Five Best Tuesday Columns

Jonathan Cohn on Republicans sending us over the fiscal cliff, David Brooks on Republicans saving us from it, Jeffrey Goldberg on Israel's disappearing allies, Bob Dole and Tony Coelho on disabled Americans, and Joshua Muggleton on Asperger's.

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Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic on Republicans sabotaging fiscal cliff talks John Boehner presented the Congressional Republicans' counteroffer Monday, but Jonathan Cohn is not impressed. President Obama has asked for a compromise that includes higher taxes on the wealthy and stimulus money, but, "With this proposal, Boehner and the Republicans are still saying … no way," Cohn writes. "The new proposal merely commits to paper a few ideas that Republicans have been floating for the last few weeks. It does so with the usual level of specificity—which is to say, very little specificity at all."

David Brooks in The New York Times on Republicans standing firm on the fiscal cliff Meanwhile, David Brooks thinks people like Cohn have it all wrong. Though they'll likely be portrayed as obstinate defenders of the one percent, Republicans should cut a deal that concedes a modest tax hike while standing firm on their budgeting priorities. "The Republicans are stuck in a miserable position at the end of 2012, but, if they handle things right, they can make 2013 an excellent year—both for their revival prospects and for the country," Brooks writes.

Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View on Israel's shrinking roster of allies When the U.N. moved to declare Palestine an "observer state" last week, only nine countries voted against the resolution. Many—such as Australia—abstained from the vote, supporting Israel only tacitly. Considering the inability of Australia's ardently pro-Israel Prime Minister Julia Gillard to get her country to renounce the U.N.'s move, Jeffrey Goldberg writes, "Likeminded leaders around the world are finding it increasingly difficult to justify the actions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government."

Bob Dole and Tony Coelho in Reuters on Americans with disabilities Rick Santorum has made it his first post-presidential campaign goal to stop ratification of the U.N.'s convention on the rights of disabled people. And that's a ridiculous crusade, according to former Congressmen Bob Dole and Tony Coelho. The two men may come from different parties, but as people who acquired disabilities late in life, they realize this isn't a partisan issue. Dole and Coelho were instrumental in getting 1990's Americans with Disabilities Act passed, and they write, "Because the United States has been a leader in ensuring rights for individuals with disabilities, ratification does not require changes to laws in the U.S. and would not require any new budget spending. Ratification would signal to the world that Washington is committed to international standards for disability rights and will play a leadership role in the implementation of treaty obligations."

Joshua Muggleton in The Guardian on Asperger's Those with high-functioning autism may still self-identify as "Aspies," but the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders no loner considers it distinct from "autism spectrum disorder." As someone who was diagnosed with Asperger's at a young age, Joshua Muggleton actually accepts the new omission, writing, "I don't see this as an end to the camaraderie I have with my fellow Aspies. Instead, I feel we are opening up the fraternity of Aspie to our autistic friends."

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