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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

The Unimpressive Chelsea Bomber Proves America is Winning the War Against Extremism

I think about terrorism all the time. Not because I feel personally unsafe. But because I know who’s out there: Folks who want a civilizational war.

In the wake of this weekend’s bombings in New York and New Jersey, I also know this is a particularly opportune moment for their narrative.

Some of these agitators are white, radical right-wingers, who preach about an ethnically and religiously pure America. They want to Donald Trump to be America’s next president.

Some are Islamic extremists, who want the West destroyed. These radicals of a different sort also want Trump to win, albeit for different reasons.

Trump is already using this weekend’s attacks to promote his narrative. It’s the wrong one. Not only because it won’t keep us safe—but because the US is already getting safer. We need to build on this momentum, not halt it. In the midst of our response to this weekend’s attacks in New Jersey, New York, and Minnesota, let’s not forget a few simple facts. We are fighting a war against extremist groups, and in the most important aspect of that conflict—fighting ISIL—we are winning.

But we can...

No Third-Party Candidates in the First Debate

The presidential debate lineup is set. And Gary Johnson isn’t on it.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday that it has invited only Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to compete in the first general-election contest, on September 26. Though not entirely unexpected, the announcement is a significant blow to Libertarian Party nominee Johnson, the third-party candidate with the biggest chance to make an electoral impact this year. He’s spent months, if not years, publicly campaigning to get himself on the stage, arguing that debates are crucial to legitimizing his candidacy and to eliminating the two-party stranglehold on American politics. But with Friday’s announcement, Johnson is forced to sit out one of the most significant national events of the year. 

Though he’s not alone: Green Party nominee Jill Stein also did not qualify under the commission’s stringent criteria, which require candidates to average at least 15 percent support in select national polls. As the commission noted Friday, Johnson averaged 8.4 percent in those polls, with Stein averaging 3.2 percent. The libertarian always had more of a shot, though, in making the stage—he’d polled into the double digits in recent months, and...

An Unrepentant Trump Finally Acknowledges Obama as American

You’d think this wouldn’t be too hard a question: Was Barack Obama, the president of the United States, born in the United States? On the one hand, there’s a thick stack of documentation, from official records to newspaper announcements to eyewitnesses. On the other, there’s no evidence and a great deal of racism.

And yet Donald Trump couldn’t bring himself to admit it until Friday morning.

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” Trump said, which is untrue. “I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”

It was a notable moment—the chief proponent for years of the slander that Obama was not born in Hawaii admitting he was wrong—and yet one shot through with dishonesty. Clinton did not start the birther movement, and Trump, rather than seeking to end the controversy, worked at length to fan it. Even after Obama released his “long-form” birth certificate, meanwhile, Trump continued to spread birther innuendo. The statement is at once a welcome recognition and also...

Just Why Does Hillary Clinton Want to Be President?

GREENSBORO, N.C.—Hillary Clinton is back on her feet. Now, what does she stand for?

After a few days recuperating from what her doctor characterized as a mild bout of pneumonia, the Democratic presidential nominee was at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on Thursday afternoon, returning to the campaign trail and seeking to rebuild her dwindling lead over Republican Donald Trump. Against that backdrop, Clinton seemed to be looking to reset not just her health, but her the whole campaign. 

For her first rally back, Clinton took the stage not to the familiar strains of “Fight Song” but instead with James Brown’s “I Feel Good” blaring. She addressed her illness at the outset of her 25-minute speech, saying she had wanted to power through but eventually recognized the need to take a break—and found it refreshing.

“It turns out having a few days to myself was actually a gift. I talked with some old friends. I spent time with our very sweet dogs. I did some thinking,” he said. “The campaign trail doesn’t really encourage reflection. It’s important to sit with your thoughts every now and then, and that did help me reconnect...

There’s a Great Tradition of Fainting in Politics and Government

The stress, the public scrutiny, the crazy travel schedule, the spotlight, the heat. Even powerful world leaders let their humanity slip sometimes, and there’s perhaps no better demonstration than the fainting spell.

After spending an hour and a half at the September 11 commemoration ceremony at Ground Zero in Manhattan today, Hillary Clinton left abruptly, absconding to her daughter’s apartment. Clinton’s spokesman said she felt “overheated.” New York City has had a humid week, with temperatures hovering around 80°F (27° C), and observers noted that the 68-year old presidential candidate looked “wobbly” on her way out.

Hours later, Clinton told reporters she was “feeling great” and her campaign disclosed that the presidential candidate is being treated for pneumonia. The illness was also behind her recent coughing spell.

Fainting, also medically referred to as vasovagal syncope, occurs because of a decrease in blood flow to the brain. While skeptics have been quick to jump on Clinton’s lightheadedness as evidence of ailing health, in the annals of US political theater, she is hardly the only one to get the dizzies in public...

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