Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
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.
A medical assistant in a room where abortion procedures take place,at Planned Parenthood on May 26, 2022 in El Centro, California.
A medical assistant in a room where abortion procedures take place,at Planned Parenthood on May 26, 2022 in El Centro, California. [ IRFAN KHAN | Los Angeles Times ]
Published Jul. 30

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 “The Study That Debunks Most Anti-Abortion Arguments,” by Margaret Talbot in The New Yorker.

The context, from the author: For five years, a team of researchers asked women about their experience after having — or not having — an abortion. What do their answers tell us?

The excerpt: The Turnaway Study’s findings are welcome ones for anyone who supports reproductive justice. But they shouldn’t be necessary for it. The overwhelming majority of women who received abortions and stayed in the study for the full five years did not regret their decision (95%). But the vast majority of women who’d been denied abortions reported that they no longer wished that they’d been able to end the pregnancy, after an actual child of four or five was in the world. And that’s good, too — you’d hope they would love that child wholeheartedly, and you’d root for their resilience and happiness.

From “What Has Happened To The American Dream?” by Eleanor Roosevelt in an essay in The Atlantic from 1961.

The context: In 1961, Eleanor Roosevelt called for Americans to rededicate themselves to the country’s democratic ideals.

The excerpt: There is in most people, at most times, a proneness to give more credence to pleasant news than to unpleasant, to hope that, somehow or other, things “will come out all right.” But this was not the frame of mind that created the United States and made it not only a great nation but a symbol of a way of life that became the hope of the world. One can fight a danger only when one is armed with solid facts and spurred on by an unwavering faith and determination.

From “Roe Is the Past, Human Rights Are the Future,” by Akila Radhakrishnan in The Nation.

The context, from the author: Roe v. Wade didn’t guarantee unfettered abortion access in the United States. It’s past time human rights were placed at the center of our demands.

The excerpt: An international human rights strategy is just one part of a multifaceted approach that needs to be taken in the United States to build back the framework of reproductive rights in this country — and one that is far stronger than the frame overturned by Dobbs. But as we watch the decimation of rights and confront the limits of a 200-plus-year-old constitutional framework, it is imperative that Democratic leaders and activists look outward, with humility, and learn from the countries expanding rights, not restricting them. And it is far past time that the United States subjected itself to a human rights framework that it helped to build for others but has zealously withheld from its own people.


From “Should Libertarians Root for a National Divorce?” by Zach Weissmueller in Reason Magazine.

The context, from the author: Is it time for blue states and red states to stop fighting over their differences and just get a divorce?

The excerpt: Libertarians are and should be engaging in political struggle and pressuring courts however they can to protect Americans’ liberties against all levels of government: federal, state, and local. And the most effective method for increasing freedom is the use of technological tools that allow us to bypass the state altogether and extend the scope of the Bill of Rights: Print your own guns, communicate through encrypted services, build new worlds in cyberspace, and hold and transact in bitcoin, which the government can’t censor or devalue.

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From “Biden’s Unrealistic Optimism,” by Jim Geraghty in The National Review.

The context, from the author: The real problem for (President Joe) Biden is that this is just the latest chapter in a long, long story of him insisting that everything is going to be fine and then being proven wrong — often quickly. When Biden and his team are confronted with a problem, their reflexive instinct is to insist it isn’t really a problem.

The excerpt: When Biden’s predictions turn out to be wrong, he explains he would have had to be a “mind reader” to get it right. (What he really means is clairvoyant, or having the ability to see the future, not to read minds.) In Biden’s mind, when things don’t go the way he planned, it’s just bad luck. After a while, it’s not bad luck; it’s bad judgment. Reportedly, Biden whines to aides that, “Everything landed on his desk but locusts.” What did he think the presidency would be? An endless parade of aides and officials marching into the Oval Office with good news? A positive attitude can be a great strength, but what Biden keeps exhibiting is a certain naïve, unrealistic faith that everything will work itself out.

From “The Vision Of Viktor Orban,” by Rod Dreher in The American Conservative.

The context, from the author: Late last week, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave a long, off-the-cuff discourse to a large group of Hungarians gathered in what used to be Hungarian-owned Transylvania (now part of Romania). I wasn’t there, but I heard from friends who were that his remarks were very strong.

The excerpt: Viktor Orban knows what the leaders of Western Europe cannot bring themselves to face: that the future of the West is in doubt now because of mass migration from the non-Western, non-Christian world, happening at the same time as the collapse of the West spiritually and morally. He says that the borders of “the West” now fall between Central Europe (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and others in the post-Communist bloc) and the West — precisely because the former Communist countries are not yet overrun with demographic outsiders.


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