Thoughout the year, the editors of TheWeek.com regularly highlight how the nation's most respected commentators react to major news events. Here's a roundup of our favorite takes from the past 12 months, including columns on the controversial passage of the health-care reform bill, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the seemingly unstoppable rise of Sarah Palin, and the emergence of the Tea Party as a political force.
1. "The rage is not about health care"
Frank Rich, The New York Times (March 27)
The health-care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964... The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play.
Read the entire article at The New York Times.
2. "Gulf spill: Is the Bush administration to blame?"
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., The Huffington Post (May 5)
A common spin in the right-wing coverage of BP's oil spill is a gleeful suggestion that the Gulf blowout is Obama's Katrina. In truth, culpability for the disaster can more accurately be laid at the Bush administration's doorstep... The current White House is not without fault — the government should, for example, be requiring a far greater deployment of absorbent booms. But the real culprit in this villainy is a negligent industry, the festering ethics of the Bush Administration and poor oversight by an agency corrupted by eight years of grotesque subservience to Big Oil.
Read the entire article at The Huffington Post.
3. "The genius of Sarah Palin"
Tony Lee, The Atlantic (June)
I went to [Sarah] Palin's speech in Washington, D.C. on Friday, where she spoke at a breakfast hosted by The Susan B. Anthony List, an extremely influential pro-life organization. Nowhere did I see a caricature of a bumbling dolt just going through the motions. What I did hear was substance. Warmth. Humor. Unapologetic feistiness. And an optimistic belief in conservative values and principles. And what I saw was the makings of a potentially transcendent and transformational figure not only for the conservative movement but for American politics.
Read the entire article at The Atlantic.
4. "Don't expect global warming skeptics to give up on Climategate"
Bryan Walsh, Time (July 7)
Our positions [on climate change] seem set, and have as much to do with emotion and ideology as anything else. It's inescapable that nearly all the plans to reduce carbon emissions involve either a new tax or stronger government regulations of the private industry through a carbon cap and efficiency standards—so it's not exactly surprising that Republicans would be more skeptical of climate change, and Democrats more accepting. We like to think we're perfectly rational beings, capable of weighing the evidence dispassionately and coming to the correct conclusion. We're not.
Read the entire article at Time.
5. "Obama's one-term presidency"
Roger Simon, Politico (August 17)
I am not saying Obama is not smart; he is as smart as a whip. I am just saying he does not understand what savvy first-term presidents need to understand: You have to stay on message, follow the polls, listen to your advisers (who are writing the message and taking the polls) and realize that when it comes to doing what is right versus doing what is expedient, you do what is expedient so that you can get reelected and do what is right in the second term. If at all possible. And it will help your legacy. And not endanger the election of others in your party. And not hurt the brand. Or upset people too much.
Read the entire article at Politico.
6. "America's overreaction to 9/11"
Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek (September 4)
I do not minimize Al Qaeda’s intentions, which are barbaric. I question its capabilities. In every recent conflict, the United States has been right about the evil intentions of its adversaries but massively exaggerated their strength. In the 1980s, we thought the Soviet Union was expanding its power and influence when it was on the verge of economic and political bankruptcy. In the 1990s, we were certain that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear arsenal. In fact, his factories could barely make soap.The error this time is more damaging. September 11 was a shock to the American psyche and the American system. As a result, we overreacted.
Read the entire article at Newsweek.
7. "Why liberals don't get the Tea Party movement"
Peter Berkowitz, The Wall Street Journal (October 16)
To be sure, the Tea Party sports its share of clowns, kooks and creeps. And some of its favored candidates and loudest voices have made embarrassing statements and embraced reckless policies. This, however, does not distinguish the Tea Party movement from the competition. Born in response to President Obama's self-declared desire to fundamentally change America, the Tea Party movement has made its central goals abundantly clear. Activists and the sizeable swath of voters who sympathize with them want to reduce the massively ballooning national debt, cut runaway federal spending, keep taxes in check, reinvigorate the economy, and block the expansion of the state into citizens' lives. In other words, the Tea Party movement is inspired above all by a commitment to limited government. And that does distinguish it from the competition.
Read the entire article at The Wall Street Journal.