Five Best Wednesday Columns

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Michael Medved in The Wall Street Journal on the myth of Romney's non-electability Some Republicans criticize Mitt Romney as not only insufficiently conservative but also unelectable against Barack Obama. "This analysis, endlessly recycled on the right, relies on groundless assumptions about recent political history," Medved writes. The first myth they use is that John McCain lost because real conservatives stayed home on election day, but Medved uses polls to show that it was John McCain's performance among moderates that lost him the election. Secondly, they argue that Republican elites ignore the popular candidates to force the nomination of a less popular candidate like McCain, but again, Medved revisits history to show the Republican elite resistance to McCain and preference for other candidates during the primary season. Third, they argue that conservatism will win every time, but he points out the elections that candidates like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan lost. "The notion that ideologically pure conservative candidates can win by disregarding centrists and magically producing previously undiscovered legions of true-believer voters remains a fantasy." 

Stephen Carter in Bloomberg View on tax deductions for charitable giving Politicians of both parties advocate eliminating the tax break for charitable donations. But this is the time of year when families look at how much disposable income remains, and eliminating the break would be bad policy, he argues. When deciding how much of it to give, families often consider tax deductions. Carter outlines the original reasoning behind the deduction: that it encourages giving and allows individuals to decide how to improve public welfare, not just the government. Some argue the deduction is regressive because families with higher incomes get to avoid a higher tax rate, but Carter shows this misunderstands the fact that the deduction benefits the recipients of charitable giving, not the donors. Carter details research that shows the elasticity of charitable giving, meaning eliminating the deduction would lessen the amount of giving. "By encouraging individuals to make their own choices on how to spend money for the public good, the deduction makes society as a whole better off," he says. 

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Andrew Reynolds in The New York Times on Egypt's elections Egypt will hold its first post-revolution elections on November 28. "The election is likely to fail, not because of vote-stealing or violence, but because the rules cobbled together by Egypt’s military leaders virtually guarantee that the Parliament elected will not reflect the votes of the Egyptian people," writes Reynolds, a UNC professor. He describes the process of setting up the new electoral system and describes the flaws that will overly promote candidates who had power before the revolution and disadvantage the liberal candidates who participated in the revolution. "If voters' voices are not heard in their first post-revolutionary election, the crisis unleashed by democratic failure in Egypt will have consequences reaching far beyond the Arab world," he says.

Eli Lake in The Daily Beast on Haqqani's resignation After pressure from his country's military, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani finally resigned from his position. "His sudden departure leaves a void in U.S.-Pakistani relations, already strained over continuing U.S. drone attacks on al Qaeda and Taliban targets on Pakistani soil and the U.S. special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May," writes Lake. Lake describes Haqqani's ability to develop working relationships with America, and the ensuing suspicion he caused among Pakistan's military. And he interviews experts who describe the way his departure will negatively impact U.S.-Pakistani relations. He notes that Haqqani resigned because he believed his controversy would distract from the goal of preserving Pakistan's democracy. "I have served Pakistan and Pakistani democracy to the best of my ability and will continue to do so," he told Lake. 

Sarah Schulman in The New York Times on co-opting gays into an anti-Muslim movement in In the past century, gay communities have won rights, respect, and protection. "But these changes have given rise to a nefarious phenomenon: the co-opting of white gay people by anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political forces in Western Europe and Israel," writes CUNY professor Schulman. Schulman cites gay writers and leaders who have influenced anti-immigrant ideas in Europe. Often they are motivated by the perception of Muslim immigrants who are homophobic, but their view ignores Muslim gay communities and excuses the homophobia of some in the Jewish and Catholic faith. Meanwhile, some Israeli leaders are portraying their country as a gay destination, but pro-Palestinian gay rights groups have called this "pinkwashing," meaning Israel conceals other human rights violations with images of gay friendliness. "Most gay people have experienced oppression in profound ways ... Increasing gay rights have caused some people of good will to mistakenly judge how advanced a country is by how it responds to homosexuality."

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