Jim Verhulst - Editorial Writer
Here’s what to read from the left and the right | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House on Tuesday. A National Review columnist says that Democrats are surprised to discover that President Joe Biden is a lousy leader.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House on Tuesday. A National Review columnist says that Democrats are surprised to discover that President Joe Biden is a lousy leader. [ DREW ANGERER | Getty Images North America ]
Published Oct. 15

We live in a partisan age, and our news habits can reinforce our own perspectives. Consider this an effort to broaden our collective outlook with essays beyond the range of our typical selections.


From “ ‘Feel-Good’ News Story or Poverty Propaganda?” by Kali Holloway in The Nation.

The context, from the author: Viral news stories of individual pluck and charity only underscore how cruel our society is.

The excerpt: The real story is left unwritten in articles that portray societal problems as personal misfortune. When a 7-year-old sets up a lemonade stand to chip in for her own multiple brain surgeries, because even with insurance just one of the procedures would cost $10,000, that’s not precocious entrepreneurialism; it’s an indictment of a health care system that values human life in direct proportion to potential earnings growth. A former student raising $27,000 for a 77-year-old substitute teacher who had been living in his car even before his earnings were decimated by COVID school closures isn’t a touching reunion anecdote; it’s a reminder of how shamefully underpaid public school teachers are.

From “David Shor Is Telling Democrats What They Don’t Want to Hear,” by progressive columnist Ezra Klein in the New York Times.

The context, from the author: (Statistical analyst David Shor’s) personal story (of cancellation) became proof of his political theory — The Democratic Party was trapped in an echo chamber of Twitter activists and woke staff members. It had lost touch with the working-class voters of all races that it needs to win elections, and even progressive institutions dedicated to data analysis were refusing to face the hard facts of public opinion and electoral geography.

The excerpt: Here’s the truly frightening thought for frustrated Democrats — This might be the high-water mark of power they’ll have for the next decade. Democrats are on the precipice of an era without any hope of a governing majority.

From “My Neighbor the Tear Gas Factory,” by Wil Sands in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: Here’s what happens when the domestic suppression industry moves in next door.

The excerpt: When I asked the Lauries (whose farm sits next to Combined Systems Incorporated, a manufacturer of so-called “less lethal” munitions such as tear gas) how CSI had altered their view of the world, Tom responded without hesitation: “It just proves to me that there’s probably better, safer, healthier ways to take care of crowd control or whatever the issue is, other than this stuff. There’s a reason it is banned in warfare. Living next door, you have a very real experience of what other people go through. And it just shouldn’t be used. Period. On anybody, for any reason.” David Laurie interrupted his son: “I had an AR-15, and I sold it. It just seemed to me that it was something to use that was just evil. So I sold it.” All of the family members agreed they’d never go see fireworks again.


From “Democrats Belatedly Realize Joe Biden Is a Lousy Leader,” by Jim Geraghty in the National Review.

The context, from the author: Try not to spill anything as you laugh at Democrats as they realize in October 2021 that Joe Biden is a lousy leader, overpromising and underdelivering and stumbling badly when he needs to communicate clearly.

The excerpt: Joe Biden isn’t keeping his promises? Who could have seen that coming? One of the reasons that covering presidential campaigns is less interesting than it used to be is that the primaries — and to a certain extent, the general election — have turned into contests in which candidates can make the biggest, most grandiose, and most unrealistic promises, and often, these candidates are numbskulls who doesn’t have the slightest idea how to bring those promises to fruition. Lest you think Joe Biden was the realistic one in the Democratic primary compared to Bernie Sanders, allow me to remind you that in June 2019, Biden pledged that, “I’ve worked so hard in my career that, I promise you, if I’m elected president, you’re going to see the single most important thing that changes America: We’re going to cure cancer.”

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From “Bisexual Superman: Woke America’s Hero,” by Rod Dreher in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: Who asked for this? Who asked for superheroes to have sex lives, or gay sex lives?

The excerpt: In American popular culture, Superman is the ultimate bearer of heroic virtue. Now that virtue includes sexual desire for a man. For better or for worse, that’s what America is in 2021.

From “Criminal Negligence,” by William Voegeli in the Claremont Review of Books.

The context, from the author: Liberals would rather live with crime than fight it.

The excerpt: The political problem for Democrats is that the party’s progressive vanguard clearly believes that the coercive approach to criminal justice embraced by both political parties some 30 years ago had little to do with the dramatic reduction in crime. Which is unlikely. Worse, progressives also believe that even if mass incarceration and more assertive policing practices do explain the drop in crime, the country was more just and admirable with high crime and lax law enforcement than with low crime and vigorous enforcement.