5 Best Tuesday Columns

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  • The Chicago Tribune on Rahm's Right to Run  The Chicago Tribune editors think the judges who decided to remove Rahm Emanuel from the Chicago mayoral ballot acted with "startling arrogance and audaciously twisted reasoning." The judges, they argue, ignored precedent and turned the situation into "a mess"; they'd have done better to accept the elections board's determination that Emanuel's long-held Chicago residency was not compromised by his service as chief of staff in the White House. The editors ask: "Is this about law or politics?" The election is just four weeks away, and the ballots without Emanuel's name have already been ordered. If the decision is reversed, hundreds of thousands of dollars will be wasted on reprinting the ballots, causing the Tribune editors to conclude that "the Supreme Court must set this right, and fast."

  • Bret Stephens on Why Olbermann Was Good For The Media  Stephens, who once was included on Keith Olbermann's nightly list of the "worst people in the world," argues today in The Wall Street Journal that Olbermann and his impassioned, opinionated, and often over-the-top style were good for the country. The greatest challenge to discourse in the United States isn't "incivility," says Stephens, but the opposite: "Good Morning America-style niceness, USA Today-style consensus-seeking, all-round squeamishness when it comes to words like 'Islam,' the political masquerade of 'news analysis' from papers like the New York Times." Stephens asks readers to "compare the tedium of U.S. congressional debate with the rapier exchanges in Britain's House of Commons, the catcalling in Israel's Knesset, or the fist-fights in Taiwan's parliament ... It'll be a rare person who can match Mr. Olbermann for ego, pomposity, volume, self-righteousness, monomania and sheer obnoxiousness," Stephens writes. "Should MSNBC ever find that person (and Lawrence O'Donnell he ain't), I'll make a point of tuning in."

  • Ghada Karmi on the Palestinian Right to Return  Writing in The Guardian, Ghada Karmi, co-director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter, draws attention to the often-overlooked right of return for Palestinian refugees. "These are the people who fled or were expelled by Israeli forces in the wake of Israel's establishment in 1948," Karmi explains. According to international law, historical precedent, and the UN, these refugees have a legal right to return to the homes they were forced to leave--"yet no one has succeeded in the Palestinian case, one of the world's oldest refugee problems." Karmi fears that if a two-state solution is actually implemented in the region, refugees' rights will be completely obviated. "Palestinian negotiators may yet play their last card and give up the right of return," she warns. "[This] will only compound the gross injustice committed in 1948, and perpetuate the conflict for decades to come."

  • Rich Lowry on Democratic Deception  The National Review's editor urges readers to use a translator when listening to Tuesday's State of the Union address. Without it, he warns, listeners could be duped into thinking that when President Obama talks about "investing," and endorsing free-market principles, he's talking about something other than government spending. Lowry says the ploy has been an effective one, allowing Obama to appear "market-oriented and cutting-edge." However, Lowry notes, Obama is merely using the same tactic his Democratic predecessors have used to allow government to overextend its reach and take on the the role true private investors should have in our economy. Even worse, Lowry says, these "investments" have nothing worthwhile to show for themselves, other than mistakes that include "a hideously inefficient green-energy sector." Lowry calls for an end to the wordplay: "The federal government can invest at the margins, in basic research and the like... otherwise, its role is setting the predicate for the private investment that drives innovation and ultimately job growth."

  • Courtney Martin on the Weakness of Rhetoric  Writing in The American Prospect, Martin diagnoses a fatal flaw in America's political discourse--the desire to embrace sweeping statements rather than nuanced arguments and complicated facts. The reason, Martin says, is understandable. Rousing remarks, like John Boehner's comment about Iraq--"Will we fight or will we retreat? That is the question that is posed to us"--reduce complex issues to feelings, neatly avoiding the messiness of thinking critically about cause and effect. The result of this, says Martin, is a habit of public speakers to "overpromise... simplify and never apologize; make the opposition look like tin men--all brains, no heart," and vilify their critics rather than addressing them. Martin writes that it's to our detriment that we gravitate toward comforting statements rather than challenging truths. It's only the latter that can trigger true discourse and positive change for citizens.

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