• Peggy Noonan on Obama's Bad Luck "Americans get nervous when they have a snakebit president," declares Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. "They want presidents on whom the sun shines." But in Noonan's view, what they have is a president beholden to bloodless academics, one whose reputation is faltering and whose leadership seems increasingly formless and ad-libbed. Noonan suggests that without George W. Bush "standing in the corner like Boo Radley, saying 'Let's invade something,'" Obama is a president at sea in a moment when the country needs a clear path forward.
  • Gabriel Winant on How Modern Conservatism Works At Salon, Winant uses Joe Barton's apology gaffe as a jumping-off point for some exploratory psychoanalysis of America's Republican voters. "How is a party that is the devoted servant of corporate power still not only viable, but reliably able to win large chunks of the working-class vote?" Winant wonders. The answer is complicated, and lies at the level of personal frustration and powerlessness, but Winant urges readers on the left to make the effort to understand. "We... shouldn't allow ourselves to slip into condescension, to imagine that people are just bigots and fools, tricked into opposing their own self-interest. They are participants in politics just like everyone else. Even the citizen who doesn't vote at all is saying something about politics. The fact that some methods of political participation don't make sense to liberals doesn’t mean that they don't make sense at all."
  • Jules Horne on the Joys of Distance Learning  Writing for The Guardian, Horne sings the praises of Britain's Open University program, the distance-learning academy that students can enroll in from anywhere in the world. Many in the U.K. don't take the Open University seriously, writes Horn, which is puzzling when you consider that "OU students are likely to be unusually determined and committed." She lays out a persuasive case for the program: "At a time when university tuition fees are expected to rise, and places and courses are being cut, it offers a real alternative. Sure, it doesn't have the nightlife. But it does offer excellent degrees and courses at a reasonable cost, and a 200,000-strong community of students who are genuinely passionate about learning."
  • Andrew Sullivan on Getting Shit Done  The Atlantic blogger responds to criticism from both the right and left about Obama's ability to achieve results, both on the oil spill and on Iran's new batch of sanctions. "Obama and Clinton got difficult shit done," counters Sullivan. "I sure understand why people feel powerless and angry about the vast forces that control our lives and over which we seem to have only fitful control - big government and big business. But it seems to me vital to keep our heads and remain focused on what substantively can be done to address real problems, and judge Obama on those terms." Where others see impotence and an absence of executive authority, Sullivan sees a "lethal and patient strength."
  • Sally Quinn on Clinton for Vice President  The moderator of Newsweek's "On Faith" community offers a novel idea: why not make Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden switch jobs? For Quinn, Clinton's incredible performance as Secretary of State make her not just a pragmatic choice for the job, but a politically sound one in the next few years:
She is the ambassador of the United States to the world, maintaining her credibility while playing the bad guy to President Obama's good guy, such as with North Korea, Iran and Israel, and still looking good. She has been a true team player. If Clinton is dissatisfied with her role, you would never know it. She has been loyal and supportive to the president and has maintained a good relationship with him and with others in the White House. If she is being left out of the policymaking, or being sent on trips to keep her out of town, she has not shown it. She is cheerful, thoughtful, serious and diligent. There are no horror stories about her coming out of the State Department...In short, the arguments against Hillary Clinton being Obama's vice president have pretty much evaporated.