Must-Read Op-Eds for Thursday, February 9, 2012

Updated
 

TALES FROM THE KITCHEN TABLE
BY GAIL COLLINS
NEW YORK TIMES

We are arguing about whether women who do not agree with the church position, or who are often not even Catholic, should be denied health care coverage that everyone else gets because their employer has a religious objection to it. … Organized religion thrives in this country, so the system we’ve worked out seems to be serving it pretty well. Religions don’t get to force their particular dogma on the larger public. The government, in return, protects the right of every religion to make its case heard. The bishops should have at it. I wouldn’t try the argument that the priest used on my mother-in-law, but there’s always a billboard on the front lawn.

REPUBLICANS NEED MORE THAN RHETORIC ON DEFENSE
BY GEORGE WILL
WASHINGTON POST

Through 11 presidential elections, beginning with the Democrats’ nomination of George McGovern in 1972, Republicans have enjoyed a presumption of superiority regarding national security. This year, however, events and their rhetoric are dissipating their advantage. … Osama bin Laden and many other “high-value targets” are dead, the drone war is being waged more vigorously than ever, and Guantanamo is still open, so Republicans can hardly say that Obama has implemented dramatic and dangerous discontinuities regarding counterterrorism. … Republicans who think America is being endangered by “appeasement” and military parsimony have worked that pedal on their organ quite enough.

CLINT, RICK AND THE LIMITS OF PESSIMISM
BY E.J. DIONNE
WASHINGTON POST

 

Santorum’s victories this week reflect Romney’s ongoing problems with the right wing of the Republican Party. Romney’s solution is to keep trying to win conservative hearts by bashing Obama ever more energetically. His speech after his defeats on Tuesday thus began with a litany of the president’s failures. … But Romney can’t summon hope through his dad. He has to offer it himself. Yet his strategy seems to require a constant doubling-down on glumness. Clint Eastwood knows better, and so did Reagan. Romney should not want to be associated with salvos against Obama so repetitious and predictable that he is starting to conjure memories of the Gipper declaring: “There you go again.”

MY VISION FOR A BETTER RUSSIA
BY VLADIMIR PUTIN
WASHINGTON POST

But I strongly believe that we do not need a circus of candidates competing with each other to make increasingly unrealistic promises. And spin doctors and image makers should not control politicians. We must create a political system in which it is possible — and necessary — to be honest. Whoever puts forward a proposal or a program should be responsible enough to carry it out. Those who elect decision makers should understand who and what they are voting for. This would produce trust, constructive dialogue and mutual respect between society and the

WHERE’S THE REST OF THEM?
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

The former Massachusetts Governor … isn’t winning friends with his relentlessly negative campaign. … This may get Mr. Romney to 50.1% of the GOP delegates, but he’d be a weaker nominee for it. The low GOP turnout in early primary states is one sign of his weakness. What Mr. Romney needs is to make a better, positive case for his candidacy beyond his business resume. The biggest problem with the GOP Presidential field is that each of the candidates seems to be running to represent only part of the Republican coalition. Mr. Romney sounds like he thinks conservatives can be won over with a few poll-tested lines like “I’ll repeal ObamaCare,” while Mr. Santorum sounds like he only needs conservative votes to become President. To adapt Ronald Reagan’s famous line, Where’s the rest of them?

TRANSFORMERS
BY DANIEL HENNINGER
WALL STREET JOURNAL

[T]he depth of anger among Catholics over this suggests they recognize more is at stake here than political results. They are right. The question raised by the Catholic Church’s battle with ObamaCare is whether anyone can remain free of a U.S. government determined to do what it wants to do, at whatever cost. … The Catholic Church has stumbled into the central battle of the 2012 presidential campaign: What are the limits to Barack Obama’s transformative presidency? The Catholic left has just learned one answer: When Mr. Obama says, “Everyone plays by the same set of rules,” it means they conform to his rules. What else could it mean?

THE REAL TROUBLE WITH THE BIRTH-CONTROL MANDATE
BY JOHN COCHRANE
WALL STREET JOURNAL

Our nation is divided on social issues. The natural compromise is simple: Birth control, abortion and other contentious practices are permitted. But those who object don’t have to pay for them. The federal takeover of medicine prevents us from reaching these natural compromises and needlessly divides our society. … By focusing on an exemption for church-related institutions, critics effectively admit that it is right for the rest of us to be subjected to this sort of mandate. They accept the horribly misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and they resign themselves to chipping away at its edges. No, we should throw it out, and fix the terrible distortions in the health-insurance and health-care markets. Sure, churches should be exempt. We should all be exempt.

NO BUDGET, NO PROBLEM
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

The running tally of days without a budget has become a Republican talking point, but there’s a lesson here about liberal governance and the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. That law, a Democratic creation, mandates that both chambers by April submit a formal budget blueprint that shows how the government will meet its obligations over the coming year, lays out a general fiscal framework for entitlements and sets priorities for spending and taxes. The law was supposed to increase the incentives for fiscal discipline. But now that House Republicans want to take it seriously, Democrats want to pretend it doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, the GOP used its budget last year and will again this year to advance specific and credible alternatives to the Obama status quo. At least Democrats are conceding that they’re unwilling even to suggest solutions of their own.

IS THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN FOR REAL?
BY JOHN HOOD
NATIONAL REVIEW

If the Romney team believed their own inevitability rhetoric, failing to invest for victory yesterday just as they did before South Carolina, that doesn’t auger well for their ability to make sound decisions later on. After all, two of the three states, Colorado and Missouri, will be battlegrounds in the general election. Investing in them with ad buys and organization could hardly have been considered a waste of resources. And if the Romney team did try to compete with Santorum yesterday but fell so woefully short, what does that say about their ability to compete with a far more resourceful adversary this fall? Democrats are happier today than they were yesterday, and much happier than they were a month ago. They may be wrong, but they still see Romney as President Obama’s strongest challenger. So if Romney can’t even win in Colorado … they’re liking the president’s chances in November.

ROMNEY’S NEW TEST
BY JOHN PODHORETZ
NEW YORK POST

The Romney campaign seems to be in the grip of a delusion that as time goes on Republicans will be forced to concede it is their patriotic duty to fall in line so that Barack Obama can be defeated. This is not how ornery individualists vote. They have to be wooed and won, not made implicit demands of. What do they want? They want what voters always want: To hear that their cause is just, their battles are noble, their leaders are tribunes and that righteousness as they see it will prevail.  Romney may not be comfortable taking that role, and he has every reason to be uncomfortable with it, but too bad. If he can’t assume it as a primary candidate, how on earth will he be able to inspire enough undecided voters in a general election to prevail over Barack Obama?

Morning Joe Must-Read Op-Eds

Must-Read Op-Eds for Thursday, February 9, 2012

Updated