Five Best Monday Columns
Jeffrey Kluger on John Glenn, Bill Keller on WikiLeaks, Drew Western on attack ads, The Washington Post on transparency, W. James Antle on Pat Buchanan.
Jeffrey Kluger in Time on the 50-year anniversary of John Glenn's historic Mercury flight Five decades ago this month, Glenn ushered in a new era of space exploration with his orbital flight. "The Mercury astronauts never much cared for the term space capsule," Kluger writes. "There was a passivity about it, and test pilots aren't passive people. A bathysphere is a capsule; a sarcophagus is a capsule. A spacecraft is a vehicle, thank you very much, and it ought to be described that way."
Bill Keller in The New York Times on the anomaly of WikiLeaks Keller, who collaborated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, says the secret-spilling website's ascendance has not ushered in a new era of transparency and information-sharing. "The idea that this was the opening of a floodgate has proved exactly wrong," he writes. "In the immediate aftermath of the breach, several news organizations (including this one) considered creating secure online drop-boxes for would-be leakers, imagining that new digital Deep Throats would arise. But it now seems clear that the WikiLeaks breach was one of a kind — and that even lesser leaks are harder than ever to come by."
Drew Western in The Los Angeles Times on the glory of attack ads The Emory University professor of psychology explains the paradox of voters both rejecting and embracing negative advertising. "Our conscious reactions reflect our conscious values. In the case of campaigns, for most people, those values include a belief that people should run on their merits and stop tearing each other down," Western writes. "But unconsciously, our brains are highly reactive to threat — especially when, as in the case of an ad, the threat isn't immediately countered or refuted. A well-crafted positive ad can 'stick' too, but there's nothing like a sinister portrayal of a greedy, self-centered villain, replete with grainy images and menacing music, to stir up our unconscious minds."
The Washington Post on ending secret money in politics The paper's editorial board endorses a new piece of legislation by Rep. Chris Van Hollen that chips away at the secret cash and anonymity infiltrating our political system. "Corporations, unions, other outside groups, and super PACs would have to report, to the Federal Election Commission, within 24 hours of making a $10,000 campaign expenditure or financial transfer to other groups, which can then be used for campaign-related activity. In addition, top donors would have to be disclosed in television and radio ads, and leaders of corporations, unions and other outside groups would have to make 'stand by their ads' declarations."