5 Best Friday Columns

Ronald Brownstein on the sinking ship of state, Joan Wickersham on marital shibboleths and more

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  • Joan Wickersham on Marital Shibboleths  In an insightful (and adorable) column for The Boston Globe, Wickersham gives thanks for the inside jokes and private allusions that serve as communicative shorthand for married couples. "There's a clichéd idea that what makes people stay in love is things like candlelight and flowers and sexy glances across crowded rooms. All that is lovely, and it helps. But so does our nerdy private language," Wickersham writes. "The private language is part of what bonds you together, and often in fact the language refers back to moments when the bond got closer."
  • Peggy Noonan on McChrystal Forcing Us to Focus "The real news there this week was not Gen. McChrystal's epic faux pas and dismissal but that 12 soldiers were killed on June 7-8, including five Americans by a roadside bomb," says the Wall Street Journal columnist in an op-ed today. McChrystal's firing instead, she says, could be the much-needed slap in the face that Americans need in order to start paying attention to this war. With the hiring of general Petraeus in his place, she says, "he cares about doing what he can to make America safer in the world. That means being frank about a war that can be prosecuted only if the American people support it. They have focused. They're ready to hear."
  • Ronald Brownstein on the Sinking Ship of State The National Journal columnist assesses the problems of both parties as they go into midterm elections in his column today. Tying Democrats to the negative side of big government and Republicans to the negative side of big business, he says "It is as if each party, bound to either government or business, is tied to the mast of a sinking ship." He then goes on to discuss the effect of each party on the way in which Obama is being portrayed. "The dissonance between the Left's and Right's portrayals captures a defining duality in Obama. Ideologically, he is drawn toward an aggressive role for Washington. But, temperamentally, he is a deal-maker who likes to forge agreements with broad coalitions that include business interests."
  • David Brooks on the Cult of Exposure The New York Times columnist, irked by the recent events surrounding McChrystal's departure, equates government (and Washington) culture to a high school lunch room. "The system is basically set up to maximize kvetching. Government is filled with superconfident, highly competitive people who are grouped into small bands," jokes Brooks. "These bands usually have one queen bee at the center -- a president, senator, cabinet secretary or general -- and a squad of advisers all around. These bands are perpetually jostling, elbowing and shoving each other to get control over policy." McChrystal's occupational demise was based on his lack of understanding of the rules of government: watch your mouth! "McChrystal, like everyone else, kvetched. And having apparently missed the last 50 years of cultural history, he did so on the record, in front of a reporter."
  • E. Thomas Johnson on Haiti's Continued Woes  In a column for the Los Angeles Times, Johnson, humanitarian relief coordinator for the Danish NGO DanChurchAid, notes with regret that everything that could have gone wrong with Haiti's post-earthquake reconstruction effort has gone wrong. "International standards defining what people are entitled to after a disaster are in no way being met," writes Johnson. Camps are congested, rubble cleanup has barely gotten underway, the Haitian government is slowing the process unnecessarily, and the country's few affluent families are exploiting the situation for their own profit. With increased pressure from Europe and the U.S., some of these conditions can be corrected, but at the moment "the view from the rain-soaked tents in Port-au-Prince is bleak."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.