Five Best Friday Columns

Peggy Noonan on Condie for VP, Eugene Robinson on Paterno's shame, Joshua Green on Bush's tax cuts, Benjamin Sachs on pensions and Citizens United, and Newt Gingrich on power outages.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal on Condie as VP Noonan believes we're in a "crisis election," and wonders why there's no "broad sense of excitement and passion" on either side. The blame, she says, falls with the candidates, both of whom still have time to "go deeper, get franker, and light some kind of flame." An exciting vice presidential pick could help Mitt Romney do that, she argues. Speaking at a business conference recently, she recounts, "conversation turned to the vice presidential nominee, I said we all know the names of those being considered, spoke of a few, and then said Condoleezza Rice might be a brilliant choice. Here spontaneous applause burst forth." That tale coincides almost too neatly with Friday morning's Drudge Report speculation that Rice might get the nod.

Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post on Paterno's cover-up Former FBI director Louis Freeh's investigation into Jerry Sandusky's crimes at Penn State suggests that football coach Joe Paterno intervened to prevent officials from reporting Sandusky. Before his death, "Paterno argued that whatever people might think of his actions in the Sandusky matter, 'this is not a football scandal.' But that's precisely what it is," Robinson writes. "Imagine that an assistant coach of, say, the chess team were caught showering with an 11-year-old boy, as Sandusky was in 1998 ... The truth is that Joe Paterno was more powerful at Penn State than any athletic director, more powerful even than the university’s president."

Joshua Green in The Boston Globe on Bush's tax victory Politicians have debated how much of the Bush tax cuts to extend, whether to define the "rich" who ought to pay more as those making $250,000 or "millionaires." Obama will likely prevail in extending them only for dollars earned below $250,000. "But the real winner in that scenario (or any scenario, really) wouldn't be Obama or Schumer or any Democrat. It would be George W. Bush ... [T]he whole fight would represent a huge capitulation to Bush's economic values. Most of his signature tax cuts would live on, probably permanently — and they'd be all but impossible to revoke since they'd have the endorsement of a Democratic president."

Benjamin I. Sachs in The New York Times on pensions and free speech The Citizens United Supreme Court decision hinged on the idea that restrictions on corporate political spending impede free speech. Sachs, a Harvard law professor, describes a "perverse" consequence of the ruling. "What Citizens United failed to account for, however, is that a significant portion of the money that corporations are spending on politics is financed by equity capital provided by public pension funds — capital contributions that the government requires public employees to finance with their paychecks." This differs with unions, who are required to allow employees to object to their dues being spent on political purposes. "Whatever the route to reform, however, public pension plans need to ensure that employees are not compelled to finance corporate political speech."

Newt Gingrich in The Washington Post on our vulnerable power grid Still recovering from the mass power outages that plagued the Washington area last week, Gingrich ponders the consequences. "I write this now because of my concern for national security and our power grid, which are susceptible to doomsday-level damage if hit by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) strike or a major solar storm," Gingrich says. His argument is delightfully... Gingrichian. He cites the fiction of his co-author on several books, but he makes the point that even a small hiccup in one region's power shows how vulnerable we all are in the event of a larger problem. "The technology exists to harden at least part of the national electric grid against an EMP attack or major solar storm."

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