Must Read Op-Eds for Monday, January 9, 2012

Updated
 
JUST THE TICKET
BY BILL KELLER
NEW YORK TIMES

A political scientist I know proposes the following choreography: In the late winter or early spring, Hillary steps down as secretary of state to rest and write that book. The president assigns Biden — the former chairman of Senate Foreign Relations — to add State to his portfolio, making him the most powerful vice president in history. Come the party convention in September, Obama swallows his considerable pride and invites a refreshed Hillary to join the ticket. Biden keeps State. The musicians play “Happy Days Are Here Again” as if they really mean it. Of course, this is more exciting if it’s a surprise, and now I’ve spoiled it. Sorry. But not as sorry as I’ll be if — as I fear — it’s just a fantasy.

AMERICA’S UNLEVEL FIELD
BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

It’s no wonder…that Horatio Alger stories, tales of poor kids who make good, are much less common in reality than they are in legend — and much less common in America than they are in Canada or Europe. Which brings me back to those, like Mr. Romney, who claim to believe in equality of opportunity. Where is the evidence for that claim? Think about it: someone who really wanted equal opportunity would be very concerned about the inequality of our current system. … And the Congressional wing of [Romney’s] party seems determined to make upward mobility even harder. … Judging by their actions, they seem to prefer a society in which your station in life is largely determined by that of your parents — and in which the children of the very rich get to inherit their estates tax-free. Teddy Roosevelt would not have approved.

REPUBLICANS VERSUS REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

In Iowa, the Republican presidential contenders tried to outdo one another in attacking reproductive rights as they sought the support of caucusgoers from the religious right. In New Hampshire, where voters are less socially conservative, the candidates have focused more on economic issues. But the message from Iowa was crystal clear… The Republican field is united in its determination to overturn Roe v. Wade… This fall, the Republican nominee probably will not be trumpeting this extreme agenda in trying to appeal to moderate women voters, a key constituency in the general election. But voters should not be fooled. The assault on women’s reproductive health is a central part of the Republican agenda. It is not too early for Democrats to point that out.

PERSONAL AND POLITICAL
BY ROSS ROUTHAT
NEW YORK TIMES

When Palin wove special needs children into her 2008 speeches, or when Santorum featured his daughter Bella in a campaign video, they were implicitly acknowledging these personal-is-political realities. Likewise Mitt Romney, who ran an ad highlighting his 42-year marriage at the height of the twice-divorced Newt Gingrich’s surge in the polls. But by turning their personal choices to political ends, politicians lose the right to complain when those same personal lives are subject to partisan critiques. They can and should contest these critiques, but they can’t complain about them. In a culture as divided about fundamental issues as our own, the kind of weird attacks that Rick Santorum is enduring come with the vocation he has chosen.

GOP CANDIDATES IN CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD

BY E.J. DIONNE
WASHINGTON POST

While Obama has been able to make general election arguments — on behalf of the middle class, in favor of popular tax increases on the wealthy, and against Republican obstruction of his efforts to protect consumers against abuses by the financial industry — the candidates who hope to oppose him have been required to live in a very different world. They have been pushed further to the anti-government right by Paul and further to the social-issue right by Santorum than will be convenient for the GOP come November. There will be time for cleaning up from the primary fight. But Republicans have ceded Obama a head start — just as the economic news has started to look up. And for a moment at least, Romney was shaken from his pedestal.

THE BATTLE OF THE GOP NICE GUYS
BY KATHLEEN PARKER
WASHINGTON POST

People who worked with Santorum in Washington have marveled at his new maturity. … Suffice to say, those who have attacked him personally couldn’t hold up Santorum’s socks in a contest of personal honor. Nevertheless, the primary focus of the Republican Party is to nominate someone who can defeat President Obama. Pennsylvania is crucial to Obama’s reelection, and there’s no ignoring that Santorum lost his Senate seat in 2006 in his home state by a huge margin — 17 points. At the moment, some pollsters’ hypothetical matchups show Obama tied or trailing Romney. Santorum clearly has an important national role to play, especially in the debate about who we are, but Romney remains the GOP’s best bet.

ROMNEY WINS BUT TAKES A BEATING
BY PEGGY NOONAN
WALL STREET JOURNAL

Mitt Romney’s victory in Iowa is underappreciated. It was a well-run campaign and no one thought the day of the Ames straw poll, in August, that it would happen. The victory of Rick Santorum is a pundit-humbler: No one saw that coming even six weeks ago, except perhaps Mr. Santorum. … Right now Mr. Romney’s taking a beating. He’s everyone’s target, and in a way that speaks of something beyond the usual campaign ferocity. There’s something else going on, a taunting: “If you’re so inevitable how come I’m not afraid of you?” Newt Gingrich, angry little attack muffin, called Mr. Romney a liar. … The campaign ads have been tough too… A question, however, is how much prime-time air time is left to buy on TV stations in New Hampshire and neighboring Massachusetts.

ALL WE ARE SAYING…
BY BILL KRISTOL
THE WEEKLY STANDARD

Mitt Romney, this year’s iteration of the establishment candidate, is a decent, serious, and in some ways impressive man. But it’s clear a lot of Republicans look at him, his campaign, and his advocates and see the ghosts of establishmentarians past. The question in this cycle has always been whether a viable challenger would emerge. We will now see, in the crucible of an intense campaign, whether Rick Santorum is up to the task of being that challenger. And we will also see whether the establishment will be able to put so heavy a thumb on the scales that voters will think the race is over before it has even really begun. … All we are saying, is … give Rick a chance.

Must Read Op-Eds for Monday, January 9, 2012

Updated