5 Best Thursday Columns

Joshua Green on the cerebral president, the Israeli ambassador on the attack this week, and more

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  • Joshua Green on the Cerebral President  In a column for The Boston Globe, Green, the Atlantic editor adds up the ways in which President Obama's governing style is informed by expert opinion. "He values smarts, admires educational attainment, and sees decisions as intensely rational processes," Green writes. "The characteristic outlook of Obama specifically, and his administration generally, is a rigorous fealty to data and best practices." Yet this doesn't lead to an ideal outcome in every case--one need look no further than the Gulf of Mexico to see that. Green doesn't wish for a return to Bush-style government "by impulse and emotion," but he does hope to see Obama "put more stock in skepticism and common sense."
  • David Broder on Obama's Coming Jimmy Carter Moment  The Washington Post columnist revisits the well-worn analogy with a contemplative gaze. The Carter administration was thrown off by the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, muses Broder, while the Obama administration is held hostage by the ecological disaster in the Gulf. All is not lost--"yet." "This saga, painful as it is, has not yet become the simple demonstration of monumental futility and incompetence that the hostage crisis became for Carter," writes Broder. "But we have seen this movie before, and we know how it ends politically. Somebody else shows up and says he can fix this. Or end it. Or make it come out right." 
  • Miriam Krinsky, Ernie Pierce, and Jeanne Woodford on Juvenile Prison Reform  In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, the authors--a federal prosecutor, a retired cop, and a former warden of San Quentin State Prison--argue that "there are inherent differences between teenage and adult criminals," and the law in California needs to reflect that. "A teen who commits a crime, even a terrible one such as murder, is not forever defined by that one act," the authors write. "Indeed, in our work, we have witnessed dramatic transformations among young people in our correctional facilities and in our neighborhoods ... Our laws should recognize that they are capable of redemption and reform."
  • Michael B. Oren on an Assault, Cloaked in Peace  In a New York Times op-ed today, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, addresses the deadly confrontation between Israeli special forces and activists aboard the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, calling it an assault on Israel. He says, "the religious extremists embedded among those on board were paid and equipped to attack Israelis — both by their own hands as well as by aiding Hamas — and to destroy any hope of peace." He goes on to defend the Israeli commandos' actions by stating the "real purpose" of the Mavi Marmara: "to create a provocation that would put international pressure on Israel to drop the Gaza embargo, and thus allow the flow of seaborne military supplies to Hamas. Just as Hamas gunmen hide behind civilians in Gaza, so, too, do their sponsors cower behind shipments of seemingly innocent aid."
  • Nicholas Kristof on Saving Israel From Itself  Somewhat exasperated by the actions of Israeli commandos, the New York Times columnist wonders when Israel is going to stop "shooting itself in the foot." He says, "Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems locked in a self- defeating dynamic in which it feels misunderstood and gives up on international opinion. It lashes out with force in ways that undermine its own interests. It is on a path that could eventually be catastrophic." He goes on to note the consequences of Monday's altercation as both a win for the "Iranian regime" and as another occasion on which "Israel’s hard-line policies are depleting America’s international political capital as well as its own" but also notes that "Israel faces existential threats. That should make its leaders focused above all on two things: an Arab-Israeli treaty and pressure on Iran to drop its nuclear program." 
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.