Must-Read Op-Eds for Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Updated
 

REAGAN WAS A SURE LOSER TOO
BY WILLIAM MCGURN
WALL STREET JOURNAL

In Iowa, Reagan lost the caucuses because he sat on a lead and played it cautious. In New Hampshire a month later, he had to apologize for an ethnic joke that made fun of Italians and Poles. … Later he would face Santorum-like fears about his social message, especially after appearing at a mass gathering of Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals. … Yes, the parallels to 1980 take you only so far, and Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan. Still, at this same point in his campaign for the GOP nomination, neither was Reagan. The President Reagan we rightly admire for bringing down the Berlin Wall, reviving the U.S. economy, and attracting into the GOP millions of disaffected Democrats was still to come. And he got there by transcending the conventional wisdom rather than allowing himself or his message to be limited by it.

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POORLY TOLD POLITICAL FORTUNES
BY FRANK BRUNI
NEW YORK TIMES

As for momentum’s role in this election cycle, the fabled “big mo” is a seeming no go. Gingrich supposedly had it coming out of South Carolina, long billed as the best bellwether of all the early states, but it was wrested by Santorum after Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota. It’s now Romney’s yet again. Meantime, the culture wars have resumed — usually something Republicans relish. … Democrats sense an advantage, and are seizing it with the kind of gusto more commonly associated with Republicans. … Nicely done.

IRAN, ISRAEL AND THE UNITED STATES
EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

Mr. Obama has long said that all options are on the table. In recent days his language has become more pointed — urged on, undoubtedly, by Israel’s threats to act alone. … The United States military is far more capable of doing serious damage to Iran’s facilities than the Israeli military, but the cost would still be high, with many of the same dangers and uncertainties. Mr. Obama is right that military action should only be the last resort, but Israel should not doubt this president’s mettle. Neither should Iran.

HOW I WOULD CHECK IRAN’S NUCLEAR AMBITION
BY MITT ROMNEY
WASHINGTON POST

My plan includes restoring the regular presence of aircraft carrier groups in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. It also includes increasing military assistance to Israel and improved coordination with all of our allies in the area. We can’t afford to wait much longer, and we certainly can’t afford to wait through four more years of an Obama administration. By then it will be far too late. If the Iranians are permitted to get the bomb, the consequences will be as uncontrollable as they are horrendous. My foreign policy plan to avert this catastrophe is plain: Either the ayatollahs will get the message, or they will learn some very painful lessons about the meaning of American resolve.

DO NOT WRITE MITT ROMNEY OFF YET
BY MICHAEL GERSON
WASHINGTON POST

Obama has difficulties of his own. … [His] signature presidential achievements — Obamacare and the stimulus — are too unpopular to mention in mixed ideological company. He [also] presides over an economic recovery that is historically weak. … Many in the media still maintain an image of Obama from 2008. But this is like the impression left on the retina after a bright light has faded. … He is unifying — though he is among the most polarizing presidents of modern history. He is the fixer of Washington — who has helped make Washington more broken than ever. He is post-partisan — when not channeling Huey Long in a bad mood (see his recent UAW speech).

DON’T LIGHT YOUR HAIR ON FIRE, MITT
BY MARC THEISSEN
WASHINGTON POST

What conservatives want is not for Mitt Romney to light his hair on fire. We want a nominee who will lead us into battle against President Obama this fall under a banner of bold ideas. We want another Ronald Reagan. But the sad reality is there is no new Reagan coming to the rescue. This election will not be a choice between Obama and another Reagan. It will be a choice between a second Obama term and a second Bush term … as in Bush 41. Electing a transformational conservative president may not be in the cards this November — but stopping a transformational liberal president still is.

RUSH LIMBAUGH INSTILLS FEAR IN GOP CANDIDATES
BY EUGENE ROBINSON
WASHINGTON POST

So let’s get this straight: These guys want us to believe they’re ready to face down Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Eun, the Taliban and what’s left of al-Qaeda. Yet they’re so scared of a talk-radio buffoon that they ignore or excuse an eruption of venom that some of Limbaugh’s advertisers — nine, at last count, have said they would no longer sponsor the show — find inexcusable. … What does this say about these men? To me, it suggests that maybe Romney isn’t as smart and disciplined as he’s said to be. Maybe Santorum isn’t as sincere, compassionate or moralistic as he appears. Maybe Gingrich’s vaunted intellectual courage is afraid of its own shadow. … Either way, Republicans spent yet another week talking about contraception.

THE CASE FOR ARMING THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION
BY MARK PALMER AND PAUL WOLFOWITZ
WALL STREET JOURNAL

The bottom line: If the opposition remains weak, we may end up facing the difficult choice between intervening militarily ourselves, as became necessary in Libya, or watching and doing nothing while the Syrian regime repeats the horror of Srebrenica. The U.S. secretary of state should be given something better to say than simply that the Syrian opposition will “somewhere, somehow, find the means to defend themselves,” as Hillary Clinton said last month. In contrast, the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al Faisal, said that arming the opposition is “an excellent idea.” It is. The U.S. has an unexcelled capability to train, equip and organize indigenous forces. Employing that capability, along with our NATO allies, to support the Syrian opposition can end the conflict more quickly and help limit violence and extremism in the aftermath.

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Must-Read Op-Eds for Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Updated