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Must Read Op-Eds for Friday, December 9, 2011

RUNNING ON EMPTYBY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTIn Kansas, Obama lamented that millions “are now forced to take their children to food banks.” You

RUNNING ON EMPTYBY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTIn Kansas, Obama lamented that millions “are now forced to take their children to food banks.” You have to admire the audacity. That’s the kind of damning observation the opposition brings up when you’ve been in office three years. Yet Obama summoned it to make the case for his reelection! Why? Because, you see, he bears no responsibility for the current economic distress. ... [Obama] can’t run on stewardship. He can’t run on policy. His signature initiatives — the stimulus, Obamacare and the failed cap-and-trade — will go unmentioned in his campaign ads. Indeed, they will be the stuff of Republican ads. What’s left? Class resentment. Got a better idea?

THE GINGRICH TRAGEDYBY DAVID BROOKSNEW YORK TIMESIn the two main Republican contenders, we have one man, Romney, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1950s, and another, Gingrich, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1960s. He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with '60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance. He just has those traits in Republican form. As nearly everyone who has ever worked with him knows, he would severely damage conservatism and the Republican Party if nominated. ... [H]ow you believe something is as important as what you believe. It doesn't matter if a person shares your overall philosophy. If that person doesn't have the right temperament and character, stay away.ALL THE G.O.P.'S GEKKOSBY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESContrary to conservative claims, liberals aren’t out to demonize or punish the rich. But they do object to the attempts of the right to do the opposite, to canonize the wealthy and exempt them from the sacrifices everyone else is expected to make because of the wonderful things they supposedly do for the rest of us. The truth is that what’s good for the 1 percent, or even better the 0.1 percent, isn’t necessarily good for the rest of America — and Mr. Romney’s career illustrates that point perfectly. There’s no need, and no reason, to hate Mr. Romney and others like him. We do, however, need to get such people paying more in taxes — and we shouldn’t let myths about “job creators” get in the way.TIME FOR THE IMF TO STEP FORWARDBY LAWRENCE SUMMERSWASHINGTON POSTGiven that Europe is the largest component of the global economy, the rest of the world has a stake in helping to avoid major financial accidents. It also has a stake in aiding continued growth in Europe and ensuring that the European financial system supports investment around the world — particularly as cross-border European bank lending dwarfs that of banks from any other region. ... After Friday['s meeting], attention will shift to the IMF. It must act boldly, but no one should forget a fundamental lesson of all past crises: The international community can provide support, but a nation or a region’s prospect for prosperity ultimately depends on its own efforts.REPUBLICANS' REALITY TV POLITICS BY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTDo you suppose Trump will ask Gingrich about the ethics violations he committed while he was speaker of the House, or the $300,000 penalty fine he had to pay? Do you think he’ll press Gingrich on the lucrative lobbying-by-another-name he’s been doing on behalf of clients such as the government-supported mortgage giant Freddie Mac? ... No, no and no. This show can have only one star, and we already know who it is. No matter which candidates show up, Donald Trump’s debate will be about Donald Trump. I’m betting that at some point during the event, Trump will actually utter the phrase “You’re fired.”   And from the direction of the White House, you’ll hear the sound of high-fives.   GINGRICH'S LACK OF DISCIPLINEBY MICHAEL GERSONWASHINGTON POSTGingrich has a history of making serious charges that turn out to be self-indictments — witness his recent attack on congressional advocates for Freddie Mac, despite having been one of its well-paid consultants. Gingrich’s language is often intemperate. He is seized by temporary enthusiasms. He combines absolute certainty in any given moment with continual reinvention over time. These traits are suited to a provocateur, an author, a commentator, a consultant. They are not the normal makings of a chief executive. Everyone deserves forgiveness for the failures of their past. But the grant of absolution does not require the suspension of critical judgment. Gingrich’s problem is not the weakness of a moment, it is the pattern of lifetime.GINGRICH IS INSPIRING - AND DISTURBINGBY PEGGY NOONANWALL STREET JOURNALThe biggest fear of those who've known Mr. Gingrich? He has gone through his political life making huge strides, rising in influence and achievement, and then been destabilized by success, or just after it. Maybe he's made dizzy by the thin air at the top, maybe he has an inner urge to be tragic, to always be unrealized and misunderstood. But he goes too far, his rhetoric becomes too slashing. ... Those who know him fear—or hope—that he will be true to form in one respect: He will continue to lose to his No. 1 longtime foe, Newt Gingrich. He is a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, "Watch this!"