Five Best Wednesday Columns
Amy Davidson on Anthony Weiner's latest fiasco, Jay Rosen on the rise of the personality branded news site, John Arquilla on Iraq as an effective war, Noam Scheiber on the next Fed chairman, and Stephen Kelly on that other, open border to the north.
Amy Davidson at The New Yorker on the end of the road for Anthony Weiner We can respect the decision of Anthony Weiner's wife Huma Abedin — a Hillary Clinton aide — to stay with her husband after another round of revelations of online infidelity, "but her grim insistence that he really ought to be mayor isn’t owed the same deference. Maybe Abedin was brave, but to what end?" Davidson writes. "This is the Preternatural Political Wife." Weiner is clearly wrong for the position, despite Abedin's pleas. "The issue here isn’t prudery but his pettiness, recklessness, and shaving of the truth," Davidson writes. "Maybe all politicians lie; maybe many husbands do. But, as voters, do we have to listen?" Davidson "is spot on," tweets The Wall Street Journal writer Carmel Melouney. Weiner and Abedin were reminiscent of the Clintons during their Monica Lewinsky scandal, and The Sunday Times editor Sarah Baxter asks, "Will Weiner's racy texts as Carlos Danger put voters off returning Bill Clinton to the White House? #Huma = #Hillary."
Jay Rosen in PressThink on the rise of the personal franchise news site The personal franchise site that mixes news, analysis, and opinion — think Ezra Klein's Wonkbook at The Washington Post, or the move of Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog to ESPN — is the biggest thing going for major media brands right now. "They avoid a holy war over news vs. opinion while quietly letting the distinction corrode," Rosen explains. "This is a recognition that the formal structure makes no sense." Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of The New York Times, calls it a "Smart piece on Nate Silver and the rise of other 'personal franchise' players in media." The new model still has some issues, though, as Wired writer Maryn McKenna notes that "most lucrative 'personal franchise' media sites run by men."
John Arquilla in Foreign Policy on Iraq as America's best-run war Arquilla compares the three wars of the last decade — in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya — on a 1-10 scale for various military factors, and finds that Iraq was the most effective war effort. "This suggests to me that the results achieved in the conduct of the war in Iraq — despite the debatable context of the conflict — may prove of great future value to soldiers and strategists," such as in a potential coming war with Syria. "I think mostly goes to show why traditional principles of conventional warfare don't apply to insurgencies," tweets Steve Negus, AP editor and a former Iraq and Egypt correspondent. But Marc Lynch, Professor of Political Science at George Washington University, writes that Iraq is only the most valuable "if you use very silly metrics."
Noam Scheiber in The New Republic on the next chairman of the Fed Who will Obama select to replace Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve? Not Larry Summers and his terrible bedside manner, Scheiber hopes. "If Summers were to preside by strong-arming and browbeating those who disagreed with him — a methodology he’s been known to favor — he might score a few tactical victories. But he would risk strategic defeat," because the Fed committee generally requires true consensus. Instead, current Fed vice chairman Janet Yellen and her "solid track record" would be a better selection for Obama. Scheiber "makes the deepest, most informative case I've seen for Yellen over Summers at the Fed," tweets New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait. Why exactly does Obama prefer Summers? "My pet theory: a guilt-ridden Obama promised him job after passing him up last time," Businessweek national correspondent Joshua Green speculates.
Stephen R. Kelly in The New York Times on the open border with Canada That other, less controversial U.S. border to the north was once wide open, as French Canadians from Quebec poured into America at the turn of the 20th century. "The United States not only survived this unregulated onslaught, it prospered," Kelly writes. These immigrants took difficult, low paying jobs in factories and were vilified by Americans, but stayed and slowly assimilated over time. Sound familiar? "What the French Canadian experience shows is that our current obsession with border security is inconsistent with our history, undermines our economic vitality and is likely to fail," he adds. "Somehow we survived the influx of Canadian illegal immigrants," senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Edward Alden sarcastically tweets. Evan Annett, an editor for Canada's The Globe and Mail recommends a read "on the great Québécois migration and the futility of an airtight U.S. border."