Five Best Monday Columns
Alyssa Rosenberg on Beyoncé's case for marriage, David Carr on Ezra Klein, E.J. Dionne on the state of the union, Jonathan Chait on Rep. Paul Ryan's quiet visits to the poor, and James Hamblin on the Obamacare deadline.
Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress on Beyoncé's case for marriage. "On Saturday, The New York Times’ Ross Douthat wrote a column in which he suggested concessions both liberals and conservatives ought to make if we’re to get together on the joint project of making marriage more appetizing and acceptable," Rosenberg writes. "In my favorite recent example, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Jay-Z got on the Grammy stage last night and did what conservatives have been dying for someone to do for ages: they made marriage look fun, and sexy, and a source of mutual professional fulfillment. ... ['Drunk in Love' is] a song about flirting, about going out and partying, about having fantastic, adventuresome, totally enthralling sex –with your spouse. That’s a far, far better argument for marriage than the pseudo-scientific case for holding onto your oxytocin by not having sex before you say your vows on the grounds that such conservation efforts will make your first time better," Rosenberg insists.
David Carr at The New York Times on Ezra Klein. Wonkblog editor Ezra Klein is leaving The Washington Post for Vox Media, the home of digital properties like SBNation and The Verge. "His change of address could be read as the latest parable of Old Media cluelessness — allowing a journalism asset to escape who will come back to haunt them — or as another instance of a star journalist cashing in on name-brand success. But it’s more complicated than that," Carr insists. Klein is "part of a movement of big-name journalists who are migrating from newspaper companies to digital start-ups." In the meantime, digital properties are exploding: "Organizations like BuzzFeed, Gawker, The Huffington Post, Vice and Vox, which have huge traffic but are still relatively small in terms of profit, will eventually mature into the legacy media of tomorrow," Carr argues. So with Klein's move, "what we are witnessing now is not the formation of a bubble, it is the emergence of a lasting commercial market, a game that has winners and losers, yet is hardly zero sum." The Wall Street Journal's deputy editor-in-chief Matt Murray tweets, "Good @carr2n column. Still wonder about long-term economics. Cable had its shakeout, consolidation."
E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post on the state of the union. "President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday is about more than the final three years of his presidency. Its purpose should be to influence the next decade of American political life and begin shaping the post-Obama era," Dionne argues. In the days leading up to the speech, "two important signals" that our economic politics are changing emerged. "One was a striking Pew Research Center poll showing that on issues related to economic and social justice, Democrats and independents are on the same page while Republicans find themselves isolated," Dionne writes. The other was a speech by Sen. Chuck Schumer, who warned of the decline of middle-class living conditions. "The president should certainly play for some immediate policy victories, notably on immigration reform," Dionne writes. "But his larger task is the one Ronald Reagan always kept in mind: to encourage a shift in public opinion that is already moving toward his ideas." Democratic strategist Paul Begala tweets, "The indispensable @EJDionne has a great column on an important speech by @SenSchumer. Smart policy & politics."
Jonathan Chait at Daily Intelligencer on Rep. Paul Ryan's quiet visits to the poor. "Paul Ryan is desperate to keep the public from knowing about his trips to visit African-American churches and other groups that aid the poor. We know this because stories about Ryan’s tour of the inner cities keep appearing in the news media, and they keep reporting that Ryan is doing a 'quiet pitch' to the poor (National Review) or is 'quietly visiting inner-city neighborhood' (The Washington Post) or 'quietly touring impoverished communities' (Buzzfeed)," Chait explains. But somehow, we keep finding out about these quiet visits. Ryan has "deliberately left cameras behind" on these visits, but he's tweeted a photo of his recent visit to Metanoya Church. "Godamn it, he said no cameras!" Chait jokes.
James Hamblin at The Atlantic on the Obamacare deadline. "In a survey out this morning, only 45 percent of Americans correctly identified March 31 as the deadline to purchase health insurance, as required under the Affordable Care Act. The rate of correct responses was lowest among the 18 to 29 age group, those who make less than $30,000, and those without college degrees. Sixty-two percent said they assumed that the deadline would be pushed back," Hamblin reports. But "these numbers don't sound terrible to some jaded experts. Mark Schlesinger, a professor of public health at Yale, told the surveyors, 'That's a surprisingly high number, given people's normal complete inattentiveness to public affairs.'" Hamblin notes, "Along that line, you might remember it was just last April that a Kaiser Family Foundation survey highlighted widespread misunderstanding like that 50 percent of Americans thought the law gave healthcare subsidies to undocumented immigrants, and 40 percent thought the law set up 'death panels.'"