Frank Bruni in The New York Times on Barack Obama's gay marriage calculation Days after Vice President Biden "kind of, sort of, probably came out in favor of same-sex marriage" and Education Secretary Arne Duncan offered a more solid endorsement, Bruni weighs in on Barack Obama's tenuous position on the issue, finding it politically pragmatic but sadly uninspired. "[P]art of what it says is that Obama — no matter how much he romanticizes himself or some voters still romanticize him — plays a cautious game, letting others test the waters while he hugs the shore. It's smart politics. But it's hardly audacious, and not so inspiring."

Noah Feldman in Bloomberg View on the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial The arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at Guantanamo Bay presented the difficulties the government will face giving the proceedings an air of legitimacy. "U.S. military commissions do not have a stellar history of producing legitimate-looking outcomes," writes Feldman. "The fundamental problem for a military commission is that no one expects the soldiers of a state to acquit enemies of that state accused with breaking the laws of war. Once the outcome is no longer in doubt, there is every reason for the defendants to try to make a mockery of the proceedings." He offers the Nuremberg Trials as a lonely counter-example, but notes that this month's proceedings don't look like they'll be remembered as well.

William McGurn in The Wall Street Journal on Chen Guangcheng's bad timing Chen Guangcheng's escape and the ensuing diplomatic wrangling came at an inconvenient time for the two nations, who were set to meet in Beijing shortly afterward. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that the affair wouldn't interrupt negotiations on other important matters. "That's where dissidents like Mr. Chen come in. They remind us of something we can forget in our enthusiasm to negotiate: We do well to be skeptical" of China's regime. McGurn writes that Chen reminded us that the Chinese are prone to embarrassment so long as their people still view the American embassy as the safest place in their capital city. "The contribution of dissidents is precisely their inconvenience, the way they illuminate truths we might rather gloss over, the way they force us to hold fast to our ideals."

Joanna Weiss in The Boston Globe on the condescending 'Life of Julia' The Obama campaign last week debuted their infographic depicting "The Life of Julia," a fictional woman whose life and the impact of Obama's pro-woman policies upon it, were documented from birth to old age. "Conservatives, naturally, have railed against Julia's 'cradle-to-grave government dependence,'" writes Weiss. "But the recoil against Julia isn't a matter of ideology: You don't have to be hiding under the bedcovers, quivering in fear of European-style socialism, to know that life can't be reduced to a series of events loosely bound to government policy." Weiss notes that finding a representative "every woman" can be enticing to campaigns, but rallying women around an infographic seemed "condescending." "Women are perfectly capable of projecting policy implications onto their own lives."

Sally Satel in Bloomberg View on Facebook's organ donor initiative Last week, Facebook debuted a feature that allows users to publicly sign up as organ donors. In a country where too many die waiting for a transplant, the feature is welcome, writes Satel, but demographics also show that the country needs more living kidney donors to meet the demand, so she proposes that Facebook take their initiative a step further. "Next, perhaps the social-media giant can add another status question that allows people to 'like' the idea of rewarding people who are willing to give a kidney and save more lives -- and tell their friends."