Five Best Wednesday Columns

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Dana Milbank in The Washington Post on Barney Frank Many have taken time to praise Rep. Barney Frank, who announced this week his plans to retire, but they've also noted his tendency to bully reporters, colleagues, and staff. "[T]he gratuitous nastiness, to allies and especially to his own staff, have kept him from achieving far more in his three-decade career on the Hill," Milbank writes. He recounts an interview Frank did with The Today Show yesterday in which he repeatedly criticized the reporter's questions rather than answer them. Milbank credits him as a "modern Mark Twain" for bringing wit to his criticisms, and says equally sharp-tongued Republicans, like Karl Rove, often got their due from him. "[U]nlike Rove, I will miss Frank’s tart tongue. But he would have been a more successful lawmaker if he had learned that it’s sometimes better to hold it."

Ian Desai in The New York Times on Gandhi in New York Gandhi has gotten a lot of attention in New York lately, with Occupy Wall Street making a hero of him and the Metropolitan Opera showing an opera about him. "But with the Zuccotti Park encampment removed, and the opera closing tomorrow ... is it worth asking, what would Gandhi do in the world today?" writes Desai, professor and Gandhi scholar. Desai says the opera portrayed some parts of Gandhi's success well, but its message of social justice felt awkward at the Met, and it didn't spend time spurring modern audiences to action. More active were the OWS protesters downtown, and while Gandhi would have liked their energy, he wouldn't have liked their demonizing of the "1 percent," favoring a universal message of cooperation. He might have suggested protesters take more practical social and political action to change the status quo. "Protesting in the park downtown can be quite useful. So, for that matter, can patronizing the arts ... But they are most meaningful when they set the stage for constructive social action, through which we might begin to mend the world."

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Scot Lehigh in The Boston Globe on Romney's misquoting habit By now, many have seen Mitt Romney's "infamous" attack ad, which deceptively quotes Barack Obama to make him sound like he's saying something controversial. The ad "erodes the high ground Romney might otherwise claim now that he finds himself under assault from distortive TV and web attack ads from the Democratic National Committee," Lehigh writes. He notes instances in which Romney has complained when his own Republican opponents misquote him. He describes Romney's tactic as "a pattern," showing how Romney continually accuses Obama of going abroad and "apologizing for America," or saying "Americans are lazy," when in both cases, he's deliberately misconstruing Obama's words. "Now, Republican partisans may not care a whit. Yet if the occasional GOP front-runner persists in making charges that only a dope could believe, discerning moderates may come to a disturbing conclusion," Lehigh writes.

Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post on Emma Sullivan  Emma Sullivan has become a pseudo-celebrity for refusing to apologize to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback after writing a rude tweet about him. "If you were my daughter, you’d be writing that letter apologizing to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for the smart­alecky, potty-mouthed tweet you wrote after meeting with him on a school field trip," Marcus write, recounting the incident. She notes that Sullivan has a first amendment right to say what she wants, but the affair calls up questions of where freedom of speech and a disruptive school environment intersect, especially in the internet age. But aside from legal rights, Sullivan's principal was right to point out that her comments showed disrespect for authority and civil discourse. Parents, she says, should "insist such language is not acceptable, explain that it is possible to disagree civilly — and insist on an apology when our children fall short."

Peter Skerry in The Wall Street Journal on Gingrich and immigration Newt Gingrich angered Republicans and set Democrats at ease when he advocated granting legal status to 11 million illegal immigrants this week. "Democrats plausibly assume that Latinos will generally vote for them and don't really have anywhere else to go—especially when conservatives demand the mass deportation of illegals," writes Skerry. He argues that Gingrich's plan is different from other which would grant illegals "a path to citizenship" and that it's a wise departure from typical Republican positions. Skerry notes that Democrats aren't actually accountable to the non-voting illegal community, and with Republicans holding such draconian positions, the Democrats don't  have to act on their pro-immigrant views. "Mr. Gingrich's proposal, or something like it, could actually address this genuine dilemma while acknowledging the legitimate anxieties that many Americans have about illegal immigration."

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