Five Best Thursday Columns
Walter Russell Mead on the Wisconsin recall, Alec MacGillis on union power, Sohrab Ahmari on Ray Bradbury, John Nagl on modern warfare and Michael Kinsley on banning soda.
Walter Russell Mead in The American Interest on the humiliation of the Wisconsin recall. Not mincing his words, the conservative writer describes how much the labor movement invested in its failed attempt at recalling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. "The tribes of the left danced and rallied in the streets of Madison. They knocked on doors. They staffed phone banks. They passed fliers. They organized on social media. They picketed. They sang. They brought in the celebrities and the stars; they marched seven times around the city blowing the trumpets and beating the drums. They hurled invective; they booed; they cheered. And they failed."
Alec MacGillis in The New Republic on blowing Wisconsin out of proportion. Walker's win was certainly a setback for unions but it's far too early to herald the death of union power nationwide. He notes that just last November Ohio voters rejected an anti-union bill similar to Wisconsin's by 23 points. "Anyone tolling the bell for public unions has to reckon with what happened in Ohio—a victory which ... is reverberating to this day, and helping to explain why Obama remains a couple points up in a state that should be very tough territory for him this year."
Sohrab Ahmari in The Wall Street Journal on Ray Bradbury's hatred of political correctness. In a unique take on the recently-deceased sci-fi author's legacy, Ahmari says Bradbury's opposition to thought control extended to liberalism's multiculturalist impulses. "Bradbury was equally troubled by subtler censorship regimes, including the pressure to self-censor, taking hold in the free world." Ahmari highlights a coda added to the 1979 edition of Fahrenheit 451 in which the author rages. "For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conservationist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics," he wrote. "The tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule."
John Nagl in The New York Times on unsatisfying wars. The op-ed contributor says it's time to get used to the idea that modern wars aren't going to have a V-Day like resolution. "Mr. Obama should welcome an Iraq-like end to Afghanistan: as contradictory as it may seem, messy and unsatisfying are the hallmarks of success in modern counterinsurgency wars," he writes. "Unsatisfying wars are the stock in trade of counterinsurgency; rarely, if ever, will they end with a surrender ceremony and look like a conventional victory. And yet this is the sort of war we have fought, almost exclusively, for over 50 years."
Michael Kinsley in Bloomberg View on Mayor Bloomberg's wishy washy soda ban. The Bloomberg View columnist offers a hot-and-cold assessment of his boss's ban on large sugary beverages. "With so many loopholes, a law like this is no real threat to our liberty to guzzle flavored sugar water. Nevertheless, it sends a powerful message of social disapproval. So that's good. On the other hand, it's not a very persuasive argument to defend a restriction of liberty on the grounds that it won't really work. So that's bad."