5 Best Friday Columns

On this generation's best director, the GOP's class divide, and "the austerity caucus"

This article is from the archive of our partner .
  • Ronald Brownstein on the GOP's Coming Class Divide  Parsing the latest polls, The National Journal senior editor explains how the  2012 Republican presidential primary could fracture "along the same lines of class and education that defined the '08 Democratic contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton." One of the most revealing results of the Gallup survey was the "sharp" educational divide between supporters of Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, the two presumptive Republican front-runners. Historically such divisions are more likely to occur on the Democratic side, but that has changed since Republicans have become increasingly reliant on the white working-class. He concludes that, "if they do square off, they would appeal to very different constituencies in an increasingly upstairs-downstairs Republican electoral coalition."
  • Paul Krugman on Sanctions Against China  The New York Times columnist defends Rep. Sander Levin's recently approved bill that would allow U.S. officials to impose tariffs on Chinese products made artificially cheap by China's currency policy. While there has been opposition by some who believe in more "quiet" diplomacy, Krugman argues that talks with China have,"gone nowhere, and will continue going nowhere unless backed by the threat of retaliation." Beijing manipulates the exchange rate, shows little desire to change, and "seems to go out of its way to flaunt its contempt for U.S. negotiators." In the face of this opposition, U.S. policy makers have been passive: "The Levin bill probably won't change that passivity. But it will, at least, start to build a fire under policy makers, bringing us closer to the day when, at long last, they are ready to act."

  • Mona Charen on Marriage as a Solution to Income Inequality  In an age of economic uncertainty, the falling marriage rate is curious and downright impractical, argues the syndicated columnist. Tying the knot is just good business sense. "Married men earn between 10 percent and 40 percent more than their single counterparts with similar educational and job histories," notes Charen. For couples with children, "Marriage knits the couple into a kinship network in which interest-free loans, babysitting, elder care, and other forms of assistance in hard times are more readily available." Charen believes those "who move in together imagining that a wedding is too expensive are paying a far higher price than they recognize."

  • David Brooks on the GOP's 'Austerity Caucus'  The New York Times columnist visits with California gubernatorial candidate and former eBay executive Meg Whitman, whom he sees as an important part of the GOP's emerging "austerity caucus." Other members include Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush. "These are people who can happily spend hours in the budget weeds looking for efficiencies," notes Brooks. They are "not big picture, like Reagan. Not an idea volcano, like Gingrich. Not a straightforward man of faith, like George W. Bush. The quintessential New Republican is detail-oriented, managerial, tough-minded, effective but a little dry." He also notes that, in Whitman's case in particular, it extends into her personal life: "If I had as much money as Meg Whitman, I'd probably have a more exuberant house." As it is, her "New England-style colonial" exudes "WASP parsimony and understatement."

  • Ross Douthat on the Genius of David Fincher  On his blog, the New York Times columnist poses the question: is The Social Network director the best filmmaker of his generation? Douthat thinks the answer might be yes. His 1995 serial killer thriller Se7en ("What's in the box? What's in the box?!") was "exploitative and gruesome, yes, but in the service of an apocalyptic vision that comes as close as any recent movie to channeling the vision of Hieronymus Bosch," while 1999's Fight Club was "that rarest of rare things--an interesting, non-didactic movie about big political ideas, in which the titular boxing clubs open a window into anarchism and fascism, Susan Faludi and Francis Fukuyama, the Battle in Seattle and the 9/11 attacks." Fincher, Douthat concludes, "captured the modern West’s turn-of-the-millennium mood--the mix of affluence and violence, ambition and decadence, technological prowess and apocalyptic dread--as completely and consistently as any other filmmaker of his era."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.