Here are today's must read opinion and editorial columns.
OBAMA'S PATH FROM POETRY TO DRUDGERY BY FRANK BRUNITHURSDAY JULY 28You got stuck with the mess. That’s your cinching, suffocating, unjust reality. Your campaign had all the romance of history in the making; your presidency has all the drudgery of a toxic cleanup. You orated your way into janitorial work... [I]f the country winds up [in default], and even if it doesn’t, it’s hard to see how this embarrassing mess doesn’t taint you. There will be questions about whether you put your marker down at the right time, with enough specificity and force... You got health care reform, and then you got heartache.
AMERICA'S CREDIBILITY AT RISK EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMES[A] downgrade would be a blow to American credibility and prestige, made all the worse for coming so shortly after the made-in-America global financial crisis. As a correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt wrote a few days ago, “Out of the American 21st-century crisis could come the downfall of the dominant power of the 20th century.” That may be overheated. But no one can shrug it off. The markets and the rest of the world are worried, and they should be. We all should be.
OBAMA AND HIS DISCONTENTS BY TA-NEHISI COATESNEW YORK TIMESObama has been much praised for the magnanimity he shows his opposition. But such empathy, unburdened by actual expectations, comes easy. More challenging is the work of coping with those who have the disagreeable habit of taking the president, and his talk of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” seriously. In that business, Obama would do well to understand that while democracy depends on intelligent compromise, it also depends on the ill-tempered gripers and groaners out in the street.
ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN EDITORIALWASHINGTON POST[D]espite contrary expert advice, [China's] unelected rulers decided to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a mode of transportation that many, if not most, ordinary Chinese cannot afford to use... Plan-fulfillment and national prestige took priority over passenger safety... In short, the high-speed rail program operated pretty much as you would expect in a one-party state with a controlled media... The only mystery is why people in the West who should have known better looked at high-speed rail in China and saw a model for the United States — instead of an accident waiting to happen.
THE CENTER IS NO PLACE TO BE BY E.J. DIONNEWASHINGTON POSTAt heart, [Obama]’s a moderate who likes balance. Yet Americans have lost track of what he’s really for. Occasionally you wonder if he’s lost track himself. He needs to remind us, and perhaps himself, why he wants to be our president... Obama’s advisers are said to be obsessed with the political center, but such a focus leads to a reactive politics that won’t motivate the hope crowd that elected him in the first place. Neither will it alter a discourse whose terms were set during most of this debt fight by the right. There’s nothing wrong with moderation that immoderate doses of conviction and courage won’t cure.
WHY THE TEA PARTY SAYS NO BY JUDSON PHILLIPSWASHINGTON POSTThe left has accused the Tea Party of wanting America to default on its debt obligations. Nothing could be further from the truth... We in the Tea Party understand a basic concept that Washington has forgotten: When you are in a hole, quit digging... At some point, this will end. America cannot keep borrowing money it does not have... We can see Greece’s economy in its death spiral. That is our future if we do not stop out-of-control government spending and the borrowing to cover it.
THE ROAD TO A DOWNGRADE EDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALThe looming debt downgrade only confirms what everyone knows: Congress has made so many promises to so many Americans that there is no conceivable way those promises can be kept. Tax rates might have to rise to 60%, 70%, even 80% to raise the revenues to finance these promises, but that would be economically ruinous. Yet Mr. Obama and most Democrats still oppose any serious reform of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. This insistence on no reform reinforces the notion that our entitlement state is too big to afford but also too big to change politically. This is how a AAA country becomes AA, the first step on the march to Greece.