Five Best Monday Columns

Jill Lepore on the election, Jackson Diehl on the Olympics and the press, Josh Barro on Obama and the rich, Michael Gerson on AIDS prevention, and Seth Goldman on Bloomberg's soda ban

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Jill Lepore in The New Yorker on the election Lepore begins by describing an old Parker Brothers board game called Politics to point out that electoral contests are often as predictable as game play. "In recent weeks, the Obama campaign has made the same kinds of moves against Romney that [Ted] Kennedy did," she writes. In his 1994 Senate race, Kennedy ran ads with laid off workers from a Bain-controlled factory, and Romney criticized Kennedy for lying. We've seen the same dynamics play out in recent weeks. Romney has been outmaneuvered lately, she says, but "the game is only just out of the box. Romney's looking at an empty map and holding a fistful of pins. It's his move."

Jackson Diehl in The Washington Post on the Olympics and the press Diehl says that in recent weeks, the histrionic British press's descriptions of an Olympic Games in crisis couldn't provide a starker contrast with the authoritarian message control of the Chinese in 2008. "Now, it's possible some audiences around the world will be swayed by all this snarkiness. But — assuming that the dire predictions of floods and terrorism don't come true — I'm guessing that at least some will be impressed by the contrast between the cacophony in London and the 'harmony' imposed on Beijing in 2008." Much of the criticism is trumped up, but in one case, where the press hammered a security agency that failed to provide enough well-trained agents, the Olympics will probably be safer for their efforts.

Josh Barro in The Boston Globe on Obama and the rich Obama's much criticized point that the rich must help pay for the infrastructure that made their businesses successful has merit, Barro writes. But "the president's real talk to America's rich -- you have it good, the government helped you have it good, now the government needs your help -- would be more credible if it came with some real talk for the population as a whole," Barro says. The programs that are "busting the budget," entitlements like Medicare, aren't helping the wealthy disproportionately, and to keep them fiscally sound, the middle class will eventually have to contribute more. "If Obama won't make the case to the general public that government is good and worth paying for, why should the wealthy be swayed by the message that they -- just they -- should pay up?"

Michael Gerson in The Washington Post on AIDS prevention The International AIDS Conference is meeting in Washington D.C. this week, and Gerson reflects on the gains made in recent years.  "Eight million people in lower-income countries are now on AIDS medication. This includes 6.2 million in sub-Saharan Africa — more than a hundredfold increase in less than a decade," he writes. "In America, it is common to distrust institutions — to express a lack of confidence in Congress, the federal government and major companies. The response to AIDS weighs on the other side of the balance." It brings credit to scienctific enterprise, to government, and to individuals from George W. Bush to African families who took in AIDS orphans.

Seth Goldman in The Wall Street Journal on Honest Tea's Bloomberg ban Honest Tea's "TeaEO" points out the ways Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on caloric drinks larger than 16 ounces impacts businesses in unintended ways. "Honest Tea's top-selling item is our organic Honey Green Tea, which has 35 calories per eight-ounce serving and is in a 16.9 oz. bottle. We label 70 calories on the front of the package so consumers know what's in the full bottle," he says. Honest Tea has invested in bottle molds, and solutions to reduce its volume size aren't simple. "And what if next year, Cambridge, Mass., comes up with a ban on 15.5-ounce containers? As soon as government starts getting between us and the consumer, we quickly find ourselves considering scenarios that are not based on market realities or consumer needs."

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