Five Best Thursday Columns
Alex Koppelman on the Sandy relief bill, Charles Blow on future cliffs, Matt Lewis on conservatives losing the culture war, Sheri Berman on waning Arab Spring optimism, and Gideon Rachman on Britain's relationship with the EU.
Alex Koppelman in The New Yorker on Sandy relief House Republicans will tell you they rejected the Sandy-aid bill (at first) because of wasteful spending, but Alex Koppelman argues that they were holding up much needed aid for political reasons. "They opposed it because, they said, half—or more—of the sixty billion dollars of funding contained in the bill was what they called 'pork,'" writes Koppelman, who thinks money should also be spent to storm-proof these areas against future disasters. "A more accurate term would be 'foresight.'"
Charles Blow in The New York Times on cliff crises to come Looks like lawmakers should get used to being suspended over various "cliffs" of their own making. The docket for future Congressional debates will be like "an M. C. Escher drawing of cliffs," according to Charles Blow. "There is no reason to celebrate," he writes. "We—and by we I mean Congress, and by Congress I mean the Republicans in Congress—have again demonstrated just how broken and paralyzed our government has become, how beholden to hostage-takers, how vulnerable to extremism."
Matt Lewis in The Week on conservatives losing the culture war As a writer for The Daily Caller, Matt K. Lewis falls well within the conservative spectrum. But even he's starting to suspect that Paul Weyrich was right when he wrote in 1999 that conservatives "probably have lost the culture war." The traditional culture favored by conservatives in the Reagan years, "can't be won back by passing some landmark piece of legislation," writes Lewis. "Instead, it's going to be a long, hard slog."
Sheri Berman in Foreign Affairs on waning Arab Spring optimism With Egypt veering away from democracy, Libya struggling to establish any order at all, and Syria devolving into further violence, some spectators' initial optimism about the Arab Spring has disappeared. But Sheri Berman argues that it's too soon to abandon hope. "The skepticism is as predictable as it is misguided," she writes. "Every surge of democratization over the last century—after World War I, after World War II, during the so called third wave in recent decades—has been followed by an undertow, accompanied by widespread questioning of the viability and even desirability of democratic governance in the areas in question."
Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times on Britain's EU relationship As much as nationalist parties like the UK Independence Party would like to see Britain withdraw from the EU, Gideon Rachman argues that the isles will stay tethered to the continent. "Once you start thinking through the likely chain of events, continued British membership of the EU remains easily the most probable outcome," writes Rachman, who thinks that recent eurozone crises have over-emphasized the split between the UK and the rest of Europe. "Every time Britain opts out of something, it also underlines the country’s increasingly semi-detached relationship with the EU—raising the question of whether such an arrangement can be permanent or sustainable."