Five Best Tuesday Columns

Amy Davidson on gay marriage, Nate Cohn on post-Iraq liberalism, Michael Pettis on risky banking, Josh Barro on "soaking the poor," and John Dickerson on Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.

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Amy Davidson at The New Yorker on the inevitable fall of DOMA In anticipation of this week's oral arguments before the Supreme Court — today, on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8; tomorrow, on whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act violates the Constitution's equal protection clause — Amy Davidson traces the bureaucratic drama of gay rights, finding the legal recognition of gay couples inevitable. "What would America look like if there were ... two soldiers, one who could list her husband as her next of kin and one who could not make sure that her wife would be the one the Army sought out first if something happened?" Davidson asks "[T]hat is how America looks right now, and it is why the Defense of Marriage Act is doomed." Eschewing appeals to emotion, Davidson offers the simplicity of fairness as the guiding principle for marriage equality, going forward. "The very madness of the bureaucratic illogic that DOMA creates might generate even more government interest in overturning it."

Nate Cohn at The New Republic on the post-Iraq American liberalism Challenging Ross Douthat's claim that the circumstances following the failed American occupation of Iraq led to the rise of a new kind of liberalism — led by a new kind of president, Barack Obama — Nate Cohn argues, instead, that Americans have rejected conservatism on principle, not because of a single catastrophe. "To blame the Iraq war for the ascent of liberalism is to suggest that the public hasn't really repudiated conservatism: Americans' judgment was simply clouded by a single, albeit enormous, Republican-led misstep," Cohn writes. "In reality, we're witnessing the rise of a new, diverse, and socially moderate generation—one that has allowed Democrats to keep the presidency despite governing as liberals and dividing the electorate along the lines of the two Bush elections."

Michael Pettis in the Financial Times on the need for risky bankers "Conventional wisdom has it that the financial crisis originating in the US proves that the 'Anglo-Saxon' financial model is too dangerous and too deeply flawed to have much to teach the rest of the world," begins Michael Pettis, referring to a strain of capitalism characterized by limited regulation. Pettis suggests that we accorded value to this financial model because "the 'other' main banking model" — that is, a more tightly regulated one — "seemed to have failed so spectacularly in the country [Japan] that was long considered its greatest exponent." This suggests a need for risk takers in an unregulated economy. "Long-term wealth creation accrues most to societies in which the financial system most willingly funds risk-taking entrepreneurs." Pettis acknowledges the caveats, though: "The more a financial system is willing to finance risky new ventures, the greater the likelihood of banking instability."

Josh Barro at Bloomberg View on "soaking the poor" Responding to a multi-bylined op-ed decrying the growth of federal welfare programs published in the weekend Wall Street Journal, Josh Barro highlights the "empathy gap" between Republican thinkers and policymakers and the constituents whose lives their ideas affect. "Why respond to the poverty-trap problem by calling for big cuts to benefits?" asks Barro, who criticizes mainstream GOP wisdom for its willingness to cut benefits amidst an economic recession — precisely the moment, he says, when beneficiaries are most vulnerable. "The authors emphasize that entitlement cuts must be done in a "humane" way. But they do not stop and think about ... a middle-class person who depends on Social Security as his largest source of income in retirement, as most do," Barro writes. "They don't reckon with the possibility that capping the federal commitment to Medicaid would have not just fiscal effects but also human ones: denying health care to people who need it and cannot afford it."

John Dickerson at Slate on the rise of Marco Rubio and Rand Paul Can Marco Rubio and Rand Paul actually lead the Grand Old Party out from the wilderness of its massive post-November loss? The answer is still uncertain, writes John Dickerson, but both men's sudden prominence portends a prolonger period of introspection among party leaders. "The presidential jockeying of these two men ... tells us something about the Republican Party they would hope to lead. The GOP is going through a molting period," Dickerson writes. "The route each man charts and how successful he is in capturing arguments of the moment—on immigration, drones, and whatever else comes up—will tell us something about what the emerging Republican Party values and what it might look like as it tries to get in shape for the next national contest." Dickerson suggests nothing less than a transformation: "If the Republican Party of 2016 embraces either of these two senators it will be a radically different party."

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