Five Best Thursday Columns

Juliette Kayyem on Bachmann's crusade, Gail Collins on the VP picks' writings, Michael Kinsley on Romney's faith, Joseph Thorndike on tax returns, and Maggie Shipstead on weddings.

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Juliette Kayyem in The Boston Globe on Michele Bachmann's crusade Kayyem recounts the crusade of Rep. Michele Bachmann and several other congressmen who recently named national security personnel like Clinton aide Huma Abedin as suspect because of their Muslim relations. "These new tactics go beyond Islam as a religion. They are intended to make Muslims or Arabs in government who are often far less senior than Abedin, or those in policy positions who seek a better relationship with the Islamic world, feel like outsiders. It will most surely affect the desire of those who can contribute language and cultural skills to ever work in government," writes Kayyem. Bachmann's requests will force government agencies to spend time investigating her claims, taking them away from real national security tasks. "But that's the point. It is the search that matters."

Gail Collins in The New York Times on the Potential VP reading list Collins says she spent time reading the books written by several of Mitt Romney's possible vice presidential picks. "Just so you won't have to." She continues, "Reading books by politicians with presidential ambitions is always an endurance contest, in which we are forced to struggle through long chapters with titles such as 'Do We Really Want to Be Like Europe?' in order to get to the little nuggets of personal stuff," she says. Bobby Jindal and Paul Ryan are long on the Europe stuff and a little thin on personal info. Rob Portman's book is actually a history of a Shaker settlement in Ohio, making it Collins's most interesting read. And Condoleezza Rices' book -- "Oh, please! Condoleezza Rice is not going to be nominated for vice president. Mitt Romney was having a bad day/week/month, and some of his supporters decided to float a distraction..."

Michael Kinsley in Bloomberg View on Romney's faith "If he can't run exclusively as a business genius, Romney will have another problem that otherwise might have gone away: People just don't like him," writes Kinsley. "Whatever the cause, I have the solution. Romney had it in his hands, and threw it away." In 2008, Romney made the case that he shouldn't have to describe or discuss his Mormon faith at length. Reading a recent New Republic essay on the religion, Kinsley says it can be cast as one with a devotion to community and kindness. "Romney shouldn't be pushing his Mormonism into a corner and hoping people will forget about it. He should be making it a central part of his campaign. It's far and away the best thing I know about him."

Joseph Thorndike in The Wall Street Journal on Romney's tax returns Though Thorndike acknowledges Romney's right to avoid releasing his tax returns, and acknowledges the ways Democrats would probably use the further releases, he still joins conservatives in suggesting Romney get it over with. They will almost certainly just reveal more legal tax avoidance. "Depending on what is in Mr. Romney's unreleased returns, further tax disclosure might be uncomfortable for him or downright deadly. But it won't be nearly as deadly as the weeks of bashing that he can expect from critics if he continues to stonewall on full disclosure." Still, if Romney survives it well enough to get elected, it might make him a more compelling leader to undertake broad tax code reform. "If only an ardent anticommunist like Nixon could go to China, then maybe only a pro-business Republican with lots of experience in legally avoiding taxes can get American taxpayers out of the Caymans."

Maggie Shipstead in The New York Times on weddings As the annual wedding season rolls on, Shipstead writes a funny essay on the effect of attending her many friends' nuptials. "I’m 29, squarely in the middle of that heady span of years when the tempo driving the game of conjugal musical chairs has suddenly accelerated and summer weekends are spent zipping around the country watching friend after friend tie the knot," she writes. "I wonder, though, if the freewheeling merriment isn't also rooted in a kind of doomsday solidarity."  Divorce statistics are always high in people's minds, and she names some funny "portents" of doom at recent weddings, like "the woman in an enormous black-mesh flying saucer of a hat who ended her toast by plunging, without warning, into an a cappella rendition of 'At Last.'"

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