If you’re a conservative strongly opposed to abortion, shouldn’t you want to give all the help you can to women who want to bring their children into the world? In particular, wouldn’t you hope they’d get the proper medical attention during and after their pregnancy?

It was the last thing the Rev. Tim Ahrens expected to do during a chat in his book-lined office at the historic First Congregational Church here: He expressed admiration for Gov. John Kasich.

Those of us who support gun regulations share with most gun owners a devotion to a rather old-fashioned world. We believe that the possession of firearms comes with responsibilities and that we need to take seriously our obligations to protect one another.

Could this Labor Day mark the comeback of movements for workers' rights and a turn toward innovation and a new militancy on behalf of wage-earners?

"We are not a debating society. We are a political operation that needs to win."

Thus did Chris Christie offer one of the most pregnant statements yet in the ongoing Republican argument over the party's future.

Whenever I write sympathetically about religion, I get bombarded by tweets and notes from readers who normally agree with me but cannot abide the idea that religious belief should be seen as intellectually serious.

Attorney General Eric Holder has opened what will be an epic battle over whether our country will remain committed to equal rights at the ballot box.

"In the jewelry store, they lock the case when I walk in," the young African American man wrote. "In the shoe store, they help the white man who walks in after me. In the shopping mall they follow me. … Black male: Guilty until proven innocent."

American politics has gone through a gender revolution that has barely been noticed.

Pope Francis is proving himself to be a genuinely holy man, a brilliant politician and a leader who knows that reform requires a keen understanding of how creating a better future demands sophisticated invocations of the past.

Let's praise a struggling conservative reform movement seeking to disentangle the right's cause from extremism and to make its ideas more compelling to a younger and broader swath of Americans.

We prefer to think of the Supreme Court as an institution apart from politics and above its struggles. In the wake of this week's decision gutting the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, its actions must now be viewed through the prism of the conservative movement's five-decade-long quest for power.

The roof fell in on John Boehner's House of Representatives last week. The Republican leadership's humiliating defeat on a deeply flawed and inhumane farm bill was as clear a lesson as we'll get about the real causes of dysfunction in the nation's capital.

The hardest thing in an argument is to acknowledge competing truths. We know that our government will continue with large-scale surveillance programs to prevent future terrorist attacks. We also know that such programs have operated up to now with too little public scrutiny and insufficient concern over their long-term implications for our rights and our privacy.

In politics, we often skip past the simple questions. This is why inquiries about the fundamentals can sometimes catch everyone short.

You wanted Father Andrew Greeley as your friend and not your enemy. You got the sense he was born with his fists up and his loyalties fully formed.

You wonder if President Barack Obama sometimes finds himself singing a variant on Kermit the Frog's anthem about the burdens of being green: It's not easy being Barack Obama.

We know American politics are dysfunctional. But after a week of scandal obsession during which the nation's capital and the media virtually ignored the problems most voters care about – jobs, incomes, growth, opportunity, education – it's worth asking if there is something especially flawed about our democracy.

Public officials are very selective about when violence and death matter.

President Barack Obama got roughed up by the pundit class last week. The question is what lessons he draws from the going-over.

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