Five Best Wednesday Columns
Dave Cullen thinks we should stop naming mass shooters, Roger Lowenstein backs a banker for Fed chair, Michael Tomasky argues that Obama should appreciate his liberal base, Jeffrey Toobin traces the conservative counterrevolution in state courts, and John Cusack doubts Eric Holder will protect journalists.
Dave Cullen at Buzzfeed proposes that we stop naming the perpetrators of mass shootings. Cullen, who wrote Columbine, argues that mass killers are "seeking attention" and that "we keep encouraging them." In the wake of the D.C. Navy Yard shooting, Cullen thinks the only way we can discourage these events from happening is to stop naming killers in reports. Cullen claims he's already done this himself for over a year, using only "the perpetrator" or "the gunman" in interviews. He suggests using the killer's name sparingly for the first 48 hours after a shooting and then stopping all use. Anthony de Rosa, the editor-in-chief of Circa, agrees: "Stop giving mass killers the fame and attention they seek." Even actress Mia Farrow weighed in, tweeting: "Mass shooters seek attention . . . can't we please stop naming them." Carina MacKenzie, a staff editor at the TV news site Zap2it, is more skeptical: "An interesting point, but Dave Cullen wrote a bestselling book about the Columbine shooters. Motives. Methods. Names."
Roger Lowenstein at Bloomberg News backs a banker to head the Fed. Lowenstein, a financial journalist and director of the Sequoia Fund, argues that Obama "should look for a truly 'post-crisis' candidate who can reassert the Fed’s independence and move away from the unusual policies of the last six years." This nomination strategy would exclude current frontrunners Janet Yellen and Donald Kohn. Lowenstein cites Paul Volcker as "the most independent Fed chairman in history," and thinks he's a good model for who should take the post next. Matthew O'Brien, who covers economics for The Atlantic, tweets that "of course" Lowenstein would want someone like Volcker to run the Fed. Lowenstein's editor, Alex Burns, jokes: "We need a hipster banker to run the Federal Reserve."
Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast on what Obama can learn from his almost-nomination of Lawrence Summers. Tomasky thinks Obama is "lucky" that Larry Summers removed his name from consideration for Fed chair, because a Summers nomination would anger Obama's liberal base. This fall, "the Republicans are going to be crazier than ever and dig in harder than ever," so Obama shouldn't waste time being angry at Senate Democrats for derailing a Summers appointment. He should embrace the fact that things turned out for the best. David Frum, a Daily Beast and CNN contributor, points out one of the more controversial lines in the piece: "Obama has never been fond of [his liberal base]."
Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker on the successful conservative counterrevolution in state courts. Toobin traces conservative judge (and now the Texas Supreme Court chief justice) Nathan Hecht's failed attempt to get Harriet Myers on the U.S. Supreme Court. In the eight years since, Toobin says, the state supreme court system has become an "engine for conservative change." He credits Karl Rove with starting the counterrevolution in Texas in the 1980s, which allowed Hecht to become Texas' chief justice and Samuel Alito to ascend to the U.S.'s highest court. Jamie Fuller, an associate editor at The American Prospect, agrees with Toobin: "You can't explain conservatism in America without a lengthy tangent on state Supreme Courts."
John Cusack at The Guardian isn't sure Eric Holder will protect journalists. Cusack (yes, the actor from Say Anything) argues that David Miranda's recent detainment in the U.K. "was an assault on press freedom that should make every reporter shudder no matter their opinion on the NSA." He asks, will the U.S. act similarly when NSA journalists try to enter the States? He wonders if Americans should now "conclude that the U.S. is willing to create a generation of exiled watchdogs, who are trying to hold their government accountable from afar." Glenn Greenwald recommended the piece, as did Jason Leopold, an Al Jazeera reporter who covers civil liberties.