WHO BENEFITS FROM THE ‘AVALANCHE OF LEAKS’?
BY PEGGY NOONAN
WALL STREET JOURNAL
It is good Congress has become involved. They wonder if the leaks have been directed, encouraged or authorized, and by whom. One way to get at that is the classic legal question: Who benefits? That is not a mystery. In all these stories, it is the president and his campaign that benefit. The common theme in the leaks is how strong and steely Mr. Obama is. He’s tough but fair, bold yet judicious, surprisingly willing to do what needs to be done. He hears everyone out, asks piercing questions, doesn’t flinch. He is Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer. And he is up for re-election and fighting the constant perception that he’s weak, a one-man apology tour whose foreign policy is unclear, unsure, and lacking in strategic depth.
WHAT REPUBLICANS THINK
BY DAVID BROOKS
NEW YORK TIMES
…[M]any Republicans have now come to the conclusion that the welfare-state model is in its death throes. …This is the source of Republican extremism: the conviction that the governing model is obsolete. It needs replacing. …This is what this election is about: Is the 20th-century model obsolete, or does it just need rebalancing? Is Obama oblivious to this historical moment or are Republicans overly radical, risky and impractical? Republicans and Democrats have different perceptions about how much change is needed. I suspect the likely collapse of the European project will profoundly influence which perception the country buys this November.
BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES
…[T]he former governor of Massachusetts was telling the truth the first time: by opposing aid to beleaguered state and local governments, he is, in effect, calling for more layoffs of teachers, policemen and firemen. Actually, it’s kind of ironic. While Republicans love to engage in Europe-bashing, they’re actually the ones who want us to emulate European-style austerity and experience a European-style depression. …Needless to say, this bodes ill if Mr. Romney wins in November. For all indications are that his idea of smart policy is to double down on the very spending cuts that have hobbled recovery here and sent Europe into an economic and political tailspin.
THE POLITICAL CONTRAST
NEW YORK TIMES
There is no meaningful difference between the trickle-down economics of George W. Bush, rejected by the country in 2008, and the plans supported by Mr. Romney and his Republican allies in Congress. All the elements are there, from the slavish devotion to tax cuts for the rich, to a contempt for government regulation, to savage cutbacks in programs for those at the bottom. …And it is there that Mr. Obama still has not made his case. Mr. Romney’s entire campaign rests on a foundation of short, utterly false sound bites. The stimulus failed. (Three million employed people beg to differ.) The auto bailout was a mistake. (Another million jobs.) Spending is out of control. (Spending growth is actually lower than under all modern Republican presidents.) He says these kinds of things so often that millions of Americans believe them to be the truth. …The president has less than five months to find a way to make a vital message sink in.
SILLY SEASON, 2012
The race remains 50-50. Republican demoralization after a primary campaign that blew the political equivalent of a seven-run lead has now given way to Democratic demoralization at the squandering of their subsequent ¬post-primary advantage. What remains is a solid, stolid, gaffe-prone challenger for whom conservatism is a second language vs. an incumbent with a record he cannot run on and signature policies — Obamacare, the stimulus, cap-and-trade — he hardly dare mention. A quite dispiriting spectacle. And more than a bit confusing. Why, just this week the estimable Jeb Bush averred that the Republican Party had become so rigidly right-wing that today it couldn’t even nominate Ronald Reagan. Huh? It’s about to nominate Mitt Romney, who lives a good 14 nautical miles to the left of Ronald Reagan. Goodness. Four more months of this campaign and we will all be unhinged.
IN EGYPT, A SENSE OF DREAD
BY DAVID IGNATIUS
Khairat el-Shater, the leading strategist of the Muslim Brotherhood, offered a stark warning last Tuesday as he prepared for this weekend’s final round of the presidential election: Egypt can make its transition to a new order the easy way, or the hard way. … But turmoil is ahead for Egypt, he says, if Ahmed Shafiq, a hard-line former prime minister, appears to win Sunday’s runoff. I say “appears” because Shater was already accusing Shafiq of “soft-rigging” the polls before Thursday’s court ruling. And he made a not-so-subtle prediction that if the Brotherhood’s rival should win, there will be violence. … Many Egyptians in the middle — unenthusiastic about either the Brotherhood or the return of the old guard — were preparing for this weekend’s election with a sense of dread. Hani Shukrallah, a prominent journalist who edits Ahram Online, offered a description I heard several times here: “It’s a choice between cholera and the plague — between a Muslim state and a police state.”