5 Best Weekend Columns

Elena Kagan's sexuality, Brits beating Americans at speed, and the importance of a liberal education

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  • Maureen Dowd on the 'No, She's Not Gay' Line  In a classic Dowd piece, the New York Times columnist parodies the administrative position on Elena Kagan's sexuality by writing in the style of Joe Biden in a memo to Obama supporters. "She's a girl's girl," she writes of Kagan. "Just try dragging her out of La Perla!" Signing off with a particularly snarky one liner--"Trust me--the only secret Elena has is Victoria's"--Dowd spends her column inches throwing a spotlight on some of the nastier and more absurd elements of the debate:
Elena is anything but a history-making, barrier-breaking, proud, strong, happy gay woman. She’s a garden-variety, sad, scary, single, childless career woman who can’t get a man because she's too smart, works too much and refuses to settle.
  • Peter Berkowitz on the Importance of a Liberal Education  The Hoover Institution senior fellow argues in The Wall Street Journal that "liberal education supposes that while individual rights are shared equally by all, the responsible exercise of those rights is an achievement that depends on cultivating the mind." Thus, "reading, writing and arithmetic are the basics that free societies rightly hold parents responsible for ensuring that their children master." He thinks the "reinvigoration of the humanities" is crucial for "international competitiveness" and individual dignity:
How can one think independently about what kind of life to live without acquiring familiarity with the ideas about happiness and misery, exaltation and despair, nobility and baseness that study of literature, philosophy and religion bring to life? How can one pass reasoned judgment on public policy if one is ignorant of the principles of constitutional government, the operation of the market, the impact of society on perception and belief and, not least, the competing opinions about justice to which democracy in America is heir?
  • Christopher Edley Jr. on 'Why Elites Do Belong on the Supreme Court'  Continuing the high-minded, academic theme this Sunday, the U.C. Berkeley law school dean contends that the elitism of law schools is of a benign, highly desirable type--they are"elite in terms of excellence, while more democratic in terms of access." He also talks a bit about the American problems with elitism in general: "The tension between elitism and populism is embedded in our national DNA because America rejected the model of a monarch ruling by divine right in favor of an iffy experiment in democratic self-governance." That leads to the big question when we choose our leaders: "Do you want someone like you or someone better than you?"
  • Al Kamen on Quicker Administrative Transitions  "Why are we so slow compared with our stodgy cousins across the pond?" Kamen wonders in The Washington Post, marveling over the speedy transfer of power to the new prime minister. He suggests perhaps having presidents appoint more folks "from the ranks of the career civil service" to speed up transitions and maintain overall competence in the administrative branch.
  • Mark Steyn on Reluctance to Talk about Radical Islam  Steyn is livid over reluctance to discuss the relevance of religion in the Fort Hood and Times Square events. "Listening to Attorney General Holder," writes Steyn, "one is tempted to modify Trotsky: You may not be interested in Islam, but Islam is interested in you." He's flummoxed over the ground the left seems forever to be conceding to radicalism: "A few years back, I thought even fainthearted Western liberals might draw the line at 'FGM. [female genital mutilation] After all, it’s a key pillar of institutional misogyny in Islam."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.