If you are suffering from Trump fatigue, then our roundup of the most popular opinion pieces of 2018 is just for you. You can’t quite escape his presence, which is implicit in most of what follows. But our commentators largely dodge the president in favor of surveying the landscape he created.
1. Media Misses The Real Story In Warren’s DNA Results
Susan Ryan Vollmar argues that it’s the national media’s perverse obsession with the Republican attack machine that keeps the issue of Senator Warren’s genetic footprint alive. “Warren’s ancestry,” wrote Ryan Vollmar, “doesn’t touch on any of the major issues facing our country today.” War? (Nope.) Peace? (Nope.) Health care? (Nope.) Inequality (Nope.)
The idea that a DNA test could ever answer insincere questions about racial ancestry is as plausible as the notion that an FBI investigation would answer insincere questions about a former Secretary of State's email practices.
2. For Brett Kavanaugh, A Lifetime Thriving In A Culture That Embraces Sexual Harassment
As he so often does, media critic Dan Kennedy takes a step backward to provide readers with the context they need to make sense of the daily headlines. In the course of riffing on the controversies that enveloped the senate confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Kennedy comes to grips with a central paradox of that story: The man Republicans said was the victim of a smear campaign alleging he was a sexual abuser in his youth, was himself a character assassin when – as a member of Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s team -- Kavanaugh shamelessly exploited Monica Lewinsky’s unfortunate association with President Bill Clinton.
There is a coherent story to be told about Brett Kavanaugh, and it is ugly — the story of a child of privilege whose rise has been constructed, in part, on the degradation of women.
3. Dear Utah: What To Expect When You’re Expecting Mitt Romney
Political columnist David S. Bernstein is one of the nation’s leading authorities on former Massachusetts governor, and former Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Now that Romney is back in the game full time as the newly elected senator from Utah, expect to read more from Bernstein on a guy who (even by political standards) holds himself in high regard.
Besides, if it doesn't work out, he'll probably just move on to another place and forget all about you. At least, that was our experience with Mitt Romney.
4. Smith College Incident Is What Everyday Racism Looks Like
“Another white person calling the police on a black person just living their lives,” writes Callie Crossley, who among the many things she does at WGBH News, hosts Under The Radar. What makes this a man-bites dog story (some might think) is that it happened at Smith College, a bastion of privilege and enlightenment. Not so, Crossley warns. Racism is ubiquitous and if you don’t realize that you are not living in the real world.
But the most virulent racism is not physical, it is insidious and systemic, bred-in-the-national-fabric racism, which prevents black Americans from being first class citizens. This kind of racism does not look like what most people envision.
5. Kavanaugh: A Legal Assessment — With Some Personal Reflections
Legal commentator Harvey Silverglate backed Kavanaugh’s elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court. “If you find my professional legal assessment cold, or even cynical,” Silverglate wrote, “then you may find my personal reflection on Kavanaugh naïve. My view is that a decent society does not hold something against an adult for something the adult did, or allegedly did, when an adolescent.” It’s a point of view you’d have to look long and hard to find elsewhere.
My view is that a decent society does not hold something against an adult for something the adult did, or allegedly did, when an adolescent. We should all understand that adolescence is a time of life when kids do some very foolish things, some of which border on, or even pass firmly into, the category of illegality and, indeed, of criminality.