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Must Read Op-Eds for Friday, January 6, 2012


IOWA LESSON FOR NH IS BACK STRONGEST CANDIDATEBY JOE MCQAIDTHE MANCHESTER UNION-LEADERThe lesson from Iowa? Conservative Republicans and like-minded independents in New Hampshire and elsewhere had better rally around one [of their] strongest candidates or face the very real prospect of having Barack Obama walk all over former Massachusetts Gov. Romney. The last squishy-moderate Republican to come to New Hampshire claiming to have the “Big Mo” (for momentum) from Iowa was George H.W. Bush. He and his “mainstream” supporters made fun of Ronald Reagan as too old and too conservative. Reagan beat Bush. But he might have lost had New Hampshire conservatives not coalesced around him instead of splitting their support among several candidates. This time, they need to get behind former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

A WORTHY CHALLENGERBY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTGingrich speaks of aligning himself with Santorum against Romney. For Newt’s campaign, this makes absolutely no strategic sense. Except that Gingrich is after vengeance, not victory. ... What a lineup. Santorum and Gingrich go after Romney, whose unspoken ally is Paul, who needs to fight off Santorum in order to emerge as both No. 1 challenger and Republican kingmaker, leader of a movement demanding respect, attention and concessions. And Jon Huntsman goes after everybody. Is this any way to pick a president? Absolutely. ... And it has produced, after just one contest, an admirably worthy conservative alternative to Romney.

BAIN, BARACK AND JOBSBY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESWhen the dust settled after the companies that Bain restructured were downsized — or, as happened all too often, went bankrupt — total U.S. employment was probably about the same as it would have been in any case. But the jobs that were lost paid more and had better benefits than the jobs that replaced them. Mr. Romney and those like him didn’t destroy jobs, but they did enrich themselves while helping to destroy the American middle class. And that reality is, of course, what all the blather and misdirection about job-creating businessmen and job-destroying Democrats is meant to obscure.A NEW SOCIAL AGENDABY DAVID BROOKSNEW YORK TIMESSantorum understands that we have to fuse economics talk and values talk. But he hasn’t appreciated that the biggest challenge to stable families, healthy communities and the other seedbeds of virtue is not coastal elites. It’s technological change; it’s globalization; it’s personal mobility and expanded opportunity; it’s an information-age economy built on self-transformation and perpetual rebranding instead of fixed inner character. ... America is creative because of its moral materialism — when social values and economic ambitions get down in the mosh pit and dance. Santorum is in the fray.A LEANER PENTAGONEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESAccording to reports in The Times, the Pentagon plans to shrink the Army even below current targets, dropping to 490,000 soldiers over the next decade. ... We understand the importance of sending a clear message that this country is not ceding anything in the Pacific to China. But that cannot become the Pentagon’s newest argument for unrestrained spending. ... President Obama has begun to bring more rationality to military planning. The real impact of the strategy will be seen in the budget he unveils later this month.CUTS THREATEN MILITARYBY ROBERT SCALESWASHINGTON POSTHere’s what the lessons of the past 70 years really teach us: We cannot pick our enemies; our enemies will pick us. They will, as they have always done in the past, cede to us dominance in the air, on sea and in space because they do not have the ability to fight us there. ... So our future enemy will seek to fight us on the ground, where we have traditionally been poorly prepared. His objective will be to win by not losing, to kill as an end rather than as a means to an end. And we will enter the next war again tragically short of the precious resource that we have neglected for six administrations: our soldiers and Marines.ROMNEY WINS BUT TAKES A BEATINGBY PEGGY NOONANWALL STREET JOURNALRick Santorum has a lot going for him, most especially a deep identification with and caring for the working class. ... He cares about the American family and walks the walk. All of this has such appeal! His weak spots are supposedly money, organization, a flinty personality and past inflammatory comments. Fair enough. But his weakest spot is foreign policy, where he is not thoughtful but reflexively hard-line. It is one thing to say, as all candidates do and must, that America must be strong, well defended, ready for any challenge. It is another to be aggressive, to be too burly, to be all George W. Bush and no George H.W. Bush. I'm not sure that's going to play so well in 2012 with New Hampshire Republicans.OBAMA'S DEFENSE DRAWDOWNEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALThe real message to the world is that the Administration wants to scale back U.S. leadership. This was part of the rationale behind the White House's reluctance to take the initiative in the Middle East last year, as well as the attempts to mollify Iran's mullahs and Russia's Vladimir Putin. ... The Navy can easily match Iran's threats in the Persian Gulf now, but what about in 10 years? President Obama ended his remarks yesterday by quoting Dwight Eisenhower on "the need to maintain balance in and among national programs." The line comes from his 1961 Farewell Address, better known as the "military-industrial complex" speech. Mr. Obama's new defense posture brings to mind another Eisenhower line, offered two years earlier: "Weakness in arms often invites aggression."FOR VISION AND NATIONAL UNITY, HUNTSMAN FOR GOP NOMINEEEDITORIALBOSTON GLOBEWith a strong record as governor of Utah and US ambassador to China, arguably the most important overseas diplomatic post, Huntsman’s credentials match those of anyone in the field. He would be the best candidate to seize this moment in GOP history, and the best-prepared to be president. ... [T]here is a widespread belief that Romney’s campaign, like a well-designed corporate strategy, is bound for success. But even if Romney emerges as the nominee, it matters how he gets there. Already, the religious right, represented by Rick Santorum, and Tea Party activists, represented by Ron Paul, have pushed Romney in unwanted directions. In New Hampshire, Republican and independent voters have a chance, through Huntsman, to show him a sturdier model. Jon Huntsman would be a better president. But if he fails, he could still make Romney a better candidate.