5 Best Tuesday Columns

Seth Stevenson on eschewing air travel, Richard Cohen on Obama's dance with Netanyahu, and more

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  • Jesse Singal on the Tea Party's Generation Gap  Reporting from a local Tea Party rally, the Boston Globe columnist weighs the implications of the movement's skew toward the aged. Part of the reason, thinks Singal, is that the "socialism" bogeyman doesn't translate to young people who "grew up in a post-Soviet world. When they hear 'socialism,' they think Scandinavia, not Russia." Singal concludes that "conservatives can continue beating the dead horse of socialism. But if they want to finally build a youthful infrastructure," they should start employing a vocabulary that resonates with the under-30 crowd.
  • Seth Stevenson on the Joys of Low-Altitude Travel  In a guest column at The New York Times, Stevenson, a frequent contributor to Slate, laments the decline of "the romance we trade away each time we shuffle aboard an airplane." Stevenson and his girlfriend recently decided to travel the world without setting foot on a plane, and their experiences on ships and trains resulted in "warm, vivid memories that will stay with us forever." By contrast, "the best flights are in fact the ones you forget immediately after hitting the tarmac." Stevenson hopes that during Europe's brief period of ash-related flightlessness, residents of the Continent got to rediscover some of the pleasures of the slow, contemplative journey.
  • Jonah Goldberg on George W. Bush and the Tea Parties  Reflecting on a recent trip to a Cincinnati rally, Goldberg scoffs at the "lazy sophistry" of liberal tea party detractors. However, Goldberg can't get around the "relative right-wing quiescence on Bush's watch and the fiscal Puritanism on Obama's." Goldberg concludes that in the immediate aftermath of the 2000 Florida recount and 9/11, conservatives were too busy supporting President Bush to quibble over "ideological purity," despite Bush's decidedly different brand of conservatism. How does this relate to the current partisan rancor? "Conservatives don't want to be fooled again."
  • Roger Lowenstein on Gambling with the Economy  In a column for The New York Times, Lowenstein emphasizes how far "Wall Street has strayed from its intended mission." Noting Wall Street's purpose is ostensibly "to raise money for industry," Lowenstein charges the trades that have landed Goldman Sachs in hot water with the SEC "raised nothing for nobody. In essence, they were simply a side bet — like those in a casino — that allowed speculators to increase society’s mortgage wager without financing a single house." Lowenstein urges Congress to limit Wall Street's ability to use derivatives and credit default swaps to limit their own risk at the economy's expense.
  • Richard Cohen on Obama and Jerusalem  Amidst a flurry of online chatter from the Jewish corner of the blogosphere, the Washington Post columnist analyzes the idiosyncratic nature of U.S.-Israeli relations. After allaying concerns over a diplomatic schism ("Israelis and others say that when it comes to military aid and intelligence operations, the two countries have never been closer"), Cohen cuts right to the core of the chill: the awkward diplomacy of Netanyahu and Obama. "One explanation is that Obama has found Netanyahu as slippery and untrustworthy as Bill Clinton once did," notes Cohen. "But it takes two to tango, and in this case, Obama does not dance like a star. He gives every appearance of not 'getting' Israel; not appreciating its fears or its history."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.