Five Best Friday Columns

Stephen Carter on the Supreme Court, Fareed Zakaria on shale gas, David Brooks on a moderate Republican, Jim Hoagland on second terms, and Kimberley Strassel on Obamacare pessimism.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Stephen L. Carter in Bloomberg View on Supreme Court worship After three days of oral arguments on the health care law and attention paid to the Supreme Court, it's time to "take stock," writes Carter. "Let me put the point succinctly: Our court-worship has gotten ridiculous," he writes. Drawing on his time clerking for the Supreme Court, he notes that dissecting the questions asked at oral argument rarely predicts how justices will rule. Carter gives thoughts on the various merits of arguments made, but concludes that this debate comes down to where the justices feel the right balance is struck between liberty and equality. "The trouble is that the real battle is ideological, not constitutional. Not everyone is going to get every possible form of health care. Somebody, in the end, is going to ration it."

Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post on shale gas Fear of war with Iran has pushed gas prices high, but the American economy hasn't slowed down as it usually would in these circumstances. "One reason it hasn’t might well be the rise of shale gas," writes Zakaria. He describes the technological advances that allow us to access natural gas from shale, and he describes the widespread effects on global markets. Natural gas reserves found in traditionally energy resource-thin states can only benefit American interests he says. "The rise of shale gas is shaping up to be the biggest shift in energy in generations. And its consequences — economic and political — are profoundly beneficial to the United States."

David Brooks in The New York Times on moderates in the GOP Nathan Fletcher, who is running for mayor of San Diego, has distinguished himself as an up-and-coming Republican, especially through his service in Iraq. "But ... the San Diego Republican Party has moved sharply right recently. A group of insurgents have toppled the old city establishment," Brooks writes. He details some of Fletcher's moderate accomplishments as a state legislator, the politics that led the new Republican party to endorse a more right-wing competitor, and Fletcher's decision to leave the party and run as an independent. "[H]e represents a nationally important test case. Can the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, who were trained to be ruthlessly pragmatic, find a home in either political party? Can center-right moderates find a home in the G.O.P., even in coastal California?"
Jim Hoagland in The Washington Post on expecting a second term President Obama has received criticism for his leaked comments to Russia's president that he'd have flexibility after his reelection. "Presidents (and aides) who count on striding the earth as policy-morphing giants once they have conquered the pesky challenge of reelection are not fooling voters so much as fooling themselves," writes Hoagland. He lists other examples where Obama has put off foreign policy choices until his second term. He makes the case that second terms rarely present fewer political obstacles than first terms. Historically, presidents rarely take a radically different approach to foreign policy after reelection. "His second term may not be one new thing after another but the same damn thing over and over again."
Kimberley Strassel in The Wall Street Journal on Republican pessimism on Obamacare The growing likelihood that the Supreme Court might overturn Obamacare has only spurred the law's opponents to look for the down side. "With all the dreariness of a modern-day Eeyore, they are convincing themselves that something so great as a legal victory must, by necessity, portend political disaster," writes Strassel. The idea began when liberals suggested that the Republicans would lose their motivating issue and voter turnout would decline. Republicans are beginning to fear this, and to wonder whether they'll be blamed for destroying an attempt to solve policy rather than creating their own. But Strassel makes the more intuitive case that a ruling striking the law down will play well for Republicans, and more importantly, will mark an achievement for their philosophy. "The mistake here is one the Supreme Court didn't make: Confusing politics with the real issues."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.