Opinion | This Is Where Biden Is Most Vulnerable

There are political and civic virtues aplenty in centrism, including its pushback against extreme partisanship and its promise of a less vicious and perpetual seesaw. But there’s also literary virtue in Ryan Cooper’s description, in The Week, of a certain vague, noncommittal type of it, which he locates in Kyrsten Sinema: “This is political ‘centrism’ as a vacuous nullity, a lidless reptilian eye ever gazing into a lightless political tomb where no truth is spoken and nothing ever happens.” (Colleen Kelly, Manhattan)

Sportswriters have more fun — or so it seems when I read their best work, such as Adam Kilgore’s description, in The Washington Post, of what it’s like for an opposing team (in this case, the San Francisco 49ers) to know that the extraordinary quarterback for the Green Bay Packers is ready and waiting to get his hands on the football one more time before the clock runs out: “Aaron Rodgers stood on the other sideline, and from the Niners’ perspective, he may as well have been sitting on a pale horse.” (Carson Carlisle, Sonoma, Calif.)

Speaking of sportswriters, The Times recently asked a bunch of them to write 900 words each on the theme of freedom, leading to Phil Taylor’s beautiful and wise reflection on a trip to the playground with his 2½-year-old grandson, Rafa: “Rafa climbs the ladder to the top of the slide while I am directly below, tracking him like an infielder under a pop fly.” (Alan Stamm, Birmingham, Mich.)

Antigone Davis, the global head of safety for Facebook, testified before Congress early this month, and in The Times, Kevin Roose sized up the occasion this way: “Many of the questions to Ms. Davis were hostile, but as with most Big Tech hearings, there was an odd sort of deference in the air, as if the lawmakers were asking: Hey, Godzilla, would you please stop stomping on Tokyo?” (Conrad Macina, Landing, N.J., and Julie Noble, Austin, Texas)

Also in The Times, Ellen Barry reported on the distinctive, proudly native sound of one of the candidates for mayor of Massachusetts’s most populous hub: “Boston is a city that cherishes its accent — one that ignores R’s in some places, inserts them in others, and prolongs its A sounds as if it were opening its mouth for a dentist.” (Richard Rubin, Lynchburg, Va.)

Finally, I could pick any number of the sentences written by Sam Anderson in his superb profile of Laurie Anderson in The Times, but I’ll instead showcase words that she once wrote — and that he highlighted — about the death of her husband, Lou Reed, in 2013: “I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou’s as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn’t afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life — so beautiful, painful and dazzling — does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.” (Lee Ann Summers, Westfield, N.J.)



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