Five Best Sunday Columns

On going easy on Palin, military tribunals, and a conservative in favor of ObamaCare

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Meghan Daum on Taking it Easy on Sarah Palin While the prospect of Sarah Palin running for president becomes smaller with each passing day, Daum goes over why she and other members of the--as Palin has dubbed them, "lamestream media"--can't criticize her as freely as they might want to. As much criticism as Palin has faced since gaining national attention in 2008, Daum writes that she has also been spared the worst of it because some writers are fearful of being labeled bullies, especially after the reaction to Katie Couric's now infamous sit-down with McCain's running mate. The reason for this:

It's impossible not to feel like we're punching shamefully below our weight, which everyone knows is against the rules. Palin lacks the intellectual, analytical and rhetorical skills to have a competent discussion about policy or much else. She is handicapped not only by a lack of education, experience and curiosity about the world (wearing a Star of David in Israel doesn't count), but by a speaking style that often collapses under the weight of disjointed, undiagrammable sentences. She is, in terms of the political arena, easily outclassed.

In explaining why she cannot take off the gloves with Palin, Daum ends up leveling her harshest attack on the former governor: it's just not a fair fight.

The New York Times Editorial Board on the Guantanamo Trials It is important to bring those responsible for 9/11 to justice, but their trails must be fair and credible to the rest of the world, writes the New York Times Editorial Board. Unfortunately, because of politics, those trials will not be in a federal court like they should be, but instead at Guantanamo prison. The board writes:

It was a shocking example of politicians dictating a prosecutorial decision. The result: huge gaps of competency and credibility. Federal courts have a long record of successfully handling complex terrorism cases. These most important of 9/11 trials will take place in a system of questioned legitimacy, operating under untested rules, with no experience in concluding major terrorism trials.

Despite this, the board feels that there are still steps that can be taken to provide credibility to the proceedings. These include the ensured absence of tainted evidence, providing an adequate defense for those standing trial, heightened attempts at transparency, and less secrecy.

Steve Chapman on a Conservative in favor of Obamacare Hard as it may be to believe, there are some conservatives who don't view ObamaCare as unconstitutional. In his latest column, the Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman writes about Charles Fried, a law professor at Harvard and former-solicitor general under Ronald Reagan, and his defense of the president's healthcare plan: "His case is simple: Health insurance is commerce. Congress has the power to regulate commerce. Because it has that power, it may also select the means to achieve its goals. The individual mandate is a permissible way to advance the purpose of expanding access to health care." And as for those who feel that Obamacare violates the constitution's protection of personal liberties, Chapman writes, "In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state of Massachusetts could fine anyone who refused to get a smallpox vaccination — a far more intrusive and intimate command than buying insurance."

Joanna Weiss on the J.Crew Toenail Painting Controversy Last week's hubub about a J. Crew ad that featured the clothing company's creative director painting her young son's toenails gets Weiss thinking how we still have a long way to go when it comes to children and gender roles. While parents are more comfortable with a young girl taking interest in activities normally associated with boys, parents tend to get squeamish when it's the other way round. She writes:

When boys steer themselves toward feminine things, adults feel the need to protect them. That’s understandable, since kids can certainly be cruel. But last Halloween, when a Kansas City woman let her 5-year-old son dress like Scooby Doo’s friend Daphne, she reported on her blog that his preschool classmates were unfazed. It was adults who freaked out — and later harassed her at church for “promoting gayness."

While some parents still might be uncomfortable with their sons wanting to do "girlie" things, Weiss says that she'll be fine if her son wants his toenails painted.

Lee Berton on Trying to Get What he is Owed by the IRS With taxes due tomorrow, it's easy to imagine that your tax ordeal is just about over, but The Wall Street Journal's Lee Burton writes that you shouldn't be so sure. Owed $1,200 because of a mistake by the IRS in 2008, Berton has spent the last two years unsuccessfully trying to get that money back. After talking to IRS agents all over the country, Berton finally received two checks, neither of which he could cash, because his name was listed as a barcode. "Some wags claim the IRS is trying to wait out my death and that it would be a brilliant scheme for the IRS to send all refunds with bar codes instead of names to lessen the national debt," he writes. "In any one year, the IRS pays refunds of more than $200 billion to more than 100 million taxpayers." Tax season, it never ends.

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