Must-Read Op-Eds for Oct. 8, 2012

Updated
 

IT COULD BE HIS PARTY
ROSS DOUTHAT
NEW YORK TIMES

…What [Romney] did was clarify, elevate and translate. He clarified what kind of tax reformer he would be, by promising that revenue neutrality would take priority over sweeping cuts for the rich — a premise that plenty of Republicans are already happy to accept. He elevated an argument that’s increasingly popular among conservative wonks — that the Dodd-Frank financial reform perpetuates “too big to fail” — and used it to make a populist case against the president. And he translated the basic free-market vision to a nonideological audience, by talking more about decent jobs than heroic job creators, and more about the struggling middle class than about the supposedly persecuted John Galts. This is the role that an effective party leader ought to play. Media fantasies notwithstanding, you can’t lead a party by repudiating its base or campaigning against its reigning ideology. But you can lead by channeling the base’s passions in a constructive direction, and by reinterpreting the party’s ideology to meet the challenges of the present day.

JOBS REPORT: COOKED OR CORRECT?
JOE NOCERA
NEW YORK TIMES

…There is something truly absurd about having the presidential race hinge on the unemployment rate. Even putting aside the reliability of the short-term numbers, the harsh reality is that no president has much control over the economy. That is especially true of President Obama, whose every effort to boost the economy these past two years has been stymied by Republicans. Again and again, they have shown that they would rather see the country suffer than do anything that might help Obama’s re-election. There is rough justice in the way things are playing out. Having spent the last year wrongly blaming the president for high unemployment, Republicans can only stand by helplessly as the unemployment rate goes down at the worst possible moment for them.

ROMNEY AT THE DEBATE: A SECOND LOOK
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
NEW YORK TIMES

If Mr. Romney had shown the courage of conviction to endorse these newfound policies during the Republican debating season, then I would have applauded the display of moderation, and the courage to stand up to the Tea Party orthodoxy. But now? It surely represents nothing, if not his total lack of courage of conviction. It does prove that the only thing “authentic” about Mr. Romney is his cynicism about the intelligence of his audience, as he plays to the crowd and tells it what he thinks it wants to hear. President Obama’s poor performance at the debate notwithstanding, can anyone in this country — either on the left or the right, or anywhere in between — truly believe anything Mr. Romney says from this day forth?

FRENEMIES: A LOVE STORY
THOMAS P. O’NEILL
NEW YORK TIMES

President Reagan knew my father treasured Boston College, so he was the centerpiece of a dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel that raised $1 million to build the O’Neill Library there. When Reagan was shot at that same hotel, my father went to his hospital room to pray by his bed. No, my father and Reagan weren’t close friends. Famously, after 6 p.m. on quite a few work days, they would sit down for drinks at the White House. But it wasn’t the drinks or the conversation that allowed American government to work. Instead, it was a stubborn refusal not to allow fund-raisers, activists, party platforms or ideological chasms to stand between them and actions — tempered and improved by compromise — that kept this country moving. I don’t blame Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney for getting nostalgic about that.

IS AMERICA MAN ENOUGH TO VOTE?
VICTORIA BASSETTI
NEW YORK TIMES

In 2008, scientists from Duke University and the University of Michigan analyzed the biological effects of voting on more than 150 voters. On Election Day, more than 150 test subjects chewed sugar-free gum after they’d voted and again at regular intervals after learning the election results. When the scientists analyzed the testosterone in the saliva generated by all that gum chewing, they noted a dramatic pattern: men who had voted for the losing presidential candidate, John McCain, suffered a big drop in their testosterone after hearing of his defeat. The scientists reported that the male McCain voters “felt significantly more controlled, submissive, unhappy and unpleasant.” The testosterone effect was “as if they directly engaged head-to-head in a contest for dominance” and lost, one researcher told a reporter when the study was published in 2009. The men who voted for Obama fared better. The researchers speculated that there might be an Obama baby boom.

BETTER NEWS ON JOBS
EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

The share of jobless workers out of work for six months or more remained extremely high, at 40 percent, or 4.8 million people, of which more than half had been out of work for more than year. And finding a job remains difficult: in July, the latest month for which data on job openings was available, nearly 13 million jobless workers were competing for 3.7 million openings. Long-term joblessness is largely a measure of the depth of employment loss during the recession from the end of 2007 to mid-2009. Its persistence means that a top priority now is to extend federal jobless benefits, which kick in when state unemployment insurance benefits run out, generally after 26 weeks. Federal benefits are now phasing out and are set to expire at the end of the year. If they are not extended, two million workers will be cut off during the holiday season. … a delay in extending those benefits, or worse, allowing them to be cut off entirely, would be a mistake; it would remove crucial spending from the economy and cause real suffering for a vulnerable population.

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Must-Read Op-Eds for Oct. 8, 2012

Updated