Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, April 23, 2012

Updated
 
THE AMNESIA CANDIDATE
BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

The administration has suffered repeatedly from complacency — taking a few months of good news as an excuse to rest on its laurels rather than hammering home the need for more action. … So there is a valid critique one can make of the administration’s handling of the economy. But that’s not the critique Mr. Romney is making. Instead, he’s basically attacking Mr. Obama for not acting as if George Bush had been given a third term. Are the American people — and perhaps more to the point, the news media — forgetful enough for that attack to work? I guess we’ll find out.

WHY ARE WE DRUGGING OUR SOLDIERS?
BY RICHARD FRIEDMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

The study implies that soldiers exposed to elevated norepinephrine levels from taking stimulants are also at risk of relapse when re-exposed to the initial stressor. And because the treatment of PTSD involves unlearning fear responses, soldiers exposed to stimulants during trauma could well be more resistant to treatment. … There are other factors that might play an important role, like incurring a traumatic brain injury, which is a known risk factor for the disorder, and growing steadily during these wars. Still, it is an open question whether the use of stimulants in combat does more good than harm. The next step should be a rigorous epidemiologic study of a possible link between stimulants and PTSD in our troops.

A HARD LOOK AT THE PRESIDENT
BY ARTHUR BRISBANE
NEW YORK TIMES

Like a lot of America, [the Times] basked a bit in the warm glow of Mr. Obama’s election in 2008. The company published a book about the country’s first African-American president, “Obama: The Historic Journey.” The Times also published a lengthy portrait of him in its Times Topics section on NYTimes.com, yet there’s nothing of the kind about George W. Bush or his father. According to a study by the media scholars Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, The Times’s coverage of the president’s first year in office was significantly more favorable than its first-year coverage of three predecessors who also brought a new party to power in the White House … .  … [A] strong current of skepticism holds that the paper skews left. … Readers deserve to know: Who is the real Barack Obama? And The Times needs to show that it can address the question in a hard-nosed, unbiased way.

WHY WASHINGTON IS BROKEN

BY STEVEN PEARLSTEIN
WASHINGTON POST

Politics has become a tragedy - a tragedy of the commons, that is. The individual pursuit of rational self-interest by parties and politicians, which in political and economic theory is supposed to generate the best outcome, has instead led to a cycle in which extremism, partisanship and stalemate all beget more of the same. We keep thinking it can’t continue like this, but it only gets worse. … Arms races, free riding, tragedies of the commons - these failures in economic markets are well understood. The solutions usually involve some form of government action or regulation. But when similar failures occur in political markets, there are no institutions capable of stepping in and forcing the necessary collaboration or collective action. Government can’t be the solution when it is the problem.

NUCLEAR WEAPON REDUCTIONS MUST BE PART OF STRATEGIC ANALYSIS
BY HENRY KISSINGER & BRENT SCOWCROFT
WASHINGTON POST

We must see to it that countries that have relied on American nuclear protection maintain their confidence in the U.S. capability for deterrence. If that confidence falters, they may be tempted by accommodation to their adversaries or independent nuclear capabilities. Nuclear weapons will continue to influence the international landscape as part of strategy and an aspect of negotiation. The lessons learned throughout seven decades need to continue to govern the future.

PRESIDENTIAL RACE JUMPS THE DOG
BY KATHLEEN PARKER
WASHINGTON POST

Let’s face it, we’re weary of the big problems. Just as one can sustain outrage (or any emotion) only so long, one can entertain the prospects of a melting planet, massive unemployment or dysfunctional government for just so many months. The endless presidential campaign hasn’t only taken a toll on the candidates, it has exhausted a nation. Dog-tired of chatter, spin and politics, we’re all too happy to avert our gaze from the inconceivable to the insignificant. As narratives go, we have eaten the dog.

ELIZABETH WARREN’S TAX EPIPHANY
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

In an op-ed for the ages in the Massachusetts Medical Devices Journal this week, Ms. Warren came out against ObamaCare’s 2.3% excise tax on medical device manufacturers that kicks in next year. Such a levy has no place in a “fair tax system,” she says, and she favors repeal. … When “Congress taxes the sale of a specific product,” Ms. Warren explains, “it too often disproportionately impacts the small companies with the narrowest financial margins and the broadest innovative potential.” … So Ms. Warren is conceding that when the government taxes something we get less of it … . But how come she thinks this insight only applies to innovative medical devices and not to, say, investment or even other boring old businesses? The fact that Massachusetts is a hub of the medical device industry may have something to do with it.

AMERICA’S CRISIS OF CHARACTER
BY PEGGY NOONAN
WALL STREET JOURNAL

I’ve long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy… . … I think more and more people are worried about the American character… . Every story that has broken through the past few weeks has been about who we are as a people. And they are all disturbing. … . A tourist is beaten in Baltimore. Young people surround him and laugh. … There is the General Services Administration scandal. … There is the Secret Service scandal. … [P]ictures of U.S. troops in Afghanistan who smilingly posed with the bloody body parts of suicide bombers. … In isolation, these stories may sound like the usual sins and scandals, but in the aggregate they seem like something more disturbing, more laden with implication, don’t they? And again, these are only from the past week. The leveling or deterioration of public behavior has got to be worrying people… . Something seems to be going terribly wrong. Maybe we have to stop and think about this.

OBAMA A UNIFYING FORCE? HARDLY
BY JEFF JACOBY
BOSTON GLOBE

Time and again, Obama promised what Nixon promised: to bring Americans together. That pledge … went to the essence of his candidacy. … Yet far from resisting that temptation, Obama has rarely bypassed the chance to indulge it. … The candidate who understood that his party had no monopoly on wisdom now smears those whose agenda differs from his for their “thinly veiled social Darwinism” that is “antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity.” … Obama has repeatedly taken the low road. He has widened the fissures he promised to close, and lowered the political tone he promised to elevate.

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Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, April 23, 2012

Updated