Five Best Tuesday Columns

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William Galston in The New Republic on the Super Committee aftermath The Super Committee's failure to agree on a deficit reduction deal creates several questions about the political aftermath. Looking at poll numbers to assess where the blame will fall, Galston finds, "In short, the Democratic position is supported by upscale professionals, while the Republican position commands the lion's share of a downscale, less educated populist coalition." That will create an interesting dynamic if the election is between two candidates neither of whom have been popular with the latter group. Between now and 2013, Obama could use the threat of military cuts to leverage more from Republicans, Galston writes. As for the election, Galston says Obama could narrowly win victory with a neutral campaign against Republican obstructionism, or he could take the high-risk, high-reward path of laying out a specific plan. "If elites can't figure out how to fix this problem, average Americans will pay the price ... Is the president prepared to take the lead? And if he does, will anyone follow?" 

Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal on tonight's Republican debate The Republican presidential candidates will have their second foreign policy debate on Tuesday night. "Given the lamentable performances of some of the candidates earlier this month, Management approves publication of the following debate tips," writes Stephens in the voice of a debate manual. When debating illegal immigration, Stephens says the candidates should keep in mind our history as a nation of immigrants. Secondly, he argues we have an interest in having more peaceful, democratic countries in the world so we should not follow Obama's distinction between nation building at home and abroad. Third, candidates should oppose Obama's foreign policy of speech making and conciliation and recognize that presidents like Reagan weren't afraid of being disliked in pursuit of their foreign policy goals. "The notion that the 21st century must be an American one isn't a cliché, especially when the alternative is China," he writes. 

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Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker on the pepper spray mentality The most notable incidents in the crackdown on Occupy movements both involved police and pepper spray. "In my view, it's something more than just a spate of over-aggressive policing. My bet is that we can point to two larger trends that may be responsible: 'broken windows' and 9/11," Toobin writes. "Broken windows" gets at least some of the credit for the decline in crime rates across America in the past decades, and it refers to a policy of cracking down on minor crimes to prevent major ones. Meanwhile, post 9/11, law enforcement similarly shifted tactics to emphasize preventing crime rather than policing those who committed it. Both shifts cause police to prioritize acting quickly. "Neither the broken-windows approach, nor the counter-terrorism model, puts much of a premium on patience. But often that's what cops need." 

Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic on Obama's foreign policy failures Defending President Obama, liberals show a tendency to gloss over his failures on civil liberties, foreign policy, and executive excess. "Telling the story of Obama's first term without including any of it is a shocking failure of liberalism. It's akin to conservatism's unforgivable myopia and apologia during the Bush Administration," Friedersdorf writes. He uses an essay by New York's Jonanthan Chait to show how many prominent liberals overlook Obama's decision to ignore the war powers act in Libya, his dangerous use of drones in Pakistan, and his practice of keeping American citizens on a kill list. Liberals may want Obama to win in 2012, but to vote for him as happily as in 2008 denies the fundamentals of liberalism, Friedersdorf writes. "Civil liberties and executive power and war-making aren't fringe concerns, or peripheral disappointments to lament." 

David Brooks in The New York Times on the era two minority parties Two-party politics can be seen as a solar system, with a dominant party acting as the sun, and the minority party acting as the moon, reflecting the sun's rays. "According to data today, both parties have become minority parties simultaneously. We are living in the era of two moons and no sun," Brooks writes. He uses polling data to show that much of the country remains unconvinced by either party's vision of government. He describes both parties' ensuing "minority mentalities" which cause them to create rigid ideological boundaries rather than form coalitions.  This two moon era is bad because it forces voters to vote against the party they currently dislike most and it means neither party is strong enough to pass an agenda. "So it's hard to see how we get out of this, unless some third force emerges, which wedges itself into one of the two parties."

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