The must-read opinion pages for Monday, October 7
SHUTDOWN’S ROOTS LIE IN DEEPLY EMBEDDED DIVISIONS IN AMERICA’S POLITICS
[T]he ideological, cultural and political differences that led to this moment of extreme governmental dysfunction are almost certain to shape elections and legislative battles in the near term. That is the conclusion of politicians, political strategists and scholars who have been living with a deepening red-blue divide in America that they say has made this era of politics the most polarized in more than a century. However bad it may have seemed in the 1990s, the last time there was a shutdown , or after the contested presidential election in 2000, or a decade ago during a divisive war, the fundamentals are worse today.
THE SHUTDOWN OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
[B]y many measures the United States, long blessed, should be entering a new golden age. Who would have predicted 10 years ago that the United States would become, as the Wall Street Journal reported last week, the world’s No. 1 energy power…? While most developed nations, from Japan to Italy to Russia, don’t have enough young people, U.S. population trends are relatively benign thanks to immigration and a stable birth rate. Yet the government seems unable to do its job. The shutdown can be blamed on the reckless, irresponsible miscalculations of congressional Republicans. But the shutdown is only the most extreme example of government’s failure to solve solvable problems: to fix Social Security, pass a budget, reform immigration laws. What gives?
SHUTDOWN: THE TEA PARTY’S LAST STAND
E.J. DIONNE JR.
[In a] hot-microphone incident last week… Sen. Rand Paul was caught plotting strategy with Sen. Mitch McConnell. Paul’s words, spoken after he had finished a television interview, said more than he realized. “I just did CNN. I just go over and over again: ‘We’re willing to compromise, we’re willing to negotiate,’ ” Paul said, adding this about the Democrats: “I don’t think they’ve poll-tested, ‘We won’t negotiate.’ ” … It’s revealing to hear a politician who is supposed to be all about principle mocking Democrats for failing to do enough poll-testing. It makes you wonder whether Paul poll-tests everything he says. But Paul’s statement raised a more important question: If just days after it began, a shutdown that was about repealing Obamacare is not about repealing Obamacare, then what is it about?
AMERICANS AT WAR IN AFRICA
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Success or not, the Obama Administration deserves credit for undertaking both raids. These are high-risk missions and not every one will work as well as the grab in Tripoli. But it’s vital to U.S. security to take these risks. We learned on 9/11 that terrorists can strike the U.S. if they are allowed to create sanctuaries even half a world away. The Administration has seemed reluctant to act forcefully against al Qaeda in Africa lest it undermine President Obama’s claim that the terror network is defeated. The raids are a tacit admission that Mr. Obama has been overselling victory, but we’re nonetheless glad to see the U.S. going back on offense.
RESTORING FREE POLITICAL SPEECH
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Assuming the four liberals go the other way, that makes Chief Justice Roberts the swing vote. The left is already warning him in the media, much as they did so successfully last year in advance of his salvaging of ObamaCare. They will denounce a ruling they don’t like as “activist” though it would merely restore the First Amendment’s central role in protecting free political speech. Thanks to the historic blunder of Buckley, political participation is more heavily regulated today than are video games and pornography. That is not what the Founders intended. The Chief Justice prefers to be an incrementalist, but now is the time to advance a core constitutional principle.
THE BOEHNER BUNGLERS
NEW YORK TIMES
Unfortunately for all of us, even the shock of electoral defeat wasn’t enough to burst the G.O.P. bubble; it’s still a party dominated by wishful thinking, and all but impervious to inconvenient facts. And now that party’s leaders have bungled themselves into a corner. Everybody not inside the bubble realizes that Mr. Obama can’t and won’t negotiate under the threat that the House will blow up the economy if he doesn’t — any concession at all would legitimize extortion as a routine part of politics. Yet Republican leaders are just beginning to get a clue, and so far clearly have no idea how to back down. Meanwhile, the government is shut, and a debt crisis looms. Incompetence can be a terrible thing.
GEEKS CAN BE GIRLS
At the very moment that computer science became central to all our lives – and produced a plethora of high-paying jobs – women vanished. According to the newly formed advocacy group Girls Who Code, while 57 per cent of US graduates are women, a mere 13 per cent of [Computer Science] graduates are now female. And while 74 per cent of American high-school girls tell pollsters that they want to study science, maths, engineering and technology, a paltry 0.3 per cent of them are entering computer science courses…the real issue seems to be that computing has somehow become culturally defined as “male” in the western student world. That might be because new job opportunities have opened up to female graduates elsewhere (say, in medicine or law). Or it might stem from a media depiction of geeks as teenage males, or from marketing biases. Either way, it begs a key question: can this pattern be changed?