Five Best Thursday Columns

Gail Collins on Catholics and contraception, George Will on Republicans and defense, Noah Feldman on gay marriage, Karl Rove on Gingrich's electoral strategy, and Meghan Daum on the latest Tiger Mom.

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Gail Collins in The New York Times on Catholics and contraception Collins's mother-in-law once confessed to her Catholic priest that she was using birth control, to which he replied, "You're no better than a whore on the street." "You have heard, I’m sure, that the Catholic bishops are in an uproar over an Obama administration rule that would require Catholic universities and hospitals to cover contraceptives in their health care plans." She points out the high rate of Catholic women, like her mother-in-law, who use birth control. "They’ve lost the war at home, and they’re now demanding help from the outside." She notes that the churches and organizations with a doctrinal mission are exempt, but that the administration is focusing on organizations that largely hire and serve non-Catholics. "We are arguing about whether women who do not agree with the church position, or who are often not even Catholic, should be denied health care coverage that everyone else gets because their employer has a religious objection to it."

George Will in The Washington Post on Republicans' bad national security arguments Proposed cuts to the defense budget, a pull-out from Iraq, and a presidential election have increased Republicans' angry rhetoric on national security. "Through 11 presidential elections... Republicans have enjoyed a presumption of superiority regarding national security. This year, however, events and their rhetoric are dissipating their advantage," writes Will. He takes issue with Mitt Romney's talk on Afghanistan and the Taliban negotiations because Romney hasn't argued why his strategy will be more successful than Obama's. Similarly, he thinks Republicans need stronger arguments for not cutting the defense budget by 8 percent when we are miles ahead of other nations on spending. And finally, he says Romney and others speak as if Obama disagreed with their position that Iran cannot get a nuclear weapon, but he and his defense secretary have taken just as strong a stance. "Republicans who think America is being endangered by 'appeasement' and military parsimony have worked that pedal on their organ quite enough."

Noah Feldman in Bloomberg View on the Prop. 8 ruling The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that California's Prop. 8 was unconstitutional not because of some universal right to gay marriage, but because California had already designated same-sex unions with "marriage" and had no good reason to then revoke that right. "The California issue is rooted in language... [O]pponents and proponents alike are convinced that the word 'marriage' means everything." Opponents of gay marriage tend to have difficulty articulating their argument because it is often rooted in religious tradition, he argues. It might not be the state's business to confer "marriage" on any couple, but once the state buys into "marriages," they have to extend them to all who want them. The opinion, as written by the court, is narrow and aimed at Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court's swing vote, but it remains to be seen whether the Court will hear the case, and how far they'll go in ruling on it.

Karl Rove in The Wall Street Journal on Gingrich's foolhardy strategy On Sunday, Newt Gingrich suggested he plans to win enough primaries in the South to give him a competitive delegate count heading into the convention. The strategy "proved that presidential candidates should talk policy, not process," according to Rove. Standing in the way are Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, neither of whom want to drop out to let Gingrich unite the conservative vote, especially after Santorum's primary wins this week. Rove also does the math to point out that even if Gingrich performs well in the South, he's going to have trouble amassing a competitive number of delegates. Gingrich needs to perform well not just in the South but in the Midwest, but his campaign funds are pretty low. "After Tuesday, he'll need a clear explanation of why he should be the not-Romney rather than the issue-focused and increasingly likable Rick Santorum."

Meghan Daum in the Los Angeles Times on French parenting Over a year after Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother made Asian parenting techniques a viral debate, Pamela Druckerman is releasing Bringing Up Bébé, a similar attempt to argue that French parenting beats the American style. "And although public reaction, judging by the WSJ comments, is mostly standard-issue America-bashing... or standard-issue French-bashing, ... one other thread stands out: The only thing Americans enjoy more than basking in self-regard is wallowing in self-loathing," writes Daum. She outlines Druckerman's argument that French parents force their children to wait for things. She credits Druckerman's and Chua's success at garnering attention to an American obsession with pointing out our own flaws, pointing to Dr. Phil and NBC's The Biggest Loser. Still, Daum says that a certain American disdain for the French will probably keep Druckerman's argument from achieving Tiger Mom levels of prominence.

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