Five Best Thursday Columns

Jennifer Rubin on why Ted Cruz isn't the new conservative standard-bearer, Ana Defillo responds to Bustle's critics, Issac Chotiner on Hillary Clinton's still-clear path to the White House, Jon Lee Anderson on Al-Shabaab's terror beyond the Nairobi Westgate, and Matt Yglesias on the conservative media bubble. 

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Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post on why Sen. Ted Cruz isn't the new conservative standard-bearer. Rubin insists that Cruz's extreme anti-Obamacare fight won't appeal to the majority of voters, even though it's playing well in conservative media. She explains, "often that [the extreme conservative] view [is] a small minority of public opinion," and "you see this disparity again and again in the stark contrast between the hard-line conservative media’s views and national polling on everything from immigration to the government shutdown." Cruz's "dogmatic, the-other-guys-are-the-enemy demeanor" may make for good entertainment, but it won't convince the average American conservative voter, who "must be persuaded, not pummeled." Sen. John McCain, who doesn't agree with Cruz on a lot of things, called Rubin's piece a "must-read." Brian Beutler, a liberal politics writer at Salon, responded to conservative blogger Rubin: "Oh no. We agree."

Ana Defillo at Flavorwire responds to Bustle's critics. Defillo is a freelance writer at Bustle, Bryan Goldberg's women's web property that got universally panned after he unwittingly admitted he knew nothing about women's publishing (or women in general). Defillo, a self-identified feminist, responds to the "kerfuffle": "I am not defending what Bryan said. I think the fact that he was able to raise $6.5 million dollars for a feminist site without really understanding what that means is indicative of a larger systemic issue within the tech and media worlds that has been rightfully pointed out by Elizabeth SpiersAnna HolmesRachel Sklar, and many others. It’s not fair that a 30-year-old white dude has access to this much start-up money when there are so many more qualified women in the same field with significantly less access to capital." But before Goldberg stuck his foot in his mouth, NPR and The New York Times were taking Bustle seriously, Defillo argues. "It’s a tragedy that, because of all the negative press it’s received, Bustle might not make it past tomorrow." Mikki Kendall, a feminist blogger mentioned in the piece, says, "I kind of love [Defillo]." But media critic Jay Rosen asks, "where are the links to all the unfair critics overlooking the good stuff about Bustle and unfairly narrowing the issue?"

Issac Chotiner at The New Republic on Hillary Clinton's still-clear path to the White House. Chotiner responds to The New Yorker's Amy Davidson's recent prediction of a 2016 Clinton presidential campaign turning into a trainwreck thusly: "I basically feel the same way Davidson does, but I also think her reading of American politics is much too sanguine. As sleazy as some of the activities of the Clinton Foundation might turn out to be, it is highly unlikely they are going to sink Hillary's chances." And yes, Clinton lost to Obama in the 2008 primary, but "Hillary happened to be running against the best candidate of the past 50-plus years. She happened to be running against the man who ran the smartest campaign of the past 50-plus years." And Obama got on the right side of the Iraq War issue before Clinton did. She could still lose, but "her current poll position is unprecedented for a non-incumbent vice president, and her establishment support will be near-universal." Davidson, for her part, recommends the piece.

Jon Lee Anderson at The New Yorker on Al-Shabaab's terror beyond the Nairobi Westgate. Anderson explains that al-Shabaab warned Kenya it would attack the mall, and in "Shabaab’s murderous logic, the existence of a prior warning absolved them of guilt in the deaths of those people whom its commandos have murdered." But the problem is not just Shabaab — "the culprit here, beyond poverty and lack of education and all the rest of it, is political Islam and its aberrant variations, which together have taken a religious faith and turned it into a tool of warfare and a toxic adjunct of modern day globalization." World leaders need to consider the entire picture, not an isolated attack, when trying to prevent these incidents in the future. Laura M. Holson, a features writer at The New York Times, calls the piece a "must-read." Tristan McConnell, a Nairobi correspondent for The Times of London and the Global Post also recommends it.

Matt Yglesias at Slate on the conservative media bubble. Yglesias thinks Fox News doesn't get it — White House correspondent Ed Henry asked White House press secretary Jay Carney if he'd sign up for Obamacare, if he was uninsured. Yglesias calls it the "world's dumbest 'gotcha question.'" Of course, Jay Carney wants health care. Even though the Carney family is probably affluent, if they were uninsured, they'd be at "risk of bankruptcy as in the case of major illness or accident the health care industry will take them for every penny they have." Yglesias concedes: "There really is a smallish class of people out there — primarily affluent single men in their late 20s and early 30s with no chronic ailments — for whom you could try to make the case that signing up is a bad financial move." But for most people and families, Obamacare is a no-brainer. Dan Pfeiffer, assistant to President Obama, calls it a "smart take."

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