David Brooks on David Cameron's 'Big Society' In his column today, David Brooks looks across the pond to the British conservative party's attempts at a paradigm shift. David Cameron has unveiled a series of policies under a program called "Big Society," that seek to strengthen civic engagement and community bonds by shifting power away from the very centralized federal government in Britain to local governments. Twelve more cities will get their own mayors, police will have to increasingly answer to the public, and local governments will get a larger share of federal money. While acknowledging that some critique Big Society "as the gentle mask to cover savage spending cuts," Brooks is quite fond of the idea overall. "By decentralizing power, and inciting local energies, Cameron's reforms are fostering the sorts of environments where human capital grows," he writes. "No other government is trying so hard to tie public policy to the latest research into how we learn and grow."
Jurek Martin on Newt Gingrich's Antics Jurek Martin thinks Newt Gingrich is "bonkers." He writes at the Financial Times: "Being smart means controlling the mind and the mouth, and he has done neither, not now nor ever in his political career." Martin clarifies that this assessment is not based on "any of the wild and contradictory utterances of the recent past" nor "his complicated marital life." Rather it is based on Gringrich's behavior during the years Martin covered him as speaker of the House. He cites a Gingrich tantrum about being seated "at the rear of Air Force one on the way back from the funeral of the assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in Israel in 1995"; his assertion that he had single-handedly balanced the budget; and his nerve in conducting "his own extra-marital affair while seeking to impeach the president for his." Martin says this "merely compounded the sense that some screws had come loose."