Five Best Friday Columns

Stephen Carter on the 'faculty lounge,' Joshua Green on private equity, Michael Kinsley on China, Charles Krauthammer on the Nationals, and Tom Manion on Memorial Day.

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Stephen L. Carter in Bloomberg View on the faculty lounge Many have pointed out that Mitt Romney's pejorative use of Obama's experience in "the faculty lounge" doesn't make much sense given his own multiple Harvard degrees, but Carter, a Yale law professor, has his own issue with the insult. "At its best, the campus remains the world’s freest forum for the thoughtful and reflective exchange of ideas. The symbol of that exchange is the faculty lounge. To believe in the faculty lounge is to believe that ideas matter, that people can and often do respond to appeals not to their self-interest but to their reason." He describes cases of political correctness gone awry that make university faculty a convenient target, but says we should appreciate the values they espouse in our candidates anyway.

Joshua Green in The Boston Globe on the awkward private equity attack By emphasizing that private equity gives him job-creating credentials, Mitt Romney has opened himself to attacks on his record at Bain Capital. "Still, it's odd to see private equity suddenly elevated to a pivotal national issue," Green writes. "The reason why it's odd is that Obama has given no prior indication of being troubled by the industry's practices or made any obvious attempt to change them." This requires him to do an "awkward dance" in criticizing the industry, where his proposed rules that would affect it seek only to raise revenue, not change business practice. This is made more awkward because, "On the same day that his ad rolled out, Obama was attending a fundraiser in New York City — hosted by a prominent private equity executive."

Michael Kinsley in Bloomberg View on China's incongruities Kinsley recently took an eight day trip to China, and between the journey and some light reading, he jokes " I now have all the answers," to questions about how free Chinese citizens are, and how they live under a regime that "killed millions in defense of a philosophy it no longer believes in." He documents a series of incongruities. Young people know about the Tiananmen Square massacre but would never reference it in a school paper. The one child policy remains in effect but exemptions abound.

Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post on the Nationals Krauthammer takes a moment away from politics, giving us a fun read in which he describes his ritualistic "joy of losing" in watching the Washington Nationals play each season. "Between now and October, the Nats are my vice. I started going when they were bad and once celebrated in this space 'the joy of losing,' under the axiom that if you expect nothing, you're never disappointed. A very serviceable philosophy when your team is terrible. But I need a new philosophy now. The Nationals are good."

Tom Manion in The Wall Street Journal on Memorial Day Manion, a veteran whose son died in Iraq, writes an essay on the sacrifice his son and his friends, and American troops in general, have made in the past decade's wars. He sounds a familiar call in advance of this weekend's holiday. "As the father of a fallen Marine, I hope Americans will treat this Memorial Day as more than a time for pools to open, for barbecues or for a holiday from work. It should be a solemn day to remember heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, and also a stark reminder that our country is still at war."

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