Five Best Monday Columns

Jennifer Graham on what makes a "real" marathon runner, Fred Hiatt on the disappointment of Obama's presidency, Ilan Berman on what Putin is costing Russia, Dan Hodges on David Axelrod's foray into British politics, Tom Rogan on Tom Steyer, the anti-Koch "good" billionaire.

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Jennifer Graham at The Boston Globe on what makes a "real" marathon runner. “In the latest episode of tutu shaming, the editor of Self magazine had to apologize last month after her magazine mocked Monika Allen, a cancer survivor who ran the Los Angeles Marathon in a tutu. The frou-haha over Allen’s outfit illustrates a deeper divide, about who really owns road racing, and about who’s a 'real' runner and who isn’t,” Graham writes. “In no other sport do the underwear-wearing elites compete on the same asphalt, at generally the same time, as recreational athletes in tutus and capes. There are gradations of talent, of course. But still, they’re all competing in the same race. The smug may believe Fortune favors the fast, but she smiles upon everyone bold enough to enter the race.”

Fred Hiatt at The Washington Post on the disappointment of Obama's presidency. “Robert Kagan recently wrote on this page that, foreign policy decision by foreign policy decision, President Obama has given Americans what they say they want. But the result hasn’t made them proud of America or of their president. The same phenomenon may explain the disappointment in Obama’s domestic record. The emerging picture of an America in retreat, and a leader half-heartedly committed to promoting liberty, is not what they were looking for,” Hiatt writes. “Now he stands in danger of losing the Senate, too. With nearly three years left in his presidency, he is a lame duck only if he chooses to be.” The Upshot contributor Brendan Nyhan tweets, “Green Lantern alert! '[Obama] is a lame duck only if he chooses to be.'" The New York Times’ Carolyn Ryan tweets, “Fred Hiatt on the Lost Promise of Barack Obama's Presidency.”

Ilan Berman at The Wall Street Journal on what Putin is costing Russia. “Just how much is Vladimir Putin's Ukrainian adventure actually costing Russia? Quite a lot, it turns out. New statistics from the Central Bank of Russia indicate that almost $51 billion in capital exited the country in the first quarter of 2014. While Russia can mitigate some of the damage because of its extensive foreign-currency reserves—estimated at more than $400 billion—the new Central Bank statistics signal that worse is still to come,” Berman writes.“Russia's annexation of Crimea it is turning into a costly boondoggle. Sometime in the not too distant future, it might become considerably more difficult for the Kremlin to continue to ignore the real-world price that is associated with its policies.” Travel writer Rupert Wolfe Murray tweets, "'Moscow's maneuvers in Ukraine could result in up to $160 billion in capital flight this year.'"

Dan Hodges at The Telegraph on David Axelrod’s foray into British politics.Last week, David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s most influential campaign strategist, was snapped up by the Labour Party. Think Ed Miliband is weird? Think again. By the time Axelrod has worked his magic you’ll be telling yourself the geeky Marxist philosopher’s son is the David Beckham of British politics,” Hodges writes. “What Axelrod doesn’t represent is the political 'game changer' some Labour insiders and commentators have been claiming. Indeed, when he arrives at Labour’s Brewer’s Green HQ for his first meeting tomorrow, he’s quickly going to realize that securing the election of America’s first black president was a cake-walk compared with the challenge of getting Miliband into Downing Street.” The Gloucestershire Echo’s Jack Maidment tweets, “@DPJHodges presents compelling argument for the challenges facing Labour's new election strategist. Interesting read.”

Tom Rogan at National Review on Tom Steyer, the anti-Koch “good” billionaire. “On Friday, the day to bury unpopular news, the Obama administration announced the extension of its Keystone XL review. A final decision is unlikely before the November midterms. The administration claims it needs this delay to resolve legal complexities. But let’s be clear: This is the submission of governance to partisanship,” Rogan writes. “Still, the motivation for this latest deferral is obvious. It’s a midterm-election payoff, intended specifically for Tom Steyer, a retired hedge-fund manager who has pledged to raise $100 million for anti-Keystone candidates. Thus we find ourselves left with a stellar example of Democratic campaign-finance hypocrisy.” Sarah Isgur Flores, deputy communications director for the Republican Party, tweets, “'This is liberal hypocrisy at its insufferable worst.' #KeystoneXL”.

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