Five Best Thursday Columns
Peter Beinart sees the rise of a new New Left, Nick Danforth questions Jon Stewart's Middle East analysis, Errol Louis applauds New York City voters, Jamelle Bouie shames Benghazi conspiracy theorists, and Monte Frank calls for more gun control, again.
Peter Beinart at The Daily Beast sees a rise of a new New Left. Political pundit Beinart argues that Bill de Blasio's victory in Democratic primary for New York City mayor signifies something greater — an end to the Clinton/Reagan era. He thinks Hillary Clinton should start worrying about Millennials on the left who are "more dovish on foreign policy" and less likely to trust free markets. This new "political generation" could have a huge influence in 2016, Beinart argues, as Millennials will make up one third of voters. Long-time political analyst Jeff Greenfield, who currently hosts "Need to Know" on PBS, writes, "agree or not, this lengthy look at the potential 'rise of a new Left' is well worth the time." BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith also recommends the piece. Neal Kwatra, a strategist for Ken Thompson's successful Brooklyn D.A. campaign, is "not sure I agree that HRC needs to fret just yet," but thinks the piece was "very smart."
Nick Danforth at The Atlantic on why old colonial borders aren't to blame for Middle East uprisings. The doctoral candidate in Turkish history at Georgetown University challenges commentators, including Jon Stewart at The Daily Show, who have suggested that "better borders, drawn with careful attention to the region’s ethnic and religious diversity, would have spared the Middle East a century’s worth of violence." The theory is "especially provocative" given the West's current debate over whether or not to intervene in Syria. Danforth is no colonial apologist, but thinks the militarization of "ethnic and religious identities" causes the most violence. Justin Green, the online editor at The Washington Examiner, responded facetiously: "Fairly safe to say we can just blame the French for most of the world's problems." And Crispin J. Burke, an army aviator who's written about the military for Foreign Policy and The New York Times, had a similar joking response: "B-But...I love scapegoating Sykes and Picot!"
Errol Louis at the New York Daily News hails the "revenge" of New York City voters. Louis, an expert on New York City politics and host of "Inside City Hall" on NY1, is pleased that city voters didn't put Weiner, Spitzer, or Vito Lopez in office. He writes that voters "forced the candidates to step their game up." Louis also points to the toppling of six-term incumbent Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes as evidence that voters can oust long-term public servants. BuzzFeed's Ben Smith recommended the piece by pointing out a fateful line from Hynes: "The black community, by and large, is mine." Maggie Haberman, a senior reporter at Politico, then responded to Smith: "It's like 2001 all over again."
Jamelle Bouie at The Daily Beast asks why right-wingers can't give up Benghazi conspiracy theories. Bouie criticizes Rep. Louie Gohmert for calling for yet another Benghazi investigation at a press conference a "few feet from the official congressional commemoration of 9/11." Bouie argues the conservative movement shouldn't be using 9/11 as a day to question whether the White House covered up what happened when four Americans were killed at the Libya compound last year. He's not hopeful, however, that the conspiracy theories are going to go away: "For as long as Barack Obama is in office — and Hillary Clinton in politics — Benghazi will be an 'issue.'" Alex Seitz-Wald, a reporter at the National Journal, particularly agreed with that line in the piece. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, who writes about economics and global issues for Forbes, wonders why Bouie is still writing about Gohmert and others: "What difference, at this point, does it make?"
Monte Frank at The Guardian urges lawmakers to act on gun control. Frank, a Newtown, Conn., attorney and legal adviser to the Newtown Action Alliance which supports stricter gun control laws, is appalled at this week's voter recall of two Colorado state senators who were opposed by the NRA. He quotes other Sandy Hook Elementary School parents, writing, "the madness must end." Frank now hopes Congress will try again to ban assault weapons, calling proponents of gun rights a "loud minority." Po Murray, another Newtown resident, concurred, "we need lawmakers to enact the people's will on gun control." Gun designer and manufacturer Paul Leitner-Wise disagreed. He called Frank's piece a "fail."