Five Best Friday Columns

Peggy Noonan on Paul Ryan as Clark Kent, Dana Milbank on labeling hate groups, Karin Olsson on Julian Assange's flight to Ecuador, Alex Koppelman on dying breed of moderates, and Jonathan Weil on bank regulation.

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Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal on framing Paul Ryan as Clark Kent Noonan has words of advice for the Republican campaign: You can't forget people's poor economic circumstances. Half the people in the country receive government benefits, and they're worried that political leaders don't care. Instead of having Ryan associated with the word cutting, start framing it like Romney-Ryan will save social safety net programs. Have Ryan do long interviews ("The more you see of Paul Ryan, the more you understand and appreciate his thinking") and run an ad showing Ryan as a Clark Kent figure saving an old lady in a wheelchair, a metaphor for saving Medicare. "An old cliché of politics has never been truer," Noonan writes. "'They don't care what you know unless they know that you care.' Or, it's the circumstances, stupid."

Dana Milbank in The Washington Post on labeling hate groups The shooting at the Family Research Council, a mainstream conservative think tank, was fueled by politics. Milbank says it's a reminder that "while much of the political anger in America today lies on the right, there are unbalanced and potentially violent people of all political persuasions. The rest of us need to be careful about hurling accusations that can stir up the crazies." Putting FRC in the same category as the Ku Klux Klan, for example, is questionable. FRC is offensive but calling it a hate group is using the word "hate" too loosely.

Karin Olsson in The Guardian on Julian Assange's flight to Ecuador The Swedish really don't understand why Assange would leave their country for Ecuador, a country with an awful freedom of expression record, Olsson says. In Ecuador, Assange is a plaything for President Rafael Correa, who "is patently unable to tolerate any truths that he does not own." Sweden, on the other hand, is "a decent democracy with a largely excellent justice system," where Assange would not have been executed or shipped away as Ecuadorian's foreign minister accused. Olsson writes that Assange's "unholy alliance with Ecuador's political leadership casts a shadow over what was, despite everything, his real achievement: to reveal shattering news through the revolutionary medium of WikiLeaks."

Alex Koppelman in The New Yorker on the dying breed of moderates Chris Shays got destroyed in Republican Senate primaries in Connecticut this week, showing that the moderate politician is a dying breed. He was in the House for more than two decades and in 2008 was the only Republican in the House from all of New England. Similarly, Democrats in the south may be running out of luck with redistricting. The problem: Most of bills get passed because they're "almost entirely uncontroversial or because they’re last-minute patches intended to stop a crisis like the government defaulting on its debts." Until a demographic realignment happens, "we’re likely to have a government divided along regional lines and paralyzed by polarization."

Jonathan Weil in Bloomberg View on bank regulator Benjamin Lawsky New York state's Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky "squeezed a record settlement" out of bank Standard Chartered for allegedly money laundering in Iran. With the backing of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Lawsky took on the case at the state level even though usually banks are regulated at the federal level. Federal regulators say Lawsky "hijacked their investigation in an ambitious power grab." But Weil commends Lawsky. "If the federal government would do a better job of overseeing large banks, rather than protecting them, there would be no opportunity or reason for someone like Lawsky to step in," he writes. "Having active, competent, functional state financial regulators can only be a good thing."

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