Coming home from Asia, Barack Obama is obviously going through another rough patch in his presidency. But this time, it could be more dangerous: He is perilously close to becoming a lame duck 33 months before he leaves office. That is bad for him, bad for the country and bad for the world.
Driven by a hard-line faction of conservatives, Washington has done something terribly stupid: shutting down the national government. Most of America is aghast. But it is also just possible that doing something stupid will help us avoid doing something truly dangerous.
Before the story sinks beneath the waves, a few more words are in order about the recent selection process for a new chief for the Federal Reserve: It stinks.
Even though he sailed to the White House on the wings of his soaring rhetoric, President Barack Obama could find that he is on mission impossible as he launches his media blitz on Syria this week -- six television interviews on Monday and a dramatic prime time address on Tuesday. Perhaps he will persuade a skeptical public, but it is surely the toughest speaking assignment of his presidency.
President Barack Obama's surprise decision to seek congressional approval for a strike in Syria was a gamble that will likely succeed and over time may be judged deft. But the way he got there has also raised troubling questions about his leadership in foreign affairs.
CNN's new documentary, "Our Nixon," tugs open the curtain for a moment on one of the most complex, haunted presidents in modern times.
Here in Boston, people will grieve for many days. How could anyone be so evil as to plant a bomb that would murder an 8-year-old child, rip the legs off parents and devastate a celebration of athletics that is pure joy. These were murders that wrench the soul.
In travels this week -- to Boston, Chicago, New York -- friends and strangers alike have said the same thing: They are turned off and tuned out of the sequestration mess in Washington. To a person, they are sick of the antics of those to whom they have entrusted enormous power.
Neither the State of the Union address by President Barack Obama nor the response by Sen. Marco Rubio will ever find a place in the anthology of best American speeches, but together they were important entries in the political dialogue. Before they fade into memory, perhaps a few words are in order about the highs and lows of the evening -- at least from this vantage point:
President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night is likely to be the most important domestic speech that he gives during the rest of his presidency -- but not for the reasons commonly cited.
Years from now, historians are likely to look back upon Barack Obama's second inaugural address as a rich treasure trove for understanding his presidency and possibly the course of American politics.
What in the world is gripping Washington? Everywhere one turns -- from finances to guns to nominations -- there is madness in the air.
As the nation continues to grieve for the six adults and 20 children taken too soon in the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting, a hero from another generation has slipped peacefully into the pages of history.
Yet again we are struggling to bear the unbearable. How can we find meaning in the massacre of so many innocent children, savagely cut down in a hail of bullets?
Forgive me, but haven't we seen this movie before in the aftermath of national elections? Usually, it doesn't end well.
The final presidential debate will range over world hotspots -- from Iran and Syria to Afghanistan and Iraq -- but if you listen closely, you will also hear an entirely different conversation: signals to voters back home trying to shape their choice in a slam-bang election.
With July Fourth upon us, many are pausing to ask why America is special -- and how we see that reflected in our politics.
With the Supreme Court's thunderbolt, a crucial battle is over on health care, but the war surely goes on. Or does it?
Seventy-five years ago, Franklin Roosevelt launched a crusade against the Supreme Court, angry that it was overturning important New Deal initiatives.
Space Shuttle Discovery started out as a way to discover what lies beyond us. Its last flight, taken earlier this week, helped to discover what now lies within us.
Across the country, fans of the New England Patriots are wondering whether Tom Brady will return to top form this Sunday, whether Gronk's ankle will hold up, and whether cornerback Julian Edelman can shut down the Giants' dangerous receivers. But here in Beantown, folks ask still another question: Will the Pats go out and win this one for Myra?
If our politics weren't so fluid and volatile, one would think, now that the votes are tallied in New Hampshire, that the race for the Republican nomination is virtually over. But for better and worse, we are living in a new era.
Even though House Republicans are now wisely folding their tents, their disarray this week over extending a payroll tax cut has left a sour taste at year's end in Washington, contributing in no small part to an even bigger political story: the resurrection of President Obama and his fellow Democrats heading toward the 2012 elections.
Not long ago, many pundits agreed that the Republican nomination was Mitt Romney's to lose. Now, with one recent poll showing Gingrich up a whopping 21% over Romney among likely GOP voters nationwide (and wide leads in early states like Iowa, South Carolina and Florida), it appears the former Massachusetts governor could actually lose this thing in the next few weeks. So many are asking: What's gone wrong in Boston? And what if anything might he do?
In the cold light of morning, Mitt Romney still looks like the man to beat for the Republican presidential nomination, but the buzz Tuesday night in the debate hall and since has mostly centered on Newt Gingrich.
Have they gone nuts in Washington?
This past Sunday's "60 Minutes" and the latest issue of Newsweek bring back to the fore the complicated issue of money and politics. Both highlight a new book by Peter Schweizer, "Throw Them All Out," which rails against what Schweizer calls "honest graft."
Amidst the welter of election results from voting yesterday, two conclusions seem pretty clear:
Herman Cain may very well bounce back and remain a popular contender for the GOP presidential nomination, but the normal rules of politics would say that he has about 48 hours to get his campaign under control.
With Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's dramatic demise this Thursday morning, the world is rid of a tyrant, and a free Libya has jumped a mile forward to stability (though, as CNN's Ben Wedeman reports, there are still many more miles to go).
Mitt Romney walked into Tuesday night's Republican debate as the front-runner and, in my view, walked out in an even stronger position. But in retrospect, he and party leaders might wish they could have invoked the Las Vegas rule: What happens there stays there.
Pressure is mounting on Republicans to address spreading public protests against Wall Street. How they answer could shape the political landscape from here to the November elections.
Even as events here in the United States are reshaping the political landscape for the 2012 presidential elections, it has become blazingly clear that what is happening in Europe may actually prove more decisive.
When trouble strikes in our personal lives and we are searching for a source, it usually makes sense to take a look in a familiar place -- the mirror. And so it should be in our troubled politics today.
President Obama was smart to change the date of his speech to a joint session of Congress and to do so quickly, but whether he is adopting a smart strategy for creating jobs is a much bigger, tougher question.
When you have flown through a heavy storm, the plane tossing one way and another, have you ever wondered whether there was really anyone in the cockpit? That's the feeling that many Americans have today -- as if we are lurching through an economic storm with no one in charge.
Before returning to the States this weekend, I and others in my family spent enthralled hours at the Churchill War Rooms in London, along with the new museum in his honor next door. Now, there was a leader! There was a man whose example shouts out to us now in our hour of trouble.
Tucked away here at a family reunion among rolling hills, one can easily drift into another, more pleasant world, but the old realities keep intruding. Time and again, English relatives have gingerly but worriedly asked, "What is to become of America after this debt struggle?"
With America now perilously close to default, here's where I sense we stand. My observations may be off as I have only had a brief time in Washington to take measure, but let me give it my best shot.
If Bill Safire were still with us and writing a column about the debt follies in Washington, he might well begin by asking readers: Which of the following outcomes is most likely in the days ahead?
With tempers near a boiling point and the risk growing that the United States could default on its debt obligations, it is time for a truce in the budget talks in Washington -- essentially a cease-fire in place.
With a debt-ceiling crisis building in Washington, the administration on Tuesday opened another window into President Obama's thinking about the best ways to bring resolution.
It's hard to remember a simmering crisis when America's political leaders have painted themselves into so many corners, but that's where we are as we face a potential default on our national debt. As leaders return to bargaining Monday afternoon, they had better find their way out soon, or we will pay a fearful price.
The stakes are growing ever higher on deficit negotiations in Washington. And as they do, the politics are becoming ever more treacherous, especially for Democrats.
"When they won't see the light," goes the old saying, "make 'em feel the heat." That was the strategy President Obama employed today in his press conference as he skewered Republicans over deficit negotiations. But where will it lead?
There was something deeply unsettling about President Obama's speech on Afghanistan and much of the commentary that surrounded it -- or at least there was to me, as someone who clings to some old-fashioned traditions about U.S. foreign policy.
While America retains many underlying strengths, economists increasingly worry that unless we change course, the United States could be heading toward an economic train wreck. For months, the focus has been on the country slipping into a debt crisis. In the past few weeks, concerns have risen sharply about economic growth as well. Two top economists, Larry Summers and Carmen Reinhart, have asked aloud whether we could be stumbling into a "lost decade," a catastrophe that swept Japan in the 1990s.
The first big Republican debate ended with two clear winners in the race for the nomination: Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. And there was one other candidate who helped himself: Newt Gingrich.
Who should decide the fate of Anthony Weiner? His constituents in Queens and Brooklyn? Or the leadership of the Democratic Party?
Four months after he began ruthlessly repressing dissent in Libya, Moammar Gadhafi appears to have entered his final days. Dead or alive, he seems very much on the verge of giving up power -- perhaps as early as this weekend, perhaps a little longer.
When a young GOP Congressman stripped off his shirt, took his picture and e-mailed it to a woman, he did more than end his career -- he set off a political ripple that probably ends prospects for resolving the nation's growing debt crisis before next year's elections.
In the president's speech on Thursday, there were two surprises that could shape its impact for a long time to come.
Since President Obama's dramatic announcement that America had successfully found and dispatched Osama bin Laden, we have been awash in questions and second-guessing about the mission. Were the SEALs wrong to shoot him? Why didn't the White House get the story right in its first telling? Why can't we see the photos? Were Americans wrong to celebrate?
It is far too soon to judge the long-term significance of America's successful operation to kill Osama Bin Laden. Will al Qaeda begin to crumble now that its charismatic leader is dead, or will we endure new terrorist attacks, perhaps on U.S. soil?
In his budget speech yesterday, President Obama showed once again that he is a more masterful politician but less courageous leader than we might have imagined. What that will mean for the country's economic future remains deeply uncertain.
Tuesday morning, thanks to CNN.com, I had a chance to write a column asking what you thought about President Barack Obama's speech Monday night on Libya and the future use of military force. Thousands of you responded, showing that many Americans long for a robust debate.
Now that the "commentariat" has had its say about President Barack Obama's speech Monday night on Libya, chewing over every phrase, the decisive American verdict about his address rests not in television studios but in homes across the country.
After conversations with top players in Washington last week, mostly as I accompanied a group of Zuckerman Fellows from Harvard on a field trip, here are some brief reflections on the mood there toward events in the Middle East:
President Obama promises to focus his State of the Union tonight on one of the most important domestic questions we have faced in years. Whether he will succeed in moving the nation forward will depend not only on his own leadership but on the willingness of others -- the left, the right and the media -- to put the country first.
My friends at CNN have asked for a few reflections about the president's speech Wednesday night in Tucson.
Until we have more definitive information about the shooter, pointing fingers at who might bear responsibility for the Tucson, Arizona, massacre only contributes to what we must end in America: a toxic political environment.
In our national politics, where power and fame are the most powerful narcotics, it takes a rare person to walk away from it all. But Pete Rouse has just done that in the White House and he deserves a hearty salute.
Voters who flocked to the Republican banner seven weeks ago are probably scratching their heads, wondering, "Who really won in November?" After handing the president and Congressional Democrats the worst drubbing in more than half a century, they can only watch in disbelief as President Barack Obama has reeled off a series of unexpected victories.
Opening The New York Times on Friday morning, I blinked. The headline on its lead story, spread over two columns, blared out, "Obama's Economic View Is Rejected on World Stage."
"Does he get it?" That is a question about President Obama that I have heard repeatedly in recent travels from people across the country.
Just when we are exhausted from hard times, we have to brace ourselves for more of them around the corner.