Must-Read Op-Eds for Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Updated
 

OBAMACARE’S GREAT AWAKENING
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

The political furor over President Obama’s birth-control mandate continues to grow, even among those for whom contraception poses no moral qualms, and one needn’t be a theologian to understand why. The country is being exposed to the raw political control that is the core of the Obama health-care plan, and Americans are seeing clearly for the first time how this will violate pluralism and liberty. … [M]aybe HHS thought the public had become inured to such edicts, which have arrived every few weeks since the Affordable Care Act passed. Bad call … religious liberty won’t be protected from the entitlement state until ObamaCare is repealed.

FREEDOM AT 4 BELOW
BY THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

In most of the Arab states awakening today, the borders came first, drawn by foreign powers, and now the people trapped within them are trying to find a shared set of ideas to live by and trust each other with as equal citizens. Iraq shows how hard it is to do that — the Sunni-Shiite divide still cuts very deep — but Iraq also shows that it is not impossible. We often forget how unusual America is as a self-governing, pluralistic society. We elected a black man whose grandfather was a Muslim as president at a time of deep economic crisis, and now we’re considering replacing him with a Mormon. Who in the world does that? Not many, especially in the Middle East. Yet, clearly, many people there now deeply long to be citizens — not all, but many. If that region has any hope of a stable future, we need to bet on them.

ANOTHER 2012 CAMPAIGN FOR SALE
EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

Mr. Obama could have impressed many wavering voters if he had chosen to use [his megaphone] against campaign corruption. He could have pointed out that it was Republicans who blocked the Disclose Act. … He could have ridiculed Mitt Romney’s super PAC for accepting $18 million from just 200 donors in the second half of last year, including million-dollar checks from hedge-fund operators, industrialists and bankers. But now Mr. Obama has given up that higher ground. He had already undermined the public financing system for presidential campaigns by refusing to use it in 2008, but this is much worse. In that campaign, he at least forswore money from independent groups and lobbyists. Now he is relying on a super PAC that can accept money from anyone. He is also telling the country that simply getting re-elected is bigger than standing on principle.

OBAMA AND ROMNEY EXHIBIT STRIKING SIMILARITIES
BY RUTH MARCUS
WASHINGTON POST

The Obama-Romney comparison is admittedly imperfect. Obama’s is a graceful aloofness; he comes off as cool but not needy. Romney is awkward in his aloofness; he tries too hard to connect. The difference between the two candidates is the difference between crooning Al Green and reciting obscure verses of “America the Beautiful.” Yet the similarities are striking. As the campaign grinds into the general-election phase, these traits will, I predict, become all the more evident and intriguing.

KEEP PUSHING ON JOBS, MR. PRESIDENT
BY KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL
WASHINGTON POST

The president is wise to keep pushing for action. This helps educate Americans about how far we have to go, and about the things that must be done to get there. And it puts Republicans on notice that continued obstruction may not only threaten the jobs that the United States desperately needs but also may endanger their own job security. We are still a far remove from the bold policies needed to put this economy on the path to sustained and shared prosperity. But at least the president gets it. He isn’t breaking out the champagne; he’s rolling up his sleeves.

A QUESTION OF FAITH
BY KATHLEEN PARKER
WASHINGTON POST

Most Americans can hardly believe we’re having a national debate about birth control in the 21st century — more than 50 years after the Pill became available and decades after condoms became as commonplace as, well, balloons. The reason for the incredulity is because we’re actually not having a debate about birth control. To repeat: The debate is about freedom of conscience. It ain’t about the Pill. This particular episode is significant because the Obama administration has provided the narrowest conscience protection in our nation’s history, according to legal experts who are challenging the administration’s rule. We have a long tradition in this country of working around religious differences so that people are not forced to violate their faith to satisfy a secular mandate. This is the essence of the debate.

THE SUPER PAC PRESIDENT
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

The better way to understand this decision is that it is Mr. Obama’s second in-kind contribution to the demise of the campaign-finance reform movement. In 2008, Mr. Obama was so flush with cash he voluntarily dropped out of the presidential public-funding system that limits the amount a candidate can raise and spend. John McCain, trapped by his own history of favoring spending limits, played the sap, obeyed the rules, and was heavily outspent. You may have noticed he lost. The liberal goo-goos want to ban money from politics, but now their political hero has made them look like fools—twice. … After the election, and especially if Mr. Obama wins, the President will switch one more time and become a reformer demanding limits on money in politics. And good liberals will praise him for it. No wonder Americans are cynical about politics.

ROMNEY REBUKED IN ‘MINI-TUESDAY’ PRIMARIES
BY MOLLY BALL
THE ATLANTIC

Newt Gingrich failed to qualify for the Missouri ballot. That gave Santorum a chance to compete in a situation where he was the sole mainstream alternative to Romney, and he aced it. That will allow him to make the argument that Romney is only winning because the voters who oppose him are normally split between Santorum and Gingrich. It is still hard to imagine the Romney train getting derailed, but this result will elevate Santorum as his chief antagonist of the moment and force Romney to continue to answer his conservative critics awhile longer, rather than proceeding to a coronation. Romney’s campaign argued that the results would have no bearing on the ongoing primary contest. But the reason for this argument was not because Romney’s camp had suddenly discovered the importance of delegates – it was because he was losing.

MITT ROMNEY HAS REASON TO BE CONCERNED
BY JOHN FUND
NATIONAL REVIEW

[W]hat Romney won’t be able to explain away is just how much more poorly he did tonight in [these] three states than in his 2008 showing — when he lost the GOP nomination for president… Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to realize he is campaigning for two jobs, not one. He is doing quite well in the race to become the Republican nominee for president, and must still be considered the strong favorite. But ever since Barry Goldwater captured the GOP nomination in 1964, the Republican nominee has been more or less the titular head of the conservative movement, the most important single component of the Republican party. It is that race that Romney is doing so poorly in, as evidenced by the willingness of many conservatives to vote against him. … That could ultimately mean the difference between victory and defeat — and for now Romney seems oblivious to that fact.

Must-Read Op-Eds for Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Updated