Five Best Thursday Columns

Gail Collins on the season for viral political ad campaigns, Sadhbh Walshe on the crackdown on America's nuns, Jill Lawrence on why Obama won't protect gay workers, Rebecca Traister on Monica Lewinsky as a starting point for talking about Hillary's presidential run, Adam Minter on China jailing its nudists.

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Gail Collins at The New York Times on the season for viral political ad campaigns. “Alas, poor J.D. Winteregg. We knew him ... um, actually not very well at all. Winteregg ran as a Tea Party challenger to the House speaker, John Boehner, in this week’s Ohio primaries. He only got about 22 percent of the vote. So he’s gone, politically speaking. But not forgotten, thanks to his video charging Boehner with 'electile dysfunction.' It went viral,” Collins writes. “Evidence suggests this year could produce a banner crop. In Minnesota, there’s a candidate in the Republican Senate primary whose son tells about the time he had stitches from a hockey injury and Dad cut them out with scissors because he was too cheap to pay a doctor. This is about — yes! — Obamacare. For some reason, right-wing candidates are best at getting their videos to go viral.”

Sadhbh Walshe at the Guardian on the crackdown on America’s nuns. “In the earliest days of his tenure, Pope Francis became one of the world's most admired religious figures – due in large part to his vocal support and actions on behalf of social justice. So, to many Catholics, there is more than a little disappointment that he is turning a blind eye to the Vatican's ongoing crackdown on America's nuns,” Walshe writes. “Whatever this week's censure of nuns says about the pope's dedication to his stated mission, one thing is more clear than ever: if the church continues to pressure an already-dwindling population of nuns to abandon its social justice work, Pope Francis may undermine his own agenda, just as much as some power players at the Vatican hope to undermine the nuns on and off the bus."

Jill Lawrence at Al Jazeera America on why Obama won’t protect gay workers. “President Barack Obama is following through on his promise to make 2014 a 'year of action' even if he has to bypass Congress and do it all by himself. But there’s a glaring gap so far in his unilateral efforts: job protection for gay people, who can still be fired at will in 29 states. With the military setting an example and same-sex marriage winning acceptance at a rapid pace, it’s amazing that being straight can still be a prerequisite for employment,” Lawrence writes. “The gay job discrimination issue was conspicuously missing from a White House conference call last week on what Obama has achieved with his go-it-alone strategy. In the meantime, we remain a country of patchwork protections, where prejudice can still rob a person of a livelihood.”

Rebecca Traister at the New Republic on Monica Lewinsky as a starting point for talking about Hillary’s presidential run. “It’s vastly preferable to have this conversation kicked off in earnest by Lewinsky, a person who has more right than anyone to offer her take on the events of two decades ago. Lewinsky’s piece, flawed but fascinating, is ostensibly framed around her desire to address a culture of public bullying which she feels has only gotten worse in the years since she was put in the online stocks by Matt Drudge,” Traister writes. "In the fervid investigation and coverage of it, both women got hammered—as slutty and frigid, overweight and ugly, dumb and monstrous. They each became cartoons of dismissible femininity. These two women weren’t at odds; they were in it together.”

Adam Minter at Bloomberg View on China jailing its nudists. “Not even armed police could keep middle-age nude sunbathers from Dadonghai Beach in Sanya, a tropical resort in south China, last weekend. They had reason to take care: Since February, those armed police in Sanya have enjoyed authority to detain nude sunbathers for up to 10 days. It’s a harsh punishment and — perhaps predictably — it has helped to transform those bathers into a recurring media phenomenon among a Chinese public always inclined to favor the underdog against a reflexively hard-line government,” Minter writes. “Such extreme measures may please local law enforcement and tourists with a more conservative notion of sightseeing, but online they’ve inspired little more than contempt as an overreaction.”

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