Five Best Thursday Columns

Patricia Murphy on the Obamacare repeal, Michael Kinsley on outsourcing, Jamal Abdi on Apple and Iran, Edward Glaeser on coal mining, and Daniel Henninger on Romney's vacation.

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Patricia Murphy in The Daily Beast on the Obamacare Repeal Murphy compares the House Republicans' futile vote to repeal Obamacare with the President's futile calls for Congress to approve tax cuts "he knows will never pass." "The dueling fools' errands cemented the impression that has been growing for some time—that official Washington has become little more than a backdrop for partisan campaign commercials, a land of make believe where bills never need to pass, press conferences substitute for negotiations, and both parties' behavior would be comical if the problems facing the country were not so serious," she writes. Congress should focus on their lack of agreement to raise the debt ceiling and the looming deadline on extending Bush's tax cuts, she suggests.

Michael Kinsley in Bloomberg View on outsourcing Kinsley criticizes Obama for casting outsourcing as a universally bad practice and criticizes Romney for defending his actions at Bain only by noting that they were legal. "If Romney is a free trader at heart, faking a bit of protectionism, Obama seems to be a protectionist at heart, faking a belief in free trade," he says. "It's probably all just talk. Obama campaigns like a crusading populist, and then governs like a consensus-seeking moderate. This works well with an electorate that wants radical change as long as everything important -- e.g., monthly checks from the government -- stays the same."

Jamal Abdi in The New York Times on Apple, Iran, and discrimination Abdi describes a few episodes in which Apple employees denied service to customers who spoke Persian or identified themselves as Iranian. "Apple has not been taken over by xenophobes. The discrimination is one result of trying to enforce flawed and haphazard United States export controls against countries, like Iran, that are under sanctions. Retail employees are left to interpret and implement federal policy, and racial profiling results," Abdi writes. This all follows from misinterpretation on the ground of the government's pressure on banks and companies to cease commercial activity with Iran, a consequence Abdi says the U.S. should do more to prevent. "Sanctions are no longer just choking off Iran but jeopardizing the values and basic civil liberties of some American citizens."

Edward Glaeser in Bloomberg View on Australia's coal industry Glaeser says Americans should look to Australia and it's mining industry as they consider how tapping our energy resources will affect our economy. In polls, Australians typically overestimate by huge factors the amount of money and employment their mining industry brings in. "Australians may prefer to see themselves as a nation of rugged extractors, rather than as a conventional service-based economy, but overestimating the importance of natural resources can lead to faulty public policy," Glaeser writes. "The wealth that comes out of the ground is a short-term windfall, not a long-term source of economic growth. The U.S. and Australia should both recognize that their futures depend on training smart, innovative entrepreneurs and reducing the barriers that limit their success."

Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal on Romney's vacation photos Henninger joins other conservatives in questioning Romney's judgement when he allowed himself to be photographed with his wife "looking absolutely fabulous" on a jet ski. If the campaign staff didn't see the "lobster roast" coming, they ought to be replaced, he says. "But what if the campaign staff did warn Mr. Romney but were waved off by the candidate himself, confident in his own judgment? If that happened, then neither the second coming of Lee Atwater nor James Carville will save this candidate from blowing himself up eventually with another bad call." Henninger notes the double-standard of Democrats, whose presidents have had their own luxury vacation homes through the years, but he adds that Kennedys had the benefit of a news cycle where images died more quickly. "Mr. Romney is right that he was entitled to a family vacation. But let's put it this way. The man on that jet ski will be able to spend the next four years on vacation."

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