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Must-Read Op-Eds for Friday, February 24, 2012

DELUSIONS ABOUT THE DETROIT BAILOUTBY STEVE RATTNERNEW YORK TIMES, G.M. and Chrysler have markedly exceeded our expectations. Just a few days ago, G.M.

DELUSIONS ABOUT THE DETROIT BAILOUTBY STEVE RATTNERNEW YORK TIMES[L]ess than three years [after the bailout], G.M. and Chrysler have markedly exceeded our expectations. Just a few days ago, G.M. reported an annual profit of $7.6 billion, and Chrysler is in the black as well. Both companies have increased their sales sharply, in part by making appealing new models. And they are hiring new workers for the first time in many years. ... All of this was accomplished at relatively low cost; taxpayers will receive back the vast preponderance of the $82 billion that was invested. “I’d do it again,” Mr. Bush said of the rescue in a recent speech. “Sometimes circumstances get in the way of philosophy.” Good thing he and Mr. Obama didn’t take Mr. Romney’s advice.

ROMNEY'S ECONOMIC CLOSETBY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESFor the cynicism and lack of moral courage that have been so evident in the campaign wouldn’t suddenly vanish once Mr. Romney entered the Oval Office. If he doesn’t dare disagree with economic nonsense now, why imagine that he would become willing to challenge that nonsense later? And bear in mind that if elected, he would be watched like a hawk for signs of apostasy by the very people he’s trying so desperately to appease right now. The truth is that Mr. Romney is so deeply committed to insincerity that neither side can trust him to do what it considers to be the right thing.DONORS WITH AGENDASEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESSix-figure checks were given to Mr. Romney by seven executives at hedge funds or investment firms. Leaders of this industry are interested in fewer regulations and a low tax rate for their type of income. President Obama’s super PAC, Priorities USA Action, received only two seven-figure checks last year. ... Until a few weeks ago, the president might have credibly campaigned against the undue influence of special interests on his Republican rivals. He can no longer make the case because, after his PAC received only $58,816 last month, Mr. Obama invited donors to give without limits. And all but the most privileged Americans will pay the price if the nation’s wealthiest can buy elections.GULF WAR III ISN'T AN OPTIONBY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTI am not convinced that an Israeli air attack [on Iran], even with logistical support from the United States and its regional allies, would be able to accomplish more than delay the nuclear program by a few years. The United States could do a more definitive job. But we would be talking about a massive, sustained bombing campaign of the kind that preceded the Iraq invasion. We’re not talking about some kind of one-day “surgical” strike. It would be war. Are you ready for Gulf War III? If not, the only choice is to continue with diplomacy and sanctions. They aren’t great options, but they’re the best we’ve got.SANTORUM'S LIGHTNING-FAST FLIP-FLOP ON BIRTH CONTROL FUNDINGBY RUTH MARCUSWASHINGTON POST[I[f Romney, Santorum et al. want to eliminate Title X family planning money, do they also want to zero out Medicaid contraceptive coverage, which amounts to much more than Title X funding (more than $1 billion) and which also goes to Planned Parenthood? The candidates would do well to heed the advice of a fellow Republican: “We need to take sensationalism out of this topic,” [Santorum] said. “If family planning is anything, it is a public health matter.” The Republican was George H.W. Bush, then a Texas congressman, arguing for the creation of Title X in 1969. But that was four decades — and a different Republican Party — ago.OBAMA, ABOVE THE FRAY FOR NOWBY PEGGY NOONANWALL STREET JOURNALObama supporters are beginning to feel more confident, or at least less embarrassed. A year ago, even three months ago, they were thinking: What a confounding, confusing loser this man is. They didn't bother defending him never mind advancing him. But now they're starting to get friskier. They believe there's a new lay to the land: The economy is coming back, at least for now and at least a little; the Republican nominee will emerge so bloodied his victory will hardly be worth having; the Republicans are delving into areas so extreme and off point that by the end Mr. Obama will look like the moderate.DEMOCRATS ARE PRAYING FOR A SANTORUM NOMINATIONBY DOROTHY RABINOWITZWALL STREET JOURNALIt's not only that a certain body of Santorum pronouncements on social issues exists, and that they're of a sort that large sectors of the American electorate find unpalatable, to put it mildly. Or that he continues to add to them. By the time Democratic researchers apply themselves to this compendium of Mr. Santorum's views—in the unlikely event that he becomes the Republican nominee—it's size will have doubled, at the least. The Republicans have already provided President Obama with high-value gifts this election year, but none nearly as delectable as the prospect of a run against Mr. Santorum.'STUPID' AND OIL PRICESEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALWe'd almost feel sorry for Mr. Obama's gas-price predicament if it weren't a case of rough justice. The President has deliberately sought to raise the price of energy throughout the economy via his cap-and-trade agenda. He is now getting his wish, albeit a little too overtly for political comfort. Mr. Obama has also spent three years blaming George W. Bush for every economic ill. If Mr. Obama now feels frustrated by economic events beyond his control, perhaps he should call Mr. Bush for consolation.