5 Best Wednesday Columns

Maureen Dowd on Hamid Karzai, Steven Pearlstein's deficit-reduction plan, and more

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  • Maureen Dowd on the Evil of Lesser Evilism "Everybody here lives," begins the New York Times columnist, "but with the arrival of Hamid Karzai, the mendacity blossomed into absurdity." Dowd lambastes the Obama administration for its ham-handed coddling of the Afghan leader, whose overtones of corruption make Karzai's week long visit to Washington especially difficult to stomach. "On Tuesday evening, Karzai was honored at a starry State Department reception along with his ministers," scoffs Dowd. "He didn’t bring his brother, the C.I.A. pal and drug lord, or other especially sleazy government officials."
  • Nile Gardiner on David Cameron's Challenge  The director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation (and most likely a Conservative in the British sense), Gardiner offers the nascent UK prime minister a road map for success in coalition government. "If he is to bring Britain’s finances under control, Cameron will have to implement the kind of Thatcher-style reforms anathema to the Lib-Dems," he charges in a guest column for the National Review. Noting the "gulf" between Cameron and incoming deputy prime minister Nick Clegg on a host of foreign and domestic issues, Gardiner urges Cameron to stay the Conservative course.
The omens certainly don’t look good on the coalition front, and Cameron will need all his skills as the youngest prime minister in 200 years to steer his new government and his country through some very rough waters. In doing so, he should stick to core conservative principles and avoid making concessions to the Left. He must also look to Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill as his role models, great figures in British history who rescued their nation at times of great peril.
  • Jeff Jacoby on the Semantics of Marriage  The Boston Globe columnist examines the brief legal history of the Defense of Marriage Act before perforating its two major objections: that "DOMA unfairly relegates married same-sex partners to second-class status" and that DOMA negates "'the longstanding deference of federal to state law in determining the marital status’' of individuals claiming federal benefits." To Jacoby, "neither objection holds water." "DOMA simply does what countless federal laws do: It defines basic legislative terms," writes Jacoby. "Is the longstanding national definition unconstitutional merely because some people reject it? The federal courts have never said so before; there is no reason for them to say so now"
  • Steven Pearlstein's Deficit-Reduction Plan  Pointing out the U.S. still lacks "a framework for tackling the budget challenge in a way that is economically coherent and politically viable," the Washington Post columnist unveils a comprehensive blueprint to bring down the deficit by reforming tax policy and reining in spending. "The spending restraints can be achieved simply by limiting spending growth," he posits, proposing a significant rollback in spending increases on health care and discretionary programs, including defense. On the tax side, Pearlstein suggests a six percent VAT and slight modifications in the tax code. "These tax changes would simplify the tax code, improve international competitiveness, make revenues less volatile through the business cycle and modestly reverse income inequality," he writes.
  • Olivia Judson on Neanderthals and Humans  The New York Times online columnist marvels at the implications of "the Neanderthal genome," which allows us to further connect the dots between ourselves and our origins. "The results stoke the imagination, for they provide more evidence for something that has long been suspected: Neanderthals are not just a quirky sideshow in human evolution, but an intimate part of our own story," she declares. Exploring the prospect of cross-breeding between early humans and Neanderthals, she muses: "They are still our close relatives — kissing cousins, if you will—and when closely related beings meet, they often take a shine to each other."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.