5 Best Thursday Columns

George Will on Chris Christie, Thomas Hibbs on the politics of Avatar, and more

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  • E. J. Dionne on the Democrats' Attack Strategy  As financial reform gains nationwide popularity, the Washington Post columnist argues Republicans want nothing to do with an extended fight that puts them on the side of Wall Street. "Suddenly, it's Democrats -- and, in particular, the often conflict-averse Obama -- who are relishing a fight," he notes. For their part, the Democrats feel they've found a can't-lose issue ahead of the midterm elections.
"Democrats clearly see financial reform as a winner either way. With Republican cooperation, they have a bill. With Republican obstruction, they have an election issue. For once, Democrats are negotiating from strength."
  • George Will Gushes Over Chris Christie  The Washington Post columnist takes a break from discussing the major issues of the day and effusively praises the governor of New Jersey for his tough stance on unions and commitment to reducing the state's budget deficit. "Christie is using his power to remind New Jersey that wealth goes where it is welcome and stays where it is well-treated," he applauds. After delving deep into the numbers of New Jersey's financial crisis, Will attempts to tie his column to the broader theme of fiscal responsibility. "In the state that has the nation's fourth-highest percentage (66) of public employees who are unionized, [Christie] has joined the struggle that will dominate the nation's domestic policymaking in this decade -- to break the ruinous collaboration between elected officials and unionized state and local workers whose affections the officials purchase with taxpayers' money."
  • The Wall Street Journal on Obama's Personalized Rhetoric  The Journal's editors take Obama to task for his tic of framing issues of national import in personal, even psychological terms. "Mr. Obama has a tendency to vilify his opponents... and assail their arguments as dishonest, illegitimate or motived by bad faith," the op-ed reads. The editors go on to list numerous examples of this habit, noting that they seem "especially discordant coming from a President who still insists, in between these assaults, that he is striving mightily to change the negative tone of American politics."
  • Joe Klein on the Kandahar Problem  Recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan, Klein frets in Time that for all the efforts of the U.S. military to establish a stable civil society there, locals will ultimately see the Taliban as more trustworthy than Hamid Karzai's corruption-riddled administration. "Given the fact that the Afghan government is practically nonexistent in Senjaray, where will the teachers come from?" Klein wonders. "U.S. forces will triple in Zhari during the next few months, but that won't make much of a difference if the Afghan security and governmental presence remains as pathetic as it now is."
  • Thomas Hibbs on Avatar's Philosophical Confusion  At National Review, Hibbs attempts to parse the didactic messages of James Cameron's Avatar, which is being released on DVD today to coincide with Earth Day. The film sets up a fairly stark choice between nature and technology, and positions itself against the forces of industry and development, but Hibbs points out the film wouldn't be so seductive or convincing if not for the technology that makes computer animation possible. "As captivating as it is, Avatar is unlikely to be of much help in solving or even understanding the most important questions we face," Hibbs concludes. "In the end, it only helps to illustrate the Left’s imperfect faith in organic liberalism."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.