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Must-Read Op-Eds for Friday, March 23, 2012

OBAMACARE: THE RECKONINGBY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTIf Obamacare is upheld, it fundamentally changes the nature of the American social contract.

OBAMACARE: THE RECKONINGBY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTIf Obamacare is upheld, it fundamentally changes the nature of the American social contract. It means the effective end of a government of enumerated powers — i.e., finite, delineated powers beyond which the government may not go, beyond which lies the free realm of the people and their voluntary institutions. The new post-Obamacare dispensation is a central government of unlimited power from which citizen and civil society struggle to carve out and maintain spheres of autonomy. ... Little wonder the president barely mentioned it in his latest State of the Union address. He wants to be reelected. He’d rather talk about other things. But there’s no escaping it now. Oral arguments begin Monday at 10 a.m.

PARANOIA STRIKES DEEPERBY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESwhen he wins the nomination, Mr. Romney will try, as a hapless adviser put it, to shake his Etch A Sketch - that is, to erase the record of his pandering to the crazy right and convince voters that he's actually a moderate. And maybe he can pull it off. But let's hope that he can't, because the kind of pandering he has engaged in during his quest for the nomination matters. Whatever Mr. Romney may personally believe, the fact is that by endorsing the right's paranoid fantasies, he is helping to further a dangerous trend in America's political life. And he should be held accountable for his actions.

Read Thursday's must-read opinion columns

TRAYVON MARTIN AND DANGEROUS TIMES FOR BLACK MENBY EUGENE ROBINSON WASHINGTON POSTToday, young black men grow up in a society where racism is no longer deemed acceptable. Many live in integrated neighborhoods, attend integrated schools, have interracial relationships. They wonder why their parents prattle on so tediously about race, warning about this or that or the other, when their own youthful experience tells them that race doesn’t matter... But the tragic and essential thing, for me, is the bull’s-eye that black men wear throughout their lives - and the vital imperative to never, ever, be caught on the wrong street at the wrong time.A REPUBLICAN LITMUS TEST HARMS OUR PARTYWILLIAM BROCK, JACK DANFORTH, TRENT LOTT & DON NICKLESWASHINGTON POSTMany of these more recent assaults constitute an attempt at a political purge, an effort to remove from the party all but the “doctrinally pure,” however critics define purity. Such efforts would deny all that our party is. We do not have the right to determine who can “be” a Republican on the basis of some litmus test, ever. Republicans have learned from 150 years of practical experience in elective politics that inclusion, not exclusion, is the winning formula. Since the party’s inception, its principles and unifying philosophy have spanned the concerns and principles held by much of the American electorate. We have no need to qualify the word “Republican”; we simply have to live up to it.OBAMA'S AMBIVALENT LEADERSHIP ON AFGHANISTANBY MICHAEL GERSONWASHINGTON POSTObama has made broadly responsible decisions on Afghanistan. He bears the private burdens of wartime leadership with dignity as he comforts the families of the fallen. He has a strong national security team, a serious military strategy and measurable successes to highlight. But with a nation in need of rallying, his public voice is weak. It was said that Winston Churchill “mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” Obama, for whatever reason, holds it in reserve. And he is proving that it is possible simultaneously to show credible judgment and poor leadership.KVETCH A SKETCHBY PEGGY NOONANWALL STREET JOURNALIt is not fatal that Mr. Romney has been tagged as Etch A Sketchy. Almost all of 2012 will come down to plans and policy, to which path seems likely to get us out of the muck. The American people are in a postheroic presidential period. They just want to hire somebody to come in and fix some essential problems. Mr. Romney should feel optimistic. ... If the economy significantly rebounds between now and November, will that leave Mr. Romney without an issue? No. First of all, magic is not about to occur. But more important, if unemployment plummeted to 6%, the American people would think, "Nothing personal, but this didn't happen because of Obama, it happened in spite of him." No one thinks he's got a good hand on the economy. No one, not even his supporters.WHY RICK SANTORUM WON'T BE ROMNEY'S RUNNING MATEBY MOLLY BALLTHE ATLANTICWould Santorum be making these kind of vicious, personal attacks if he thought he had a shot at being on the Romney ticket? Probably not. And that's the real consequence of Santorum's absence from the veepstakes: It's lessened his incentive to play nice and treat his rival with respect. It may well be keeping him in the race, continuing to torment Romney from the right despite the near-impossibility of denying him the nomination. Like Gingrich and his go-for-broke nihilism, Santorum realizes he has nothing to lose. And that's making this long, nasty primary even longer and nastier.