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Some of the ‘Adults in the Room’ Aren’t Who We Thought They Would Be

Bret Stephens: Hi, Gail. I think the theme for last week was the return of adult supervision. Mike Johnson, the speaker of the House, finally showed a spine by staring down Marjorie Taylor Greene and joining forces with Democrats to pass critical foreign aid bills. And Minouche Shafik, the president of Columbia University, authorized the police to arrest pro-Palestinian student protesters who had occupied part of the campus in violation of university policies.

Are you cheering with me?

Gail Collins: Bret, as a former college sit-inner myself, back in days of yore, I have mixed feelings. Not saying President Shafik was wrong, just that I just can’t get into cheering administrators who try to solve nonviolent campus demonstrations by calling in the cops.

Bret: Since Hamas’s massacre of Israelis on Oct. 7, demonstrators at Columbia have called for the elimination of Israel, praised Hamas, urged the murder of Jewish students and physically assaulted Israelis on campus. That’s not my idea of young idealists reliving the peace-and-love marches of the late 1960s. I also wonder how these kids have all this spare time to protest just as term papers are coming due and final exams are on the near horizon.

If it were up to me, I’d sentence them to six months of hard academic time at the University of Chicago.

Gail: On the Mike Johnson front, I was thinking all week about how we’d be joining forces to praise him. Didn’t really expect he’d be that kind of stand-up guy, but every rational member of Congress has to feel that he’s doing the right thing. And every rational voter, considering the people leading his opposition, is gonna have to come around to his side.

Bret: Nothing is more difficult these days in American politics than going against your own ideological tribe. And nothing is more admirable than politicians who are willing to challenge their base and gamble their office for the sake of a great cause. I wasn’t much of a fan of Johnson when he became speaker of the House, but what he’s done is a profile in courage. For which, no doubt, the MAGA folk will tear him limb from metaphorical limb.

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