5 Best Monday Columns

Paul Krugman on lessons from Georgia, Ross Douthat on picking the better Pope, and more

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  • Paul Krugman on Georgia and Future Financial Crises  After weeks of focusing his comparative energies on economic systems abroad, Krugman turns his critical gaze to the Peach State with the hopes of gleaning some insight into the next financial crisis. Krugman points out that Georgia, which should have weathered the housing bubble like other "Flatland" states that avoided huge housing price jumps, is suffering "severe post-bubble trauma." Krugman concludes that the "moral of this story" is caution against "silver-bullet views" of reform--"the idea that cracking down on just one thing — in particular, breaking up big banks — will solve our problems," he explains. "The case of Georgia shows that bad behavior by many small banks can do as much damage as misbehavior by a few financial giants."
  • Fareed Zakaria on Making It Work With Karzai  At Newsweek, the foreign-policy analyst urges the Obama administration to recognize that though Afghan president Hamid Karzai may be "a vain, mercurial, hypersensitive man" who "presides over a system that is massively corrupt," he is still "the best partner" America has in the region, and relations with him need to become more cordial immediately. "Undermining Karzai won't help," Zakaria writes. "Roll out the red carpet for him."
  • Ross Douthat on Papal Legacies  The New York Times columnist offers a counterintuitive argument for why Pope Benedict XVI, though "bookish and defensive," can boast a record of honorable service to the church that the more widely loved John Paul II lacked. Benedict, né Ratzinger, turned away contributions from priests where John Paul accepted them; he kept abuse investigations alive where they'd otherwise have fallen dormant. "Has Benedict done enough to clean house and show contrition? Alas, no," Douthat writes. "But as unlikely as it seems today, Benedict may yet deserve to be remembered as the better pope."
  • Michael Barone on SCOTUS and Health Care Reform  In an unusually cool-headed column at National Review, Barone contends that the hot-button issue for the upcoming Supreme Court nominee has shifted from Roe v Wade to health care reform. Citing past decisions he claims "raise constitutional questions" about the bill, Barone sees political upside in "pressing harder" on the issue, even if the new justice would not overturn the health care bill: "Such questions may not persuade an Obama nominee to rule that Obamacare is unconstitutional. But they can raise politically damaging issues in a high-visibility forum at a time when Democrats would like to move beyond health care and talk about jobs and financial regulation."
  • Roy Harris on the Pulitzers and Journalism's Future  The expert on journalism's highest honor speculates in The Washington Post that this year's awards will "give journalists some sense of the way forward, and give readers an idea of what sort of journalism they should expect to see more of." Chronicling the Pulitzers' history of shaping the course of journalism and noting the rise of "nontraditional" media, Harris sees the awards as vital to shaping industry sentiment on new journalism. "The news business needs confirmation that important models of whatever is to become this century's "new journalism"-including models that involve online-based reporting and investigative collaborations-are legitimate, Pulitzer-quality approaches," he concludes.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.