Must-Read Op-Eds for August 1, 2012

Updated
 

GADDING OF A GAWKY GOWK
BY MAUREEN DOWD
NEW YORK TIMES

Mitt’s foray showed some new colors, as he intended, but they were not flattering ones. We now know how little he knows about the world, how really slow on his feet he is, what meager social and political agility he has. … The odd odyssey underscored Mitt’s off-putting mix of opacity and insularity. Weren’t American elites once more worldly, like the Kennedys and the Harrimans? Romney was in the forefront of a revolution in American finance, he was the governor of an important state and he was an elder in the Mormon Church. But that’s all the stuff he doesn’t want to talk about, so we’re left with a narrow spokesmodel, banally handsome with an empty look; not like President Obama and Bill Clinton, where you always see the brain whirring behind the eyes.

WHY NOT IN VEGAS?
BY THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

Much of what is wrong with the U.S.-Israel relationship today can be found in that Romney trip. In recent years, the Republican Party has decided to make Israel a wedge issue. In order to garner more Jewish (and evangelical) votes and money, the G.O.P. decided to “out-pro-Israel” the Democrats by being even more unquestioning of Israel. … Add on top of that, the increasing role of money in U.S. politics and the importance of single donors who can write megachecks to “super PACs” — and the fact that the main Israel lobby, Aipac, has made itself the feared arbiter of which lawmakers are “pro” and which are “anti-Israel” and, therefore, who should get donations and who should not — and you have a situation in which there are almost no brakes, no red lights, around Israel coming from America anymore.

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FESTIVAL OF GAFFES
BY RUTH MARCUS
WASHINGTON POST

The candidates skitter along on the surface of politics, issuing vague pronouncements or taking predictable shots at each other. But these seem like increasingly brief interludes, mere campaign busywork as each side awaits and — abetted by an attention-deficit-disordered media — pounces on the opponents’ next gaffe. Or supposed gaffe. The 2012 campaign has witnessed the full flowering of the faux gaffe, in which a candidate is skewered, generally out of context, for saying something that he clearly did not mean but that the other side finds immensely useful to misrepresent. … There is a dangerous mismatch between the seriousness of the moment and this too-often-dominant form of political discourse. Americans like to think we choose presidents on the basis of who has the best vision for leading the country. We are at risk of electing the candidate least apt to make a clumsy remark.

THE SUPERFICIAL AMERICAN
EDITORIAL
WASHINGTON POST

In broad terms, Mr. Romney has sought to distinguish himself from President Obama by suggesting he would be more muscular in projecting U.S. leadership and power, in what he often depicts as a titanic struggle of good vs. evil. But how would Mr. Romney translate his vision into action? So far, his assertions have been superficial, and sometimes maladroit. On several issues, Mr. Romney sketched out ambitious goals but said nothing about how he would achieve them. …In Jerusalem, he renewed his pledge to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons…but by what means? … With fewer than 100 days until the election, we hope Mr. Romney will come up with serious answers on foreign policy.

HOW CLINTON HELPS OBAMA
E.J. DIONNE JR.
WASHINGTON POST

The Obamians are realistic about the fact that they need a significant share of the white working-class vote — and that Clinton is a better messenger for this group than the president is. My rule of thumb is that if Obama can hold Romney’s lead down to about 15 percent in the white working-class, he is almost certain to win. … Clinton also appeals to upper-middle-class voters who may not be wild about returning to the Clinton income tax rates but would love to have the Clinton economy and a balanced budget back. That’s where Clinton fits in well with the overall argument Obama is making. By associating his own policies with Obama’s, Clinton will be sending a message that happy days will be here again — eventually — if the country’s sticks with the incumbent and his preference for Clintonomics.

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Must-Read Op-Eds for August 1, 2012

Updated