Around the Columnsphere 2-4-05

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Here's some of what's going on in the world of political columnists. Yes, I'm talking about those whose opinion pieces existed before the blogosphere and who actually put some time into their pieces rather than simply spouting off at things as soon as they hear about them. I hope that format never leaves us with the rise of the blogosphere, so I 've decided to do some regular highlighting of good columns from thinkers I respect.

Walter Williams discusses the resistance to Lawrence Summers' comments about trying to explain gender differences in disciplines involving heavier math. He provocatively calls that resistance anti-intellectualism (in the ordinary sense, not in the specialized sense John McWhorter uses to describe blacks' tendency not to see school as "for them"). I'm inclined to agree.

Michael Barone casts Bush as a revolutionary and compares him to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. It's nice to see this side of Bush emphasized, because I think the comparisons are somewhat apt. Only time will tell if they're accurate, because the real moral evaluation here depends on how things turn out, but the similarity in tone, scope, and language is telling, and that's what Barone is getting at.

Chuck Colson, whom I sometimes criticize for too willingly associating conservative political views with Christianity, has the right attitude in this column. "Almost every time the Church has achieved earthly power, it has managed to shoot itself in the foot." His answer to whether Bush owes evangelicals anything? "No. Instead of focusing on what we are owed, we need to remember what we owe to God and to our neighbor: to be steadfast witnesses to the truth, and always willing to serve. Let's follow the example of Christ -- not demanding to be served, but serving others." I don't think he goes quite far enough, but it's nice to see this from him.

Rich Lowry points out a danger of civil libertarianism. It's much harder to address public health issues. Civil libertarianism didn't win out on HIV/AIDS, and hindsight shows that they were on the wrong side.

Former Crossfire host Michael Kinsley reflects on the show's cancelation.

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