Cutting Edge: New ideas / Sharp opinions
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Another title for Lance
Eric Pape in Foreign Policy: "PARIS -- Just two weeks before France learned that Lance Armstrong would confess his sins to Oprah Winfrey, readers of the popular French journalism and investigation website Rue89.com elected the Texan as 'The Sports Bastard of the Year.' In an open race, he won easily, with more than 40 percent of the vote.
"Still, that selection may say more about Rue89's edgy readers than general sentiments here toward Armstrong. It isn't that the French were ever particularly fond of the seven-time Tour de France winner, but feelings here are, well, a little complicated.
"For one, a singularly focused, supremely confident and utterly doubt-free American was always going to stand out in a country known for endless self-questioning, philosophical debate and world-weary skepticism. And, yeah, he once inspired questions about a changing world in which an American could so thoroughly dominate a race long led by Europeans.
"But the main issue was something else: A whole lot of French people wanted to believe in Armstrong's cancer recovery-to-tour-triumph storyline, but just couldn't bring themselves to do so."
Lofty meaningless rhetoric
Michael Kazin in The New Republic offers advice for those listening to President Barack Obama's second inaugural address Monday:
"Don't take anything he says very seriously. For all the hype they receive, inaugural addresses rarely foretell what a president will accomplish in office. In fact, the men who utter grand principles and make big promises every four years often contradict them, willingly or not, soon after they begin their terms."
Mr. Kazin then illustrates with some celebrated inaugural quotations, starting with ... "We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists."
"In his first inaugural, Jefferson crafted that line to soothe the bitter rivalries of the late 1790s when party divisions threatened to break out in civil war. But, as president, he quickly removed nearly every Federalist from office and appointed his own loyalists to take their places. Then, he and his fellow partisans nurtured a growing constituency of small farmers, craftsmen, and evangelical Protestants and made sure the opposition would never elect a president again."
Caution on gun control
Nick Gillespie and Amanda Winkler at Reason.com present five facts that elected officials should know before dealing with gun violence:
• Violent crime -- including violent crime using guns -- has dropped massively over the past 20 years.
• Mass shootings have not increased in recent years.
• Schools are getting safer.
• There are more guns in circulation than ever before ... yet the rate of gun-related crime continues to drop.
• Assault weapons bans are generally ineffective.
They go on to caution: "Over the past dozen years, too many policies -- the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq, the TARP bailouts -- have been ruled by emotion and ideology. Passing sweeping new restrictions on Second Amendment rights won't heal the pain and loss we all feel but just may create many more problems in our future."
The GOP and immigration
Nate Cohn in The New Republic: "After President Obama's historic performance among Hispanic voters helped him win reelection, establishment Republicans suddenly came around on immigration reform. The case for doing so is clearer than any other proposed post-election change in the GOP platform, but it won't be easy.
"Obama has immigration-reform plans of his own, and a debate on the issue will likely divide House Republicans for the second time this year, preventing the party from reaping the electoral benefits of embracing reform. And if the House actually blocks reform, it's doubtful that Republicans will make any progress in rebranding the party before the 2016 primaries.
"The political imperative here is evident: Opposition to immigration reform has hurt Republicans among Latino voters, and although a 180-degree switch on the issue might not yield immediate gains among Hispanics, it's an essential starting point."
First Published January 20, 2013 12:00 am