Five Best Friday Columns

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein on partisanship solutions, George W. Bush on the Arab Spring, Charles Krauthammer on Obama's gay marriage arguments, Paul Krugman on the euro's collapse, and Joshua Green on the filibuster.

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Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein in The Washington Post on the solutions for partisanship The bipartisan duo Mann and Ornstein made news this month with an op-ed declaring that Republicans were to blame for polarization. Now they follow up with a (very long) column taking down commonly proposed solutions for ending partisan politics and putting forth a few of their own. "Unfortunately, the cures that get tossed around are often misguided, sometimes even worse than the disease," they write. No use hoping for term limits, publicly financed campaigns, or a third party. Instead, consider realistic campaign finance laws, independently drawn redistricting lines, and filibuster reform.

George W. Bush in The Wall Street Journal on the Arab Spring The former President is having a more public week than usual, and now he has an op-ed outlining how America should approach young democracies that arose in the Arab Spring. "As Americans, our goal should be to help reformers turn the end of tyranny into durable, accountable civic structures. Emerging democracies need strong constitutions, political parties committed to pluralism, and free elections." He says America should be ready for setbacks and be flexible when faced with them. "Yet flexibility does not mean ambiguity. The same principles must apply to all nations."

Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post on the two arguments for gay marriage Krauthammer asserts there are two distinct ways to argue for gay marriage: the first is a sense of empathy for gay couples that desire it, and the second is to consider it a fundamental human right. Obama seemed to take on the first argument when he announced his support but said he leaves it up to the states to deal with the issue. Moving forward, he's started taking on the second line, declaring it a right. "Problem is: It's a howling contradiction to leave up to the states an issue Obama now says is a right. And beyond being intellectually untenable, Obama's embrace of the more hard-line 'rights' argument compels him logically to see believers in traditional marriage as purveyors of bigotry."

Paul Krugman in The New York Times on the euro's impending apocalypse Krugman says that the dissolution of the euro suddenly seems like it could come with "stunning speed, in a matter of months, not years. And the costs — both economic and, arguably even more important, political — could be huge." Krugman presents the scenario in which it falls apart: Should Greece need to leave the monetary union and the central authorities do a poor job reassuring investors that the same fate won't befall banks in Italy and Spain, the euro would "blow up," he says. There are ways to avoid this, and we should all be invested in doing so. "Failure of the euro would amount to a huge defeat for the broader European project, the attempt to bring peace, prosperity and democracy to a continent with a terrible history."

Joshua Green in The Boston Globe on the filibuster Both Obama and Bush failed to correct the partisanship in Washington, and that's partly because the power to do so probably lies more with Congress, writes Green. "The problem is Congress, specifically the Senate, and to narrow it even further, the filibuster. When invoked — and it's invoked often — the filibuster forces the majority party to come up with 60 votes, rather than the simple majority ordinarily required to pass legislation." Green lays out the bills that would have passed with a majority vote in recent years had the Republicans not threatened a filibuster, noting that Democrats are just as eager to deploy the tactic when in the minority. Reform is tough because it involves fixing arcane rules that don't much interest the public. "But the most powerful argument for reform is that Congress is less and less able to do the most basic work of governing."

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