Dana Milbank in The Washington Post on why John Kerry's failure to broker a ceasefire in Gaza reflects his overambitious foreign policy. Milbank writes that after Kerry's latest setback in mediating peace in Gaza, Kerry is learning his own limits. "Kerry, former chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, had been rumored as a possible secretary of state since at least 2000. After getting the job in 2013, he’s been making up for lost time. With a golden retriever’s enthusiasm, he has thrust himself into crisis after crisis. But breakthroughs have eluded him; the world has become more unstable and U.S. influence less effective." He concludes that "Kerry deserves credit for trying. But his nearly 18 months on the job are a lesson in humility — not just for Kerry but for those in Congress who smugly second-guess the officials they oversee. Leading the world is harder than it looks."
Justin Wolfers in The New York Times on why the effectiveness of the Obama stimulus is a political issue not an economic one. Wolfers cites a University of Chicago survey of top economists, which asks whether or not the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act helped stimulate the economy. "The economists surveyed constitute a good sample of the leading economists in the nation, and the panel was chosen to be geographically diverse, to include older and younger economists, and importantly, to include Democrats, Republicans and independents. The most important qualification is that these are top-notch economists: senior faculty at the leading economics departments in the United States who are also vitally interested in public policy." Wolfers then summarizes the findings: "Among those who responded, 36 agreed that the stimulus bill had lowered the unemployment rate, while one disagreed... Indeed, the best research into the views of economists finds that this consensus is pervasive across a range of issues. Call it the hidden consensus in economics. It’s there, but remains largely out of sight, because in a competitive political system there’s always an incentive for at least some advocates to try to portray any empirical claim as deeply contested."