5 Best Wednesday Columns

Ruth Marcus on fixing the filibuster, Christopher Beam on tweets for the ages, and more

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  • Ruth Marcus on Fixing the Filibuster  In the latest addition to the filibuster debate, the Washington Post columnist lists four and a half steps to reform the Senate tool. "My approach on the filibuster is the same as Bill Clinton's on affirmative action: mend it, don't end it," she writes. Among the steps: banning the use of filibusters on executive appointees, ending the use of the filibuster on motions to proceed, and lowering the number of Senators required to overcome it. Marcus also urges patience, cautioning, "the only realistic fix is one that would take effect far enough into the future that senators won't be certain which side will end up benefiting."
  • Christopher Beam on Tweets for the Ages  Writing in Slate, Beam mounts a cogent defense of the Library of Congress's decision to archive public Twitter feeds. There's a lot of mundane information on Twitter, Beam admits, but such data will be immeasurably useful in helping historians construct a picture of what our era was actually like. From the shibboleths of adolescence to the way news stories shift and bend in real time, Twitter absorbs and retains it all; for sheer data capture, our society is now "one-upping the Greeks."
  • Kathleen Parker on the George Washington Library  The Washington Post columnist considers a different kind of historical archive: the not-yet-extant George Washington library at Mount Vernon, whose slow crawl toward existence has Parker thinking about Americans' relationship with their own history. "Students are brilliant, apparently, when it comes to popular culture," Parker notes, but they're much shakier when it comes to the Founding Fathers. Parker hopes the new library will help provide a correction: "We may not know much, but we seem to understand, as the Founders did, that a free society can function only insofar as its citizens are well educated."
  • David Ignatius on a Trap for Iran  Delving into the White House's strategy for sanctioning Iran, the Washington Post columnist examines the possibility of building "a sticky trap -- so that the harder the Iranians try to wriggle out of the sanctions, the more tightly they will be caught in the snare." While the administration expects U.N. sanctions to be watered-down, it hopes to use the sanctions "as a platform for additional measures" that will hammer Iran's industry. While Ignatius is hopeful the trap will work, he admits "even if it works with mousetrap precision, it's unlikely to stop the Iranian nuclear program," and alludes to the possibility of military measures.
  • Sebastian Junger Bids Farewell to Korengal  Following the U.S. military's pull-out from the Korgenal Valley in Afghanistan, Junger reflects on the history of the hotly contested regions. Dissecting the details of the American presence in Korengal, Junger asks: "If the Korengal was really worth fighting for, why would we ever pull out? Or, conversely, why did we go there in the first place?" Junger concludes that the dubious strategic importance Korengal is indicative of the warfare in Afghanistan--war "is a complex endeavor that has no predictable outcome"--but cautions readers not to dismiss the "emotional repercussions" of the pull-out.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.