Five Best Tuesday Columns

Jonathan Cohn on the emerging fiscal cliff deal, Frank Bruni on a shooting's aftermath, Jeffrey Toobin on the Second Amendment, Haytham Manna on Syria, and Josh Kraushaar on Tim Scott.

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Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic on the emerging fiscal cliff deal Breathe a sigh of relief, everyone. It looks like Speaker Boehner and President Obama may be close to pulling us back from the edge of the fiscal cliff after all. But how good is this potential emerging deal, Jonathan Cohn wonders. "I've learned the hard way not to judge these agreements hastily, particularly when negotiations are still underway," he writes, saying that leaked details of the deal fall short of raising substantial revenue and don't address the debt ceiling crises adequately.

Frank Bruni in The New York Times on a shooting's aftermath Fifteen years after Matt Gross was shot at the Empire State Building, Frank Bruni reflects on the lingering impact—and lack of legislative action—that came in the wake of that shooting. "If you'd told me back when I was chronicling his recovery that 15 years later, gun laws in this country would be less stringent, not more, I wouldn’t have believed it," Bruni writes. "But that's the case, despite what happened on the Observation Deck and then at Columbine, at Virginia Tech, in Tucson, in Aurora ... Matt, meantime, has been trying to piece together a new life."

Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker on the Second Amendment The Second Amendment is all about guaranteeing that gun owners will not have the federal government meddling with their weapons, right? Not exactly, according to Jeffrey Toobin. "For more than a hundred years, the answer was clear," he writes, arguing that the N.R.A.'s stance that any citizen has the right to bear arms is a relatively new interpretation of the Second Amendment. "The courts had found that the first part, the 'militia clause,' trumped the second part, the 'bear arms' clause. In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon."

Haytham Manna in The Guardian on Syria Even the opposition forces battling the Syrian military may not contribute to the fall of Assad's regime, argues Haytham Manna. The al-Nusra resistance group has been labelled a "foreign terrorist organization" by the U.S., but the Syrian National Coalition have voiced support for it. Why? Because they're not necessarily fighting against the regime. Manna writes that amidst all the confusion within the country, "One thing is certain: the fight for Syria will last a long time, and will not end with the fall of the regime."

Josh Kraushaar in National Journal on Tim Scott The Senate just gained its only African-American member, and he's ... a Tea Partier? South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has chosen to replace Jim DeMint with Tim Scott, both GOP outsiders who rose to power on a tide of grassroots voter frustration. "It's ironic that at a time when party strategists are publicly panicking over the party's need to diversify or face extinction, they're blind to the reality that if it wasn't for the much-maligned tea party, the Republican Party would be even more homogeneous than it is today," writes Josh Kraushaar.

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