5 Best Monday Columns

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  • Joe Posnanski on Spain's World Cup Win The Sports Illustrated writer will never be confused with a soccer guy, but he found Spain's low-scoring run through the World Cup oddly compelling. "To win the Spanish way -- by simply dazzling your opponents with brilliant passes and receptions -- well, let's just say it's soccer played at the highest degree of difficulty." In the end, the Spaniards played a more elegant game, certainly more than the rough-and-tumble, Day-Glo Dutch, who, in a single game, managed to undo 35 years of good will by turning into the soccer version of Pat Riley's Knicks. It was the only way Holland had a chance but the whole strategy had a vaguely cheapening effect. "This was Hack-a-Shaq brought to the beautiful game."
  • E.J. Dionne on the Dangers of an Unexcited Base The November midterms are three months away and the Democrats have to overcome an enthusiasm gap, Dionne writes in The Washington Post. Such a scenario would have seemed unthinkable (or, at the very least, highly unlikely) following President Obama's electrifying win in 2008. So, why not play to the base? It's not that easy, writes Dionne. "Arguments that might motivate partisans could further alienate the less-ideological independents." It's up to the White House to split the difference, a strategy on display in a recent campaign-style speech in which the President "went after the alliterative trio of 'Barton and Boehner and Blunt'." Expect a lot of that in the coming months, says Dionne.
  • The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page on the UN's Handling of North Korea  No fan of the United Nations under normal circumstances, the recent sinking of a South Korean ship (presumably by a North Korean torpedo) prompted the Wall Street Journal editorial page to criticize the UN Security Council for refusing to name North Korea as the aggressor in the incident in a statement condemning the attack. "Apparently the rogue underwater missile targeted and then launched itself against the South Korean vessel. I, Torpedo," the editorial cheerily suggests. One target who largely escapes criticism is U.S Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice. Rather, the organization Rice serves is singled out for ridicule. "A body that refuses even to speak obvious truths about a murderous act, much less do anything about it, deserves no such authority, much less respect."
  • Noam Scheiber on Why Scott Brown Is the Key to U.S. Politics The New Republic senior editor writes that Brown isn't the most sophisticated senator, but wields enormous power as the Republican's 41st vote. His moderate voice, "checkout-counter-mag cache" and youthful exuberance have only increased his recent standing among independents. Scheiber explains: "Perhaps most intriguingly of all, Brown has sometimes exploited anxiety about jobs as a reason to oppose ... jobs-related legislation. In doing so, he's picked up on a paradox that defines the political zeitgeist: Even though Americans are more concerned about jobs than anything else, they don't seem to appreciate the factors that help create them."
  • Robert Samuelson on the Great Recession's Stranglehold The Washington Post columnist highlights a recent Pew Research study documenting the "economic and spiritual" damage of the current downturn. Although the recession has been "jarring to almost everyone, it has been most disruptive and disillusioning to those who were previously the most protected" and "punctured the cocoons" of the upscale. He concludes: "Their reluctance to make major purchase commitments (a new car or home) validates their pessimism by retarding recovery."

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