5 Best Friday Columns

On mall-fountain stumblers, the GOP's health care gambit, and a woman's right to choose

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  • Mary Elizabeth Williams on Falling Into a Fountain  The video of Cathy Cruz Marrero falling into a mall fountain as a result of walking while texting almost immediately went viral. But instead of embracing her 15 embarrassing minutes of infamy, Marrero has angrily gone on Good Morning America and announced she will be suing "all responsible parties" who did not come to her aid after the fall. Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams thinks that, while Marrero should just laugh off the video and get over it, those who are laughing at her should put themselves in her shoes, because anyone easily could have done the same thing. "If you have never once glanced at your mobile device while engaged in other activity whatsoever, congratulations. You're in a small, exceptionally rare population, like people who pay to see Nicolas Cage movies," writes Williams. "And while it's easy to point and laugh at Marrero--hey, falling down is a reliable laugh getter--it's worthwhile to ask whether the employees of a shopping mall should be spending their time deriding their patrons and disseminating their spills."

  • Joel Gora on Freedom From Campaign Finance Laws  In today's Wall Street Journal, Gora, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, commemorates the anniversary of two Supreme Court cases in which he challenged campaign finance laws: Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. FEC. Gora explains that both of these cases ultimately rested on the issue of whether the government can "restrict political speech in order to impose some kind of a fairness doctrine on public debate." It's up to the people, he says, to impose some kind of control over the quality of political campaigns--not the government. Gora emphasizes the principles upheld in both cases that "will guarantee the continued vitality of the First Amendment and of the free and democratic society it was designed to safeguard."

  • Eugene Robinson on the Republicans' Health Care Misstep  Robinson suspects the the Republicans' vote to repeal last year's health care plan is simply a ploy to weaken both the Democrats and the President. The Washington Post columnist is pretty sure the plan has backfired. "Wednesday's vote to repeal President Obama's health insurance reform law was supposed to be a crowning triumph ... The Democrats' biggest domestic accomplishment would be in ruins and Obama's political standing would be damaged, perhaps irreparably." This hasn't happened, Robinson writes: only three Democrats voted for the repeal, all of whom were already opponents of the package. And what about the will of the people? According to Robinson, an "AP poll found that just 26 percent of respondents wanted Congress to repeal the reform law completely," while a "recent Washington Post poll found support for outright repeal at 18 percent." No wonder, he adds, Obama's numbers are rising.

  • David Rothkopf on Obama's Midterm Report Card  Writing for Foreign Policy, Rothkopf dives into a midterm assessment of President Obama's performance. Although he gives the president credit for deftly handling domestic issues, Iraq, and Israel, and middling grades for how he's handled China, Russia, and the greater Middle East, Rothkopf finds the administration is being dragged down by a significant failing that is poised to remain a millstone for some time: Afghanistan-Pakistan. Not only is it the "area in which they have done the worst," Rothkopf writes, "it increasingly looks like pressure to get out will force the United States to accept a bad outcome in Afghanistan and the future for Pakistan is murky at best." Rothkopf's final assessment? "This is a hard-working, earnest, talented administration doing a pretty solid job in very challenging times. Overall Grade: B."

  • Michelle Goldberg on Protecting a Woman's Right to Choose  Conceding that the gory details of Kermit Gosnell's clinic--bloodstained floors and blankets, gross infection rates, and a flea-ridden cat--are low-hanging fruit for anti-abortion groups, journalist Michelle Goldberg writes in The Daily Beast that the real takeaway isn't that abortion clinics are filthy torture factories. Rather, she says, what we need to understand is that if abortion were to be illegal, the level of "care" provided at Gosnell's practice wouldn't be the exception, it would be the rule. "Gosnell's crimes only underline the need for all women to have access to affordable and genuinely safe providers," Goldberg writes. "His patients subjected themselves to terrible abuses because that's what women will do when they're desperate and they don't see other options ... It would be grotesque if Gosnell's crimes were used as a pretext to make it even harder for vulnerable women to get the care they need."

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