Five Best Tuesday Columns

On the women of sex scandals, Bachmann's triumph, and life in Libya

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Eugene Robinson on Mitt Romney's Unpopular Pragmatism  The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson predicts that Mitt Romney's "pragmatism" will be what leads him, as "an early front-runner," down the same path as "Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani and quite a few others who never got to be president." Though " Mitt Romney is basically an ideological conservative who believes in tax cuts as a panacea and is content to watch the American middle class continue its long, sad decline," Robinson writes, "in today's Republican Party, merely positioning oneself to the right of Ronald Reagan isn’t enough. Apparently, it's also necessary to eschew all reason." The Post columnist insists that arguments questioning Romney's conservatism are "not quite fair. Romney is a conservative by any reasonable definition of the word. It's just that he has a habit of taking objective reality and the views of his constituents into account," such as on abortion, climate change, health care and immigration. "I've always believed that Romney's chief asset as a potential GOP nominee is his ideological flexibility," Robinson writes. "But his chief impediment to winning the nomination is a recidivist pragmatism that causes him to commit deeds that today's GOP will not let go unpunished."

Sabrina Schaeffer on Women's Role in Political Sex Scandals  Sabrina Schaeffer points out, at National Review today, that "for every disloyal and lewd male lawmaker; there's a woman (or two, or three, or more) who is all too willing to enable his behavior." Men aren't the only ones, she argues, who "have forgotten what a healthy relationship (let alone marriage) looks like." Modern feminists' anti-romance, "no strings attached" attitude towards relationships, facilitated by easily accessible birth control, "has allowed so many women to think it's permissible to have an affair with a married man." Schaeffer observes that "in our effort to bring about gender equality, we've lost sight of important differences between the sexes. And when it comes to relationships, the attitude that a girl should act like 'one of the guys' has serious ramifications that often end up hurting other women most of all." Confronting this attitude is necessary "if, as a society, we're interested in seeing fewer sex scandals," Schaeffer insists. "Only when we consider how decades of skewed gender politics and a quest for a false sense of 'equality' have contributed to this culture will we be able to have an honest conversation."

Dana Milbank on Michele Bachmann's Starring Role in Last Night's Debate  While watching last night's GOP debate, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank observed each participant "assume the position" of their preconceived character. "There was one candidate who rose above the usual positioning, though she stood a head shorter than the six men on the stage. Eleven minutes into the debate, Michele Bachmann stole the show, and she didn’t return it in the subsequent hour and 49 minutes," he writes. The most important part of the debate, Milbank argues, was determining who would be the anti-Romney, the one contender who could potentially go up against the frontrunner. "Based on Monday night alone, Bachmann was the one who emerged as the anti-Romney from the otherwise drab field," he declares. Bachmann's speech, of course, wasn't perfect, but her contradictions paled in comparison to some of the other candidates' flubs. Whether or not declarations that "Michele Bachman is driving the debate" will last, "for one night, at least, that was true."
Andrew Brown on Giving Kids Ritalin  The rise in psychiatric medicine prescriptions for young kids suggests that Britain is "experiencing an explosion of mental illness among young children," notes Telegraph writer Andrew Brown. But, he asks, "do all these children have something wrong with them or are they simply being fitted with a chemical straitjacket to make them easier for their parents to manage without resorting to good old-fashioned discipine?" Brown acknowledges the argument that "the increase in cases of ADHD is attributable to better diagnosis" but also  notes that "since the pharmaceutical revolution of the 1950s ... we have been living in a vastly more medicated society than at any time before in human history," and "in the last 50 years, we've witnessed changes in the kind of childhood that many children experience. For instance, what is the effect on children of growing up without a stable family life, or of being starved of affection in your earliest years?" Brown insists that he is not "suggesting that all childhood disturbance is the result of neglect. But what's also certain is that methalyphenidate and other drug treatments are not a cure." Instead, he argues, "they are palliative, like giving aspirin for pain. And as with pain, the vital thing is to find out what's causing it in the first place."
Clemens Höges on 'Drinking Cappuccino as the Bombs Fall' in Tripoli  Want to know what it's like for foreign journalists on lockdown in Libya? Read Clemens Höges translated account in Der Spiegel. "Some would call it perverse, the idea that journalists are spooning the foam from their cappuccinos in the hotel's outdoor bar while precision bombs rip apart bunkers and probably soldiers just beyong the nearby trees," writes Höges, but "life at the Rixos ... follows its own rules. Gadhafi's people escort the reporters to the hotel, and guards are posted in the driveway to prevent them from setting out on their own," he explains. The journalists, in fact, are acting as "human shields," protecting Qaddafi's spokesmen and, as some rumors suggest, Qaddafi himself, who know "NATO will hardly bomb a hotel filled with Westerners." It is clear, though, that those employed to "protect" the journalists are also in on Qaddafi's public relations campaign to convince Westerners that NATO is bombing non-military grounds and killing innocent civilians. From the lobby of the Rixo's, the future of this conflict is unpredictable. "One thing is clear, however: There will be a terrible bloodbath if house-to-house fighting breaks out--unless a bomb hits Qaddafi first."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.