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Must-Read Op-Eds for Friday, March 2, 2012

A BAD AMENDMENT DEFEATEDEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESRepublicans claimed the issue was about religious freedom.

A BAD AMENDMENT DEFEATEDEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESRepublicans claimed the issue was about religious freedom. But it was really about denying consumers — and particularly women — the right to make their own medical decisions and keeping up the antigovernment and anti-President Obama drumbeat. Naturally, the party’s presidential candidates support it ... . But most Americans support free access to contraception. Few people want their bosses or their insurance companies to tell them how to live their lives. The good news is that the amendment was defeated. And, by championing it, the Republicans may well help inform more people about the popular benefits of health care reform — and about the extremism of one party that seems determined to take them away.

ROMNEY'S LUCKBY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTRather than sticking to his considerable working-class, Reagan-Democrat appeal, he kept wandering back to his austere social conservatism. Rather than placing himself in “Grandpa’s hands,” his moving tribute to his immigrant coal miner grandfather as representative of the America that Santorum pledges to restore, he insisted on launching himself into culture-war thickets: Kennedy, college and contraception. ... The result of these unforced errors was Santorum’s Michigan slide. ... He forfeited a victory that would have shattered the Romney candidacy... It’s not over. Super Tuesday could scramble the deck. But once again, the smoke clears, and Romney remains — slow, steady, unspectacular. The tortoise in the race, dull and methodical, with an awkward, almost endearing (note: almost) stiffness. In short, a weak front-runner in an even weaker field.THE DANGER OF MITT BEING MITTBY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTRomney took this kind of I-am-who-I-am stand this week when he said that, while “it’s very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments,” he was “not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support.” ... The problem is that the effect of Romney’s comment is to dismiss the Republican Party’s activist base as an unsophisticated rabble. Which is perhaps not the best attitude for a Republican candidate to display. Romney’s “gaffes” look unmistakably like glimpses of the real Romney — not a bad person but a man with no ability to see beyond the small, cosseted world of private equity and great wealth that he inhabits. He has to be reminded that most voters live in a world where people drive their Cadillacs one at a time.WHY I'M LEAVING THE SENATEBY OLYMPIA SNOWE  WASHINGTON POSTTwo truths are all too often overshadowed in today’s political discourse: Public service is a most honorable pursuit, and so is bipartisanship. I have been immeasurably honored to serve the people of Maine for nearly 40 years in public office and for the past 17 years in the United States Senate. It was incredibly difficult to decide that I would not seek a fourth term in the Senate. Some people were surprised by my conclusion, yet I have spoken on the floor of the Senate for years about the dysfunction and political polarization in the institution. Simply put, the Senate is not living up to what the Founding Fathers envisioned. ... I am convinced that, if the people of our nation raise their collective voices, we can effect a renewal of the art of legislating — and restore the luster of a Senate that still has the potential of achieving monumental solutions to our nation’s most urgent challenges.WE'RE MORE THAN POLITICAL ANIMALSBY PEGGY NOONANWALL STREET JOURNALIt is not progress when you become what you hate, when you take on its sickest aspect. ... I agreed with [Andrew Breitbart's] passion: We're in a big struggle, we have to fight. His argument was in a way like Flannery O'Connor's: You have to push back hard against the age that is pushing you. But he agreed too that politics can leave you twisted and deformed inside, that fighting those who would impose their will can leave you as consumed as they are. You have to be careful and not let political struggles take over your life, your affections—your soul. We were not built to be all about politics. Empires rise and fall, nations come and go, but the man who poured your coffee this morning is eternal, because his soul is eternal. That's C.S. Lewis. I don't know if Andrew was a religious person or a believer, but I know he respected faith, understood it, felt protective of it. For which good on you, Andrew, and thanks. Rest in peace.FINANCIAL CRISIS AMNESIABY TIM GEITHNERWALL STREET JOURNALThese reforms are not perfect, and they will not prevent all future financial crises. But if these reforms had been in place a decade ago, then ... the government would have been able to limit the damage that a financial crisis could have on the broader economy. My wife occasionally looks up from the newspaper with bewilderment while reading another story about people in the financial world or their lobbyists complaining about Wall Street reform or claiming they didn't need the Troubled Asset Relief Program. She reminds me of the panicked calls she answered for me at home late at night or early in the morning in 2008 from the then-giants of our financial system. We cannot afford to forget the lessons of the crisis and the damage it caused to millions of Americans. Amnesia is what causes financial crises. These reforms are worth fighting to preserve.BLUNTING THE FACTSEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALThe amendment had nothing to do with a "ban" on contraception, or any of the other delusions and distortions of the left. The real issue is that the ObamaCare mandate requires employers, including religious schools and hospitals, to buy coverage that may violate their moral beliefs. The Blunt amendment would merely have let those religious-affiliated institutions provide coverage without paying for care that violates their religious conscience. The real offense against freedom and women is the mandate. The fact that Democrats don't dare to accurately describe their own positions, or the regulations that they want to foist on everyone else, shows how extreme those positions and regulations really are.