AFGHAN CRASH INFLICTS DOUBLE BLOW ON US PSYCHE BY JULIETTE KAYYEMBOSTON GLOBE
We had come to believe that whatever would happen to Afghanistan in the future, that we could exit gracefully, with our heads held high even if we were also holding our noses. We would leave Afghanistan to the Afghans and wash our hands of the stabilizing effort that has eluded us and our allies for so long. While no American would want to deprive our troops a happily-ever-after departure, Saturday’s events suggest that whether we leave this year, next year, or in 2014, we won’t be able to control what happens afterward, any more than we can control the rocket-propelled grenades that so easily bring down Chinook helicopters.
DOWNGRADE BLUES BY MAUREEN DOWD
NEW YORK TIMES
Barack Obama blazed like Luke Skywalker in 2008, but he never learned to channel the Force. And now the Tea Party has run off with his light saber. The dissonance of his promise and his reality is jarring. When he had power, he didn’t use it. He wanted to be a "transformational" president like Ronald Reagan, but failed to understand that Reagan’s strategic shows of strength allowed him to keep the whip hand without raising his voice. And now, just when the high school principal in the Oval has been browbeating Congress to help create jobs, he is once more distracted from that task as he tries to save his own.
WHAT HAPPENED TO OBAMA'S PASSION? BY DREW WESTEN
NEW YORK TIMES
The average voter is far more worried about jobs than about the deficit, which few were talking about while Bush and the Republican Congress were running it up. The conventional wisdom is that Americans hate government, and if you ask the question in the abstract, people will certainly give you an earful about what government does wrong. But if you give them the choice between cutting the deficit and putting Americans back to work, it isn’t even close. But it’s not just jobs. Americans don’t share the priorities of either party on taxes, budgets or any of the things Congress and the president have just agreed to slash — or failed to slash, like subsidies to oil companies. When it comes to tax cuts for the wealthy, Americans are united across the political spectrum, supporting a message that says, “In times like these, millionaires ought to be giving to charity, not getting it.”
CREDIBILITY, CHUTZPAH AND DEBT BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES
The truth is that as far as the straight economics goes, America’s long-run fiscal problems shouldn’t be all that hard to fix... So why can’t we do that? Because we have a powerful political movement in this country that screamed “death panels” in the face of modest efforts to use Medicare funds more effectively, and preferred to risk financial catastrophe rather than agree to even a penny in additional revenues. The real question facing America, even in purely fiscal terms, isn’t whether we’ll trim a trillion here or a trillion there from deficits. It is whether the extremists now blocking any kind of responsible policy can be defeated and marginalized.
CAN AMERICA STILL LEAD? BY E.J. DIONNE
Even if [Obama's advisers are] right about where Obama is positioned politically, they have to worry whether all the concessions and maneuvering undercut a president’s most important asset: an earned image of strength rooted in principle. The central question is whether the United States is still capable of leading the world out of economic turmoil. Obama’s response to this challenge will have far more impact on both the country’s future and his own reelection than all the sloganeering, polling and positioning put together.
SAVING THE ARAB SPRING BY JIM HOAGLAND
[I]t is not a moment to despair or to overlook the longer-term meaning of the sweeping change 2011 has brought to the Middle East. Besides, we are in too deep to wash our hands and pretend we can stand aside while dictators have their culturally appropriate way... We are at a fitful intermission, not a final curtain, for the new Arab revolutions. We have seen how information technology can provide a spark that sets afire the kindling of economic and social distress. That turns out to have been necessary, but not sufficient, to transform societies long exploited by their rulers. Much more work and understanding by both Arabs and Americans is required.