Must Read Op-Eds for Thursday, February 2, 2012

Updated
 
Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at Brady Industries February 1, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at Brady Industries February 1, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

MITT SPEAKS. OH NO!
BY GAIL COLLINS
NEW YORK TIMES

Romney seems obsessed with the idea that his enemies are spreading rumors that he’s going to be devoting his presidential campaign to proposing new programs to help the poor. Really, I do not think this is going to be a problem. … Rest assured that Mitt Romney is not going to be spending a single second fretting about the problems of really, really poor people. His supporters can breathe a sigh of relief. Now all they’re going to have to worry about is the fact that he’s going to keep talking like this for the next nine months.

WHERE ARE THE ROMNEY REPUBLICANS?
BY NICHOLAS KRISTOF
NEW YORK TIMES

 

The British Labor Party was marginalized when I lived in Britain in the early 1980s, but Tony Blair transformed it and revived it about 15 years later. And in Oregon over the last decade, Bladine notes, social wedge issues have lost their force, and moderate Republicans have re-emerged. Could the same happen nationally? Sure, it seems impossible at the moment. But if Romney somehow manages to make the Republican Party safe for moderates again, that’ll be a triumph for his party — and for the country.

THE DARKENING TONE OF THE PRIMARIES
EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

Among the middle Americans that Mr. Romney says he is focused on are 51 million people just above the poverty line, according to the Census Bureau. Many of them fear slipping beneath it, and now they know that will mean disappearing from the concerns of the Republican presidential front-runner. After winning on Tuesday, Mr. Romney said his campaign was “about saving the soul of America.” If this is the direction he plans to take in the coming months, he will first need to save the soul of his campaign.

ROMNEY WON IN FLORIDA BUT LOST OVERALL
BY E.J. DIONNE
WASHINGTON POST

Exit polls in Florida showed that very conservative Republicans continue to resist the former Massachusetts governor. This will provide a base for an ongoing opposition that can harass Romney, even if it can’t stop him. Gingrich will take joy in being the lead harasser. That Romney is still standing is something of an achievement. Judged by the standards of a political consulting textbook, his campaign executed a strategy in Florida that it had no choice but to pursue. Yet Romney won votes, not affection, a nod rather than an embrace. His is a competent campaign with the soul of a smoothly operating machine. That’s why so many Republicans continue to ask: Is this all there is?

HOW STATES ARE RESTRICTING POLITICAL SPEECH
BY GEORGE WILL
WASHINGTON POST

Nationally, political hygienists are regretting their inadvertent creations, this year’s super PACs, entities run by supporters of presidential candidates but forbidden to “coordinate” with the candidates. Super PACs are spending money that the reformers, by imposing low limits on contributions to candidates and parties, have diverted away from campaigns that otherwise could be held directly accountable for, and judged in terms of, the speech they finance. We hear, yet again, the reformers’ cry: “There is too much money in politics.” This year, the presidential campaigns combined may spend almost $2 billion, which is almost as much as Americans will, in a few weeks, spend on Easter candy.

WHAT MITT REALLY MEANT
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

Mr. Romney’s failures to communicate are common among businessmen and other normal people who have the right instincts but haven’t spent their lives thinking about politics. He also recently ran into trouble when he said he liked firing people, when he was really talking about the discipline of market competition. Still, his business now is politics, and as the Republican front-runner he has an obligation to explain how conservative principles and policies can address America’s current problems. We’ll be happy to translate for him in these columns, but it would be less politically painful if Mr. Romney sat down for a week-long tutorial with, say, Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels, Jeb Bush and others who can help him avoid such obvious liberal traps.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS GUY?
BY JONAH GOLDBERG
NATIONAL REVIEW

As a bunch of us have been writing …, the under-emphasized dynamic in this race isn’t that Romney isn’t conservative enough it’s that he’s simply not a good enough politician. He may be the most electable on paper. He’s certainly a nice guy, decent father, smart, successful etc. But, every time he seems to get into his groove and pull away he says things that make people think he doesn’t know how to play the game. … I’d happily vote for Romney over Obama. And I’d be fine with Romney crushing Obama with negative ads, if that was remotely possible. And there are plenty of things one could say to defend Romney on the merits of what he says here. But great politicians on the morning after a big win, don’t force their supporters to go around defending the candidate from the charge that he doesn’t care about the poor. They just don’t.

FOR ROMNEY, CHALLENGES REMAIN
BY FRED BARNES
THE WEEKLY STANDARD

Romney … has an unsolved issue problem: He needs a big issue or vision to give purpose and a framework to his campaign.  As things stand, his overriding issue is himself. He’ll revive the economy. Why? Because he says he will. That won’t cut against Obama. “My vision for free enterprise is to return entrepreneurship to the genius and creativity of the American people,” Romney said in his victory speech. Fine, but how will he do that? He didn’t say. Another one of Romney’s lines is that the campaign is “about saving the soul of America.” That sounds more like something Obama would say. It’s essentially meaningless, like “hope and change.”

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Must Read Op-Eds for Thursday, February 2, 2012

Updated