Five Best Wednesday Columns

John Dickerson on Romney's victories, Amy Davidson on Olympia Snowe, John Kerry on foreign aid, Margaret Carlson on Scott Brown, and Bert Stratton on landlords

This article is from the archive of our partner .

John Dickerson in Slate on Romney's slim victories Romney ended up winning in Michigan Tuesday by a few percentage points, and he easily defeated Santorum in Arizona. "It was the first two-man race to test the fault lines of the Republican Party: a battle between the establishment candidate, Mitt Romney, and the populist candidate, Rick Santorum. In the end, both men weakened themselves," writes Dickerson. Romney exposed his vulnerability by winning only among those who are most concerned with beating Barack Obama while failing to attract party stalwarts. Santorum did well with evangelicals and very conservative voters, but proved he'd be unable to win more moderate suburbanites. Going into Super Tuesday the Romney-Santorum divide could hold, or Newt Gingrich could do well in the south and launch a comeback. "[I]t could be a long summer with Santorum winning the Midwest, Gingrich the South, and Romney the states of any true size."

Amy Davidson in The New Yorker on Olympia Snowe's departure Maine's moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe announced suddenly on Tuesday that she won't seek reelection, not because of health or fear of a tough re-election, but because the Senate's partisanship has turned her off. "It's her life, of course, but her departure is a mark of many losses," writes Davidson. The most obvious is the loss of another centrist to increasing partisanship. Davidson bemoans Snowe's decision that politics is simply not worth the fight any longer. "No doubt politics is enervating and awful. It's still vital," she writes. She also notes that it's the loss of a woman in a chamber without many and where the gender ratio hasn't changed much lately. "[W]here are all the women Senators around her, or waiting to be her next? One hopes that they're not all on a single side of the aisle."

Sen. John Kerry in The Wall Street Journal on foreign aid President Obama's budget calls for an increase in foreign aid funds even while it's become ever more politically popular to cut them. Those attempts "are short-sighted," writes Kerry. "While it is true that our economic strength at home determines our strength in the world, it's also vital to deal with our current fiscal challenge intelligently. After all, we can't be strong at home if we aren't strong in the world." He makes what he calls a "conservative case" for increasing funding, citing Ronald Reagan to argue that funding for development and goodwill now will save us money and lives on armed conflict later. He cites successes in south Asia and future necessity in the new democracies of the Arab Spring. "[E]nergetic global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor we do for other countries."

Margaret Carlson in Bloomberg View on Scott Brown and the Blunt Amendment Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, facing a tough reelection challenge, has signed on to the Blunt Amendment, which would extend the compromise President Obama offered leaders of Catholic organizations on contraception to any organization with a "moral conviction."Until now Brown has been as careful to appease the huge Democratic majority in his state ... So, you might ask, what's a supposedly moderate guy like Brown doing with a retrograde bill like the Blunt amendment?" Carlson says he's angling to raise funds and generate goodwill among Republicans. He's trying to find a balance with liberals by citing Sen. Ted Kennedy's protection of Catholic institutions, a statement that has received criticism from his opponent and from the Kennedy family. "He stood for the proposition that 'insurance companies should have to cover services that many women want and rely on.' But then he went on to create an exemption for conscience so wide the Church of Dunkin’ Donuts could waddle through."

Bert Stratton in The New York Times on the life of a landlord Stratton, a landlord in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, writes a reflective essay about his experiences with tenants over the years. "At cocktail parties, I say, 'I'm a landlord.' People hate that. Everybody hates landlords. That's because nobody paid rent as a child. Renters think apartments should be free, like the wind, rain and baby food." He describes his ideal tenants, his scarier tenants, and lessons he's learned while peering in windows for pets or while trying to evict tenants himself. Landlords might not be America's favorite professionals, but increasingly, we're back to dealing with them. "Four years ago, tenants were leaving as if a siren was blasting in the hallway... [But now,] they have lost faith in the homeownership dream, at least for the moment. They're sticking with rental."

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