Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
Readings on pet dangers, Tucker Carlson and Anthony Fauci from the left and the right | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
President Joe Biden pumps his fists after speaking at the North America's Building Trades Union National Legislative Conference at the Washington Hilton in Washington on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden pumps his fists after speaking at the North America's Building Trades Union National Legislative Conference at the Washington Hilton in Washington on Tuesday. [ ANDREW HARNIK | AP ]
Published April 29

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 “Joe Biden’s Reelection Launch Is the Depressing Starting Gun for a Bleak Campaign Season,” by Branko Marcetic in Jacobin at

The context, from the author: Announcing his reelection bid, Joe Biden urged voters to help him “finish the job” and protect democracy from “MAGA extremists.” Conspicuously absent is even the pretense that he’ll do anything to make your life better.

The excerpt: Outlining an ambitious, inspiring vision of his presidency if reelected, and giving some sense of his legislative priorities in term two — reviving the very popular Build Back Better bill that died two years ago and formed the backbone of his presidential agenda, for instance, or vowing to expand Social Security benefits — might give despondent, checked-out Americans some reason or even, dare I say it, enthusiasm to come out to vote for Biden and his party next year, to give them the congressional seats they need to finally get this program over the line. But there’s no such call to action. Vote for Biden because, somehow, he’ll finish the job, whatever it is.

From “The World According to Tucker Carlson,” by Andrew Marantz in The New Yorker at

The context, from the author: Donald Trump had the raw power on the right. But it was Carlson who set the ideological agenda.

The excerpt: I have watched many hours of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Carlson’s prime-time TV show, and two of his streaming shows, “Tucker Carlson Today” and “Tucker Carlson Originals.” I have been appalled; I have been amazed; I have shouted rejoinders, vainly, at the screen; but I have rarely been bored. A lot of his story lines, including the one about the bugs, seem to have been repurposed from the deepest recesses of the Internet. In the Tuckerite master narrative, the bad guys are usually the rootless cosmopolitan elites, and the heroes are the local traditionalists, Christian nationalists, not-gonna-take-it-anymore vigilantes, or all of the above.

From “Private Equity Is Killing Your Pets,” by Brendan Ballou in The Nation at

The context, from the author: Private equity firms have gobbled veterinary companies around the country — and the results have been disastrous.

The excerpt: Private equity firms have swarmed to veterinary companies like they have to nursing homes, grocery chains and mobile home parks. Firms are attracted to veterinary care in particular for a number of reasons. For one thing, the industry is enormous. Over 90 million American households have a pet, a figure driven in no small part by the quarantine boom in animal purchases and adoptions. For another, unlike in human health care, customers tend to pay out of pocket, rather than through insurers. This gives private equity firms cash, unmediated through third parties, with which to pay down the debts they often use to buy practices.

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From “Swing Voters: Still Not Into the Anti-Woke Stuff,” by Rich Thau in The Bulwark at

The context, from the author: Maybe don’t bet the house on convincing swing-voters that Critical Race Theory and trans stuff are the most important issues in the world?

The excerpt: Anti-woke” politics don’t seem to be working with swing voters. In January, I wrote about the confusion over the term “woke” in focus groups with Trump-to-Biden Florida voters. We found that these moderate constituents of Gov. Ron DeSantis were “meh” on his declaration that “Florida is where woke goes to die.” They weren’t paying much attention, and when shown videos of what he had been saying on the topic, didn’t respond well to his attacking large corporations over “wokeness.” This month I probed on the topic again, but this time with focus groups of Trump-to-Biden voters in Pennsylvania. We talked to seven Republicans, four Democrats, and three independents across two sessions on April 11. The short answer: The war on woke still isn’t resonating. ... The anti-woke platform may play well with Republican base voters. But come the general election in 2024, it’s hard to see combating wokeness driving vote choice.

From “Searching for a Conservatism of Normalcy,” by Reihan Salam in The Atlantic at

The context, from the author: Here’s why Trump’s Republican rivals need a compelling ideological thesis.

The excerpt: Conservatives see themselves as guardians of the nation’s distinctive constitutional and cultural inheritance and their opponents as partisans of destructive innovations that would make Americans less prosperous and free. The question for conservatives, then, is which threat to the American social order merits their focused attention?

From “Anthony Fauci Still Is Not Being Honest with You,” by Noah Rothman in The National Review at

The context, from the author: Dr. Anthony Fauci’s lament isn’t that the historical record is getting him wrong. It’s that it’s getting him right.

The excerpt: Fauci’s frustration with those who are setting the record straight today is a product of his own arrogance. He projected absolute confidence in his assessment of his own talents and foresight during the pandemic. Now that this confidence proved misplaced, he has been reduced to attacking the credibility of those whose only offense was to record his public comments.