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Must-Read Op-Eds for Friday, February 10, 2012

MONEY AND MORALSBY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESSo we have become a society in which less-educated men have great difficulty finding jobs with decent wages and goo

MONEY AND MORALSBY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESSo we have become a society in which less-educated men have great difficulty finding jobs with decent wages and good benefits. Yet somehow we’re supposed to be surprised that such men have become less likely to participate in the work force or get married, and conclude that there must have been some mysterious moral collapse caused by snooty liberals. ... Traditional values aren’t as crucial as social conservatives would have you believe — and, in any case, the social changes taking place in America’s working class are overwhelmingly the consequence of sharply rising inequality, not its cause.THE CROWD PLEASERBY DAVID BROOKSNEW YORK TIMESIf Romney is to thrive, he really needs to go on an integrity tour. He needs to show how his outer pronouncements flow directly from his inner core. He needs to trust that voters will take him as he really is. He needs to tell his own complicated individual story and stop reducing himself to the outsider/businessman advertising cliché. ... The eternal rule of presidential politics is that a candidate has to be willing to lose everything if he’s going to win everything. If Rick Santorum weren’t running for president, he would still be saying the same things he is saying today. Very few people believe that about Mitt Romney. If he can’t fix that problem, he may win the Republican nomination, but it won’t be worth much.

SOME SANER VOICES ON 'SUPER PACS'EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESUnder the terms of the Massachusetts pact, first proposed by Ms. Warren, all independent groups are publicly told not to run broadcast and online ads in support of either candidate. (The candidates’ campaigns are, in theory, not allowed to have contact with independent groups.) If any group runs such an ad, the candidate has to donate half the cost of the ad to a charity of the opponent’s choice. ... In Montana, Crossroads is already preparing to campaign against Mr. Tester, which may explain why he proposed a truce. Now the question has been put to Mr. Rehberg: Will he, and by extension his colleagues, resist the lure of super PAC cash that has severely damaged Congress’s reputation? Or will they succumb?THE HOLE IN MITT ROMNEY'S CAMPAIGNBY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTCriticism of Mitt Romney for lacking a coherent message is grossly unfair. He has been forthright, consistent and even eloquent in pressing home his campaign’s central theme: Mitt Romney desperately wants to be president. Everything else seems mushy or negotiable. Romney is passionate about the need, as he sees it, to defeat President Obama — but vague or self-contradictory as to why. The lyrics of “America the Beautiful,” ... don’t solve the mystery; Obama, too, is on record as supporting spacious skies and fruited plains... My point is that even Romney’s sharp disagreements with Obama’s policies don’t add up to a philosophy or a vision. They’re more like what stuck after a bunch of random tough-sounding positions were thrown at the wall.THE GOSPEL OF OBAMABY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTA “religious institution” must have “the inculcation of religious values as its purpose.” But that’s not the purpose of Catholic charities; it’s to give succor to the poor. That’s not the purpose of Catholic hospitals; it’s to give succor to the sick. Therefore, they don’t qualify as “religious” — and therefore can be required, among other things, to provide free morning-after abortifacients. ... You want to do religion? Get thee to a nunnery. You want shelter from the power of the state? Get out of your soup kitchen and back to your pews. Outside, Leviathan rules.A RULE THAT PROTECTS WOMEN AND RESPECTS FAITHBY ROSA DELAUROWASHINGTON POSTAs Congress intended when we passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, this rule will increase access to important preventive services, cut health-care costs and end long-standing gender discrimination in prescription drug coverage, while ensuring that the liberty of core religious organizations is respected. Just as important, it will reduce unintended pregnancies and alleviate suffering; it will help women stay healthy, avoid or delay disease, and lead more productive lives. It is, in sum, a profoundly moral decision, and I am proud to support it.LOW TURNOUT AND THE BIG TUNE-OUTBY PEGGY NOONANWALL STREET JOURNALThe Romney campaign is better at dismantling than mantling. ... Mitt Romney's aides are making the classic mistake of thinking the voters want maturity, serenity and a jolly spirit. What they want is a man who knows what time it is, who has a passion to reform our country, and who yet holds these qualities within a temperament that is mature, serene and jolly. ... Mitt has no particular passion within an obviously sane suit. Which leads to Rick Santorum. Nobody in the conservative base hates Rick. ... [B]y the time the Romney campaign is done dismantling him, he may have some people who hate him. But this will only underscore the Romney campaign's reputation for destroying, not creating. And nobody loves a Death Star.UNITED WE STAND FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOMBY DONALD WUERL, CHARLES COLSON & MEIR SOLOVEICHIKWALL STREET JOURNALAt this critical moment, Americans of every faith, as guardians of their own freedom, must, in the words of the First Amendment, "petition the government for the redress of grievances." That's why over the past two years more than 500,000 people have signed the "Manhattan Declaration" in defense of religious liberty. They believe, as do we, that under no circumstances should people of faith violate their consciences and discard their most cherished religious beliefs in order to comply with a gravely unjust law. That's something that this Catholic, this Protestant and this Jew are in perfect agreement about.