Five Best Tuesday Columns

Jeffrey Toobin on abortion politics, Kevin Roose on the one percent, Roger Cohen on Twitter bashing, Nora Caplan-Bricker on Wendy Davis, and Shane Goldmacher on the all-powerful dental lobby. 

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Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker on abortion politics. There's "an enduring truth of American politics," Toobin writes. "Abortion never goes away, even if the word itself is not uttered." In Texas, "there is genuine legal controversy" surrounding the case of Marlise Munoz, "thanks to abortion-rights opponents in the Texas legislature," Toobin explains. "The Advance Directives law, which is in effect in slightly different forms in about a dozen states, is an almost perfect distillation of the anti-abortion mindset. The woman — the would-be mother — is just a vehicle, an incubator, without autonomy," he argues. Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when she had a seizure and became brain dead. Anti-abortion activists don't agree with Munoz's family and think Munoz should be kept alive until her baby is born. "This reflects Barney Frank’s famous quip that the pro-life movement believes that 'life begins at conception and ends at birth,'" Toobin writes.

Kevin Roose at Daily Intelligencer on the one percent. The non-profit Oxfam released a study this week showing that the richest 85 people in the world have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. Meanwhile, "the World Economic Forum is happening this week, which means that a plurality of the world's billionaires and major political leaders are in Davos, Switzerland, attending high-minded panels like 'Disruptive Innovation Ahead' and getting drunk in their ski chalets," Roose writes. What should these people be doing instead? "The truth is that wealth inequality is mostly a policy problem. And there's only so much even a well-intentioned billionaire can do to change laws in a gridlocked political environment," Roose explains. But the wealthiest among us could take small steps, like hiring the long-term unemployed and ending the deficit obsession. They could also give their money away smartly: "Many of the people in Davos this year have likely given big donations to Ivy League universities, well-funded parks, and fancy art museums, while ignoring much needier organizations that are saving lives and working to improve unequal conditions," Roose writes. Stanford political science professor Rob Reich tweets, "Good memo to and Davos billionaires on 1%ers: change policy, give to better charities."

Roger Cohen at The New York Times on Twitter bashing. "We live in the age of the Twitter-bashing bore. It’s not easy, being of a certain generation, to avoid the dinner conversation that veers into a lament about the short attention spans, constant device distraction, sad superficiality and online exhibitionism of a younger generation geared to life in 140 characters or less," Cohen writes. "More things do not change than do. In the unchanging category falls the curmudgeonly tendencies of the aging, however open-minded they like to believe they are," he argues. "The distance between our parents’ generation that had known the war and our own insouciant band was not easy to bridge. We should not fall prey to new forms of amnesia when it comes to the Facebook generation," Cohen insists. MSNBC producer Jamil Smith tweets this line: "Thou shalt not complain about social media or judge the habits of a generation you do not understand."

Nora Caplan-Bricker at The New Republic on Wendy Davis. "Texas state Senator Wendy Davis’s personal story has been one of her greatest assets in her ongoing campaign for governor," Caplan-Bricker writes. "She has recounted being raised by a single mother with a sixth-grade education; marrying and having a child in her teens; living in a trailer; and in an up-by-the-bootstraps reversal, becoming the first member of her family to graduate from college and then going on to earn a Harvard Law degree." But the Dallas Morning News' new profile on the candidate pokes holes in that story, though its only sources are anonymous or Davis's ex-husband. "Davis’s Cinderella story is as deeply improbable as she makes it sound, and took, along with luck and a supportive husband, a lot of smarts and hard work," Caplan-Bricker argues.

Shane Goldmacher at National Journal on the dental lobby. "Rep. Mike Simpson is a 15-year veteran of Congress and a close ally of Speaker John Boehner. But as the Idaho Republican fends off a stiff tea-party challenge in 2014, the fact that he's a dentist may prove to be just as important," Goldmacher explains. "The influential dental lobby is expected to go all out this year to protect Simpson, one of only two dentists on Capitol Hill. His primary is still five months away, but the dentists' independent campaign arm has already dropped $22,000 in mailers and spent another $20,000 last week dialing up Idaho voters to gauge the dynamics on the ground." And "if history is a guide, the latex-gloved cavalry can fill campaign coffers as well as they fill cavities," Goldmacher argues. The Atlantic's politics editor David Graham tweets, "y."

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