Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, May 7, 2012

Updated
 

SEVERITY OF THE RECESSION WEIGHS ON THE RECOVERY
BY BEN CASSELMAN
WALL STREET JOURNAL

Nearly three years into the recovery, the U.S. still employs five million fewer workers than before the recession. The recent pace of job growth simply isn’t enough to climb quickly out of a hole that big. Even if the U.S. adds 200,000 jobs a month going forward-a pace it hasn’t maintained for more than three months at a stretch during the recovery-it would take two more years for employment to get back to its peak. By comparison, the recovery after the 2001 recession, until now the slowest on record, took a bit over three years to make up all the ground that had been lost.

THE PARTY OF JULIA
BY ROSS DOUTHAT
NEW YORK TIMES

[T]he slide show’s vision of the individual’s relationship to the state seems designed to vindicate every conservative critique of the Obama-era Democratic Party. The liberalism of “the Life of Julia” doesn’t envision government spending the way an older liberalism did… . It offers a more sweeping vision of government’s place in society, in which the individual depends on the state at every stage of life, and no decision - personal, educational, entrepreneurial, sexual - can be contemplated without the promise that it will be somehow subsidized by Washington. The condescension inherent in this vision is apparent in every step of Julia’s pilgrimage toward a community-gardening retirement. … [I]n a race that’s likely to be dominated by purely negative campaigning on both sides, her story is the clearest statement we’re likely to get of what Obama-era liberalism would take us “forward” toward.

THE AMERICAN IN PARIS
BY ROSECRANS BALDWIN
NEW YORK TIMES

The vote wasn’t for Mr. Hollande, but against his opposite - a rebuff of Mr. Sarkozy’s policies, but also his singularity, his vanity and naughtiness. France and America have a long history of mutual loathing and longing. Americans still dream of Paris; Parisians still dream of the America they find in the movies of David Lynch. It will take time for both countries to adjust to a new leader, a new image. For our part, we may even learn what a real Socialist is. But the French will have it worse. They may not miss Nicolas Sarkozy now; they may never pine for him to return. They will, however, feel his absence. The temperature will drop. When an object we love to hate is removed, then love is lost, too.

THOSE REVOLTING EUROPEANS
BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

The Germans, needless to say, don’t like this conclusion, nor does the leadership of the central bank. They will cling to their fantasies of prosperity through pain, and will insist that continuing with their failed strategy is the only responsible thing to do. But it seems that they will no longer have unquestioning support from the Élysée Palace. And that, believe it or not, means that both the euro and the European project now have a better chance of surviving than they did a few days ago.

SOCIALIST FRANCE

EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

[T]he French vote for Mr. Hollande is less a lurch to the socialist left than it is a desire not to reward failure and to give someone else a chance. The French know better than anyone how badly they need to change. … Mr. Hollande will have a honeymoon but he should not expect it to be long. It will be that much shorter if he believes he can revive the economy based on his campaign promises. … The irony of his election is that his best chance for success is to follow the example of the last center-left German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, who did a Nixon goes to China by selling reform to his coalition. For the alternative, Mr. Hollande need merely note what happened to the once-promising Nicolas Sarkozy.

HOW TO MANAGE THE CHINA RELATIONSHIP
BY JON HUNTSMAN
WALL STREET JOURNAL

We must work with China on shared interests, while remaining vigilant to the inevitably competitive nature of our relationship for the foreseeable future. I’ve seen the competition up close, and I believe we can succeed with the right policies and leadership. Chen Guangcheng has given us an opening that we can either see as a source of conflict or as an opening for expanding our dialogue on issues that increasingly matter to so many in China. The world will be watching.

GOP, TAKE DOWN THE SMALL TENT
BY ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
LOS ANGELES TIMES

[I]n the current climate, the extreme right wing of the party is targeting anyone who doesn’t meet its strict criteria. Its new and narrow litmus test for party membership doesn’t allow compromise. … It’s time for the Republicans who are so bent on enforcing conformity to ask themselves a question: What would Ronald Reagan have done? He worked hard to maintain a welcoming, open and diverse Republican Party. … What’s important is our shared belief in the broad Republican principles of free enterprise and small government. If we continue to fight one another without being willing to compromise, we will keep losing to big-government advocates. … Being a Republican used to mean finding solutions for the American people that worked for everyone. It used to mean having big ideas that moved the country forward. It can mean that again, but big ideas don’t often come from small tents.

OBAMA ISN’T FOOLING ANYONE BY SPINNING JOBS NUMBERS
EDITORIAL
NY DAILY NEWS

For the second straight month, President Obama is spinning pathetically weak job data as “good news.” Who is he kidding? The economy added a measly 115,000 jobs in April. At that poky rate, we wouldn’t fully bounce back from the Great Recession until the presidential election in 2016. And the only reason unemployment inched down to 8.1% was that another 342,000 Americans gave up looking for jobs and dropped out of the workforce completely. Miserable. … And as Obama asks for a second term, what is his domestic economic agenda? Just campaign talking points about lowering college loan rates, posturing against an alleged war on women and flogging a Buffett Rule that would barely put a dent in skyrocketing deficits. Republicans in Congress are equally useless… . … Unemployed Americans desperate to support their families deserve action. They deserve leadership.

WHY CAN’T OBAMA BRING WALL STREET TO JUSTICE?
PETER J. BOYER AND PETER SCHWEIZER
NEWSWEEK

President Obama has begun to fashion his campaign as a crusade for the 99 percent-a fight against, as one Obama ad puts it, “a guy who had a Swiss bank account.” Casting Romney as a plutocrat will be easy enough. But the president’s claim as avenging populist may prove trickier, given his own deeply complicated, even conflicted, relationship with Big Finance. Obama came into office vowing to end business as usual, and, in the gray postcrash dawn of 2009, nowhere did a reckoning with justice seem more due than in the financial sector. … [But three years later,] [t]he absence of prosecutions, and the fact that the cops on the beat hail from the place that represents the banks, does not sit right with many who hoped Obama would fulfill his promise to hold Big Finance accountable. The left’s frustration fuels the Occupy movement, and chills the Democratic base. And it gives Romney, the career capitalist, an opening he is avidly exploiting.

SARKOZY GETS THE BOOT
BY CHRISTOPHER DICKEY
THE DAILY BEAST

The new guard may not be not quite as scary as Hollande’s left-wing rhetoric during the campaign has led some people to believe. Even before the numbers came in, he was moving to reassure financial markets by reaching out to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And even among the jubilant crowds at Socialist Party headquarters there was a clear sense that tough times lie ahead. … The vote, though decisive, is not exactly a mandate. Polls have shown consistently that Sarkozy’s biggest problem was Sarkozy. He could score high on competence and credibility, but just couldn’t make himself sympathique. Hollande won largely because of who he wasn’t.

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Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, May 7, 2012

Updated