kirstjen Nielsen, the new secretary of Homeland Security, slowly gathered up her papers, shared a few laughing words with Arizona Republican Jeff Flake (the last senator in the room) and confidently exited surrounded by an armada of aides.

Depending on her level of self-awareness and the degree of flattery from her staffers, Nielsen may have nurtured the belief that she aced her Capitol Hill exam. After all, the loyal Cabinet secretary avoided saying almost anything controversial, even when pressed by Democrats over Donald Trump’s doubly confirmed reference to “shithole countries” during last Thursday’s White House immigration meeting that she attended.

Opinion: Civil Liberties and Odd-Duck Congressional Coalitions
FISA debate a throwback to more bipartisan times

For two hours last Thursday, the House held a debate that harked back to the heyday of Sonny and Cher and Butch and the Sundance Kid. Instead of lockstep polarization on Capitol Hill, throwback Thursday marked a brief return to the era when legislative coalitions crossed party lines.

The topic before the House was the intersection of civil liberties and national security — about the only issue that can still upend standard red-and-blue divisions.

Opinion: With a Potemkin President, Maybe It’s Time for Congressional Government
With Trump, the less he does the better

In 1885, an up-and-coming Ph.D. student named Woodrow Wilson wrote the book that would establish his academic reputation. Entitled “Congressional Government,” Wilson’s conclusions reflected “the declining prestige of the presidential office” in the decades following the death of Abraham Lincoln.

“That high office has fallen from its first estate of dignity because its power has waned,” Wilson wrote in his introduction. “And its power has waned because the power of Congress has become predominant.”

Opinion: We’re a Long Way From White House Aides With a ‘Passion for Anonymity’
And what they’re saying about Trump isn’t pretty

Shortly after George Stephanopoulos published his critical 1999 memoir about the Clinton White House, “All Too Human,” I witnessed a fascinating impromptu debate about the propriety of a former aide dishing on an incumbent president.

The friendly antagonists were two towering figures from the Kennedy White House: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger and attorney Ted Sorensen, the greatest (“Ask not what your country can do for you ...”) presidential speechwriter in history.

Opinion: The Price of a Border Wall
Protection for Dreamers may be a trade to consider

The congressional agenda for the coming weeks is so chaotic that it makes O’Hare International Airport in a blizzard seem as restful as a Zen retreat.

The calendar is filled with rigid deadlines. Jan. 19 is the date to both fund the government to avert a shutdown and to reauthorize a key provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Lessons From Saturday Night Massacre for Trump and Democrats
Nixon held on for 9 months after that fateful night, Shapiro reminds

Every flurry of rumors that Donald Trump is poised to fire Robert Mueller prompts an automatic historical memory.

The obvious parallel is Richard Nixon sacking special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the midst of the Watergate investigation. Known as the Saturday Night Massacre, it marked a key step on the road to Nixon’s forced resignation.

Opinion: An Absolutely Truthful Christmas Card From Congress
This is the message lawmakers wish they could send

Long before Donald Trump declared war on “Fake News,” there existed a form of communication so exaggerated and untrustworthy that it united Democrats and Republicans in universal scorn.We are, of course, referring to the annual holiday or Christmas letter, filled with boasts of on-the-job triumphs that make Warren Buffett seem like a piker and tales of marital bliss certain to embarrass Cupid. In these mass mailings, every nine-year-old child is on the fast track to become a Rhodes scholar, and the Instagram snapshots from the family vacation to Disney World will soon be made into a major motion picture.But in this era of media scrutiny and scrupulous fact-checking, members of Congress put themselves at risk by indulging in this end-of-year hyperbole. So let’s imagine how a congressional holiday letter might read if the unnamed legislator actually told the truth:

Dear Donors Who Think They’re Friends,

Opinion: The Only 2018 Political Tax Guide You’ll Ever Need
Answers to vexing questions on the new tax bill

The glorious thing about a tax bill is that it inspires one of the enduring examples of evergreen journalism — the inevitable torrent of “How Will It Affect You” analyses that will compete with predictable “Year in Review” stories until the ball descends on New Year’s Eve.

Since I never want to miss a cliché or an opportunity for public service, today’s column will be dedicated to answering your questions about the biggest tax bill since ... well ... George W. Bush. But as an added wrinkle, we will limit the queries to the 2018 elections.

Opinion: The Big What-If Question Hovering Over 2018
What about Alabama? The president’s campaign is still under investigation

Election Night 2018:

TV Anchor (in an excited, making-history voice): “We now project that the Democrats have won the House of Representatives with a minimum of 219 seats and Nancy Pelosi will regain the speaker’s gavel after eight years in the minority.”

Opinion: Trump’s Alabama Attitude Adjustment
Even voters in the Deep South are figuring out who’s behind the bile

“Because something is happening here But you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones?”

That 1965 Bob Dylan lyric qualifies as half right. Doug Jones certainly figured it out. After all, Jones is now the first mainstream Democrat to be elected to the Senate from Alabama since New Dealer Lister Hill.

Opinion: Al Franken and the Long Goodbye
Minnesota Democrat handled difficult speech about as well as he could

Claiming the distinction of being, at 6 feet 9 inches, the tallest senator in history and ignoring the pesky detail of having lost an Alabama Republican primary to Roy Moore, Luther Strange delivered his farewell address Thursday morning.

It was a good-humored speech filled with predictable references to “this hallowed institution” that was in keeping with Strange’s short-lived Capitol Hill career as the appointed fill-in for Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general.

Opinion: A Tribute to John Anderson — A Passionate Moderate
Independent presidential candidate radiated honor

Every political reporter remembers his or her first time — that is, the first time they sat with a presidential candidate in a car cutting through the dark New Hampshire night listening to the dreams of a man who wanted to lead the nation.

For me, it was November 1979, with the Cold War raging, militant students occupying the American embassy in Tehran and Jimmy Carter in the White House. The candidate I was profiling was ten-term Illinois Rep. John Anderson, who was animated by the outlandish fantasy that he had a chance to defeat Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination.

Opinion: Alabama and the Culture of Victimization
Trying to understand Roy Moore’s enduring appeal after sexual misconduct allegations

CULLMAN, Ala. — This white working-class town (population: 15,000), roughly midway between Birmingham and Huntsville along Interstate 65, is Roy Moore country.

“There could be a blizzard coming and the roads would be closed and people around here would still walk to the polls to vote for Roy Moore,” said Neal Morrison, a former state representative and, more recently, a member of ousted Republican Gov. Robert Bentley’s cabinet.