Five Best Tuesday Columns

Michelle Cottle on the Bin Laden ad, Homero Aridjis on Wal-Mart in Mexico, Jack Shafer on Watergate and Woodward, David Brooks on campaign metaphors, and Bret Stephens on Condoleezza Rice for VP.

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Michelle Cottle in The Daily Beast on Obama's Bin Laden Ad President Obama's new campaign ad trumpets his decision to kill Osama bin Laden and questions whether Mitt Romney would have made the same choice. Critics from John McCain to Arianna Huffington have pounced on it as "cheap" and "despicable." Cottle responds: "Oh my God. The nerve. You know who this puts Obama on par with? Every fricking Republican who has run for office since 2001. Oh, yeah, and Hillary Clinton." Cottle answers conservative complaints by pointing to the many times they've politicized national security. She answers liberals by conceding that Obama is not as above the fray as they might like. The ad "is harsh, exploitative, tacky even. It is, in short, perfectly in keeping with today’s political climate."

Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal on Vice President Rice Even those who didn't "loathe" the Bush administration often feel it executed its ideas poorly. Chiefly responsible for much of that execution, Stephens argues, was Condoleezza Rice. She's been an extremely popular potential Mitt Romney running mate, but Stephens makes a case against her. "If the presumptive Republican nominee is going to choose his running mate with an eye toward governing the country and not just winning the election, he can do better than Ms. Rice."

Homero Aridjis in The New York Times on Mexican corruption and Wal-Mart President Felipe Calderón declaration that he was "indignant" over revelations that Wal-Mart smoothed over its entrance into Mexico with bribery strikes Aridjis as disingenuous. He uses personal experience to describe a widespread culture of corruption, arguing it presents Mexico with its "biggest challenge." He writes, "[H]ow can we be outraged when an American company exploits it? At the same time, how can we hope for Mexicans to put an end to corruption when one of the most powerful and allegedly law abiding companies in the United States gives in to the same temptations?"

Jack Shafer in Reuters on Woodward, Himmelman, and Bradlee An excerpt from Jeff Himmelman's forthcoming book on Ben Bradlee suggests the former editor questioned whether Bob Woodward hadn't embellished details about his meetings with Deep Throat and his reliance on grand jury members while reporting the Watergate scandal. Shafer offers judgement as he details the charges and the back and forth between all parties in the days since Himmelman published an excerpt. "With all respect to Ben Bradlee, the Woodward-Himmelman spat is starting to resemble that movie in which a much-coveted dog is placed midway between two contesting owners and they rely on him to choose which owner he wants to go home with ... Until the Himmelman book appears, and he shows his complete hand, I’d be nuts to declare a winner in this dispute. But if this were a boxing match, I’d give the first round to Woodward."

David Brooks in The New York Times on campaign metaphors For various reasons, choosing a president can resemble choosing an American Idol (for talent), a plumber (for solutions), or a suitor (for charm). "You could make a case that most campaigns are a little of all three, though the proportions vary from year to year ...  This year, both organizations seem to visualize the campaign as a boxing match or a gang fight. Whichever side can hit the other side harder will somehow get awarded the champion’s belt." Attack ads from both camps show they will sacrifice respectability for a good shot. "It may make sense if you think today’s swing voters hunger for more combat, more harshness and more attack. But it’s probably bad sociology and terrible psychology, given the general disgust with conventional politics."

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