Author Archives: Michael Winship

Famous last words: I was there when democracy fell

Time for the good guys to put an end to this.

During this just-behind-us holiday season, occasionally I cruised our zillions of television channels and watched some movies, and it occurred to me that once upon a time, and not too long ago, on almost every one of our TV shows and in our films, bullies and crooks were the enemy. Continue reading

The “Shining City on a Hill” is ready to ignite

All hands are needed on deck right now to save the republic. No joke.

I’m beginning to think that when it comes to saving the United States and our fragile democracy, perhaps the only answer is to hit the off button and reboot. Continue reading

No time for complacency—January 6 was a dress rehearsal

The Trump conspirators haven't given up on overthrowing the US government—and they may yet succeed.

Location, location, location. For good or evil, history often is made in the confines of a hotel room or suite: whether the first meeting of the post-revolution Soviet government at Moscow’s Hotel National in 1918, or the drafting in 1922 of Ireland’s constitution at the lovely Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. Continue reading

I hear America screeching

The constant din from the right and others destroys the peace. No good can come of this ill-spoken, irrational rage and violence.

In the weeks since the 20th anniversary of 9/11, sensory memories of that disastrous day—things I haven’t thought about in years—came flooding back. Continue reading

Behind every dark cloud of terrorism, there’s a silver lining for the wealthy

On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, the rich keep getting richer, always calculating how to squeeze more cash from calamity.

Among the many television specials marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11, one that stood out was last week’s two-hour edition of public television’s Frontline, “America After 9/11.” Continue reading

Afghanistan still the graveyard of empires

Some “opposed ideas” about a twenty-year war.

Sunday, October 7, 2001: Less than a month after 9/11, President George W. Bush announces to the world, “On my orders the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Continue reading

The untimely tragic death of labor’s best friend

The first time I met Rich Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO who suddenly died this past Thursday, was in early 2008. I had only been president of the Writers Guild of America, East, an AFL-CIO union, for a short time, and he was then the labor federation’s secretary-treasurer. Continue reading

Just do it, PBS: Carry the January 6 insurrection hearings in prime time

Throw away the regular nighttime schedule and let every American see the truth.

There’s an argument to be made that President Richard Nixon’s downfall in 1974 wasn’t only because his illegal behavior was called out by intrepid journalists and prosecuted by Congress and the Supreme Court. Another important factor was the role of public broadcasting. Continue reading

Republicans believe lying will make it so—and they may be right

But a party morally corrupted by Donald Trump and its own rotten behavior must not stand.

I had a friend who was a pathological liar. I do not use that term lightly; he really was. We met in college and then through an odd set of circumstances wound up working for the same television station in New York—in fact, our offices were right next door to each other. Continue reading

A bipolar nation in danger of destruction

We’ve reached the “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass” moment.

Not that you asked, but I’m fine, thanks, how are you? Elated, energized, depressed or indifferent? Lately, it feels as if the country is going through a lengthy bout of bipolar disorder. Each highlight of our glorious post-Trump, semi-post-pandemic lives is countered by moments so dismal it sometimes feels as if we may never come out of the hole of anger, despair, and bigotry he and his followers created. But we can. Continue reading

Senator Manchin, killing the filibuster won’t destroy democracy—but you might

A reminder that a late 19th century speaker of the House, a Republican, successfully quashed the filibuster—for the sake of the nation.

Back at the beginning of the year—and just two days before January 6—I was writing about the dire situation on Capitol Hill, and mentioned Profiles in Courage, the book John F. Kennedy and Theodore Sorensen wrote about brave US senators in our history who took unpopular stands in the face of loud opposition. Continue reading

GOP: We just may be the lunatics you’re looking for

These days, you don't have to be delusional to be in the Republican leadership, but it helps.

If you’ve chosen to read this, it’s a fair bet you’re been aware for quite some time that the Republican Party has gone completely insane—especially if you agree with that classic definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Continue reading

An ugly picture as state-level GOP attempt to strangle dissent nationwide

In 34 states, Republican lawmakers attempt destroying the right to protest.

As we passed the one-year mark of the pandemic lockdown, the media was flooded with assorted lookbacks, memorials for the dead and even quizzes designed to remind people of what the country and the world were like before the coronavirus descended. Continue reading

The loutish lemmings of the GOP

Flailing into oblivion, the frat boy politics of the Republican party simply may end in its unseemly collapse—or national disaster.

Joe Biden is thinking about the complexities of racial and social justice in America, vaccinating the population against COVID-19, combatting domestic terrorism, rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, bringing back jobs and climate change. Donald Trump is thinking about money and revenge—and maybe about why his pal Vladimir Putin has all the luck. Continue reading

The truth on trial at Trump’s second impeachment

Big stories reveal the good, the bad and the ugly of humankind—and that includes those who report and comment on the news.

While watching Saturday’s events in the U.S. Senate and the gamut of public reaction to them, I thought about the disconnect that takes place between the reality of events and the way they’re perceived from the outside looking in, especially by the media. Continue reading

Republicans don’t know much about history, but that won’t stop them

Years ago, when I was back in Washington for a couple of years, writing a series for public television, I lived for a while on Capitol Hill, a couple of blocks behind the Supreme Court. In the morning when I went to work, I would walk to a nearby Metro subway station, look at the Capitol dome and sometimes stare across the Potomac to Virginia. Continue reading

Walter Bernstein survived the Hollywood blacklist—and lived to be 101

The screenwriter was my friend and my hero, a brave opponent of right-wing repression during a dark period of our history.

When the brilliant songwriter George Gershwin passed away, the writer John O’Hara famously declared that Gershwin had died on July 11, 1937, “but I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.” Continue reading

When Trump’s out the door, Biden tackles the winter of our discontent

He and America’s “better angels” have their work cut out for them.

A few weeks ago, I was contemplating writing a piece for right about now suggesting that as a symbolic gesture and public service, one of Joe Biden’s first orders should be to tear down much of that ugly hurricane fencing around the White House and the surrounding neighborhood. After four years of corruption and skullduggery, as an emblem of a renewed openness and transparency, let the public see their new elected leader’s home and office without all the barriers. Continue reading

The Capitol invasion must be the end of the line for Trump

The inciter-in-chief has urged his suporters to destroy every vestige of democracy and truth. Only two weeks left but he's gotta go.

Resign, Donald Trump. There will now be a pause for gales of laughter. As if that will happen. Unless he bails a day or two before the inauguration so Pence can pardon him… Continue reading

Old Congress, new Congress: Profiles in sore losing

The open sedition of so many Republican members is a crime and a national disgrace. They're attempting a clumsy coup d’état.

Ever since it first was published in 1956, there has been a joke about John F. Kennedy’s book Profiles in Courage (largely ghosted by speechwriter and advisor Ted Sorensen), historical portraits of eight US senators who demonstrated bravery in the face of enormous political opposition. Continue reading

Donald John Trump’s “seditious abuse”

As we come to the end of four rotten years, the child king spends his final days throwing an extra ton of trauma-inducing tantrums.

And it came upon a midnight clear during this holiday season that after weeks and months alternating between negotiation and inertia, Congress finally reached agreement with the White House and passed a new $908 billion relief bill that provided a stimulus payment of $600 to each qualified citizen. Continue reading

The final days of Donald Trump, absentee president

During which a petulant manchild tries to wear us out with his refusal to face reality.

Pardon my silence these last few days, but the out-of-control firehose that is the Trump White House has upped the water pressure with increased insanity, mendacity and just plain idiotic behavior. It can overwhelm. Continue reading

Make the bad man stop: An end to the bullying Trump years can’t come soon enough

Two movie scenes sum up four years of ignorance and devastation.

During these last few weeks since the election, watching the further decline of President Donald Trump as he descends even more into madness, denial, destructiveness and self-proclaimed victimhood, two magical movie moments keep popping into my head. Continue reading

Shoving Donald Trump out the Oval Office door

Now is the time for all good Americans—and coyotes—to come to the aid of our country.

What if Donald Trump won’t leave the White House? It’s a question many of us have asked, but the Boston Globe’s Beth Teitell did something our soon-to-be-ex-president would never do—she went to some experts and got their practical advice. Continue reading

The petty revenge of a soon-to-be-ex-president

With their pitiful plots to overthrow election results, Trump and the GOP are the lowest.

In Mary L. Trump’s book about her family, “Too Much and Never Enough,” there’s a moment referred to in the index as the “mashed potatoes incident.” Continue reading

Hoorays for the Biden/Harris victory, but the battle’s far from over

Once the cheering stops, the hard work begins.

Late Saturday morning and they had just called it. I was sitting here writing with the TV muted and my back to the windows when I started hearing some yelling on the street. I didn’t know what it was, then looked up at the television and saw the news. Continue reading

Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does

This could be our last chance to send the American dictator packing.

November 3 is upon us. At the risk of overstating the obvious, if you haven’t already done so, and in the name of all that’s good and fair, please exercise your right to vote. It’s more crucial than ever. Truly. Continue reading

A day away from Nov. 3, another week of Trumpian havoc

But despite everything, Christmas may be a little bit early this year.

Hard to believe. Coming into the final stretch, remarkably it seems that—in some of their TV ads at least—the Trump campaign’s closing argument is: Oh c’mon, he’s not so bad. Continue reading

The final debate was a parade of presidential prevarication

Notes from the ghost town that only exists in Trump’s fevered imagination.

I live in a ghost town—at least Donald Trump seems to think so. It’s “a ghost town!” he exclaimed more than once at Thursday night’s second and last debate with Joe Biden. “Take a look at New York and what’s happened to my wonderful city. For so many years, I loved it. It was vibrant. It’s dying. Everyone’s leaving New York.” Continue reading

Scott Atlas is Trump’s Doctor Death

He’s a reminder of the infamous Russian who “probably killed more human beings than any individual scientist in history.”

After all this time, most of us realize that Donald Trump is a Russian asset. Not that he’s a secret mole necessarily or even The Manchurian Candidate, but Vladimir Putin plays him like a balalaika strumming “Song of the Volga Boatmen.” Continue reading

When Donald Trump’s mini-me met a rational grown up

At their debate, Kamala Harris shows Mike Pence what sanity looks like.

On that day in July 2016 when Donald Trump chose him as his vice-presidential running mate, Mike Pence must have felt like the luckiest man alive, or at least the luckiest Republican—whatever species that is these days. Continue reading

How to turn ten days into a lifetime

The whole Trump nightmare summed up in a week and a half.

To review the events of the last week and a half is to contemplate a nation that is seriously off its rocker. This will not come as news to you, but in a year that already has been extraordinary in the scope of its insanity, from the trivial to the deeply tragic, these past ten days have been breathtaking in the sheer audacity of their lunacy. Continue reading