EUROPE’S ENTITLEMENT RECKONING BY EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL
The road from Rome may now lead to Paris, Madrid and other debt-ridden European countries. But this is no cause for U.S. chortling, because that same road also leads to Sacramento, Albany and Washington. America’s federal debt was 35.7% of GDP in 2007, but it was 61.3% last year and is rising on an Italian trajectory. The lesson of Italy, and most of the rest of Europe, is never to become a high-tax, slow-growth entitlement state, because the inevitable reckoning is nasty, brutish and not short.
PERSONAL FOUL AT PENN STATE BY MAUREEN DOWD
NEW YORK TIMES
My nephew Anthony, 10, is the proud owner of Penn State shorts, underwear, socks, jerseys, sweatshirts and plastic football players. The thrill of his young life was seeing the Nittany Lions beat Indiana at FedEx Field last year. He even bravely broke with generations of family tradition to declare that he loved Joe Paterno more than Notre Dame. So I’ve got to wonder how the 84-year-old coach feels when he thinks about all the children who look up to him; innocent, football-crazy boys like the one he was told about in March 2002, a child then Anthony’s age who was sexually assaulted in a shower in the football building… I can only hope that by the time Anthony’s parents work up their nerve to have what they call “the conversation” with him about his fallen idol, St. Joe and the other Penn scoundrels will have been ignominiously cast out of what turns out to be a not-so-Happy Valley.
INDIA AND AMERICA, TWO PEAS IN A POD BY THOMAS FRIEDMAN
NEW YORK TIMES
Indians are mad at a system that makes them pay a bribe to get their birth certificate. Americans are mad at a system that has made it legal for unions to bribe the officials who will decide their pay and for bankers to bribe the lawmakers who will decide how much risk they can take. But both are essentially threatened by the same disease. … I think that repairing our respective dysfunctional democracies — so they are truly enablers for the 21st century and not inhibitors in India’s case or “the sum of all lobbies” in America’s case — is for our generation what the independence movement in India and the civil rights movement in America were for our parents’ generation. Here’s hoping we’re as successful.
HERMAN CAIN AND THE PARKED CAR BY KATHLEEN PARKER
Politically — and considering the peace in his own home — Cain has nothing to lose by sticking to his guns. He figures his base hates the media more than they hate whatever he did. And there’s ample precedent for this approach. Absent a blue dress, why should he confess? Cain could survive, though whether he should is another question. The claims of four women require a lot of denial, and people are not credulous. They have a sense of things. They know what “is” is. The beholder’s eye is now public opinion and the image has been irretrievably set — of a man and a woman in a parked car.
STEP AWAY FROM IOWA, MITT BY STEPHEN STROMBERG
The only reason Iowa matters is in how its caucus results match or defy the expectations the public and the press have. Beat them, and you can become the instant frontrunner, which is what John Kerry did in 2004 and Barack Obama did in 2008. Dash them, and your campaign can implode — like Howard Dean’s and Hillary Clinton’s. By declining to campaign in Iowa, Romney would face a one-way bet. He could beat low expectations and gain momentum, or he could easily explain away a loss and move on to dominate early states more favorable to him, such as New Hampshire and Nevada. On the other hand, pushing resources into Iowa, which Romney appears increasingly poised to do, could produce an early victory him — or doing so could result in an embarrassing defeat and questions about Romney’s competence, which is what happened in 2008.
STANCHING THE FLOW OF CORPORATE DOLLARS INTO CAMPAIGNS BY KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL
A constitutional amendment strategy is, as always, an incredibly difficult vehicle for reform, requiring approval from two-thirds of both chambers of Congress and 38 states. … An amendment campaign can offer extraordinary value as a tool for education and mobilization, serving as the fuel for a powerful movement that can force the political class to shift its priorities. With thousands already gathered around the country as part of Occupy Wall Street, an amendment strategy could sharpen their rallying cry.
WHY GINGRICH COULD WIN BY DOROTHY RABINOWITZ
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Whoever his competitors are in Iowa and beyond, Mr. Gingrich faces a hard fight for the nomination. His greatest asset lies in his capacity to speak to Americans as he has done, with such potency, during the Republican debates. No candidate in the field comes close to his talent for connection. There’s no underestimating the importance of such a power in the presidential election ahead, or any other one. His rise in the polls suggests that more and more Republicans are absorbing that fact, along with the possibility that Mr. Gingrich’s qualifications all ‘round could well make him the most formidable contender for the contest with Barack Obama.