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Michael Gerson

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MICHAEL GERSON: The ideology of Donald Trump is nitroglycerin

OPINION: The Trump campaign is reality TV with a kick

Donald Trump’s first stab at policy is an immigration plan involving mass deportation and an end to birthright citizenship.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Hillary Clinton campaign drained of idealism

OPINION: The strategy Hillary Clinton is employing has for her and Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton was the “man from Hope.” Hillary Clinton’s team is hoping that it fully erased a server to prevent FBI scrutiny. Such a novel and useful political lesson: Those who have their data professionally wiped have nothing to hide because there is nothing left to find.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Hunting for a global warming miracle

OPINION: It is sobering when your only sufficient policy response is the production of a miracle

So how do we get technological miracles at a realistic social and economic cost? Only by dramatically increased investment in basic research and development.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Help Donald Trump marginalize himself

OPINION: As a third-party candidate, Trump could easily tip a close election to Clinton

Trump will flame out. And since he is constitutionally incapable of accepting fault, he will blame the GOP for arson.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Obama plays bitter endgame on Iran nuclear deal

OPINION: Obama has effectively removed the threat of force from American nonproliferation policy in the Middle East

President Obama’s closing argument in favor of the Iran nuclear deal has become so exaggerated, so bitter, so simplified, that it risks parody.

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MICHAEL GERSON: A great deal -- for Iran

OPINION: The Iran deal may be the least-worst agreement, but it will fund Iranian imperialism

The agreement legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program, pretty much guarantees its ability to produce nuclear weapons in 15 years, and will make it a far wealthier country, one that can gain permanent access to markets and buy Russian weapons to challenge U.S. access to the Persian Gulf.

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MICHAEL GERSON: A Trump-led GOP would deserve to lose

OPINION: 'Doubling down' is the trademarked motto of the 2016 campaign

American elections have never been a stroll in the park. But attempting to put Trump’s hot mess of abuse, pettiness, egotism and bombast in any historical context is difficult.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Coronating a wounded queen?

OPINION: Hillary Clinton has approval ratings similar to those of Donald Trump

A vacuous, gaffe-prone, xenophobic, conspiracy-minded reality television star whose nomination, by most accounts, would destroy the GOP has about the same approval ratings in Colorado and Iowa as the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Texas Gov. Rick Perry emerges as responsible GOP voice

OPINION: Donald Trump is (unknowingly) attempting to revive the spirit of Know-Nothingism

In the early days of the 2016 Republican campaign — an unusually important period, in which the viability of the GOP is being defended against a toxic form of populism — some of the clearest leadership has emerged from an unexpected source: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

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MICHAEL GERSON: An appalling trivialization of life

OPINION: Video stings Planned Parenthood senior director of medical services

In a sting video by an anti-abortion group, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, Deborah Nucatola, coldly describes the extraction and monetization of fetal body parts.

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MICHAEL GERSON: President Obama plays lottery in Middle East

OPINION: Iran nuclear deal is a high-stakes, strategic bet

The determination to engage enemies is a hallmark of Obama’s foreign policy. With Iran, as with Cuba, he hopes to upend old strategies of isolation and sanctions, drawing rivals into a web of cooperation that ends up improving their behavior.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Defrauding the nation's poor

OPINION: Government and business have joined to exploit the poor

How about a renewed effort to help the poor by refusing to cheat them? There’s a broad and growing collaboration between government and business to systematically defraud and exploit the poor through state lotteries, payday lending and payday gambling.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Trump and the GOP's dividing line

OPINION: Indications are Republicans have serious debate between reform camps

A political appeal that encourages division would worsen the GOP’s main political problem: a durable impression that it does not care for the country as a whole.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Congress' Iran moment

OPINION: Some in Congress believe Obama is too far along in Iran negotiations to say no to a bad deal

Now (it seems) we are about to see the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act in action. The law dangles an incentive for the Obama administration to conclude a final deal by July 9. If it meets that deadline and provides all the relevant documentation, Congress gets just 30 days to act on a resolution of disapproval. If the timing slips past July 9, Congress has 60 days to act.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Religious and gay rights must coexist

OPINION: The most significant strategy shift was gays embracing the conventional, bourgeois practice of marriage

Many gay rights advocates essentially made conservative arguments — concerning the individual and social benefits of faithfulness — to secure their legal goal. It is a form of gay rights that Middle America — already inclined to live and let live — could readily embrace.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Denial not an option in climate change fight

OPINION: If climate change is a global threat, addressing it is both a moral and public requirement

There is no getting around the fact that Francis regards potentially catastrophic, human-caused global warming as a fact. In American politics, the pope’s encyclical has not made legislative action on climate change inevitable; but it has made the issue unavoidable. The politician’s shrug, “I’m no scientist,” is no longer acceptable

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MICHAEL GERSON: The strength of love

OPINION: Many of us now feel awed and honored to share the same faith as these remarkable Christians

When many relatives of those cruelly murdered in Charleston — by a man who talked and prayed with his victims for an hour before systematically gunning them down — publicly offered their forgiveness, it was stunning and admirable in many ways.

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MICHAEL GERSON: A campaign of bombast and ridicule

OPINION: Donald Trump refuses to be ignored

The whole process of applying political scrutiny to Trump is difficult, given his aversion to systematic political thought.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The 2016 presidential campaign season now truly under way

OPINION: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker take early GOP lead

The conventional wisdom about the three leading Republican candidates for the White House — Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker — is interesting for being mostly wrong.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Rand Paul the reckless

Paul likes to present himself as a voice of reason and outreach. But he is prone to rhetorical recklessness.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The call of the world's broken places

OPINION: Working in fragile states reflects a commitment to fighting poverty where it is

It is difficult to imagine a place more physically and psychologically removed from the world economy, from centers of global influence such as Washington or London — than Warrap state (whose capital is Kuajok).

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MICHAEL GERSON: Promises betrayed in South Sudan

OPINION: The conflict in South Sudan has created vacuums of sovereignty

Absent a real sense of nationhood and shared citizenship, some kind of negotiated settlement is necessary between the groups with the guns.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Our hesitant talk on mobility

OPINION: For both parties, the emerging theme of economic mobility is often a reluctant, second choice

Perhaps the greatest need in American politics: a presidential candidate who passionately advances a vision of mobility instead of settling for it.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Shifting role of religious conservatives

OPINION: For conservative Christians, a psychological adjustment is taking place

The assumption of faith has gradually — now more rapidly — fallen away. There may or may not be a decline in Christian practice. But we are certainly seeing the collapse of casual Christianity and of religious belief as a civic assumption.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The Clintons' cloud of deviancy

OPINION: Who needs a reputation for honesty and trustworthiness?

In the five weeks since Hillary bClinton announced her candidacy, she has had a normal politician’s lifetime quota of scandals.

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MICHAEL GERSON: War lessons for the Republicans

OPINION: A GOP nominee will need to demonstrate lessons learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Republican candidates should set the bar for intervention high, but they also need to describe how they would return to the strategic offensive within the boundaries of this recognition. The alternative to invasion and occupation is not retreat.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Corporate irresponsibility over GMOs

OPINION: The scientific consensus is that genetically modified organisms are safe to consume

The National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the World Health Organization have concluded that GMOs are safe to eat. This scientific consensus is at least as strong as the one on human-caused climate change.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Seeking mutual respect amid conflict

OPINION: The war on terrorism cannot be won without Muslim allies

Under U.S. law, blasphemy is fully protected speech, precisely because there is no public orthodoxy. Religious people of all backgrounds should recognize that this legal neutrality on religion has produced a society remarkably amenable to religion.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The intricate knot of urban poverty

OPINION: The mass incarceration of juvenile offenders is iatrogenic

Government has been good over the last several decades at taking the elderly out of poverty. But it has been far less successful in encouraging the type of urban renewal that runs deeper than gentrification.

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MICHAEL GERSON: A pastor's faith in Baltimore

OPINION: Pastor believes everyone deserves a second, ‘even a third’ chance

This is one of the most distinctive contributions of faith-based institutions to discussions on poverty and crime. Their vision of social healing is required to include the victimizers as well, who will remain in communities, or return from prison, after the cameras leave.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The baggage that Hillary Clinton brings

OPINION: At some point a blind spot becomes a delusion

The former president was hobnobbing with Russian investment bankers, Canadian mining executives and a Central Asian dictator while the Russian atomic energy agency gained control of a good portion of the American uranium supply. And Secretary Clinton has dismissed the entire matter as beneath her pay grade.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Challenging the prevailing culture

OPINION: A closer look at The Road to Character

With his new book, “The Road to Character,” David Brooks — New York Times columnist, PBS “NewsHour” commentator, and serial mensch — emerges as a countercultural leader.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Desperately chasing a legacy

OPINION: The Obama administration seems so anxious to score political points that it cannot act with restraint

The Obama administration’s high-profile announcement of an embryonic nuclear deal has already had the practical effect of undermining the isolation of Iran

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MICHAEL GERSON: Rand Paul's grand deception

OPINION: Every word Rand Paul says on foreign policy must pass through a balancing test

Rand Paul has beat a tactical retreat from the front lines of libertarian foreign policy. Having previously proposed slashing defense spending, he now awkwardly embraces increases. Having tracked closely with Obama’s position on Iran, he now prefers negotiation from “a position of strength.”

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MICHAEL GERSON: If our heroism is hopeless

OPINION: The apocalypse has been much on my mind

The proliferation of nuclear weapons since World War II has been relatively slow. And the current global balance of power makes a world-ending, ozone-layer-destroying, nuclear-winter-inducing exchange unlikely. But it doesn’t take much historical imagination to spin a scenario in which, at some point over the next century, a different balance obtains.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The remarkable achievement of Iran

OPINION: The Obama administration kept bar of expectations low, then cleared it

Will this agreement give the Iranian regime cover for what it is currently doing in the Middle East — actively spreading its influence and threatening our allies? Negotiations on the nuclear issue have taken place in isolation from the ballistic missile issue; the terrorism issue; the regional destabilization issue.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The virtues of the smoke-filled room

OPINION: Leaders willing to make deals are being regarded as politically and even morally compromised

This suspicion about compromise should be surprising in a nation that resulted from the Great Compromise. But it reflects a broader trend that has reshaped the attitudes of both parties: polarization.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The next epidemic

OPINION: The Ebola outbreak should be a wake-up call

The next time a politician sneers at “foreign aid,” substitute the words “disease surveillance” and see if his or her statement still makes sense.

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MICHAEL GERSON: How to block a bad deal with Iran

OPINION: As with any nuclear agreement, the devil is in the details

Many Republican senators are open to supporting a reasonable nuclear deal with Iran. But they have a series of reasonable concerns.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Hillary Clinton's Nixonian path to the White House

OPINION: Clinton is beatable, but the effort to label her as Nixonian will not do it

The effective kickoff of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was an act of deck clearing so breathtaking, so brazen, that it remains difficult to process.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The effects of inequality on children

OPINION: These trends now characterize a large portion of the U.S. working class

Robert Putnam’s “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis” is sociology as story, as tragedy and as an act of social solidarity. It is the culminating work of an academic career characterized by sound judgment and bigheartedness. And the more influence this book gains, the more just and generous our country will become.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Cotton letter is roughest of drafts

OPINION: The half-baked Cotton letter was a poor instrument to express concern

This was a foreign policy maneuver, in the middle of a high-stakes negotiation, with all the gravity and deliberation of a blog posting. In timing, tone and substance, it raises questions about the Republican majority’s capacity to govern.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Viewing Ferguson from Selma

OPINION: The Justice report on Ferguson police cleared the officer but condemned the system

The Justice Department report describes a patchwork of municipalities that have become predators, trapping residents in a web of tickets, fines, fees and warrants in order to raise revenue. Police officers and municipal judges are employed as collection agents, and police departments such as Ferguson’s — lacking diversity, proper training and accountability — are prone to swagger and profiling.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Negotiating from weakness

OPINION: President Obama has narrowed U.S. demands on Iran to its nuclear ambitions

As Obama has avoided direct confrontation with Iran to preserve the viability of nuclear talks, Iran has been busy destabilizing the Middle East, replacing us as the major power and threatening our allies. And those allies have taken note.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Getting Africa's health systems to be self-reliant

OPINION: A history of generosity can become an expectation of benefit

Tanzania has a strong economic growth rate, recently recalculating its gross domestic product upward by 32 percent, near the low end of middle-income status. But the foreign share of health care spending is growing, while government spending — as a percentage of the total health effort — is declining.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Scott Walker's cynical comments

OPINION: As political attacks go, this one is particularly heavy-handed

Scott Walker pronounced that he is agnostic about President Obama’s Christian faith and patriotism. it is simply not the role of a Christian layman to publicly dispute the self-identification of other Christians, especially in a political context. It is a practice that can lead down ugly alleys of sectarianism.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Taming the government Leviathan by proxy

OPINION: Our system of government by proxy is often comfortable with high levels of fraud

American politics has been dominated by a debate on the size and role of the federal government, an argument that has often lacked one element: actual knowledge about the size and role of the federal government.

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MICHAEL GERSON: A call for patient pluralism

OPINION: The rapidity of progress by the gay rights movement is causing a series of social and legal tensions

The unfolding victory for gay rights has set up a national debate about the meaning of pluralism.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Condemning Islam the wrong course

OPINION: Some of the president's critics are blithely recommending a massive, unforced geostrategic blunder

Those who long for greater clarity in describing the peculiarly Islamic nature of terrorism (see Bobby Jindal: “Let’s be honest here: Islam has a problem”) should also be clear about something else. They are proposing a fundamental shift in the rhetorical strategy of the war against terrorism.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Unmasking Rand Paul

OPINION: Wherever you scratch the paint, there is some underlying, consistent philosophy at work

On both domestic and foreign policy, Rand Paul holds libertarian views that, if fully and publicly expressed, would bring new rounds of controversy. It is a difficult position for a candidate when every glimmer of authenticity is a potential gaffe.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Public good vs. person freedom

OPINION: A measles outbreak brings up the balance of responsibility and choice

Whether hipsters or homeschoolers, parents who don’t vaccinate are free riders. Their children benefit from herd immunity without assuming the very small risk of adverse reaction to vaccination. It is a game that works — until too many play it

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MICHAEL GERSON: The invasion of artificial outrage

OPINION: In our politics, ideological assertions tend to gain an immediate, massive velocity

The use of apocalyptic language is often a form of self-elevation. It allows a politician to embrace the role of lonely truth seeker.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Republicans tread immigration minefield

OPINION: GOP presidential hopefuls avoid major miscues at Iowa summit

The greatest hazard to Republican prospects with rising demographic groups came in the form of an argument rather than an epithet.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The fight for the middle class

OPINION: State of the Union speech was layered with cockiness, preachiness and delusion

Presidential leadership on defense and foreign policy usually consists of preparing Americans for the unsought but necessary struggles of a dangerous world. Obama provides assurances of global progress and order at a minimal cost, so Americans can turn their attention within.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Terrorism can't be wished away

OPINION: The president continues to react poorly to terrorism threats

The situation in Europe reveals the line of argument that overreaction provokes terrorism is farcical. The French did not support the Iraq War. They did not engage in enhanced interrogation. They have been consistent supporters of the Palestinian cause. They have tried not to offend. But it didn’t matter.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Are Democrats stuck back in 1979?

OPINION: The White House has turned the clock back a quarter-century for Democrats

President Obama has now effectively undone everything that Clinton and the New Democrats did in the 1980s and ’90s. Issue by issue, today’s Democratic Party is about where it was in 1979.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Clear choice or clear trauma

OPINION: Ideological polarization has made stalwarts appear like centrists

A Hillary Clinton-Jeb Bush presidential contest would be among the clearest choices in modern political history, but for some the contrast is not nearly vivid enough.

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MICHAEL GERSON: 'The Imitation Game' revives interest in Alan Turing

OPINION: The film is worth seeing, but too worshipful

The movie “The Imitation Game” has revived deserved interest in Alan Turing, the eccentric genius of Bletchley Park who helped create the marvelous machine that broke Nazi codes and hastened the end of World War II.

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MICHAEL GERSON: A global conspiracy of health

OPINION: Child survival rates worldwide have improved in 15 years

There are a variety of reasons for increased child survival, including improved prevention of malaria and HIV. But according to a recent report in The Lancet, about half of these gains came from reductions in pneumonia, diarrhea and measles — diseases addressed by vaccination.

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MICHAEL GERSON: For a politics of repair

OPINION: The ending of the 113th Congress was instructive

As a trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill trundled into law, the populist wings of both political parties declared themselves both revolted and in revolt.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The arrogance of liberal elites

OPINION: The problem for Democrats is Jonathan Gruber is not stupid

Jonathan Gruber recently appeared before a hostile House committee. The MIT economist played a significant paid role in producing and defending the Affordable Care Act, and later admitted the law was written in a “tortured way” to hide tax increases and other flaws.

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MICHAEL GERSON: An act of exceptional recklessness

OPINION: Will a future president or Congress attack drone program?

With the apparently imminent release of the Feinstein report on CIA interrogations of high-value terrorists a decade ago, let’s consider the situation of intelligence personnel who have been involved, not in that program but in drone strikes against terrorists, conducted in a variety of countries around the world.

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MICHAEL GERSON: President Obama influencing public debate

OPINION: On immigration, Obama circumvents deliberation

Obama’s action shows the power of even a weakened president to influence a public debate.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Leaving the harder path

OPINION: President Obama gives up on politics with power play

Obama has now officially abandoned the harder path — not because the issues surrounding immigration will never be resolved (a case no one has adequately made) but because he wants to be the president to resolve them.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The pope's human touch

OPINION: Pope Francis confuses Catholics about marriage

Francis is cultivating debate within the church about an essential social institution — and the value of relationships outside it — even as that institution is under assault by the world (at least in parts of the world where the sexual revolution continues its relentless march). In the middle of an important cultural conflict, Francis sounds an uncertain trumpet.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Our approaching storm

OPINION: Using executive orders will leave issues unrevolved rather than resolved

An ambitious executive order by Obama on immigration would result in an even greater ideological storm. Nearly all Republicans would have deep legal and procedural objections.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Ohio Gov. John Kasich ends up in national spotlight

OPINION: Governor says politics should not be a wrestling match

Ohion Gov. John Kasich is an exuberantly orthodox free marketeer who has balanced budgets, reduced business regulations, privatized government services and placed a relentless emphasis on job creation. “Let me be clear,” he told me. “Unless you build a strong economy, nothing else works.”

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MICHAEL GERSON: Bill Gates' moment

OPINION: The focus of Bill Gates' life -- preventable disease -- is now a world obession because of Ebola

Following the Ebola crisis, infectious disease should remain a focus for good reasons: Because dramatic gains are possible. And because losses can be sudden and deadly, affecting rich and poor alike.

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MICHAEL GERSON: A matter of ends

OPINION: We are humanized by closer acquaintance with the intellectually disabled

Those interested in the most efficient provision of social services would probably not design L’Arche — a program that lavishly invests a single life in a single life. Whether this is viewed as wasteful depends upon your ultimate goal.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Still in denial about Ebola

OPINION: The Ebola virus has multiplied in a medium of denial

The White House believes it has a management and communications challenge. But the problem is far larger — the inability (so far) to get ahead of the crisis in West Africa with decisive action.

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MICHAEL GERSON: For GOP, no victory lap

OPINION: Republicans controlling both houses of Congress has some downsides

The electoral map is favorable to GOP candidates, with battlegrounds located mainly in states Mitt Romney carried in 2012. Democrats can win only by running well ahead of President Obama’s approval ratings, which range from the 30s to mid-40s.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Ebola has been a brutal teacher

OPINION: For those treated very ill Ebola patients, danger of infection is dramatically increased

The federal response to Ebola has had serious weaknesses under stress. CDC officials wrongly assumed any large hospital would know what it was doing in isolating an Ebola patient, then allowed a nurse with an elevated temperature who had been heavily involved with a patient’s treatment to board a plane.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Two cheers for President Obama, not three

OPINION: The shift of President Obama over four months has been remarkable

For the first time during his stewardship of the war on terrorism — or whatever it is called nowadays — Obama at least sounds single-minded.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Introspection time for evangelicals

OPINION: It is fair to say that some cultural views traditionally held by evangelicals are in retreat

Even as some evangelical cultural views change along with broader norms, the Democratic Party is still viewed as a hostile instrument of secularization — a perception reinforced by the health care mandates of the Obama era.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Republicans have a tall order in 2016

OPINION: Big donors to GOP waiting to see what Chris Christie, Job Bush plan to do

Christ Christie and Jeb Bush are considered the most serious compeitors to presumptive Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Donor checkbooks likely won’t come open until Christie and Bush make their intentions clear.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Belgium creates right of prisoner to government-assisted suicide

OPINION: Belgium officials determine mentally ill prisoner has right to cease to be a human being

The right to suicide adheres, in this case, not to all human beings but to sick and apparently flawed human beings. And such a “right” begins to look more and more like an expectation. A mentally or physically ill person can be killed, in the end, because they have an illness. A qualification can slide into a justification.

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MICHAEL GERSON: President Obama's careful war

OPINION: It's reasonable to question Obama's enthusiasm for a series of options he previously ignored, dismissed or even mocked

President Obama’s newly announced policy consists mainly of previously discarded policies that would have been easier to pursue in the past: Supporting moderate rebels in Syria. Asserting executive authority to bomb on both sides of the border. Actively cooperating with Iraqi and Kurdish forces to build their capacity.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Carrying the fight to the enemy

OPINION: President Obama is more likely to change his policy than his rhetoric

America has found that this ideological, political and military struggle continues, whether we participate or not. And periods of our inattention are periods of our enemy’s growth and success.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Response feeble to Ebola outbreak

OPINION: A human catastrophe looms is stronger action is not taken

In Liberia, the rate of new infections has probably already moved from a linear to an exponential curve. If not checked, it may pose a global health threat.

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MICHAEL GERSON: History ignored in reporting on Israel

OPINION: A former reporter for the Associated Press says his editors spiked stories that did not fit their narrative of opposed Palestinians

Historically, Jews have been a stateless entity on which people have projected their anger and resentments. With the advent of a Jewish state, those projections are focused on Israel, which gets disproportionate (and disproportionately hostile) attention as the embodiment of colonialism and nationalism — things that European and American liberals find offensive.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Too detached to lead?

OPINION: The problem for President Obama has come in managing the symbolic aspect of his office

The president is so aggressively indifferent to appearances that he doesn’t really seem indifferent at all. He appears to be telling the media, his political critics and the world: You can criticize me, vilify me, challenge me; but you are powerless, at least, to change my tee time. It shows resilience. Yet there is a fine line between not giving an inch and not giving a damn.

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MICHAEL GERSON: President Obama a rhetorical observer on Iraq, Syria

OPINION: Obama wants to keep strategic ambiguity at the heart of U.S. foreign policy

An American leadership “vacuum” (Hillary Clinton’s word) was not filled by the resolve of friends. It was filled by Iranian adventurism, by Russian meddling, by Bashar al-Assad’s mass atrocities, by Gulf state money flowing to disturbing places and by expansionist, ruthless, messianic Islamist radicalism.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The paradox of American diversity

OPINION: When an unarmed person is killed by police, the police have the burden of proving it was justified

The killing of Michael Brown is not primarily a symbol, an example or a wake-up call. It is a specific human tragedy, on a specific street, involving a serious factual dispute. It is the reality that matters most: the deadly struggle over a gun or the murder of a man with his hands in the air.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Smacked by reality in the Middle East

OPINION: Experiment ends with foreign policy collapse

In the absence of stabilizing American leadership, the Middle East has become a regional Sunni-Shiite proxy war in which the most radical and ruthless thrive.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Turning our backs on atrocities

OPINION: The Syrian conflict will be remembered as a strategic watershed for American foreign policy

President Obama has consistently complained about American powerlessness in Syria, and, through risk aversion and delay, has ensured that powerlessness.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The dystopia next door

OPINION: The Giver will provoke political commentary

This is fairly serious stuff for a summertime movie. But it is precisely what causes “The Giver” to transcend the genre of teen literature it created.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Corrupting citizens for fun and profit

OPINION: What’s it like from a legislator’s perspective?

The growth of payday gambling and the legalization of marijuana have two things in common.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Poll sheds light on Obama administration

OPINION: Obama’s presidency has changed the nation in more ways than one

The headline — “Poll: Obama Worst President Since World War II” — was both provocative and misleading.

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MICHAEL GERSON: Learning the American language

OPINION: Thomas Jefferson inserted an abstract truth into a revolutionary document

America could have been declared independent from Britain without all men being declared equal. The various “injuries and usurpations” relating to the traditional rights of Englishmen would have been enough. But something more ambitious and universal got planted.

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MICHAEL GERSON: The power of authenticity

OPINION: There are many ways to succeed in American politics, but most of them involve authenticity.

The implicit front-runners in the 2016 presidential race — Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush — are sometimes lumped together as candidates of the past, essentially the incumbents in the race. But if authenticity can trump incumbency, there is currently some distance between the two establishment options.

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MICHAEL GERSON: An arrogrant, lawless IRS

OPINION: If there was any political motivation for this abuse of power, it is a form of corruption

In recent congressional testimony, Koskinen admitted that the emails were irretrievably gone; that the “backup tapes” had been erased; and that Lerner’s hard drive was apparently destroyed in an aggressive act of recycling. With that settled, Koskinen expressed his “hope that the investigations … can be concluded in the very near future.”

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