Five Best Thursday Columns

David Ignatius thinks opinion elites are too hard on Obama, Jonathan Chait on the self-delusions of conservative news sites, Molly Ball insists a shutdown would be bad for Republicans, Simon Johnson endorses Janet Yellen for Fed chair, and Molly Redden worries about the next Todd Akin. 

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David Ignatius at The Washington Post argues that Obama is getting criticized for the "right result" on Syria. Ignatius doesn't understand the recent Obama criticisms: "What’s puzzling about this latest bout of Obama-phobia is that recent developments in Syria have generally been positive from the standpoint of U.S. interests." Polls show the majority of Americans support Obama's course in Syria, but media coverage doesn't reflect that — "the opinion of elites is sharply negative." Ignatius thinks the "John McCain factor" could be at work: "The Arizona senator is in danger of becoming a kind of Republican version of Jesse Jackson, who shows up at every international crisis with his own plan for a solution." Andrew Exum, a former Army officer in Afghanistan and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, tweets: "This is actually a somewhat persuasive case by Ignatius on Obama and Syria. (The McCain line is brutal, though.)"

Jonathan Chait at New York thinks that conservative news sites are deluding themselves over Obamacare. Chait notes these sites, like National Review, "churn out new Obamacare collapse stories every single day, creating the impression of the law’s continued and unmistakable destruction." But they're misusing quotes — one NRO story uses a "scrap the bill" remark from billionaire investor Warren Buffett, even though Buffett is actually a staunch supporter of the President's health care law. Buffett corrected the record in an interview with the Omaha World-Herald, but conservative reporters "are probably never going to read untrustworthy lame-stream media organs like the Omaha World-Herald," jokes Chait. Michael Grunwald, a senior national correspondent at Time, sums up thusly: "Warren Buffett said he likes Obamacare, but obviously meant to say he hates it with a passion." Blake Hounshell, the deputy editor at Politico, calls Chait's piece the "anatomy of a Warren Buffett quote misused."

Molly Ball at The Atlantic writes that a government shutdown would be bad for Republicans. Ball claims some conservatives in Congress think "Americans . . . would cheer the Republicans for sticking to their principles and opposing" Obamacare by shutting down the government. According to Ball, the polls say otherwise. She also recounts how bad the 1995 shutdown was politically for Republicans: "It was a little like the dog catching the car," says Steve LaTourette, who was a GOP congressman at the time. Ball predicts "sleepless nights" ahead for conservatives should they pursue a shutdown. Robert Costa, the Washington editor at the conservative National Review, recommends the piece.

Simon Johnson at The New York Times wants Janet Yellen to head the Fed. Johnson, who was the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, goes all in for Yellen: "She might be the best qualified potential Fed chief ever." He thinks she's the only candidate that would be easily confirmed by Congress, and that if she were a man, she wouldn't have so many detractors. Johnson also endorses Thomas Hoenig to take Yellen's current job, Fed vice chair. Hoenig is more hawkish than Yellen, and "packaging his nomination with Ms. Yellen’s would build bipartisan support." Former FDIC chair Sheila Blair seems to agree with Johnson: "A supremely-qualifed woman as Fed Chair, and interest rate hawk as Vice-Chair. Be still my heart!"

Molly Redden at The New Republic worries that the GOP can't avoid its next Todd Akin. Redden thinks the race to replace Sen. Saxby Chambliss in Georgia could end in disaster for Republicans, since the two GOP candidates are prone to gaffes, especially about women. One of them, Rep. Paul Broun, introduced a personhood bill as his first act in Congress. The other, Rep. Phil Gingrey, once said Todd Akin was "partially right" for his comments about rape and pregnancy. Ultimately, Redden blames the sharp right turn the GOP's taken with the Tea Party for Georgia's failure to come up with better candidates. Former Reagan official Bruce Bartlett recommended the piece.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.