• Maureen Dowd on Keith Richards  In an election season where "some of the male candidates could be part of the Little Rascals’ He-Man, Woman-Haters Club," The New York Times columnist argues an unlikely feminist icon has started to emerge: Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Hardly the kind of praise usually heaped on Richards, but after reading Richards's new autobiography, Dowd think it is warranted. Compared to his fellow musicians and, indeed, Dowd argues, the world at large, Richards represents a distinctly "chivalrous voice." The book details how Richards took care of his mother and stayed faithful. When he was single, Dowd notes, he gravitated towards "strong, high-spirited women," all of whom are "accorded respect." In the current climate, that counts for something.

  • Jon Keller on the Resiliency of Deval Patrick  The national political climate for Democrats is gloomy, but party leaders should be pleased with the reelection campaign of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, writes the Bay State political analyst in The Wall Street Journal. A Patrick win--while still no guarantee--would go a long way in dispelling the notion that Barack Obama is political kryptonite. Patrick's 2006 campaign was "a dry run for many of the signature themes of the 2008 Obama campaign" and he hasn't been shy about hitting the stump with the president. Keller credits "a personal style that has proven far better-suited to campaigning than governing" and an "empathy offensive" with helping Patrick weather the anti-incumbent mood.

  • Holman Jenkins on Searching For Villains in the Foreclosure Crisis  It's very difficult to understand the mortgage crisis without "understanding the powerful appetite to cast borrowers as victims and banks as villains in the housing bubble," observes The Wall Street Journal columnist. This battle is now reaching its climax in the "robo-signer controversy" in which homeowners who have stopped paying for homes are allowed to live in their houses because of a technicality in the paperwork. The Obama administration's efforts to reduce the mortgage burden to manageable levels has succeeded in modifying relatively few mortgages. These officials recognize that "any program that reached out to people with the wherewithal actually to benefit from mortgage modification might invite millions of additional Americans to stop paying their mortgages too." The government is now "bogged down" in hundreds of unsold houses and "getting these houses back into the hands of responsible owners is fundamental to the solvency of the banking system," Jenkins concludes.

  • Kathleen Parker on a Renewed Ordeal for Clarence Thomas   After the Supreme Court Justice's wife Ginni revived the long-dormant Anita Hill sexual harassment controversy, The Washington Post columnist pens a sympathetic portrait of Clarence Thomas. The original Hill testimony against Thomas was only scandalous if "one is deeply sensitive to the mention of anything sexual," Parker contends. Instead of just telling Thomas to "get over himself" or going to a higher authority at the time, Hill waited several years until the confirmation hearings to air her complaints. Likewise, another former Thomas girlfriend who recently emerged from the woodwork and told Larry King that the justice was "obsessed with porn" is conveniently shopping her memoir. It appears that Thomas's main "offense was being a conservative black man who had the audacity, among other things, to suggest that affirmative action ultimately might do harm to those it was intended to help," Parker argues. "Let's hope he has enough spiritual reserve to survive this second lynching -- and a big enough heart to forgive poor Ginni."

  • Robert Wright on Islamophobia and Homophobia  Will Islam, like homosexuality, eventually find mainstream acceptance in America? The New York Times columnist isn't optimistic. He points to the "bridging model" to explain the rapid change in attitudes towards gays. "A few decades ago, people all over America knew and liked gay people — they just didn’t realize these people were gay," writes Wright. "So by the time gays started coming out of the closet, the bridge had already been built. And once straight Americans followed the bridge’s logic — once they, having already accepted people who turned out to be gay, accepted gayness itself — more gay people felt comfortable coming out." Islam is not in a similar position to bridge, which is "bad news" for those hoping America will transcend Islamophobic notions. "The population of Muslims is so small," says Wright, "and so concentrated in distinct regions...this is a recipe for prejudice. Being a small and geographically concentrated group makes it hard for many people to know you, so not much bridging naturally happens. That would explain why Buddhists and Mormons, along with Muslims, get low feeling-thermometer ratings in America."