5 Best Thursday Columns

On Republican rage, Ginni Thomas's apology, and better doctors

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  • Guy Sorman on France's Perpetual Revolution  The recent riots in France over a proposed increase to the retirement age (from 60 to 62) represent the latest installment the country's "long tradition of taking to the streets as an irrational answer to economic reforms," writes the City Journal contributing editor in The Wall Street Journal. Why all the outrage when "the rationale behind this reform--an aging population--can be understood by all the French"? Sorman blames the "leftist unions" for whom raising the retirement age represents "a first breach in the welfare state." But Sormon points out that, characteristically French as this whole affair may be, the country's "economy has become much more market-oriented than it was 20 or 30 years ago. The best and the brightest now want to become entrepreneurs, not top bureaucrats," and globalization is having its effect: "This confrontation between Mr. Sarkozy and the unions doesn't mean much compared to those historical trends."

  • Peter Orszag on Malpractice Methodology  More than six months after Congress passed health care legislation, more needs to be regarding malpractice reform, writes the former White House budget director in his New York Times column. Too often, Orszag observes, doctors order a battery of unnecessary, expensive tests on a patient, just because they want to be protected in the event of a malpractice lawsuit. The solution? Provide safe harbor in malpractice law for doctors who follow evidence-based guidelines, to kill two birds with one stone: "Right now, health care is more evidence-free than you might think. And even where evidence-based clinical guidelines exist, research suggests that doctors follow them only about half the time." Orszag thinks "opponents" of the health care act are "off base," but "critics" who think it didn't do enough to curb malpractice-based costs are "entirely on target."

  • Ruth Marcus on Ginni Thomas and Apologies  "As a wife," The Washington Post columnist can "understand" where Ginni Thomas was coming from when she made a call to Anita Hill to request an apology for her testimony against Clarence Thomas 19 years ago. "As a reporter," however, Marcus believes that perhaps Thomas should be the one apologizing, as the "overwhelming weigh of the evidence in on Hill's side." She also questions the timing of Thomas's errant phone call. "Was it a coincidence that she made the call on the morning the New York Times ran a front-page story headlined, 'Activism by Thomas' Wife Could Raise Judicial Issues'?" She wonders, too, why Hill would be so willing to give the tape to campus police: "Why play it for reporters and give interviews about it? A voice mail on an office phone isn't exactly intrusive, and there was no harassing follow-up."
  • The Los Angeles Times on Tea Partiers and the 17th Amendment  Even though a common theme in the Tea Party movement is that ordinary citizens should "participate more in the business of government," there is a strain of Tea Partier that would like a return to the election of U.S. senators by state legislatures, observes The Los Angeles Times editorial board. In order to do this the 17th Amendment of the Constitution would need to be repealed. The reason for such a bold move would be to bolster states' rights at a time when the federal government's powers are perceived to be overreaching. But "restor[ing] autonomy to the states" would probably require repealing other interlocking amendments such as the 14th amendment, which "overrode state prerogatives." Furthermore, if you really want to roll back federal power in elections, argues the board, you might want to take a look at the 15th Amendement "barr[ing] racial discrimination in voting," the 19th giving women the vote, and the 26th bringing the voting age down to 18. The board concludes that a repeal of these amendments is an undesirable option: "The Constitution is worthy of veneration, but many of its most admirable features didn't originate in the era of the three-cornered hats sported by some tea party activists. That includes the rights of the voters to choose--and remove--their senators."
  • Gail Collins on Rage and Republicans  The GOP electorate is becoming so rage-filled this campaign season that they've turned over the party reins to wrongheaded candidates who have only stoked the fire. The New York Times columnists notes the cases of Christine O'Donnell, Rand Paul, Carl Paladino and Joe Miller. "Really, people," she writes, "rage never gets you anything but overturned garbage cans and broken windows. If you want to do rage, go to France." Collins also found New York gubernatorial debate star Jimmy McMillan of "The Rent is Too Damn High" party to be an odd symbol. McMillan, a raging little-known candidate, was found to have a rent of "zero"--his landlords liked him, he said. "Which doesn't mean he can't be ticked off about it," Collins quips.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.