Ross Douthat in The New York Times on the consolidation of the elite Susan Patton, the author of the controversial letter to The Daily Princetonian suggesting to Princeton women that they look for a husband at the Ivy League school, revealed an uncomfortable reality, writes Ross Douthat. "[Patton's] betrayal consists of being gauche enough to acknowledge publicly a truth that everyone who’s come up through Ivy League culture knows intuitively ... that rather than an escalator elevating the best and brightest from every walk of life, the meritocracy as we know it mostly works to perpetuate the existing upper class." Patton's mistake, Douthat argues, was saying so out loud. "That the actual practice of meritocracy mostly involves a strenuous quest to avoid any kind of downward mobility, for oneself or for one’s kids, is something every upper-class American understands deep in his or her highly educated bones." Though outfits like First Things and The American Conservative praised the column, Hanna Rosin at Slate pointed out that Douthat didn't directly address the implication of Patton's letter — that the point of college is to secure a mate. "You should still totally ignore Patton’s advice," Rosin writes. "No need to snag a man in college. Show up at the tenth or fifteenth reunion and there will still be plenty of available Princeton men to go around."
Margaret Talbot in The New Yorker on Congress's inaction on gun violence Why does the post-Newtown push to legislate greater restrictions on guns seem to be failing? According to Margaret Talbot, it's a misplaced fear of influencing a gun-heavy culture via politics — and the attendant fear of the N.R.A.'s wrath. "A background check would not have stopped Adam Lanza, who had no criminal record, and whose mother had reportedly bought the guns he used in Newtown," Talbot admits. "But laws influence culture, just as culture influences laws, and if Congress enacted a serious piece of gun-control legislation perhaps that might initiate a subtle shift in American attitudes toward guns, and that might eventually lead some parent with a deeply troubled, deeply isolated son fascinated by violence to think twice before turning the family home into a munitions depot." Rich Lowry of the National Review thinks the reversal of momentum is even simpler, though: "Gun control always founders on the fundamental paradox that it is possible to write new laws for the law-abiding but difficult or impossible to reach criminals who don’t care about the laws." Joe Nocera of The New York Times considers the case of the "gun guys."