Must Read Op-Eds for September 6, 2011

Updated

ONE AND DONE?
NEW YORK TIMES
BY MAUREEN DOWD
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4

If the languid Obama had not done his usual irritating fourth-quarter play, if he had presented a jobs plan a year ago and fought for it, he wouldn’t have needed to elevate the setting. How will he up the ante next time? A speech from the space station?… Obama is still suffering from the Speech Illusion, the idea that he can come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry around and do what he proclaimed. The days of spinning illusions in a Greek temple in a football stadium are done. The One is dancing on the edge of one term… Maybe Obama was not even the person he was waiting for.

THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH IMPEDIMENT
WALL STREET JOURNAL
BY BILL MCGURN
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 6

In music there’s a saying about a performance that was “too small for the house.” That’s becoming true of the president. There was a day when Mr. Obama’s taste for the marvelous—a campaign address in Berlin, the faux presidential seal, the Greek columns that surrounded him during his speech accepting the Democratic nomination—all seemed to herald something exciting and historic. Even inside the Beltway, however, substance ultimately tells. Three years into his presidency, the grander the stage the smaller Mr. Obama comes across.

YES, WE NEED JOBS, BUT WHAT KIND?
NEW YORK TIMES
BY PAUL OSTERMAN
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 6

On Thursday, President Obama will deliver a major speech on America’s employment crisis. But too often, what is lost in the call for job creation is a clear idea of what jobs we want to create… Last year, one in five American adults worked in jobs that paid poverty-level wages… Must we choose between job quality and quantity? We have solid evidence that when employees are paid better and given more opportunities within a company, the gains outweigh the costs… Americans have long believed that there should be a floor below which job quality does not fall. Today, polls show widespread support for upgrading employment standards, including raising the minimum wage — which is lower, in inflation-adjusted terms, than it was in 1968. It’s time for the federal government to take the lead in creating not just more jobs, but more good jobs.

IT’S STILL THE 9/11 ERA
NEW YORK TIMES
BY ROSS DOUTHAT
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 5

[Bush’s post-9/11 foreign policy] has endured under Barack Obama… We are still fighting a war on terrorist groups, complete with the indefinite detention, drone attacks and covert warfare that infuriated civil libertarians during the Bush presidency. Meanwhile, Obama’s first term has featured an expanded nation-building effort in Afghanistan, a regime-change operation in Libya, a possibly permanent military footprint in Iraq — and the gradual adoption, amid the ferment of the Arab Spring, of Bush’s freedom agenda rhetoric as well. The question is whether this continuity is evidence of success or an example of the stay-the-course bias to which all governments are prone. Here it’s worth asking a version of Ronald Reagan’s famous question: Are we better off than we were 10 years ago?

THE DEBT DEBATE IS FAR FROM OVER
WASHINGTON POST
BY MICHAEL GERSON
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 6

The supercommittee might choose timidity [but it] also has the option of ambition… Republican and Democratic leaders would need to sign off on a grand deal, and the politics is not obvious or easy… [For Republicans,] the Tea Party will not be amused by any concession on revenue… Obama’s calculation is even more complex. A grand bargain including entitlement reform might improve his reputation for conciliation, his claim to fiscal responsibility and his standing among independents. Liberals, however, would feel betrayed — though Obama could probably count, once again, on their meek acceptance… The deficit debate is exhausting — and just beginning. Having removed a series of roadblocks from the legislative process, Boehner and Obama must now determine how fast and far they want to run.

THREE KEYS TO COMPROMISE
WASHINGTON POST
BY JAMES CLYBURN
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 6

I am the oldest of three boys. One day my brothers and I were having a disagreement that turned physical. Our minister father, who loved to teach through parables, called us over when he thought our altercation had gone on long enough… Then, dad gave us the lesson: “Don’t you let the little disagreements that crop up among you create so much friction that it separates you, because if you do, the world will pop you apart and you may never realize why.” We, as a supercommittee, cannot let our differences cause too much disagreement. Debt and deficit reduction should be wrapped into a strong cord of job creation, budget cuts and revenue raisers. Pursuing them separately will weaken our efforts and could doom our mission.

POLITICS WITHOUT PURPOSE
WASHINGTON POST
BY DANA MILBANK
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4

[Last week] I decided instead to head over to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, to preview a small but immensely powerful exhibit marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks… The spare exhibit brought back the horror of that time. But it also reminded me of the pride in what followed, the national unity and sense of purpose. The warm feelings didn’t last long, of course, destroyed by the war in Iraq and the politicization of homeland security. By now, we have lost all sense of purpose in politics, alternately distracted by Sarah Palin’s bus tours, Anthony Weiner’s private parts, David Wu’s tiger suit, Donald Trump’s birth-certificate campaign, and Dick Cheney’s broadsides… What will it require to end the drift this time? A depression? Another attack? Or is there a less painful way to regain national purpose?

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Must Read Op-Eds for September 6, 2011

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