opinion

How big and little lies, plus cash, prop up the ‘American dream’
It takes some major gaslighting to turn the long-excluded into the villain

Charles Boyer menaces Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film “Gaslight.” If the outraged reactions to the latest college admission scandal are any indication, Americans may be ready to wake up and smell the gaslighting, Curtis writes. (Courtesy MovieStillsDB)

OPINION — In the 1944 film “Gaslight,” a greedy Charles Boyer, trying to convince his rich, naive wife Ingrid Bergman that she is insane, dims and brightens the gaslights in their home, while insisting it is a figment of her imagination. Today, the term “gaslighting” has come to mean that same psychological manipulation.

America is being “gaslighted.”

Trump’s latest self-inflicted wound: Medicare cuts
Attacking Medicare is about as popular as a national program to confiscate kittens

The president is devoted to his MAGA-hatted true believers, but his phantom budget may have cost him more than a few supporters in Rust Belt states, Shapiro writes. Above, people wave their caps at a Trump rally in Michigan in 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Donald Trump’s political problems are almost all rooted in his personality.

The nonstop lying and boasting that have led to a credibility canyon seemingly flow from the president’s fragile ego. His vicious temperament when crossed produces the torrent of below-the-belt Twitter attacks. His apparent inability to trust anyone beyond his immediate family has produced outrages like Jared Kushner’s dubious security clearance. And Trump’s own tough-guy fantasies are probably connected to his hero worship of Vladimir Putin and his avuncular affection for the murderous Kim Jong Un.

The capitalism vs. socialism debate: Bring it on
This is where America in 2019 finds itself, arguing over a settled question

As Democratic hopefuls turn themselves into ideological pretzels, socialist standby Bernie Sanders is finally getting some company, Winston writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Capitalism vs. socialism. It sounds like a debate topic better suited to a ’60s Berkley lecture hall than a 21st-century presidential campaign taking place in a robust, capitalist economy.

But that is where America in 2019 finds itself, arguing over what seems to be a settled question for anyone with a cursory knowledge of socialism’s bleak record of lackluster economies in many countries and totalitarianism in many others. Whether it was revolutionary Cuba in the last century or Venezuela in this century, socialism can take a nation down a dangerous path to poverty and oppression, propped up by authoritarian governments that destroy freedom and opportunity.

Democrats try to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory
So far, they’re off to a fast start in alienating swing voters

The more the Democratic Party embraces the policies of presidential nominees like Sen. Bernie Sanders, the less swing voters will be thinking of the 2020 election as a referendum on President Donald Trump, Rothenberg writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Democrats are off to a fast start in their efforts to blow the 2020 presidential election.

Sure, Donald Trump’s job approval ratings from reputable polling firms still sit in the low- to mid-40s, and congressional investigations are likely to keep the president, his family and his administration on the defensive.

Democrats get their very own tea party after all
Tea parties are messy, loud, awkward and definitely not ‘meh,’ as it turns out

Veteran strategists underestimated Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna S. Pressley, Murphy writes. Now Democrats are getting their very own tea party after all. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, you could already see a tea party redux setting itself up for the Democrats in the same the way the original tea party movement had swept the Republicans into power in 2011.

There was the grassroots anger fueling the insurrection. The out-of-nowhere political superstars already gaining traction. And the out-of-power party establishment in Washington looking at the energy coming into their party as their ticket to rise to the majority. But once the tea partiers got to D.C., Republicans’ visions of power didn’t go as planned.

Trump’s HIV plan is bold. But can he back it up?
If the president were serious about ending HIV, he’d stop attacking Medicare and the ACA

When President Donald Trump announced his goal of ending the HIV epidemic, there was a sense of whiplash, Crowley writes. (POOL/Doug Mills/The New York Times file photo)

OPINION — President Donald Trump surprised many in his State of the Union address when he announced a bold goal of ending the HIV epidemic over the next decade.

It is rare to see HIV at the top of the headlines these days. For the past two years, virtually all of the communities most heavily affected by HIV have been under seemingly unending attack. Whether it is the denigration of people of color, incitement against immigrants, aggressive actions against transgender people, along with other LGBTQ people, and the shaming of women and others seeking to protect access to contraception and reproductive choice, the communities bearing the heaviest burden of HIV often have experienced open hostility from this administration.

Another university is imploding. The federal government must do more
Closures don’t have to be as painful as they are

The challenges surrounding school closure are broader than the for-profit closures that tend to dominate headlines, Kelchen and Megan write. (iStock)

OPINION — As Congress ramps up discussions around reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, yet another large for-profit university chain is teetering on the verge of financial collapse. Last month, federal regulators revoked Argosy University’s ability to accept federal loans and grants, due to its shaky finances and failure to make financial aid payments to students.

This development follows the high-profile dissolutions of Corinthian College and ITT Technical Institute in 2015 and 2016, but the challenges surrounding school closure are broader than the for-profit closures that tend to dominate headlines.

Only legislation, not litigation, can fix our immigration challenges
As advocates and administration look to the courts, Congress is MIA

Opponents of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies protest in the atrium of the Hart Building in June 2018. Advocates and successive administrations alike have largely turned to the courts or executive actions to address our immigration problems, with Congress feeling little pressure to intervene, Ramón and Brown write. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Trump administration over its new requirement that asylum seekers remain in Mexico while their claims are processed in the United States. With advocates and the administration repeatedly turning to the courts to resolve our nation’s immigration challenges, you could be forgiven if this news made you feel like Bill Murray’s character in the film “Groundhog Day.”

But these developments are anything but funny. The constant litigation has weakened our capacity to pursue meaningful immigration legislation through compromise, while rolling the dice on the fates of millions of immigrants themselves.

A half-century after Selma, the ‘black friend’ defense is going strong
Too many Americans, like the Oscar-winning ‘Green Book,’ think racism can be solved by making an ‘exceptional’ black friend — as long as the family doesn’t move in next door

Rep. John Lewis stands on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. The specter of partisan rancor — fueled in part by Mark Meadows’ performance at the Cohen hearings — hangs over this year’s commemoration of Bloody Sunday, Curtis writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — On a “Meet the Press” appearance a few weeks ago, Ohio Democrat and maybe presidential hopeful Sen. Sherrod Brown was commenting on that slam-bang start to Black History Month, Virginia officials in blackface, when he said, “This country hasn’t dealt well with issues of race. We have a president who’s a racist.” That led host Chuck Todd to ask Brown if he believed Donald Trump was a racist “in his heart,” to which Brown answered, “Well, I don’t know what ‘in his heart’ means.”

Exactly.

With both parties awash with cash, maybe campaign reform isn’t so quixotic
Republicans may need to rethink their knee-jerk opposition to HR 1

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt at a news conference Wednesday to oppose the House Democrats’ government overhaul package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — After months of polls, focus groups and strategy sessions, Michael Bloomberg came to the obvious conclusion — unlimited money cannot buy a presidential nomination in 2020.

Yes, the news stories talked about competition from Joe Biden and the difficulty that a moderate would have in surviving the Democratic primaries. But Bloomberg implicitly conceded that even a billionaire’s bankroll would not be enough to dominate simultaneous March 3, 2020, primaries in California and Texas.