Two stories grabbed everyone’s attention this week: Sunni extremists seizing a big chunk of Iraq, and Eric Cantor losing his primary to Dave Brat, a guy most of us had never heard of.
On the Right, the Iraq story was all about how Obama should never have pulled out all our troops. Chatter on the Left, conversely, focused on how Bush never should have destabilized the country in the first place. Perversely, the media kept consulting “Iraq experts” whose advice was spectacularly wrong in 2002. In “Iraq is Still Broken”, I’ll go back to an expert whose accounts hold up pretty well to hindsight: University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole.
The Cantor debacle was covered widely, but not very deeply: It has been presented as a David-defeats-Goliath story in which the conservative grass roots take down a powerful insider. Yes, Cantor is a powerful insider, but in “Actually, David IS Goliath” I’ll take a closer look at the powerful forces behind Brat.
Not quite as newsy, but fascinating all the same, was a Pew report on political polarization. Not only did it quantify what everybody already knows — Americans are diverging into liberal and conservative camps — but it pointed out some interesting ways that the two sides are not just mirror images of each other. When James Madison was designing the Constitution’s system of separated powers, I don’t think he imagined so many of those powers winding up in the hands of people who think compromise is evil. I’ll discuss that in the weekly summary.
Also in the summary: Capitalism’s answer to school shootings. It’s really hard to be a good guy with a gun. Yes, George Will wrote a bad thing, but the reason WaPo should fire him is that his column is such a waste of valuable opinion-making real estate. And a photographer in Botswana does what we’d all do if we had a Batman-level toy budget: attach a camera to a radio-controlled dune buggy and drive it into a pride of lions.