Five Best Wednesday Columns

Ezra Klein on the dumbest campaign question, Glenn Greenwald on CNN International, Steve A. Yetiv on domestic oil, Thomas Friedman on interdependent foreign policy, and Michael Kazin on presidents as family men.

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Ezra Klein in Bloomberg View on the dumbest campaign question "Are you better off than you were four years go?" is not a good question. Not only was Obama not president then, voters care more about the year leading up to the election, anyway. And in the past year, jobs have been added. That said, the question assumes presidents are kings. "If you’re not better off four years after a fire destroyed your home, that doesn’t mean the fire department did a bad job."

Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian on CNN International and the Arab Spring Amber Lyon reported on the Arab Spring for CNN last spring in an award-winning documentary called iRevolution, but CNN's international arm CNNi never aired it. It was an unusual move, considering cost and complaints from Lyon and others. "By refusing to broadcast iRevolution, the network's executives ensured it was never seen on television by Bahrainis or anyone else in the region."

Steve A. Yetiv in The New York Times on domestic oil's real benefits The U.S. may be having an oil boom, but "the benefits are less than meet the eye." Americans are not the only ones using the oil; prices are still set globally. People will still speculate on the price of oil. And oil-rich countries will raise their prices if U.S. oil drops too low. "Let’s not exaggerate what the energy boom can do for the United States and American consumers."

Thomas Friedman in The New York Times on interdependent foreign policy Romney's few words on foreign policy have been "big stick" style. That's not going to work in reality because nowadays,  "your 'allies' can hurt you as much as your 'enemies.' After all, the biggest threats to President Obama’s re-election are whether little Greece pulls out of the euro zone and triggers a global economic meltdown or whether Israel attacks Iran and does the same." The best thing to do is to lead by example, not just "from the front or behind."

Michael Kazin in The New Republic on presidents who aren't family men Why do we care if a president is a family man? Based on history, "hardly any of our most consequential chief executives would have been able to live up to the current standard of presidential uxoriousness and fond paternity." George Washington had no kids. Andrew Jackson's wife died two weeks after he was elected. "Perhaps we shouldn’t make it a central part of the job description today either."

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