5 Best Friday Columns

Charles Krauthammer on terror and Islamism, Peggy Noonan on a cold man's warm words, and more

This article is from the archive of our partner .
  • Charles Krauthammer on Terror and Islamism The Washington Post columnist chastises Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama for underplaying the strains of Islamic radicalism underpinning the spate of terror attacks in the past year. The fact that the Obama administration has banned the words " jihadist, Islamist and Islamic terrorism" from its national security lexicon is wrong, he argues. "The first rule of war is to know your enemy. If you don't, you wander into intellectual cul-de-sacs and ignore the real causes that might allow you to prevent recurrences," scoffs Krauthammer. "Indeed, Islamist fundamentalism is not only a risk factor. It is the risk factor, the common denominator linking all the great terror attacks of this century." 
  • Steven Pearlstein on a Poisonous Economic Recovery "To fix the economy in the long run, we have to weaken it in the short run -- yet weakening it in the short run makes it just that much harder to fix it in the long run," writes Pearlstein, pondering the political narrative running through economic recovery. "Any way you look at it, the economics are terrible, and the politics are even worse." Pearlstein's major concern is that the liberal Democratic narrative of federal- and state-level stimulus packages are great short-term strategies, but disastrous in the long term. His solution? "The policy goal should be focused less on short-term stimulus than on closing the states' structural budget deficits."
  • Peggy Noonan on a Cold Man's Warm Words "America was being born...and Thomas Jefferson...was suffering the death of a thousand cuts," begins the Wall Street Journal columnist's op-ed today. Recounting the history of the Declaration of Independence, Noonan focuses on the lines that didn't make it into the final draft, noting specifically one in which Jefferson addressed the British people whom he had criticized for allowing their government's injustice in America. He wrote, "We might have been a free and great people together." Pausing to meditate on this notion, Noonan says, "America and Britain did become great and free peoples together, and apart, bound by a special relationship our political leaders don't often speak of and should never let fade. You can't have enough old friends."
  • Ronald Brownstein on California's New Energy Divide  After passing an ambitious law to massively cut carbon emissions in 2006 in California, last week a group of small business owners and conservative groups funded by big oil money qualified an initiative "to suspend the law until state unemployment drops below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters -- a standard that California has met only three times in the past three decades," reports the National Journal columnist. He continues to lay out the basis for the war about to take place over the initiative in November, saying, "In most policy debates, the past speaks louder than the future. Existing institutions hurt by change invariably wield more clout than emerging institutions that benefit from it...California's climate-change law still faces a tough struggle in November -- but it has a fighting chance largely because of the trailblazing steps the state has already taken to construct a new energy future."
  • David Brooks on the Special Abilities of Christopher Hitchens  Learning that the divisive essayist and political commentator Christopher Hitchens has esophageal cancer, Brooks takes a moment to pay tribute and wish him a speedy recovery. Whatever else one thinks of him, Brooks argues,  Hitchens brings a particularly "literary perspective" to American debate--"he's more likely to quote Auden than an analyst from the Council on Foreign Relations." Perhaps because of this literary lens, his political views and interests don't run entirely along predictable, traditional lines, but his criteria are simple: "he judged everybody by whether they passed this test of moral courage." His idiosyncrasy goes beyond this, too: "Unlike many Americans, he seems to completely trust his desire for pleasure, and has been open about his delight in sex, drink, friendship and wordplay." Brooks concludes: "No one will agree with, or even comprehend, all of [Hitchens's] aversions," writes the New York Times columnist, "but his affections are easy to admire, especially his strong and growing affection for America."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.