5 Best Friday Columns

Krugman on curbed enthusiasm, Kennedy on brain disorders, and more

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  • Paul Krugman on Obama's Tentative Centrism While the current President rode into office on a "wave of progressive enthusiasm," the New York Times columnist writes he has since been far "more centrist and conventional than his fervent supporters imagined." This isn't necessarily a good thing, argues The New York Times opinion columnist, and Obama's choices can't always be blamed on Republican obstructionism. He concludes: "The point is that Mr. Obama’s attempts to avoid confrontation have been counterproductive. His opponents remain filled with a passionate intensity, while his supporters, having received no respect, lack all conviction. And in a midterm election...[that] could spell catastrophe."
  • Peggy Noonan on the Competent Chris Christie In what has recently become a trend among conservative pundits, the Wall Street Journal columnist gives a ringing endorsement for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie saying that, "He's going to break through in a big way." While the Democrats are campaigning against the GOP's "populist spirit" (the Tea Party) in the lead up to the November midterms, their biggest worry should be worried about Christie's courageous and, more importantly, competent style of governance. She enthuses, "But Mr. Christie's way is also closer than most national Republicans have come—or Democrats will come—to satisfying the public desire that someone step forward, define the problem, apply common sense, devise a way through, do what's needed."
  • David Brooks on the Long Slow Decade The New York Times columnist fears the impact of the recession will be felt for years to come. "What we have is not just a cycle but a condition," writes Brooks. "We could look back on the period between 1980 and 2006 as the long boom and the period between 2007 and 2014 or so as the nasty crawl." So, how to the spur economic growth? Brooks sees good plans on both sides of the aisle. For Democrats, it's what Brooks calls the "Moon Shot Approach"--an economy buoyed by a strong infrastructure and tax breaks for key sectors. Republicans see hope in the "Unleash America" school of thinking--it's defined by "a free-market and entrepreneurial vision of their country." Both approaches, Brooks says, are better than the inevitable "nativist and antiglobalist visions that will be arising" in coming years.
  • Patrick Kennedy on a Brain Disorders Battle Writing in the Boston Globe, the Rhode Island congressman says the recent 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act should inspire politicians to demand the same protections for those with brain disorders. "Approximately 100 million Americans have some form of traumatic brain injury," writes Kennedy. "Millions more suffer from Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy." Yet only 5 percent of the NIH budget is spent researching neuroscience. Kennedy argues America must respond to the rise in brain disorders with "the same kind of urgency...as we did with AIDS."
  • Steven Pearlstein on the New Division of Labor "The only surprise is that anyone is surprised by the lack of private-sector hiring," concludes the Washington Post columnist. "It is only in the world of Chamber of Commerce propaganda that businesses exist to create jobs." Writing in response to the recent news that corporate profits have soared while little new job opportunities have been created, Pearlstein isn't optimistic that most employers will soon be adding full-time employees. "There are lots of theories why this is happening," he writes. "With consumers cutting back on debt-financed spending, cutting expenses has been the most obvious way for businesses to increase their profits." In effect, the profits are addition by subtraction.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.