In reflecting on relations between the United States and China, Henry Kissinger in his 2011 book, "On China," notes that since he and Richard Nixon ventured to Beijing more than 40 years ago, "Eight American presidents and four generations of Chinese leaders have managed this delicate relationship in an astonishingly consistent manner, considering the difference in starting points."
Like it or not, the 2016 presidential race is now well under way. Republican candidates are flocking to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, while Hillary Clinton, in-between $200,000 speeches at universities, is reported to be in seclusion developing her economic policies.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by minutiae, but sometimes a twist of events turns out to be important, even 12 months away from the first caucuses and primaries. And of course, always keep in mind that most minutiae turn out to be trivial.
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Reckless disregard. It's a phrase in legal writing that means "gross negligence without concern for danger to others." And it's a phrase that characterizes much of the attitude toward law of an administration headed by a man sometimes described as a constitutional scholar.
Do Republicans have a realistic chance to win the next presidential election? Some analysts suggest the answer is no. They argue that there is a 240-electoral-vote "blue wall" of 18 states and D.C. that have gone Democratic in the last six presidential elections.
A Democratic nominee needs only 30 more electoral votes to win the presidency, they note accurately. A Republican nominee, they suggest, has little chance of breaking through the blue wall. He (or she) would have to win 270 of the 298 other electoral votes.
"We will extend a hand if you are unwilling to unclench your fist," President Obama proclaimed in his inaugural address in January 2009. He characterized those to whom this was addressed in negative terms, but the implication was that this president, unlike his predecessor, would be willing to negotiate with and make concessions to unfriendly nations.
John Judis, co-author of the book "The Emerging Democratic Majority," now says in an article in National Journal that that majority has disappeared. His title: "The Emerging Republican Advantage."
Can a single speech at an Iowa political event change the course of a presidential nomination race? Maybe.
It actually has happened. Barack Obama's November 2007 speech at a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Des Moines is generally credited with giving him a lift toward winning the caucuses there two months later and putting him on the path to the presidency.
Word comes that Barack Obama's budget will, not surprisingly, call for ending the sequester spending limits now in effect. That's not surprising. White House aides proposed the sequester, but Obama thought it wouldn't go into effect because Republicans couldn't accept its sharp limits on defense spending. But with voters recoiling against foreign military involvement, they could and did.
Some columnists write New Year's columns chronicling the mistakes over the last year. I don't, but as this January has rolled on, it's become clear I've made many about the 2016 presidential race.
Public policymakers and political pundits tend to focus on problems -- understandably, because if things are going right they aren't thought to need attention. Yet positive developments can teach us things as well, when, for reasons not necessarily clear, great masses of people start to behave more constructively.