Five Best Friday Columns

Christine Todd Whitman and other former EPA administrators make the Republican case for climate action, Ana Marie Cox on liberal silence on the NSA, Charles Krauthammer on a fractured GOP, Alex Seitz-Wald on a nihilistic anti-Obamacare movement, and David Brooks on a neo-conservative revival.

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Christine Todd Whitman, et al. in The New York Times on the Republican case for climate action Four former EPA administrators — William Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, William Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman — appointed by Republican administrations take the unconventional approach of calling Obama to use his executive powers to take action on "undeniable" climate change and its costs. "Climate change puts all our progress and our successes at risk," they argue, and promote a market-based carbon tax as a solution. "Important read, but it must be followed up w action. They're right, there is no time to waste," writes Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California. Slate science blogger Phil Plait comments that "Their arguments are terrific, but I have a hard time believing they’ll affect any politician who’s already ideologically dug in."

Ana Marie Cox in The Guardian on liberal silence after NSA revelations In the U.S., individual opinions on the tradeoffs of individual privacy for increased national security largely shifts based on the party of the president in office, which explains Democrats' general aversion to criticize NSA spying, Cox writes. "The neatness of these changes in position is almost disturbing," she argues. "It suggests that advocacy for civil liberties is a zero-sum game: there's only so much libertarianism to be had at any given historical moment, there's a ceiling on Americans' ability to believe that the right to privacy is paramount." But this is not just an American phenomenon. "Many silent here also," writes former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. "Interesting take from @AnaMarieCox on reluctance of some pols to take sides," tweets Tim Karr, Free Press campaign director.

Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post on a fractured GOP Republicans are battling each other on a number of topics, but that's not as bad as it might sound. "This is not civil war. It’s a healthy debate that helps recalibrate the delicate line between safety and security," he writes. But the doomed movement to defund Obamacare is just "nuts," and would lead Republicans right off of a fiscal and popular cliff. "If I thought this would work, I would support it. But I don’t fancy suicide. It has a tendency to be fatal." "Krauthammer hits the nail on the head. A GOP-induced government shutdown will play right into Obama's hands," tweets Weekly Standard writer Trent Wisecup. "Christie's move," writes Bob Ingle, senior political columnist for Gannett New Jersey newspapers.

Alex Seitz-Wald in Salon on the anti-Obamacare movement The conservative group FreedomWorks is trying to convince young people not to get health insurance, thereby undermining Obamacare in an attempt to repeal it down the road. "But, if this gambit is successful, wouldn’t that lead to millions of young people living without health insurance, and older and sick people paying higher health insurance premiums?" Seitz-Wald writes. "It’s hard to overstate how nihilistic this plan is," he adds, while novelist Barbara Rogan calls the group "Supercynical Tea Partiers." "Morning must-read," writes The Guardian and Huffington Post contributor Jesse Berney.

David Brooks in The New York Times on a neo-conservative revival The Republican Party needs a new neo-conservative movement, which was powerful in the 1980s and Younger Bush years. "Neocons opposed government programs that undermined personal responsibility and community cohesion, but they supported those programs that reinforced them or which had no effect," Brooks explains, and argues that "nearly every problem with the Republican Party today could be cured by a neocon revival." The Daily Caller contributor Mickey Kaus skeptically asks "Neocons have to like food stamps now? Do they 'encourage self discipline' + 'personal responsibility'?" Allen McDuffee, national security reporter for Wired, writes "No, @NYTDavidBrooks, there's no neocon revival. If there's a revival every 2 years, it means they never went away."

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