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Must-Read Op-Eds for August 28, 2012

HUGGABILITY AND HELIUMFRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMESRomney’s political ascent and presidential campaign tell the remarkable tale of a suitor profoundly ill suited

HUGGABILITY AND HELIUMFRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMESRomney’s political ascent and presidential campaign tell the remarkable tale of a suitor profoundly ill suited to the seduction at hand, a salesman whose enthusiasm has seldom been instantly or expansively reciprocated. He has somehow managed to pull within inches of the most powerful office on earth — the job that should be harder to get than any other — despite an inability and even unwillingness to connect, and despite the fact that most of his supporters, including most Republicans, aren’t so much swooning as settling for him. That’s worth remembering over the next few days, when hard-partying partisans here will do a pantomime of true passion.THE REAL ROMNEYDAVID BROOKS NEW YORK TIMESMitt Romney was born on March 12, 1947, in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Virginia and several other swing states. He emerged, hair first, believing in America, and especially its national parks. ...After his governorship, Romney suffered through a midlife crisis, during which he became a social conservative. This prepared the way for his presidential run. He barely won the 2012 Republican primaries after a grueling nine-month campaign, running unopposed. At the convention, where his Secret Service nickname is Mannequin, Romney will talk about his real-life record: successful business leader, superb family man, effective governor, devoted community leader and prudent decision-maker. If elected, he promises to bring all Americans together and make them feel inferior.

Must-Read Op-Eds for August 27, 2012

UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOMGIL TROYNEW YORK TIMES...Conventional wisdom about conventions is wrong. Conventions still count. They help define the candidates, frame the debate, command attention and inject some communal moments into an increasingly atomized political process. Maintaining traditional rituals is an important, unappreciated element of the campaign as a whole, a key part of its legitimizing function. The way we mobilize citizens, build candidate credibility and reaffirm party identity in two parallel rituals — despite all the partisan enmity — helps explain America’s quicksilver shift from vicious campaigns to peaceful, often rapturous, inaugurations. These familiar political ceremonies broadcast a reassuring continuity and stability even as candidates promise change, and partisans warn of disaster if they lose.POLARIZED TO A DRAWMICHAEL GERSONWASHINGTON POSTIn an ideologically charged election, decided voters are not easily budged from their natural predispositions. Republicans tend to think a second Obama term would mean the consolidation of a European economic and social model on U.S. soil. Democrats tend to believe that GOP rule would incorporate the least attractive elements of puritanism and social Darwinism. ... This divided, ideological electorate represents the success of Obama’s political strategy. Of course he would have preferred to run as the unifying, transformative candidate of 2008. But his uncreative liberalism and poor economic performance did not allow it. So he settled on polarization as his least bad strategy...NATURE'S JOKE ON THE GOPDANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTAt best, this weak rerun of Katrina will cause a split-screen effect in coverage of the convention... At worst, the juxtaposition of storm damage and balloon drops will make the Republicans appear insensitive. ... If there is any good to come out of this soggy spectacle, it will be that it hastens the demise of the political convention, which has become a meaningless anachronism. The Democrats’ convention next week has already been shortened to three days, and Republicans are joining Democrats in concluding that the drawn-out affairs of years past have become pointless.