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It’s all Biden’s fault, a rerun of 2016 and how Gavin Newsom outsmarted DeSantis | Readings
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Aug. 24 in Atlanta.
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Aug. 24 in Atlanta. [ JOE RAEDLE | Getty Images North America ]
Published Dec. 2, 2023

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 “If Donald Trump Wins Next Year, Don’t Blame the Voters. Blame Joe Biden,” by Ben Burgis in Jacobin at

The context, from the author: It’s the job of politicians to appeal to voters. Right now what Joe Biden is selling is two wars and an economy that isn’t working for far too many ordinary people. If Donald Trump wins, don’t blame the electorate: This is Biden’s election to lose.

The excerpt: It’s the job of politicians to appeal to voters. If Biden isn’t winning them over with what he’s currently offering, that’s his fault, not theirs. The solution isn’t to chide the populace to be more satisfied. It’s to offer them something better — or get out of the way so another candidate can do so.

From “The Road to Dubai,” by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker at

The context, from the author: The latest round of international climate negotiations is being held in a petro-state. What could go wrong?

The excerpt: (The global climate summits — called COPs — which stands for “Conference of the Parties”) have become a kind of traveling paradox. The meetings are the one time each year when the whole world confronts the climate crisis, and they are the time when the world demonstrates its collective failure to confront the crisis. The president of this year’s session, Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, heads the United Arab Emirates’ state oil company. Does this show that even petro-states are now determined to act on climate change — or that fossil fuel interests run everything, including COPS?

From “My Father, My Faith, and Donald Trump,” by Tim Alberta (hardly writing from the left, but some evangelical critics would think him a liberal) in The Atlantic at

The context, from the author: Plenty of nations are mentioned in the Bible; the United States is not one of them. Most American evangelicals are sophisticated enough to reject the idea of this country as something consecrated in the eyes of God. But many of those same people have chosen to idealize a Christian America that puts them at odds with Christianity. They have allowed their national identity to shape their faith identity instead of the other way around.

The excerpt: (At the funeral of my father, the thriving church’s pastor, the comments) kept on coming. More than I could count. People from the church — people I’d known my entire life — were greeting me, not primarily with condolences or encouragement or mourning, but with commentary about (Rush) Limbaugh and (Donald) Trump. Some of it was playful, guys remarking about how I was the same mischief-maker they’d known since kindergarten. But some of it wasn’t playful. Some of it was angry; some of it was cold and confrontational. One man questioned whether I was truly a Christian. Another asked if I was still on “the right side.” All while Dad was in a box a hundred feet away.

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From “We Remain on Course for a Rerun of the 2016 GOP Presidential Primary,” by Jim Geraghty in The National Review at

The context, from the author: It doesn’t matter much if I write that it’s time for Chris Christie to drop out, or for Nikki Haley to drop out, or for Ron DeSantis to drop out. They’re all going to stay in the race until they feel it’s time to quit, or they see no discernable point in remaining in the race, or they run out of money. And a candidate’s sense of when to quit is often different, and much later, from everyone else’s.

The excerpt: There is no way to beat (former President Donald) Trump with at least three competitors each taking a chunk of the non-Trump vote. And that is what we are headed for unless something changes. ... It’s the same phenomenon as 2016; ego, arrogance and unrealistic hopes of some miraculous turnaround are keeping multiple non-Trump candidates in the race and, in some cases, attacking each other instead of making the case for someone besides Trump to be the nominee.

From “Gavin Newsom Is Running The Campaign Ron DeSantis Should Have Run,” by Aaron Decorte in The Federalist at

The context, from the author: Sometimes the wise move is to wait until the superstar retires or someone retires him.

The excerpt: If DeSantis could be granted a do-over, he would never have announced. Instead, he would have pulled a (California Gov. Gavin) Newsom — be visible, but deferential to the party’s (unofficial) head and hang back. Waiting. Watching. Ready to jump in if need be or even better, be asked to jump in. In this crazy election cycle, anything is possible, and the GOP might need an alternative candidate despite the statical stranglehold Trump has on the nomination currently. Imagine the power DeSantis would have today if he had never declared, raised money, advertised, or debated. He would be the second most powerful person in the GOP primary like Newsom is on the Democratic side.

From “Tell Me How This Ends,” by Sumantra Maitra in The American Conservative at

The context, from the author: Former President Donald Trump is right; the war in Ukraine can end in a day.

The excerpt: The war termination remains in the hands of the Americans and Russians, and no one else. Ukraine, without American arms and affluence, cannot survive this war. It is unfashionable for great powers to decide the fate of smaller states, but that doesn’t change the reality that they can, if they so desire. The question of expediency is different from the question of morality of an action. In this case, the U.S. holds all the cards, and leverage. Not Ukraine, not even Europe. As for the Russians, there will always be a trust deficit. But if Russian core interests of a neutral buffer zone in her borders is satiated, it is unlikely they will choose a continual bleeding.