Kathleen Parker

Washington, D.C.

 Kathleen Parker writes a twice-weekly column on politics and culture. In 2010, she received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for “her perceptive, often witty columns on an array of political and moral issues, gracefully sharing the experiences and values that lead her to unpredictable conclusions.” A Florida native, Parker started her column in 1987 when she was a staff writer for the Orlando Sentinel. She joined the Washington Post Writers Group in 2006. She is the author of “Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care” (2008). 
Honors & Awards:
  • Pulitzer Prize for commentary, 2010
  • H.L. Mencken Writing Award, 1993
Books by Kathleen Parker:  

Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care

Buy it from Amazon
Recent Articles

KATHLEEN PARKER COLUMN

(Advance for Sunday, July 14, 2019, and thereafter. Web release Saturday, July 13, 2019, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Parker clients only)

By KATHLEEN PARKER

WASHINGTON -- From Little Red Riding Hood's terrifying encounter with the Big Bad Wolf to Kevin Costner's balletic romance with some kindred, four-legged spirit in "Dances With Wolves," Americans have long had a love-hate relationship with the ancestral predecessor of our favorite family pet.

Some want to hunt and kill as many wolves as they can; others want to keep them defended, as they have been since the federal government included the gray wolf in the list of protected animals under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. In 2011, Congress voted to remove those protections for wolves in the upper Rockies, resulting in thousands of wolf kills through trapping or hunting.

Soon the same fate may befall the 5,000 or so remaining gray wolves in the lower 48 states, if a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services proposal to lift protections goes through. The public-comment period on the proposal ends July 15, though comments can still be made after that date and the agency is obligated to review them all.

I confess to being a resolute lover of anything with a heartbeat, excluding a few Homo sapiens here and there. I'm not, however, a Pollyanna about hunting. Though the allure of hunting has eluded me, many friends and family members are outdoorsmen and view hunting as a natural way to put food on the table.

Many hunters are also conservationists, whose dedication to hunting corresponds to a commensurate dedication to preserving wilderness and wetland areas. In many cases, their efforts have led to increased animal and fowl populations.

But the wolf is also highly effective at managing deer and elk populations, which upsets the hunters who prefer the same prey. Do hunters have a greater right to eat elk than wolves do? Perhaps the better question is: Are hunters more effective at balancing fragile ecosystems than are the animals who've evolved to do just that?

If you hunt without poison, traps or from the air with sniper rifles -- it is actually extremely difficult to kill a wolf. Randy Newberg, who hosts an online show on hunting, says that "wolves just might be America's most challenging big game." He described hiking through rough mountain terrain for five days with heavy packs, 8-12 miles per day, and seeing only the tails of a few running wolves. After his partner finally killed a single wolf, Newberg wrote of his great respect for this "beautiful" animal, as well as his hope that more hunters would start killing more wolves soon. For him, it was a childhood dream come true.

For many other Americans, seeing a beautiful, noble animal does not inspire the need to destroy it. This is especially true of elephants, lions, giraffes and other endangered species around the globe that trophy hunters slaughter for body parts. Between 2005 and 2014, 1.26 million "trophies" were imported into the U.S.

In a 2017 tweet, President Trump, whose sons are big-game hunters, referred to trophy hunting as a "horror show," suggesting that he would continue the Obama-era ban on trophies being brought into the U.S. Nonetheless, the ban has been lifted on some animals on a nation-by-nation basis.

An American president's words matter, and Trump, who recently touted his administration's commitment to conservation, could prove it by speaking up for wolves. There are other ways to manage wolves without killing them, though, admittedly they're more difficult. Thus, the essential question comes down to whether we want to ensure that wild areas remain wild, with limited exceptions -- perhaps granted to ranchers when their livestock is under consistent predation by wolves. Surely such accommodations would be preferable to rubber-stamping a massive wolf slaughter.

This isn't to romanticize the wolf or to diminish the concerns already expressed but to offer a balance to the pressures being exerted by powerful lobbies. Wolves have no voice and it is too soon to lift protections, which are the only reason we still have wolves at all. Once delisted, it wouldn't take long to eliminate the wolf altogether -- to the detriment of the environment as well as our collective heritage.

Wolves are neither good nor bad. They don't pretend to be grandma and they don't dance with disenchanted soldiers. They are much like our dogs, emotionally, and, like the best hunters, kill only for food. If Trump doesn't speak up soon, the howl we hear in the night won't belong to the predator but to the last lonely wolf crying out for all that an inhumane world has lost.

Kathleen Parker's email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

KATHLEEN PARKER COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, July 10, 2019, and thereafter. Web release Tuesday, July 9, 2019, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Parker clients only)

By KATHLEEN PARKER

WASHINGTON -- It helps to know people in high places, especially if you're a sex offender and your name is Jeffrey Epstein.

Some might say that Epstein, the multimillionaire financier, reached the summits of wealth and self-indulgence by his own volition. He is undeniably intelligent, a whiz kid at math and science in his early years who built his fortune in part by running a money management firm that catered to the mega-rich. He's also a philanthropist who specializes in collecting brilliant minds.

His ascent from the middle class in which he was raised to his place among the wealthiest of the wealthy has allowed him to surround himself with the highest and the mightiest, including two presidents, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Although Trump now denies a relationship with Epstein, in 2002 he told New York magazine a different tale:

"I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

Facing a federal indictment in 2007 for sex crimes that could have put him in prison for life, Epstein instead got off easy. His legal team, which included high-priced attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr, secured a sweetheart, non-prosecution deal for Epstein that allowed him to plead guilty to lesser state charges. Epstein's lawyers received no small amount of cooperation from Alexander Acosta, then U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida and now the U.S. secretary of labor. Thanks to these two sharp legal minds and one dull puppet, Epstein ultimately served just 13 months in county jail and was allowed to spend up to 12 hours a day on "work release," six days a week. He also had to pay restitution to some of the victims and register as a sex offender.

This was in spite of a 53-page federal indictment prepared by the FBI that identified 36 potential victims, some as young as middle-school aged.

There's little question that Acosta was out-lawyered, but perhaps he was also disarmed by the attentions of these celebrity attorneys. Dershowitz, then a Harvard law professor, had famously defended O.J. Simpson. Starr, of course, was the independent counsel who investigated the Clinton Whitewater case, leading into the Monica Lewinsky cliffhanger.

In a 2011 letter trying to defend himself after the cushy plea deal, Acosta wrote that he faced "a year-long assault on the prosecution and the prosecutors" by "an army of legal superstars." He also asserted that defense lawyers "investigated individual prosecutors and their families, looking for personal peccadilloes that may provide a basis for disqualification."

Go on, grab a hanky. Acosta also has said he feared the young accusers might not be their own best witnesses. Perhaps not. Then again, seeing girls interrogated and cross-examined by high-profile lawyers might have worked in their favor. Instead, the alleged victims were kept in the dark about the non-prosecution agreement and the records were sealed, in contravention of the federal Crime Victims' Rights Act.

Justice is sometimes slow, but she appears to be catching up with Epstein.

On Monday, a new 14-page federal indictment was unsealed in New York accusing Epstein of sex trafficking and abuse of underage girls at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005. The details are as disgusting as they are creepy. In short, Epstein allegedly had young girls brought to his homes to perform massages and sex acts in exchange for money. After girls had been brought in, they were sometimes enticed to recruit other girls -- and so it went on for years, according to the indictment.

No one has ever overestimated the power of money, and its power to corrupt is absolute. The hubris that passeth all understanding belongs to Epstein.

Pending further revelations, one thing is clear: Acosta should step down from his Cabinet position for dereliction of duty in his prior role -- and because he has the spine of a mollusk. In deciding not to fully prosecute Epstein in 2007 -- and then agreeing to bury the proceedings without advising the victims -- he violated the law, betrayed the victims' trust, and displayed rare cowardice before justice.

Finally, nobody likes a whiner.

Kathleen Parker's email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

KATHLEEN PARKER COLUMN

(Advance for Sunday, July 7, 2019, and thereafter. Web release Saturday, July 6, 2019, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Parker clients only)

By KATHLEEN PARKER

WASHINGTON -- The Democratic Party's stampede to the presidency seems to be veering of late toward a racially charged contest.

Between Joe Biden's admitted friendliness with segregationists four decades ago and California Sen. Kamala Harris' recent attack on his anti-busing stance from that same era, the pivotal issue at this juncture seems to be race.

Let's be clear: Re-litigating busing is a strategy, not an issue. Harris' campaign apparently saw Biden's distant history on race as a sure way to damage his candidacy as the only Democrat who can defeat President Trump.

All's fair. Their gamble paid early returns.

Biden's polling numbers dipped and Harris' shot up, catapulting her out of the single digits and into second place in several surveys.

When a strategy works, you don't change it, no matter how transparent it is. Thus, Harris seems committed to hammering Biden on race until he admits he was wrong. Both candidates had a chance to continue their fight from Iowa this past week. Speaking to reporters before a campaign event Thursday, Harris said, "It's very important for us to be very clear about history." And, "frankly, the vice president has yet to agree that his position on the kind of busing that took place when I was bused to school is wrong."

Biden reiterated in an interview Friday with CNN that his record as a champion for equality is clear. He also admitted being surprised by her attack during last month's debate. Hence, we may assume, his deer-in-headlights expression and the appearance of confusion, which had the dual effect of making him seem unprepared, vulnerable and out of touch in the generational sense.

At this stage of his career, Biden inarguably shouldn't be surprised by anything. But Harris was shooting from two directions, and she knocked him off balance. It was a smart move, if not fully honest.

A person's body of work should always take precedence over a long-ago decision based on the context of then, not now.

Meanwhile, if Biden isn't careful, he may kill himself trying to prove his vitality. As temperatures hovered in the 80s in Independence, Iowa, on July 4, the 76-year-old jogged for several blocks of a parade, zigzagging across the street trying to shake as many hands as possible. Other candidates who also had shown up for the event -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, 58, and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, 46 -- ambled along at a parade pace, perhaps in part because O'Rourke apparently had to leave his skateboard with airport security.

Despite Biden's energetic performance, hecklers in the crowd were gratuitously cruel and disrespectful. One yelled out, "Where's your walker?" Another approached and called him "Sleepy Joe," Trump's nickname for his principal foe. When Biden invited him to join him, the fellow declined.

Race popped up in other parts of the state, too. Pete Buttigieg was handed a viral opportunity at a July 4 barbecue in Carroll, Iowa, when someone in attendance, referencing the controversy over police violence in the Indiana town where Buttigieg is mayor, yelled out: "Just tell the black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs."

Cue cringe reflex.

"Sir," Buttigieg began, "I think that racism is not going to help us get out of this problem … The fact that a black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime is evidence of systemic racism, and with all due respect, sir, racism makes it harder for good police officers to do their job, too."

Harris made clear in her debate attack that she doesn't think Biden is a racist, but some of today's younger voters might be hard-pressed to think otherwise -- and she surely knows it. Being accused of racial insensitivity can be a political death knell, needless to say. And, no matter how sincere Harris may be about her feelings about busing, from which she benefited as a child, the card was played for a political purpose. Likely, soon, we'll see more candidates trying to establish their own racial justice bona fides.

Poor Biden, though holding first place, is still struggling to find his legs. As we register the importance of being on the right side of history, pray he doesn't feel compelled to arm wrestle the youngest, Buttigieg, to prove his presidential strength. Besides, when it comes to political stamina, passion is an adrenaline trigger -- meaning Harris probably could beat them both.

Kathleen Parker's email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

About
Kathleen Parker writes a twice-weekly column on politics and culture. In 2010, she received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for “her perceptive, often witty columns on an array of political and moral issues, gracefully sharing the experiences and values that lead her to unpredictable conclusions.” A Florida native, Parker started her column in 1987 when she was a staff writer for the Orlando Sentinel. She joined the Washington Post Writers Group in 2006. She is the author of “Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care” (2008).
Books
  • Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care
Awards
  • Pulitzer Prize for commentary, 2010
  • H.L. Mencken Writing Award, 1993
Reviews
"In a media genre that's all too often predictable, Kathleen Parker almost never fails to surprise – with her passion, her wit and her creativity. She's an independent thinker and her viewpoint is often so fresh and original, you can't help but be moved even when you disagree." – Sharon Grigsby, deputy editorial page editor, The Dallas Morning News

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