Five Best Monday Columns

Franklin Foer on Obamacare's threat to liberalism, E.J. Dionne on the nuclear option, Alex Pareene won't cry over changed Senate rules, Ben Smith and Miriam Alder on Obama's Iran deal, and Amy Davidson on John Kerry's role in Iran. 

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Ben Smith and Miriam Alder at BuzzFeed on Obama's Iran deal. President "Obama was elected as an anti-war figure, but his legacy has been split between winding down two wars and escalating America’s campaign of drone strikes and paramilitary raids in a region ranging from Pakistan to Somalia," Smith and Alder argue. He wants to be remembered as a peacemaker. Obama "came of political age in the campus anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s, and made his political career with a then-meaningless decision in 2002 to oppose the Iraq war, has always seen issues of war, peace, and diplomacy differently than most of his peers." With his Iran nuclear deal, "he’s earned the foreign policy legacy he campaigned on." The Week columnist Bill Scher tweets, "If this / take is correct then the 80s nuclear freeze movement finally accomplished something."

Franklin Foer at The New Republic on Obamacare's threat to liberalism. "Liberalism has spent the better part of the past century attempting to prove that it could competently and responsibly extend the state into new reaches of American life. With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the administration has badly injured that cause, confirming the worst slurs against the federal government," Foer argues. And "the earliest days of a policy’s existence have acquired even greater significance," he writes. "Fortunately for the New Deal, Twitter didn’t broadcast every farmer’s sad encounter with the Agriculture Adjustment Act. But the culture of modern Washington, with its hyperventilating media and legislative saboteurs, takes pornographic pleasure in magnifying failures — which in turn erodes the public’s willingness to give liberalism another shot." The Obama administration "failed to grasp" this. Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for the conservative National Reviewtweets, "This is interesting." Mediate's Noah Rothman tweets, "Fracturing."

E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post on the nuclear option. "With their dramatic decision, Senate Democrats have frankly acknowledged that the power struggle over the judiciary has reached a crisis point and that the nature of conservative opposition to President Obama is genuinely without precedent," Dionne argues. "This era’s conservatives will use any means at their disposal to win control of the courts," he writes. "Their goal is to do all they can to limit Congress’s ability to enact social reforms. At the same time, they are pushing for measures — notably restrictions on the right to vote — that alter the electoral terrain in their favor." So Democrats have recognized this "power struggle": "the Senate Democrats’ action will, in the end, be constructive." Middle East scholar Andrew Exum tweets, "'The conservative opposition to Obama is genuinely without precedent.' I mean, we had a civil war once, but okay."

Alex Pareene at Salon won't cry over changed Senate rules.  "The response [to the nuclear option] from a certain breed of pundit has been a sort of resigned sadness," Pareene writes. "It’s easy to agree with [The Washington Post's Ruth] Marcus’ line that 'the filibuster should be a break-in-case-of-emergency tool for judicial nominees,' but that’s not how it has existed for years now. There’s no way to retain that usage that doesn’t also enable exactly what Republicans have been doing since Obama took office." So "the 'nuclear option' wasn’t remotely scandalous. The Senate operates according to rules senators in each Congress agree to, not stone tablets from a higher power," Pareene argues.

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker on Secretary John Kerry's role in the Iran deal. Kerry "appears to have gotten his fingers on the edge of something that could be historic. Now the task is to not let go," Davidson argues. "The most important aspect [of the deal] ... might be the oversight requirements. There will be daily inspections and deep access to sites. This helps if you want to stop a country from secretly developing nuclear weapons. But it also helps if you want to open that country up, to ratchet down hostility and check the many ways Iran can destabilize a region that has troubles enough, to help make it a different place." Hopefully Kerry can succeed. The New York Times' Jonah Bromwich tweets, "If for nothing else, Kerry deserves credit for giving himself hard tasks."

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