The Republican Party resembles the man who told his psychiatrist, "I have an identity problem, and so do I." The party's leader is at best indifferent to, and often is hostile to, much of the party's recent catechism: limited government, the rule of law, a restrained executive, fiscal probity, entitlement reforms, free trade, the general efficiency and equity of markets allocating wealth and opportunity, and -- this matters especially -- the importance of decorousness in political discourse.
As the presidential campaigns sink to the challenge of demonstrating that there is no such thing as rock bottom, remember this: When the Clintons decamped from Washington in January 2001, they took some White House furnishings that were public property. They also finished accepting more than $190,000 in gifts, including two coffee tables and two chairs, a $7,375 gratuity from Denise Rich, whose fugitive former husband had been pardoned in President Clinton's final hours.
In 49 states, when you order breakfast in a restaurant you might be asked if you would like pancakes or an omelet. In Wisconsin, you are asked if you would like pancakes with your omelet. Ron Johnson would, thank you. This Republican U.S. senator, who is burning prodigious amounts of calories campaigning for a second and final term, really does represent the hearty eaters who were fueling up at a Perkins restaurant here on a recent Sunday morning.
A specter is haunting academia, the specter of specters -- ghosts, goblins and "cultural appropriation" through insensitive Halloween costumes. Institutions of higher education are engaged in the low comedy of avoiding the agonies of Yale.
Another small step was taken last week on the steep and winding ascent back to constitutional norms. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the nation's second-most important court, did its judicial duty by reprimanding Congress for abandoning constitutional propriety.
"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose."
-- "Me and Bobby McGee"
Vladimir Putin's serial humiliations of America's bewildered secretary of state regarding Syria indicate Putin's determination to destabilize the world. Here is an even more ominous indication of events moving his way: On just one day last week, Italian ships plucked 6,055 migrants from the Mediterranean.
Looking on the bright side, perhaps this election can teach conservatives to look on the dark side. They need a talent for pessimism, recognizing the signs that whatever remains of American exceptionalism does not immunize this nation from decay, to which all regimes are susceptible.
Here on the High Plains, where the deer and the antelope once played, Denver's suburbs roam toward the Rockies' front range and the nature of today's polyglot politics is written in the local congressman's campaign schedule.
Technology has put powerful computers in billions of pockets, but an invention much more mundane than the smartphone -- the shipping container: a rectangular steel box -- also has changed the world. Because of it, two of today's preoccupations -- infrastructure and globalization -- are connected by a chain of events that began more than 60 years ago and today runs through Congress and to the wharves of Charleston's booming port.