The Internet’s big thinkers shared their perspectives on the issues of the week — from the President’s State of the Union speech to the Pope’s hasty resignation. Here are some of the opinions that got us thinking. Did we miss one? Share the “ideas” that caught your attention this week in the comment section.
“The State of the 4-Year-Olds” in the New York Times
Who: Gail Collins, Times columnist and author
The Idea: The State of American 4-year-olds is not strong, President Obama proclaimed in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, calling for “high-quality preschool” for all American children. This is a noble idea, Collins says, but if history is any indication, it’s an idea that will fail. In 1971, Senator Walter Mondale led the drive to “make quality preschool education available to every family in the United States.” The bill even passed with bipartisan support, before being vetoed by President Nixon. Collins hints that such a proposal today might meet a similar fate, despite the fact that a lack of quality preschool programs is harming American families.
Sum-it-up Quote: “We have no bigger crisis as a nation than the class barrier … A child born to poor parents has a pathetic chance of growing up to be anything but poor. This isn’t the way things were supposed to be in the United States. But here we are.”
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Who: LZ Granderson, CNN columnist
The Idea: Before delivering the GOP’s rebuttal speech to Obama’s State of the Union on Tuesday night, Marco Rubio joined 21 Republican male colleagues in voting no on the Violence Against Women Act. According to Granderson, Rubio’s failure to vote yes for this legislation did not represent the “new, kinder, women-friendly Republican party” that they’ve been heralding. “From a political standpoint,” Granderson said, “Rubio blew it long before he lunged off-camera to grab a swig of water,” especially when his reasoning for voting no — disagreement on shifting funding from domestic violence to sexual assault programs — was “splitting some pretty fine hairs.”
Sum-it-up Quote: “A few hours before Rubio was to deliver a message reflecting a new Republican Party, he casts a vote that screams more of the same.”
“Pope Benedict’s One Unforgivable Failure” on Bloomberg View
Who: Margaret Carlson, Bloomberg View columnist
The Idea: Pope Benedict failed the Catholic faith in one very big way: by not stopping the rampant culture of abuse inside the Church, Carlson says. Instead of dismissing the priests, bishops and cardinals who were accused of abusing children, these incidents were simply pushed under the rug — not just in America, but also in Ireland, Australia, Germany and other countries. And there’s little reason to believe Benedict’s successor will be any different. Cardinal Roger Mahony and other Catholic leaders who are responsible for picking the next Pope are the same people who initiated the cover-up in the first place.
Sum-it-up Quote: “Benedict had a chance to be a great pope in one way and one way only: by recognizing the evil and dealing with it even when it meant punishing powerful prelates. He did not.”
Who: Fred Kaplan, Slate columnist and author
The Idea: “It’s been clear … that the Republican Party has abrogated its role in shaping or seriously discussing American foreign policy,” Kaplan says. Case-in-point: the Senate Armed Services Committee’s hearing for Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. Kaplan argues that, while the hearings have been appalling overall, the congressmen probing Hagel have “asked almost nothing about the issues that will face the next defense secretary” and instead “hectored the nominee” about various issues of the past. Which makes Kaplan question whether the new members of this committee — on both sides of the aisle — are fit to serve, when they don’t understand military matters.
Sum-it-up Quote: “There once was a time when the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee prided themselves on having an understanding of military matters … The sad thing about this new crop of senators—especially on the Republican side—is they don’t even try to learn anything; they don’t care if they look like complete idiots, in part because their core constituents don’t care if they do either.”
“Amazon’s algorithm of love” in the Los Angeles Times
Who: Megan Daum, L.A. Times columnist and author
The Idea: Amazone thinks it has figured out the “algorithm of romance,” but Daum isn’t so certain. In Amazon’s terms, romance is measured by “sales of items deemed to be romantic” — romance novels, sappy movies and Barry White music — but Daum argues that most of these items are for people who are yearning for love, and not for those who’ve actually achieved it. “We all hate Valentine’s Day a little,” Daum says, yet we still participate, showering cheap roses and gaudy pink and red boxes on our significant others, just because these items signify romance.
Sum-it-up Quote: “Romance has always been hard to define. But Amazon, clearly, has it figured out. We don’t need actual romance in our lives to “be romantic.” We need only be striving for romance, yearning for it, painfully noting its absence everywhere we go.”