Five Best Wednesday Columns
Harold Meyerson on the deeper meaning of flying first class, Byron York on another Rick Santorum presidential run, Sarah Burnside on the female first-person, John Cassidy on doubts about Jeff Bezos, and Ted Koppel on overreacting to terrorism.
Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post on the deeper meaning of flying first class Airlines are upgrading their business and first-class seating at the expense of worse conditions for coach, a sign Meyerson argues reflects the general economic polarization of the haves taking from the have-nots. "Airplanes, like stagnating economies, are finite, and if one class takes up more space or commands more resources, the other class gets less," he writes. "That’s the reality that today’s air travel illustrates, as the comfortable standard seat that once was the norm goes the way of the dwindling middle class." Ezra Klein, editor of The Washington Post's Wonkblog, calls Meyerson's idea, "The airline theory of the middle class." "So true, so sad," tweets Albany Times Union blogger Alan Rudnick.
Byron York in the Washington Examiner on another Rick Santorum presidential run In the 2012 Republican primary, Rick Santorum was the last challenger to eventual nominee Mitt Romney, so why isn't anyone excitedly speculating about another run for the former Pennsylvania senator? "Romney lost because he failed to appeal to the millions of Americans who have seen their standard of living decline in recent decades. Of all the GOP’s possible candidates, Santorum has the most cogent analysis of that loss, and a plan to avoid repeating it in 2016," York argues, as he runs down Santorum's proposals for lower taxes and partly subsidized education. "@RickSantorum making lots of sense on how the GOP needs to connect with the working class, not just entrepreneurs," tweets BuzzFeed political editor McKay Coppins, but Daily Beast columnist Peter Beinart is doubtful: "Rick Santorum's big idea for how GOP can win working class is...community colleges."
Sarah Burnside in The Guardian on the female first-person "Why are op-eds written by women more prone to verge on the personal?" Burnside's headline reads. She cites statistics showing that in Australia, women wrote just a quarter of op-eds on politics but half of all on first-person friendly subjects like parenting and relationships. "Whatever the reasons, the division is problematic, tending to entrench hoary stereotypes of men as creatures of the intellect, and women of the emotions." Peter Spence, liveblogger for City A.M., speculates that this gender difference can be explained because "men aren't called upon to provide examples of what being a man is like, women are." "Apologies for navel gazing, but this is an interesting point," tweets New Statesman deputy editor Helen Lewis.
John Cassidy in The New Yorker on doubts about Jeff Bezos Journalists have generally responded positively to the purchase of The Washington Post by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, but that could just be blind optimism. "It is surely fanciful to suggest that Bezos, simply because of his experience at Amazon, will immediately come up with a fresh digital strategy to save the Post," he writes. Instead, the reason behind Bezos' purchase could be political, a way to ensure Amazon's monopolistic hold on the online retail industry. "Behind Bezos’s public image as a smiling geek there is a ruthless business strategist," he writes. "A persuasive case," tweets Noam Scheiber, senior editor at The New Republic. "Interesting sceptical take," writes Ian Birrell, columnist and contributing editor of The Daily Mail.
Ted Koppel in The Wall Street Journal on overreacting to terrorism "Terrorism, after all, is designed to produce overreaction," writes, Koppel, the famed news broadcaster. And with America's wide closure of foreign embassies and drone strikes, "It appears to be working." In particular, the U.S. permanent surveillance state has played directly into Al-Qaeda's hands. "We have created an economy of fear, an industry of fear, a national psychology of fear. Al Qaeda could never have achieved that on its own. We have inflicted it on ourselves," he writes. James Breiner, director of the Global Business Journalism program at Tsinghua University tweets, "Couldn't agree more w/ Ted Koppel." But Tim Graham of conservative media watchdog NewsBusters caustically writes "Koppel wants terrorism de-emphasized to the point that it’s seen as less dangerous to America than household ladder accidents."