Five Best Thursday Columns

Margaret Carlson on Hillary Clinton's Benghazi testimony, Susan Crawford on speeding up America's Internet, Alex Pareene on electoral vote rejiggering, E.J. Dionne on Obama's Reaganisms, and Amy Davidson on child-abuse victims.

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Margaret Carlson in Bloomberg View on Hillary Clinton's Benghazi testimony Hillary Clinton fielded questions from some of her toughest critics yesterday when she appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to testify about last year's attacks in Benghazi. Though Clinton's answers failed to satisfy hardliners like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Margaret Carlson thought she handled the situation with aplomb. "Throughout the two hours, which veered between a testimonial dinner and murder boards, Clinton consistently beat back the accusation that the administration moved too slowly in the hours after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack," she writes. And when Clinton firmly rebuked Johnson for politicizing the deaths of four Americans, Carlson thought it was "a satisfying flash of Chris Christie-like anger."

Susan Crawford in The New York Times on speeding up America's Internet The United States may trump other countries when it comes to high-tech innovation, but that doesn't matter much to all the Americans who lack access to high-speed Internet. The U.S. doesn't even chart on lists of countries with the fastest Internet. Susan Crawford argues that our nation's sluggish connectivity stems from over-concentrated markets, not enough competition amongst Internet providers, and weak regulatory oversight from the F.C.C. "We have allowed our affection for consolidation and profit-taking to shape our country’s ability to compete on the global stage," Crawford writes. "With a truly pro-competition agenda at the F.C.C., we could discover great reservoirs of increased productivity and new forms of making a living. Contrary to what giant companies like Comcast and Verizon would have us believe, communications regulation does not stymie entrepreneurial behavior. It unleashes human ingenuity."

Alex Pareene in Salon on electoral vote rejiggering Republicans in Virginia are trying to rejigger electoral vote distribution because they've run out of strategies to win new voters, argues Alex Pareene. The state legislature is considering a bill that would apportion presidential electors based on who carries each of the state congressional districts. That would be a huge change from the current winner-take-all system. Such a system would privilege rural voters. And if the proposed system had been in place last year, Mitt Romney would've carried Virginia. Pareene thinks this move shows GOP desperation: "Electoral vote-rigging plans show a Republican Party that is finally acknowledging the reality that a majority of Americans don’t subscribe to its brand of conservatism," he writes. "This move shows that the GOP has effectively given up on winning it for the foreseeable future. It’s a stunning admission of irrelevance."

E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post on Obama's Reaganisms Obama's true ideological predecessor isn't a liberal lion like F.D.R., Clinton, or even Lincoln. Many pundits have noted that he instead draws inspiration from Ronald Reagan, a moderate who popularized a softened brand of conservatism. Obama is doing much the same thing, E.J. Dionne argues, except the President is establishing a center-left consensus that could overturn Reagan's legacy: "Republicans in Congress now, like Democrats in the Reagan years, are coming to terms with a country that wants to move in a new direction ... Reagan forced Democrats to realize they wouldn’t keep winning simply by invoking FDR’s legacy. Paradoxically, in following Reagan’s political lead, Obama is setting out to prove that the Reagan era is finally over."

Amy Davidson in The New Yorker on Williamsburg child-abuse victims A man named Nechemya Weberman was found guilty on 59 counts of child sexual abuse earlier this week in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But many in Weberman's insular Satmar Hasidic community have blamed victims more than the man sentenced to 103 years in prison. Amy Davidson sees this victim-blaming taking hold in cases throughout the country—even on the campuses of universities like Notre Dame, where a woman killed herself after being besieged with taunts for accusing a football player of assaulting her. "Why is the victim treated as the troublemaker?" Davidson asks. "There is moral laziness, and a deferral to privilege, to tradition, or to one’s own interests, that disguises itself as loyalty, from Williamsburg to South Bend. And there is the illusion that being community-minded means protecting the strongest, rather than the most vulnerable members of a community."

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