• Paul Krugman on the Pundit Delusion The New York Times columnist reminds readers that a stabilized economy determines Presidential approval ratings much more than the tiresome antics of the 24-hour news cycle. Indeed, this "Pundit Delusion" (the idea that what pundits say actually matters long-term) is what the Obama administration has seemed to buy into, and Krugman cites this as a real concern. Although the President should have thrown his weight behind a larger stimulus package, his best hope before the midterm referendum is "to close the “enthusiasm gap” by taking strong stands that motivate Democrats to come out and vote. But I don’t expect to see that happen."

  • George Will on the California Senate Race Writing in Newsweek, Will examines one of the premiere races this November, the battle between Senator Barbara Boxer and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. The political climate, Will acknowledges, does not favor Boxer. "California is an intensely unhappy laboratory for liberalism—high taxes, opulent entitlements, thick regulations, and subservience to government employees’ unions." Global warming, Boxer's bread-and-butter issue, has been eclipsed in voters' minds now that the state is facing "actual, rather than hypothetical, problems." Despite all this, Boxer retains a small lead over Fiorina in the latest polls. It's a situation Will doesn't completely understand, but one he thinks bears watching for all political observers. A Boxer win in this climate would proved California has gone "irredeemably blue."
  • E.J. Dionne on the Struggle to Define "Obamaism" The Washington Post columnist becomes the latest pundit to examine President Obama's communication gap. "The titans of the private sector say President Obama is anti-business. Many progressives say he coddles business," writes Dionne. So, what gives? Dionne blames his salesmanship, or lack thereof. "The president's most important tasks include convincing the public that he's doing the right thing and improving the standing of the politicians who support him in doing it. Here is where Obama has fallen down on the job." For a President with an ambitious agenda, these are more than matters of mere style--Obama's ability and interest in selling the public on himself and his policies may very well determine the composition of the Congress he'll be working with.
  • Ross Douthat on the Roots of White Anxiety A recent study revealed that the rural and working class white students had the least access to elite universities and were shunned in favor of their minority (black and Hispanic) counterparts. The New York Times op-ed columnist writes that this disparity (elite colleges also tended not to look favorably on R.O.T.C. or 4-H credentials) fuels a widening cultural divide and gives ammunition to the Beck's and Limbaugh's that prey on the baser fears of their listeners. He concludes: "Among the highly educated and liberal, meanwhile, the lack of contact with rural, working-class America generates all sorts of wild anxieties about what’s being plotted in the heartland. In the Bush years, liberals fretted about a looming evangelical theocracy. In the age of the Tea Parties, they see crypto-Klansmen and budding Timothy McVeighs everywhere they look."
  • Gregory Rodriguez on the French Veil Ban In time for Bastille day, the French Parliament passed a measure banning the burka and niqab, a measure that effects a "miniscule percentage of Muslim women." The Los Angeles Times contributor notes that every "immigrant-receiving country" has a right to "reassess the boundaries of its culture" but believes that "it can only make successful integration all the more difficult in the long run." While France may feel as if its national identity is "weakening", a burka ban "risk[s] the integrity of its political values in an attempt to reinforce a culture it fears losing."