5 Best Sunday Columns

Senator Chafee wants a third political party, health care wonks worry about the summit, and reporters finally bring good news from Afghanistan

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  • Let's Form A Centrist Third Party  Former Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) pitches to retiring Democratic Senator Evan Bayh and other like-minded politicians. "In 2001, John Zogby, the pollster, told our Republican caucus, 'There is a burgeoning centrist third party waiting to be formed.' Either party could make a strategic decision to capture the center, he said, or both could wait for a third party to fill the vacuum ... With our hopes for a post-partisan era still unmet, I say to Senator Bayh: Welcome to the club of independents who are looking for a better way to serve. Before long, we centrists may even come together to define the third party that Mr. Zogby foresaw in 2001."
  • Can GOP-Tea Party Civil War End Peacefully?  The Los Angeles Times' Jacob Heilbrunn writes, "Whether the GOP can permanently harness the energies of the tea party, however, is another matter. The insurgent party may well drive the GOP so far to the right that it proves something of an albatross in November. It's also hard to see how the GOP could deliver on the tea party's demand for cutting federal entitlement programs, which is political suicide. Indeed, Republicans might well prove as ineffectual as Democrats in attacking the deficit, which they compiled in the first place during the Bush presidency."
  • Why Health Care Summit Is Risky  The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn worries that Republicans could stick Democrats with a much smaller reform bill, which they'd be pressured to pass. "Don't be surprised if, on Thursday, Obama looks for a few more GOP ideas to throw in the mix, both to show good faith and to incorporate ideas he actually supports. I have no idea how the Republicans will respond. Maybe a few will break with the pack and offer a real bipartisan compromise of their own, something far smaller and less consequential. It'd be hard for Obama and the Democrats to turn down, much as I wish otherwise."
  • Can U.S. Regain Momentum in Afghanistan?  The New York Times' Dexter Filkins explores the ongoing Marjah Offensive as a test for America's mission. "It’s been a long time since the Americans seemed to be in the driver’s seat here — or to be on top of things at all," he writes. "Under that plan, killing the insurgents in Marja figured as the least important part of the battle. (As it was, the heaviest fighting appeared to be over by week’s end.) What comes after the shooting, by General McChrystal’s account, is what matters most: building an Afghan government, police force and army that can keep the Taliban out after the fighting is over. Failing to do so — to build institutions to allow the Afghan state to stand on its own — has been the main shortcoming of America’s strategy since 2001."
  • The Greek Lesson for America  National Journal's Clive Crook examines Greece's financial crisis. "America's size makes a Greek-style crisis less likely, but should it somehow happen, that asset will become a liability. There is no vastly larger, richer entity to which the U.S. can turn for help. All of which underlines the need for the U.S. to start confronting its long-term fiscal problem. As I have previously argued, short-term stimulus is still needed. It would be a big mistake to withdraw fiscal support for the economy too soon. But it is not too soon for the Obama administration to start explaining how longer-term borrowing is going to be brought under control in 2012 and beyond."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.