Five Best Wednesday Columns
Amy Davidson predicts a Hillary Clinton trainwreck, Chris Cilliza and Sean Sullivan say Ted Cruz is going after the GOP, Jonathan Chait questions Republicans on food stamps and farm subsidies, Michael Hirsch explains why the GOP is on "Cruz control", and Jeffrey Goldberg thinks Iranian President Rohani is weak.
Amy Davidson at The New Yorker predicts a Hillary Clinton trainwreck. Davidson cites the two big Clinton magazine stories this week, a New York profile of Hillary and the damning portrayal of Clinton body-man Doug Band in The New Republic, as evidence that there are cracks in the glamorous Clinton political legacy. Davidson admits that the "[Bill] Clinton Presidency, those years in the 90s, was a time when the economy and life looked good," and "it would be so important to have a woman as President." But Hillary's track record — "she lost in the 2008 primaries to a candidate no one thought had a chance" and she had a few missteps over Benghazi — could prove to be disastrous in a presidential run. According to Davidson, there are "debts Hillary Clinton and her family have taken on, and might be asked, with currency voters give them, to pay back." Dylan Byers, a Politico media reporter, points out Davidson's line that recent reports on the Clinton business dealings read "less like definitive takedowns than like a to-do list for an investigative-reporting assignment desk." And Maria Bustillos, a contributor to The Awl and The New Yorker, responds: "Can we please nominate Senator Elizabeth Warren instead?"
Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan at The Washington Post on how Ted Cruz's real target is the GOP. Cruz is on the second day of his "don't-call-it-a-filibuster" speech, and Cillizza and Sullivan think he's being tougher on his fellow Republicans than he is on Harry Reid. For Cruz, "the message is crystal clear: I get why Democrats are acting the way they are, but I don’t understand why Republicans aren’t doing more to stand by me." He's called out supporters of "fake" and "symbolic" votes and insisted that if you don't oppose cloture for the bill, you support Obamacare (the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn don't oppose cloture). All this just sets Cruz up for 2016: "Cruz’s rhetoric won’t win him any goodwill among the GOP establishment in Washington. And that’s just how he wants it." Ron Fournier, editorial director of the National Journal, adds that Cruz is a hypocrite: "Brazen hypocrisy: Cruz blasting 'fake' and 'symbolic' Obamacare votes during fake, symbolic filibuster." Abby Huntsman, co-host of MSNBC's The Cycle and the daughter of 2012 Republican primary candidate Jon Huntsman, recommends the piece.
Jonathan Chait at New York thinks the GOP positions on food stamps and farm subsidies are indefensible. "House Republicans are fighting to impose a $40 billion cut to the food-stamp program while also fighting to lock farm subsidies in place at a higher level than Democrats want," Chait explains. Cutting food stamps will mean many will go hungry, while keeping farm subsidies higher will give farmers more money for no particular reason. Further, "farm subsidies are a reward for people who own farmland, which they may well have inherited." The following Republican principle that "usually . . . goes unstated" applies here: "People who have lots of money work harder and are more deserving than people who have very little of it, and it’s wrong for the government to support the latter at the expense of the former." Richard Yeselson, a longtime union researcher and contributor to The New Republic, links Chait's piece to Cruz: "Meanwhile, @jonathanchait reminds of the grotesque world view of modem conservatism which Cruz so perfectly embodies." Pascal-Emmaneul Gobry, who writes at Forbes, tweets: "Have to agree w @jonathanchait here. GOP stance here is just abject."
Michael Hirsch at the National Journal says the GOP is on "Cruz control." Hirsch insists that "Cruz realizes, maybe more than the GOP leadership he is taking on, that the future of the fractious Republican Party is completely in play." Cruz has managed to create a national reputation out of "literally nothing" (even more quickly than Obama did when he ran for President). Cruz offends the "old guard" conservatives in Congress, but he doesn't care. So is Cruz the future of the GOP? Perhaps — "the truth is that previous generations of Republican insurgents, specifically including Gingrich and going back to the hallowed Ronald Reagan, have failed to rein in the size of government." Maybe Cruz can. Garance Franke-Ruta, a politics writer at The Atlantic, pointed out this line in the piece: Cruz is "Sarah Palin with an Ivy League pedigree."
Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg View insists Iranian President Hassan Rohani won't charm President Obama. Goldberg explains, "President Barack Obama was willing to shake hands with Rohani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly today, but the Iranian president wasn't ready for such a dramatic encounter — even an unphotographed one." This shows Rohani's weakness, and indicates that "Iran may not be ready for the conversation it claims to want to have about its nuclear program." Obama, on the other hand, should be praised for his willingness to reach out to Iran: "diplomacy doesn't equal weakness." Elmira Bayrasli, a foreign policy blogger at Forbes, recommended the piece.