Must-Read Op-Eds for Thursday, July 12, 2012

Updated
 

ROMNEY IN THE LIONS’ DEN
BY CHARLES M. BLOW
NEW YORK TIMES

I doubt that Romney thought he’d change many minds among African-Americans when he spoke to the group and I’m not convinced that was even his strategy. The speech sounded like it was designed not for the audience in the room, but for those in Republican living rooms. It sounded as though he wanted to show force and fearlessness: “Look folks, I walked into hostile territory unafraid and unbowed.” This was his version of a Daniel in the lions’ den speech. Talk tough. Get heckled and booed for telling the truth to those who don’t want to hear it. Take the president down a couple of pegs in front of the most loyal segment of his supporters. But I just don’t think it worked. Romney benefits from not talking and makes problems for himself when he does speak. His disfluency does him a disservice.

TAX AVOIDER IN CHIEF?
BY DAVID FIRESTONE
NEW YORK TIMES

Mr. Romney’s financial practices aren’t unusual just because he is one of the wealthiest candidates ever to run; it’s because previous well-to-do candidates would have been embarrassed to admit they had gone so far to enrich themselves at the public treasury’s expense. … The $5 trillion in assets held by offshore tax havens costs the federal government $100 billion a year, according to the I.R.S. But when tax-writing committees try to end such practices, they are often shut down by powerful financial lobbyists. If Mr. Romney were to be elected, it would be his Treasury Department that would be hurt by such tax-avoidance practices, and his I.R.S. that would have to crack down on them. Based on even the little we know about his financial practices, it’s hard to see how he could look his I.R.S. commissioner in the eye.

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IN THIS ELECTION, PICK YOUR ELITE
BY ANNE APPLEBAUM
WASHINGTON POST

You know the stereotypes already. Both Obamas come from what might loosely be called the intellectual/academic meritocracy, the “liberal elite,” the post-WASP Ivy League, easily caricatured as the world of free-trade coffee, organic arugula, smug opinions and Martha’s Vineyard. The Romneys, by contrast, belong to the financial oligarchy, the “global elite,” the post-financial-deregulation world that is just as easily caricatured as one of iced champagne, offshore bank accounts, dressage trainers and private islands. … The political success of both Obama and Romney proves that radical populism in the United States has failed spectacularly. For all of the attention they got, neither Occupy Wall Street nor the tea party has a candidate in this race. Neither found a way to channel inchoate, ill-defined public anger — at the deficit, at the banks — into electoral politics or clear alternatives. Whoever wins in November, we’ll therefore get the elite we deserve.

MISDIAGNOSING ROMNEY’S CAMPAIGN
BY E.J. DIONNE JR.
WASHINGTON POST

Romney’s GOP critics are wrong in seeing his specifics-lite approach as his core problem. His difficulties lie elsewhere. A defense of Romney’s minimalism starts with the matter of timing. The best rationale I’ve heard for the current Romney strategy came from former U.S. representative Vin Weber, a Romney adviser who noted in an interview that the very first question voters have to answer in a reelection race is whether there is “a compelling reason to remove the incumbent from office.”  … Viewed this way, the relentlessly negative approach of the Romney campaign so far (summarized in top adviser Stuart Stevens’s favorite slogan, “Obama isn’t working”) is the essential first step toward opening the electorate to the idea of changing leadership.

MITT ROMNEY’S SUMMER VACATION
BY DANIEL HENNINGER
WALL STREET JOURNAL

…How did it come to pass that in this particular Fourth of July week, amid a presidential election, the memory Mitt Romney allowed to imprint itself on the American electorate was an Associated Press photo of himself looking absolutely fabulous on a fire-engine red jet ski driven by his fabulous-looking wife?… Little noticed with the jet-ski photo making waves was an alternative photo of Mitt Romney taken by the AP’s paparazzi, one that put the candidate perfectly in sync with middle-class anxiety. It was a photo of an older, middle-aged guy in a bathing suit, schlumped in a plastic chair on a spit of beach, his wife beside him, surrounded by their grown children and a covey of grandkids playing in the sand. This is a photo of an American at rest with his family. It is the man Mr. Romney no doubt wants the country to vote for. The guy in the jet-ski photo is the man they don’t want to vote for—not amid the current anxiety.

ROMNEY AT THE NAACP
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

President Obama won 96% of the black vote in 2008, and no one thinks Mr. Romney is going to do much better than John McCain did. But the GOP candidate still deserves credit for making the attempt. A President represents the whole country, and voters like to see a candidate who speaks inclusively. …Mr. Romney is right to fight for the black vote, but he’d probably have more success if he ignored the usual black liberal gatekeepers and went directly to the neighborhoods that need education reform and more economic uplift. Visit a successful charter school that needs a better building, or a community college trying to retrain high school drop outs, or a small business in Detroit struggling against the odds. The comfortable elites at the NAACP will never support a Republican. The people who understand the hardship of the status quo just might.

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Must-Read Op-Eds for Thursday, July 12, 2012

Updated