Rick Perlstein on Betty Ford's Legacy Though the former first lady, who passed away Friday, was "never an elected official, industry titan or religious leader, few Americans changed people's lives so dramatically for the better," writes the author of Nixonland in today's New York Times. Though Ford struggled with addictions and was known for colorful comments to the media--for example about having sex with her husband "as often as possible"--Perlstein notes that these comments came as America began to shed its "shame-faced secrecy," and that "Betty Ford was that transformation's Joan of Arc," opening up about her mastectomy, for example, "at a time when respectable people only whispered the word 'cancer.'" As proof of her inspiring quality, Perlstein mentions the many books sent to the first lady with notes from the authors. The books included cancer memoirs, addiction memoirs, and "autobiographies bearing witness to struggles of every description ... She had taught them how not to feel ashamed."
Gideon Rachman on the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process Gideon Rachman disagrees with the recent movement of U.S. and European leaders toward calling for renewed peace talks between Israel and Palestine. "With the Middle East in turmoil," he writes in the Financial Times, "starting a new round of Israeli-Palestinian talks is completely pointless." The Arab Spring puts both sides on guard, he says. It makes Palestinians unwilling to open themselves up to criticism for "selling their own people" and instead focuses them on reconciling Fatah and Hamas. Israel, too, is in "a defensive crouch," as their regional security was once founded on a series of diplomatic relationships that have been disrupted by the revolutions across the Middle East. Instead of urging peace talks, Rachman says, U.S. and European leaders should wait for the dust to settle and meanwhile focus on taking a harder line against expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and getting Hamas to recognize the state of Israel.
Roger Cohen Defends Rupert Murdoch "Fair warning: This column is a defense of Rupert Murdoch," writes Roger Cohen in today's New York Times. "If you add everything up, he's been good for newspapers over the past several decades, keeping them alive and vigorous and noisy and relevant." Cohen quickly adds several caveats, condemning the recent hacking scandals at News of the World, criticizing Fox News for "right-wing demagoguery," and disagreeing with Murdoch on issues like climate change. But Cohen admires the tycoon's "loathing for elites" and "love of no-holds-barred journalism." He recounts Murdoch's risky and successful career in media and gives other Murdoch-owned news outlets high marks. "Both the Wall Street Journal and The Times show serious journalists can thrive under him." The latest scandal will prove dangerous for News International, Cohen assents, but with the company's history of success, Cohen says, "I'd bet on them to prevail."
Bret Stephens on Extremism in Pakistan Bret Stephens revisits the January murder of Salmaan Taseer, governor of the Punjab province in Pakistan, in today's Wall Street Journal. Taseer's family has had difficulty finding a prosecutor, whereas supporters showered Taseer's bodyguard-turned murderer with rose pedals on his way to court. Stephens argues that such contrasts don't indicate that the extremists in Pakistan outweigh the moderates, but that they are more vocal. "'After my father was killed, the luxury of criticizing and debating seemed to die along with him,'" Stephens quotes Taseer's daughter, who works for Newsweek in Pakistan, as saying. "'In Pakistan,' says Ms. Taseer, 'if you believe in something, you have to be willing to die for it.' She's 22 years old." America has grown tired of the war on terror and the task of nation building, Stephens says, but the United States has a high stake in putting Pakistan in the right hands. "It would also be wise to make sure that people like Ms. Taseer and the cause she represents get all the support we can offer them."
Herbert Pardes and Edward Miller Criticize Medical Education Cuts Attempting to reduce the budget, lawmakers are seeking to cut Medicare reimbursements for academic centers and teaching hospitals that train new doctors. This will limit the number of new doctors our country can produce, write two prominent medical educators in The Wall Street Journal. When paired with an aging population and the high number of doctors heading for retirement, this will lead to longer waits and worsened care for Americans. Already, the authors note, "10% of the population today may wait months to see a doctor." Increasingly, doctors do not own their own practices but instead operate out of hospitals meaning that cuts to hospitals, even to their medical training departments, will lead to cuts in primary care. They conclude that "[t]he short-term budgetary savings of graduate medical education cuts are not worth the long-term negative impact on patients."