Success in politics -- and in political predictions -- depends on the ability to distinguish between old rules of thumb that don't apply any more and old rules of thumb that do.
Take the old rule that an officeholder's chances of re-election depend on what James Carville in 1992 took to calling "the economy, stupid."
There was a record-sized field of candidates containing as many women as men. Their surnames ranged from the long familiar to the novel and exotic; they had multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds, and at least one gay candidate was in the running. This sounds like the ever-expanding list of candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, but it's also a description of the field in last month's primary election for mayor of Chicago.
Has the Democratic Party reduced its chances of denying President Trump a second term by continuing to concentrate on throwing him out before the end of his first? You can make a good case that it has.
Watch out. Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley have locked their sights on the next targets of a frightening free speech-squelching purge: independent citizens who dare to raise questions online about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
There's an old political saying that presidential candidates appeal to their parties' wings -- left for Democrats, right for Republicans -- in the race for the nomination and then appeal to the center in the general election campaign. It was put in canonical form by Richard Nixon, one of only two Americans our major parties nominated for national office five times (the other was Franklin Roosevelt).
Compromise reached. Donald Trump is going to build -- his administration is said to be building already, with appropriated funds -- the wall, er, barrier. Congressional Democrats have reportedly inserted provisions that make it easier for purported asylum seekers arriving with children to disappear and augment the illegal population.
There's an old joke about an egotistical politician whose disgruntled speechwriter, just before quitting, prepares a draft that promises the moon, and specifics for how to pay for it, on the first two pages, and leaves the third page blank except for the words "You're on your own now."
"This year," President Trump stated in his widely viewed and positively rated State of the Union address, "America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America's mission and the power of American pride."
Turnout at Davos was lousy this year. President Trump, preoccupied by the government shutdown, was a no-show at last week's World Economic Forum there. So were British Prime Minister Theresa May (Brexit) and French President Emanuel Macron ("gilets jaunes"). Chinese President Xi Jinping, Davos' 2018 star, and Russian President Vladimir Putin weren't there either. Neither were some of the usual financial and media big names.
Is it true that Donald Trump's bad habits are contagious? Is it true that his Democratic opponents and, even more, his critics in the press are increasingly given to terminological inexactitudes, if not downright lies?