Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, March 5, 2012

Updated
 

OBAMA’S HAWKISH IRAN TURN
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

The question Mr. Netanyahu and Israeli leaders have to ponder is whether Mr. Obama now means what he says. The President has built up an immense trust deficit with Israel that can’t be easily dispensed in a week. All the more so when Israelis know that this is an election year when Mr. Obama needs to appear more pro-Israel than he would if he is re-elected. It’s good to hear Mr. Obama finally sounding serious about stopping a nuclear Iran. But if he now finds himself pleading with Israel not to take matters in its own hands, he should know his Administration’s vacillation and mixed signals have done much to force Jerusalem’s hand. More fundamentally, a President who says he doesn’t “bluff” had better be prepared to act if his bluff is called.

STATES OF DEPRESSION
BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

Aside from the fact that recoveries from financial crises are almost always slower than ordinary recoveries, in reality Reagan was much more Keynesian than Mr. Obama, faced with an obstructionist G.O.P., has ever managed to be. More important, there is now an easy answer to anyone asking how we can accelerate our economic recovery. By all means, let’s talk about visionary ideas; but we can take a big step toward full employment just by using the federal government’s low borrowing costs to help state and local governments rehire the schoolteachers and police officers they laid off, while restarting the road repair and improvement projects they canceled or put on hold.

DRILL BABY DRILL, REDUX
EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

American innovation is a big part of the answer. Two byproducts of the automobile bailout were the carmakers’ acceptance of sharply improved fuel economy and a new commitment to building cars that can meet those standards. The new rules are expected to cut consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day — more than America now produces in the gulf. These and other measures are not nearly as catchy as “drill, baby, drill.” But they have a far better shot, long term, of lessening this country’s dependence on oil imports and keeping gas prices under control.

SNOWE’S SAD RETREAT
BY FRANK BRUNI
NEW YORK TIMES

Just because you choose a team shouldn’t mean you’re suddenly and miraculously on board with everything in its playbook, on down the line… But that’s what’s expected… There’s less and less room in American politics for a hodgepodge of positions that don’t adhere to one of the two sanctioned scripts. Unsubtle caricatures outnumber complicated characters. That will be only truer with [Olympia Snowe’s] retirement at year’s end. It’s a sad, sad thing, and I sympathized with the pleading in the voice of a reporter who asked Snowe on Friday, “Are you sure?” Nothing good can be read into her exit. Nothing good at all.

HAVE YOU NO SHAME, RUSH?
BY MAUREEN DOWD
NEW YORK TIMES

It’s hard to believe that not that long ago, Bob Dole, the former G.O.P. leader and presidential nominee, was a spokesman for Viagra. (Mother Jones pointed out that Rush, a Viagra fan, might be confusing the little blue pill and birth control, since “when and how much sex you have is unrelated to the amount of birth control you need.”) Rush and Newt Gingrich can play the studs, marrying again and again until they find the perfect adoring young wife. But women pressing for health care rights are denigrated as sluts.

ROOTING FOR SANTORUM
BY JOE NOCERA
NEW YORK TIMES

I’m rooting for Rick Santorum to win the Republican nomination. Seriously.. If Mitt Romney takes the nomination and then loses to Obama, the extremists who’ve taken over the party will surely say the problem was Romney’s lack of ideological purity. If, however, Santorum is the nominee — and then loses in a landslide — the party will no longer be able to delude itself about where its ideological rigidity has taken it. An alcoholic doesn’t stop drinking until he hits bottom. The Republican Party won’t change until it hits bottom. Only Santorum offers that possibility.

FOUR FISCAL PHONIES
BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

Mitt Romney is very concerned about budget deficits. Or at least that’s what he says; he likes to warn that President Obama’s deficits are leading us toward a “Greece-style collapse.” So why is Mr. Romney offering a budget proposal that would lead to much larger debt and deficits than the corresponding proposal from the Obama administration? Of course, Mr. Romney isn’t alone in his hypocrisy. In fact, all four significant Republican presidential candidates still standing are fiscal phonies. They issue apocalyptic warnings about the dangers of government debt and, in the name of deficit reduction, demand savage cuts in programs that protect the middle class and the poor. But then they propose squandering all the money thereby saved — and much, much more — on tax cuts for the rich.

THE GOP: MISSING THE PRIMARY ISSUE
BY E.J. DIONNE
WASHINGTON POST

Local Democrats also took heart in Obama’s rousing assault on Republican economics before the United Auto Workers union last week. Marty Vittardi, the Parma area’s clerk of courts and longtime party activist, pronounced it an antidote for Democratic frustration over the president’s “lack of aggressiveness” in his first two years. “He never showed that kind of fire,” Vittardi said. “Now, he has.” November is a political lifetime away. Nonetheless, it would not be out of place to declare that the winner of this year’s Ohio Republican primary is — Barack Obama.

PLAN B FOR STOPPING OBAMA
BY GEORGE WILL
WASHINGTON POST

If either [Romney or Santorum] is nominated, conservatives should vote for him. But suppose the accumulation of evidence eventually suggests that the nomination of either would subtract from the long-term project of making conservatism intellectually coherent and politically palatable. If so, there would come a point when, taking stock of reality, conservatives turn their energies to a goal much more attainable than, and not much less important than, electing Romney or Santorum president. It is the goal of retaining control of the House and winning control of the Senate… This does not mean conservatives should be indifferent to the fate of this year’s nominee, and it is perhaps premature to despair of Romney’s and Santorum’s political aptitudes. Still, the presidency is not everything, and there will be another election in the next year divisible by four.

WHY ISRAEL HAS DOUBTS ABOUT OBAMA
BY DAN SENOR
WALL STREET JOURNAL

Election-year politics may bring some short-term improvements in the U.S. relationship with Israel. … If Mr. Obama wants a pat on the back, he should make it clear that he will do everything in his power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability, and that he will stand by Israel if it must act. He came one step closer to that stance on Sunday when he told Aipac, “Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States, just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.” Let’s hope this is the beginning of a policy change and not just election year rhetoric.

HOW SANTORUM BLEW IT
BY JOE SCARBOROUGH
POLITICO

The story of Santorum’s implosion sheds light on an important political and cultural truth: Americans are in the market for someone to expand prosperity and opportunity, not indulge in moral meddling. … When [he] should have been talking about his grandfather’s working-class roots, he was talking instead about your wife’s birth control pills. … And when Mr. Santorum should have been talking about how the grandson of a coal miner graduated college with two advanced degrees, he instead mocked the aspirational idea that we should send more of our kids to college. … It is a real shame for conservatives searching for a candidate to beat Barack Obama because Santorum’s victory speech in Iowa was the highlight of a bleak primary season.

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Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, March 5, 2012

Updated