Must-Read Op-Eds for Friday, February 3, 2012

Updated
 

IS ISRAEL PREPARING TO ATTACK IRAN?
BY DAVID IGNATIUS
WASHINGTON POST

U.S. officials see two possible ways to dissuade the Israelis from such an attack: Tehran could finally open serious negotiations for a formula to verifiably guarantee that its nuclear program will remain a civilian one; or the United States could step up its covert actions to degrade the program so much that Israelis would decide that military action wasn’t necessary. [They] don’t think that Netanyahu has made a final decision to attack, and they note that top Israeli intelligence officials remain skeptical of the project. But senior Americans doubt that the Israelis are bluffing. They’re worrying about the guns of spring — and the unintended consequences.

HOW TO FIGHT THE MAN
BY DAVID BROOKS
NEW YORK TIMES

If I could offer advice to a young rebel, it would be to rummage the past for a body of thought that helps you understand and address the shortcomings you see. Give yourself a label. … Effective rebellion isn’t just expressing your personal feelings. It means replacing one set of authorities and institutions with a better set of authorities and institutions. Authorities and institutions don’t repress the passions of the heart, the way some young people now suppose. They give them focus and a means to turn passion into change.

ROMNEY ISN’T CONCERNED
BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

You can say this for the former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital executive: He is opening up new frontiers in American politics. Even conservative politicians used to find it necessary to pretend that they cared about the poor. Remember “compassionate conservatism”? Mr. Romney has, however, done away with that pretense. At this rate, we may soon have politicians who admit what has been obvious all along: that they don’t care about the middle class either, that they aren’t concerned about the lives of ordinary Americans, and never were.

A PAINFUL BETRAYAL
EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

The Komen foundation should be speaking out against this abuse of Congressional power. … It’s not clear whether this move reflects the political agenda of Komen’s leadership, including its new senior vice president for public policy, Karen Handel, who called for defunding Planned Parenthood during her failed gubernatorial campaign in Georgia in 2010. Perhaps the foundation just caved in to bullying by politicians, although it is not clear why it would have unless it was sympathetic to their cause. Either way, the result is the same: negative fallout for women’s health.

ROMNEY FAILS THE EMPATHY TEST
BY EUGENE ROBINSON
WASHINGTON POST

Romney was clumsily trying to pledge fealty to the interests of the middle class. President Obama, in speech after speech, has been doing the same. But there was something disturbing about the icy way in which Romney, even when trying to clarify his initial remark, continued to insist that the poor receive government help and therefore need not be a focus of his policies. Even some conservative Republicans were taken aback, with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) saying that Romney should “backtrack” and make clear he does not want the poor to languish in “government dependency programs.” DeMint suggested earlier that Romney take pains to show more empathy. I worry — and the nation should worry — that he can’t show what he doesn’t have.

ROMNEY VS. OBAMA
BY MICHAEL GERSON
WASHINGTON POST

For many, the failure of Newt Gingrich was like sidestepping a falling anvil. … Now Republicans are left to ponder the Romney-Obama matchup. … In this campaign, both candidates are generally viewed as skilled and qualified. Barring conflict with Iran or the collapse of the euro, the outcome of the election will be greatly influenced by the perception of economic conditions on Election Day — a bit of conventional wisdom that is conventional for good reason. But this remains an evenly divided country on the presidential level, which means that political inevitability can be confounded by the smallest things: a serious gaffe, a stirring convention speech, a strong ground game in Ohio or Florida, or even the votes of the very poor.

A BATTLE THE PRESIDENT CAN’T WIN
BY PEGGY NOONAN
WALL STREET JOURNAL

Why doesn’t the establishment like Mr. Romney? Because they fear he won’t win, that he’ll get clobbered on such issues as Bain, wealth, taxes. … They fear he hasn’t absorbed any philosophy along the way, that he’ll be herky-jerky, unanchored, merely tactical as president. And they think that now of all times more is needed. They want to reform the tax system and begin reining in the entitlement spending that is bankrupting us. They don’t read him as the guy who can perform those two Herculean jobs, each of which will demand first-rate political talent. And shrewdness. And guts. Mr. Romney doesn’t have the establishment in his pocket. He needs to win it. All the more reason for him to get serious now. If he is serious.

TO THE AFGHAN EXITS
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

As a candidate in 2008, Mr. Obama called Afghanistan the war worth fighting. He later announced the surge, but with fewer troops than the generals said they needed and with a date certain for withdrawal. Now he has twice moved up the date for reduced U.S. combat operations. Perhaps he calculates that the death of Osama bin Laden makes him politically invulnerable against a possible deterioration in Afghanistan, and that a Taliban advance won’t happen before the election in any case. He may be right. But he’s also taking an enormous risk that Afghan forces are ready to hold the gains of the surge, and that the U.S. sacrifices won’t be in vain.

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Must-Read Op-Eds for Friday, February 3, 2012

Updated