Five Best Tuesday Columns
Eugene Robinson on Boehner's role in immigration reform, Gerald Seib on the US's fading influence in Egypt, and Nickie Phillips and Staci Strobl on Superman, murder, and the "American Way."
Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post on Boehner and immigration reform Robinson has two pieces of advice for House Speaker John Boehner for handling immigration reform. Step 1: Press House Republicans to pass the Senate-approved bill and improve the Republican Party's standing among Hispanic voters. Step 2: Let the more conservative members of the House majority oust him from the "thankless job" of Speaker of the House. Losing the job, Robinson argues, should be an "easy call" for Boehner since "Leading the House Republican majority is like trying to get a bunch of cats to do synchronized swimming." Professor Julian Zelizer on CNN agrees with the basic premise: with a combination of lobbying and pork, Boehner can get enough Republican signatures to vote for the deal and claim a major legislative achievement that could "rebuild a languishing speakership."
Gerald Seib in The Wall Street Journal on the US's fading influence on Egypt The United States' annual $2 billion donation to Egypt has, for the past 30-some years, returned hefty political influence in the Egyptian government, but in the current crisis, Seib argues the U.S. has been rendered to the sidelines. In a call to Egyptian President Morsi late Monday night, President Obama refrained from taking an official position on the government's future. But, as Seib argues, "the broader question may be whether it makes much difference." Today, Qatar's $3 billion aid to Egypt dwarfs the American contribution, and the US has failed in pushing its Middle East allies, such as Saudi Arabia, to support the Morsi regime. Similarly, Michael Crowley of Time wonders if Obama's reticence to take a side is hurting the US' influence even further.
Matthew Yglesias in Slate on the absurdity of American CEO pay The extravagant salaries paid to company CEOs — compiled by Equilar for a recent New York Times article — has few patterns and makes little sense, argues Yglesias. Among CEOs, Americans earn more than their overseas counterparts and the leaders of media companies fare the best; still, no one is quite sure why. "There’s certainly no clear link to corporate performance, and even the link to corporate size is surprisingly vague." Because the value of a CEO is difficult to identify, Board Directors have resorted to paying the CEO market price, which may or may not reflect their true value. Today, Yglesias followed up on the piece and wondered whether CEOs are, in fact, underpaid.
Lauren Shields in Salon on her year without Western fashion Tired of being judged by others (and herself) on her physical appearance, freelance author Shields covered her hair, wore no makeup, and covered her arms and legs in clothing for a full year as part of what she called a "Modesty Experiment." The experience "was kind of brutal, and really liberating," Shields writes, saying that others took her ideas more seriously and respected her more as an individual. "Although she says some problematic things, I respect this woman's journey," tweets Sheila social worker Vakharia.
Nickie D. Phillips and Staci Strobl in The Wall Street Journal on Superman and murder Even if you haven't seen the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, you can probably guess that our hero wins in the end, saves the Earth, and defeats the evil bad guy, Zod. Even so, the ending (Spoiler Alert!) for Zod came as a brutal suprise for many viewers accustomed to the hyper-moral Superman character. But the methods of justice of America's most culturally-representative superhero matters, Phillips and Strobl argue: "Whether the threat is communism and the Cold War or terrorism in a post-9/11 context, discussions about deathworthiness prompt a re-examination of the concept of absolute power, the rule of law, and the difficulties balancing public safety with individual rights."