Five Best Friday Columns

Kimberly A. Strassel on the GOP "defunding by fundraising," Greg Sargent on the White House's debt limit fears, Kurt Eichenwald on why Iran's nuclear threat is exaggerated, Matthew Duss questions Netanyahu role in U.S.-Iran diplomacy, and Joe Pompeo explains the new Newsweek. 

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Kimberly A. Strassel at The Wall Street Journal on the GOP "defunding way of fundraising." Strassel argues, "To understand the depths of the anger many good Washington conservatives are feeling for the ringleaders of the defund ObamaCare movement, follow the money." Jim DeMint, a former Senator from South Carolina and now the president of the Heritage Foundation, has figured out that defunding Obamacare is something that he can sell to the public, or at least his donors. Strassel explains that DeMint and Tea Party conservatives succeed by "ginning up a militant defund strategy, beating up conservatives opposed to the tactic as sellouts, and cashing in on the grass-roots fury." Strassel says the money conservative voters send to groups like Heritage and the Senate Conservatives Fund "sometimes go for the Washington trappings these groups decry. SCF, a small operation, in recent months has spent $26,000 on an interior decorator." Andrew Exum, a Middle East scholar and fellow at the Center for a New American Security, tweets, "800,000 public servants are going without a paycheck so Ted Cruz & Jim DeMint can raise a little more cash." Sen. John McCain calls it a "must-read."

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post on the White House's debt limit fears. President Obama's senior officials are worried that the House GOP doesn't realize how damaging it would be to Obama's presidency if Obama conceded anything in exchange for GOP support of a debt limit hike, Sargent explains. "Perhaps GOP leaders still think the President will fold in the end, and ... as a result, they still don’t grasp just how much pressure there is on them to resolve internal party differences that are making it impossible for Boehner to agree to raise the debt limit without extracting concessions Tea Partyers would view as a victory." Further, "this is a defining moment" of the future balance between Presidents and Congresses. Brendan Nyhan, a political science professor at Dartmouth and a media critic at the Columbia Journalism Review, tweets, "Obama faces classic problem in game theory of bargaining — convincing other side of the costs to you of backing down." But Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for the conservative National Review, is outraged at White House thinking: "This first paragraph has to be read to be believed. Which branch of government does the president think he runs?"

Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek on why Iran's nuclear threat is exaggerated. Eichenwald calls Iran "the phantom menace": Iran doomsaying is "in many ways, a repeat of the supposed threat from Iraq that led to war — except this time, the intelligence world knows there are no weapons of mass destruction." Eichenwald notes that Obama's recent phone chat with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani enraged hardliners, especially Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But Netanyahu has been predicting a threat for decades. Bottom line? "More than 30 years of warnings about Iran’s impending nuclear capabilities have yet to pan out." Ali Gharib, who covers Middle East issues for The Daily Beast, tweets, "Netanyahu demanded that the U.S. take action against Iran [because] it would soon develop [nuclear] weapons 18 years ago."

Matthew Duss at The American Prospect  on Netanyahu's role in U.S.-Iran diplomacy. Duss, a national security policy analyst for the Center for American Progress, writes, "The Israeli Prime Minister seems determined to spoil the latest negotiations before they've begun." He continues, "Israel clearly has legitimate concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, but in failing to even acknowledge the possibility that the shift in Iran’s could augur something real, Netanyahu gave off the petulant air of a man who refuses to take yes for an answer." Some analysts argue, "Netanyahu wants to see the other side on their knees. Not only Iran, but the Palestinians too." But to be fair, Duss explains, it's not clear how seriously Iranian leaders take Bibi's comments. Haroon Moghul, a columnist at Al Arabiya English, repeats Duss's question: "Can Bibi take yes for an answer?"

Joe Pompeo at Capital New York explains the new Newsweek. In a post recommended by senior Huffington Post media reporter Michael Calderone, Pompeo suggests that what new editor Jim Impoco "says he wants to make ... seems less like the sometimes bizarre version of the magazine that was helmed by Tina Brown for the past two years, and more like one of the many versions produced under the ownership of the Washington Post Company's Graham family." But Pompeo points out, "This is Newsweek's fourth overhaul, at the most conservative possible count, since 2009," and the publication "will no doubt be met with skepticism inside of Midtown, given how far the title has fallen from its glory days."

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