Five Best Thursday Columns

Scott Clement on Israel in 2012, Joshua Green on Obama's speech, Stephen Carter on Congress's exemptions, Karl Rove on Gingrich's disorganized campaign, and Gail Collins on Ginger White. 

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Scott Clement in Foreign Policy on Israel in 2012 With presidential candidates speaking yesterday to a forum of Jewish Republicans, it's worth wondering how important Israel will be to voters in 2012. "In short, not very. Domestic concerns are reigning supreme in 2012 and Jewish voters -- who may be naturally more concerned about the state of Israel -- make up a very small portion of the electorate, even in key swing states," argues Clement. He uses polling stats to show voters will look to domestic issues during the general election, though he notes that Obama's lower-than-usual approval among Jewish voters may mean Israel will hold weight during the Republican primaries. He notes that Evangelicals and conservatives pay close attention to it. "Repeated declarations of support for Israel from Obama and his potential Republican challengers may reflect the lopsided nature in American views of the Israel-Palestinian dispute."

Joshua Green in The Boston Globe on Obama's speech Commenting on the erosion of the middle class, Obama evoked Teddy Roosevelt on Tuesday by speaking from the site where Roosevelt delivered his 1910 speech on "New Nationalism." "Obama appears finally to have recognized the fruitlessness of trying to govern in the post-partisan mode on which he campaigned for president. His Kansas speech offered an alternate approach that laid out the themes of his reelection campaign," writes Green. He says Obama adopted critiques from the Occupy movement and embraced typically avoided subjects of raising taxes on the rich and increasing government's role in economic security. He notes that those issues have proved dangerous for Democrats historically, but argues that the growing problem of economic insecurity makes the issues more salient today. "Obama's decision to forge ahead anyway was no doubt encouraged by the huge numbers of people now suffering from the downturn."

Stephen Carter in Bloomberg View on Congressional self-exemption There's been publicity and a rush to legislation after reports that Congress is unaffected by rules on insider trading that affect much of the private sector. "Yet it is something of a wonder that there is so much public excitement at the discovery that regulations that apply to lots of other people turn out to be largely irrelevant to those who serve in Congress ... It is, far too often, business as usual," Carter writes. He describes exemptions Congress has given itself on the Occupational Safety Hazard Administration, financial regulation, and federal minimum wage laws. Carter notes James Madison's belief that this would never become the norm, and argues that its harmful to Congress's public image. "No doubt there is sometimes good reason for a congressional exemption. But there are good reasons to exempt lots of companies from lots of laws, and, unless those companies are very powerful, our national legislature is generally less interested in their uniqueness than its own."

Karl Rove in The Wall Street Journal on Gingrich's disorganization Though Newt Gingrich's rise to front runner du jour may last because of the imminent holidays and primary season that might keep voters from moving on yet again, he should worry he won't live up to expectations in early states like Iowa. "That could happen in part because Mr. Gingrich has little or no campaign organization in Iowa and most other states ... Organization truly matters, especially in low-turnout caucuses," Rove writes. Rove lists embarrassing signs of disorganization in the Gingrich campaign, argues for the importance of even a few caucus votes in Iowa, and points out the strong organization run by Romney's campaign. Rove notes that Gingrich's message has been strong, and Romney will have to improve to keep up on that front, but success may tempt a man like Gingrich to mess up. "As intense as the past few months have seemed, that's nothing compared to what's coming," Rove says.

Gail Collins in The New York Times on Ginger White
While we wait to see just how Herman Cain will keep himself in headlines, ("Dancing With the Stars?") it's worth considering the case of Ginger White, whose tale of a 13-year affair with Cain brought down what remained of his candidacy. "The mystery is why in the world she went public given that she has kids to protect and a completely unflattering saga to tell," Collins says. She details the "dismal" stories White continues to tell publicly, including her admissions to having an unsatisfying sexual relationship with Cain partly for his money. She argues that depressing stories like hers and that of Eisenhower's mistreated mistress Kay Summersby ring true because they are so bleak and unflattering. Yet, previous experience shows that things for women in these stories rarely work out in the long run. "And they generally work out fine for the men. Cain is headed just where he always was meant to be headed, except now he will be able to charge much higher speaking fees," Collins writes.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.