Five Best Friday Columns

Noreen Malone on conservatives' fear of Pajama boy, Ezra Klein on the individual mandate, Jonathan Chait says Obama isn't W., Amy Davidson on why Edward Snowden deserves amnesty, and LZ Granderson on Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. 

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Noreen Malone at The New Republic on conservatives' fear of Pajama boy. "'Pajama boy,' as the young bespectacled man the Obama administration chose for its latest health care PSA has come to be known, has swiftly become a figure of delighted outrage on the right," Malone explains. What the conservative mocking "really reveals is a long-boiling, deep-seated fear on the right of the moment when a more beta-appearing man becomes the mainstream notion of masculinity," she argues. "In an economy that is increasingly influenced by women ... the men who seem to be reaping the clearest rewards are those who seem to be comfortable with the adjustments of a world that’s 40 years into second-wave feminism (and one in which, for that matter, gay culture is no longer fringe culture)." So "just maybe, if the traditional images of what it means to be a man continue to evolve, stereotypes will telegraph less." Jonathan Shainin, the news editor at, tweets, "I didn't think it was possible for anyone to write a good piece on Pajama Boy, but it seems has."

Ezra Klein at The Washington Post on the individual mandate. Under the ACA's "hardship exemption," people who have canceled plans do not have to comply with the individual mandate, Klein explains. "How may people does this affect? No one quite knows. Republicans estimate that about 5 million people have seen their plans canceled. The Obama administration believes the number, at this point, is actually in the hundreds of thousands. There's no truly reliable figure here," Klein argues. "This puts the first crack in the individual mandate. The question is whether it's the last." Fox News political analyst Brit Hume tweets, "'In other words, Obamacare itself is the hardship': The individual mandate begins to crumble."

Jonathan Chait at Daily Intelligencer says President Obama is not George W. Bush. "It is certainly true that Obama’s approval ratings have fallen to Bush-2005 levels. ...Yet the Bush comparisons ... suggest a presidency that has hit a new inflection point beyond which its credibility is severed and its agenda broken," Chait writes. "And that conclusion falls apart because it completely misses how power works in the Obama era." Obama's approval ratings aren't indicative of whether or not he can get Republicans to cooperate. For example, "in Obama’s first few weeks, with approval ratings in the seventies, he could not persuade a single House Republican to support a fiscal response to the most dire economic emergency in 80 years." Conservative Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney asserts Obama is not W., "but he can dream."

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker on why Edward Snowden deserves amnesty.  "There are really two separate cases for why Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who passed a huge stash of secret documents to reporters, should be allowed to come back to America from Russia, where he has been since the summer, without facing time in jail," Davidson argues. "One case might be summed up as the good he has done for America, and the other as the benefits he can still offer the government." She continues, "opponents of amnesty talk about the danger of encouraging more Snowdens. What’s less clear is what they mean by that. This kind of leak, with this scale and historical reach, is rare; whatever deal he might get is unlikely to be offered to anyone who copies a few files." Glenn Greenwald tweets, "Great essay by New Yorker's on why Snowden deserves amnesty & why it'd be smart of USG to offer."

LZ Granderson at CNN Opinion on Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. "Robertson ... said, 'I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person,' and the black people he worked with 'were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.' He also compared homosexuality to bestiality and quoted a Bible verse that essentially said anyone who is an adulterer ... is going to hell," Granderson explains. "Robertson didn't falsely yell fire in a crowded theater — which Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said was not protected by the First Amendment back in 1919 — so he is legally free to say whatever he wants to GQ about anyone he wants. But that does not mean he is protected from how people react to what he says. People like his bosses." A&E suspended the star from his show. 

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