Five Best Wednesday Columns

Ben Howe on the quality of conservative entertainment, Donna Brazile on Susan Patton's advice for women, Marin Cogan on Rubio's immigration plan, Michael Wolff on Christopher Hitchens's legacy, and John Podhoretz on academia's attraction to danger.

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Ben Howe at BuzzFeed on the quality of conservative entertainment Why, Ben Howe asks, are politically conservative movies so terrible? "Pop-culture portrayals of our party have led many voters to associate us more closely with segregation than economic liberty," writes Howe, an editor at the activist website RedState, who dissects the garish, melodramatic trailer of A Movement on Fire, recently posted on YouTube by a group called the Tea Party Patriots. "Instead of pulling people into a story that espouses the underlying tenets of liberty, [the trailer] slaps them across the face with all of the subtlety of a campaign commercial." Howe's measured criticism earned him the rebuke of Breitbart's John Nolte, who has a long history of criticizing BuzzFeed for allegedly spinning news in favor of the Obama administration. "BuzzFeed is the kind of site that would gleefully exploit Howe's material for maximum effect to marginalize and ridicule a fledgling conservative movement," Nolte says. On Twitter, Howe was less cynical: "If we want to be artists we have to take and give criticism."

Donna Brazile at CNN on Susan Patton's advice for women Princeton alumna Susan Patton's advice for college-aged women, first published in The Daily Princetonian, isn't just silly, argues Donna Brazile; it's actively harmful. "Perhaps if I'd focused instead on nailing down a man by the time I was 22, I could be going to cocktail parties and co-opting my husband and children's successes ... rather than being forced to talk about the current state of politics or what we can do as a society to engage the next generation in the struggles of today," Brazile mockingly laments. In the same fashion, she adds, "There aren't a lot of well-educated women who would be courageous enough to completely sell out the feminist movement ... in favor of the 1950s' mentality that a woman's worth is determined by her marital status." The conservative MSNBC host S.E. Cupp, writing at the New York Daily News, rebuts the charge that Patton is trying to undermine women. "What's so subversive and 'retro' about the idea of talented, ambitious young women finding a suitable partner from a pool of talented, ambitious — and geographically accessible — young men?" Cupp asks.

Marin Cogan in The New Republic on Marco Rubio's immigration plan Will GOP star and Florida Senator Marco Rubio walk away from immigration reform? Marin Cogan thinks so, pointing to a weekend press release from Rubio's office, addressing rumors that he and group of senators had reached a workable proposal. "Getting Republicans on board for [a immigration reform bill] is going to require a willingness to take big risks," Cogan notes. " ... Rubio's past political behavior doesn't suggest he'd be the type to take the plunge ... especially with all of the untold opportunities for right-wing radio to turn a small but very vocal minority against reform." Others closely watching Rubio have sensed a similar hesitance. Take The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky. "[Rubio] wants to try to protect himself from being damaged too badly if reform collapses," he writes. But The Week's Matt K. Lewis sees no reason to panic. Rushing a bill through Congress, he writes, is "probably the best way to guarantee a). a bad bill, and b). legislation that won’t pass the House."

Michael Wolff in GQ on Christopher Hitchens's legacy What kind of man was Christopher Hitchens, the much-loved and -hated essayist who died in 2011? For one, writes Michael Wolff, he was no model by which others should fashion their careers: "His style of journalism, that particular, opportunistic, cynical British form (ridiculed by the British too), was all about parachuting into a foreign country and acquiring, mirabile dictu, instant expertise," Wolff observes. "His greatest effort always seemed to be to live in public, with the effort itself being more important than the nature of the opinions or controversy that got him there." Wolff, something of a controversial character himself, has at least one supporter in Dylan Byers, another controversial journalist who works at Politico and saw an advance copy of Wolff's column. Hitchens, Byers wrote in March, "was all volume, tolerable only because of the accent. He was preaching to the choir, and the choir desperately wanted to elect another preacher."

John Podhoretz in the New York Post on academia's attraction to danger It was perfect tabloid fodder: Columbia and NYU, both elite institutions, were paying former Weatherman Kathy Boudin, who spent two-plus decades in prison for assisting in an armed robbery during which three people were killed, to teach students. John Podhoretz diagnoses something deeper going on. Boudin's competition for her teaching posts "didn't have the glamor — there's no other word for it — that attaches in some quarters to Boudin’s red-diaper-baby-to-radical-revolutionary, put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is psychopathology," Podhoretz argues. "In those quarters — quarters that inevitably feature quads and dorms and annual tuition larger than the nation’s median income — the blood on her hands is a feature, not a bug. It’s a selling point, not something from which to recoil in disgust and horror." On Twitter, Podhoretz engaged with those who thought Boudin had paid her debt to society and should be allowed to contribute to it. Responding to Podhoretz's wish that Boudin "rot in hell," a former Obama staffer tweeted, "[I'm not] sure 'can rot in hell' is how our system of justice works. Will need to check with the Constitution, one sec."

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