Five Best Tuesday Columns
Alex Pareene endorses Bill de Blasio, George Monbiot questions Obama's record of undermining international law, Ramesh Ponnuru wants the Obama administration to reconsider school choice, Congressman Buck McKeon is a "no" on Syria unless military cuts are restored, and Daniel W. Drezner thinks Syria's offer to give up chemical weapons is a "gift from the gods."
Alex Pareene at Salon thinks Bill de Blasio will be a "fine mayor." It's primary election day in New York City, and Pareene has the moderately-informed Brooklyn liberal's guide to voting. He endorses de Blasio for mayor, "I guess," because "a bourgie Park Slope yuppie" is better than an "Upper East Side zillionaire." De Blasio's not the perfect progressive, but he has rich people scared, which is "heartening." Andrew Golis of The Atlantic pointed out one of the funnier lines in the piece: "A ringing de Blasio endorsement from @pareene: 'the candidate of New York’s forgotten poor, and also Susan Sarandon.'" But Josh Barro, registered Republican, at Business Insider questions Pareene's own political ties: "Oddly, @pareene knows 'multiple people who registered in the Working Families Party.'" Pareene responded on Twitter, "it's genuinely odder that I know a registered Republican."
George Monbiot at The Guardian asks why the U.S. hasn't tried to reform the U.N. Security Council. Monbiot has harsh words for President Obama and Americans, generally: "Obama's rogue state tramples over every law it demands others uphold." He writes that Obama's "failure to be honest" about the U.S.'s record of undermining international law "render the crisis in Syria even harder to solve." Mendi Hassan, political director at The Huffington Post UK, calls Monbiot's piece a "must-read." Francis Wade at Al Jazeera says it's a "searing" indictment. American journalists and pols have been slower to weigh in.
Ramesh Ponnuru at Bloomberg News wants the Obama administration to reconsider school choice. Ponnuru picks the week most American children are going back to school to argue that they should have more choice as to where they go. He calls Obama's "hostility" to the idea of funding private or parochial education "misguided." He also notes Greg Forster's research suggesting school choice actually promotes racial integration. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor calls the piece a "good read on the President's efforts to stop poor kids from escaping failing schools." Arthur Brooks, the President of the American Enterprise Institute, concurs, quoting Ponnuru: "President Obama has 'seized on every possible pretext' to shut down school choice."
Buck McKeon writes in the Wall Street Journal that Obama needs to boost the military budget before striking Syria. Rep. McKeon of California adds his name to the list of Republicans who want to barter with Obama for authorizing a Syria strike. The Armed Services Committee chair argues that "Americans should be uncomfortable with the notion of deploying a depleted military to combat without a commitment on the part of the president and Congress to restore its funding" — regardless of whether it's a limited strike or "boots on the ground." Ali Gharib at The Daily Beast says McKeon's argument is a "win-win," and Lisa Mascaro at the Los Angeles Times says it's an "emerging theme" among conservatives. Jonathan Martin at The New York Times is more skeptical, calling the idea "a race against the clock."
Daniel W. Drezner at Foreign Policy thinks Obama should take Syria's offer to hand over its chemical weapons. He calls Russia's proposal that Syria give up its chemical weapons to the international community (a proposal that stemmed from an offhand remark by John Kerry) a "gift from the gods." He notes there is reason to be skeptical about whether the offer will actually work out, but "still, if I was advising the Obama administration, I'd tell them to take this deal." Even if Syria decides to back out, "the worst-case scenario is that . . . we're back to where we are now." Peter Suderman at Reason agreed, tweeting, "despite the absurdity, the chemical weapons giveaway is still a good deal."