Five Best Monday Columns

Adam Sorenson on Jamie Dimon, Jackson Diehl on Obama and Putin, Juliette Kayyem on Mississippi and immigration, Albert Hunt on Joseph Kennedy III, and Mustafa Aykol on Islamists and liberalism 

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Adam Sorensen in Time on Jamie Dimon's credibility As lawmakers wrote the Dodd-Frank financial reform law in 2010, JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon lobbied hard against banking regulations, with his credibility buoyed by his firm's performance during the crisis. The $2 billion they lost on a failed bet last week changes that. "[W]hile the loss doesn't threaten the bank's stability, it has irreparably damaged one of the financial industry's most valuable assets: The credibility of Dimon himself." Sorensen discusses ways new and proposed financial regulations would or wouldn't have prevented the huge loss. Dimon, he says, recognizes he's given regulators ammunition, but doesn't cede their points. "'Just because we're stupid doesn't mean everybody else was,' he said last week on a conference call disclosing the bank's losses. But that's just the problem: Dimon and his team at JPMorgan, three of whom resigned on Sunday, were supposed to be the smartest guys out there."

Jackson Diehl in The Washington Post on Obama's Russia policy It's not clear why Vladimir Putin declined an invitation to attend this week's G-8 summit at Camp David, but he has been cool toward Obama's attempts to forge a strategic partnership lately. "Obama’s fixation on a nuclear deal has prompted a major turnaround in his treatment of Putin ... What’s striking about this strategy is its disregard for the biggest foreign-policy lesson of Obama’s first term. The Arab Spring showed that 'engagement' with autocratic leaders isn't wise if their grip is slipping." The Obama administration has lobbied against the Magnitsky Bill, a proposed rebuke to Russia for its human rights record. "Now that Putin has canceled, maybe it’s time to put human rights in Russia back on the agenda."

Juliette Kayyem in The Boston Globe on state immigration laws Republicans finally gained control of the Mississippi House last year, but legislators have tabled efforts to pass a stricter illegal immigration law on the Alabama or Arizona model. "Mississippi's experience shows how states often learn from the mistakes of their 49 siblings. Draconian anti-illegal-immigrant laws have been a disaster for Arizona and Alabama. Those states' economies thrived off of undocumented immigrants; not any more," writes Kayyem. In Mississippi, opposition is driven by businesses, farm lobbies, and local governments. "Missing from that list is anything actually related to immigrants or their rights. The opposition spoke the language that would win in a state where conservative Republicans reign."

Albert Hunt in Bloomberg View on Joseph Kennedy III Joseph Kennedy III, Robert Kennedy's grandson, is running to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Barney Frank, and so far, he shows signs he could follow in his forbears' footsteps. "It's not just the name; veteran politicians and Kennedy- watchers say the 31-year-old is the real deal. He draws comparisons to the young Jack Kennedy, and especially to Ted Kennedy in his first race for the Senate in 1962." Hunt interviews politicians and others who report that Kennedy has strong political skills and has so far approached the campaign conscious not to appear entitled to the seat. Hunt recalls Ted Kennedy's early opponent said he'd be "a joke" if not for his last name. "That 'joke' went on to easily win the election, He served almost 47 years in the Senate, and was one of the most influential lawmakers of his age."

Mustafa Akyol in The New York Times on Islamists and liberalism With Islamists in Tunisia and Egypt participating in their countries emerging democracies, the question of whether Islamists will support democracy has now turned to whether they will support liberalism. "What if elected Islamist parties impose laws that curb individual freedoms — like banning alcohol or executing converts — all with popular support? What if democracy does not serve liberty?" Akyol points to Saudi Arabia as an example where civil liberties are curbed by religious morals but the elites forced to adhere to these rules go abroad to "sin." "All of these countries desperately need not only procedural democracy, but also liberalism. And there is an Islamic rationale for it as well: Imposed religiosity leads to hypocrisy."

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