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Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, April 2, 2012

A QUANTUM THEORY OF MITT ROMNEYBY DAVID JAVERBAUMNEW YORK TIMESccording to the latest theories, the "Mitt Romney" who seems poised to be the Republican nominee

A QUANTUM THEORY OF MITT ROMNEYBY DAVID JAVERBAUMNEW YORK TIMES[A]ny person who tells you he or she truly "understands" Mitt Romney is either lying or a corporation. ... [A]ccording to the latest theories, the "Mitt Romney" who seems poised to be the Republican nominee is but one of countless Mitt Romneys, each occupying his own cosmos, each supporting a different platform, each being compared to a different beloved children's toy but all of them equally real, all of them equally valid and all of them running for president at the same time, in their own alternative Romnealities, somewhere in the vast Romniverse. And all of them losing to Barack Obama.PINK SLIME ECONOMICSBY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESThe Obama administration spent much of 2011 trying to negotiate a so-called Grand Bargain with Republicans, a bipartisan plan for deficit reduction over the long term. Those negotiations ended up breaking down, and a minor journalistic industry has emerged as reporters try to figure out how the breakdown occurred and who was responsible. But what we learn from the latest Republican budget is that the whole pursuit of a Grand Bargain was a waste of time and political capital. For a lasting budget deal can only work if both parties can be counted on to be both responsible and honest — and House Republicans have just demonstrated, as clearly as anyone could wish, that they are neither.

Must-Read Op-Eds for Friday, March 30, 2012

TYLER AND TRAYVONBY BILL KELLERNEW YORK TIMESIn most cases, hate crime laws take offenses that would carry more modest sentences — assault, vandalism — and ratchet up the penalty two or three times because we know, or think we know, what evil disposition lurked in the offender’s mind. Then we pat ourselves on the back. As if none of us, pure and righteous citizens, ever entertained a racist thought or laughed at a homophobic slur. Bias laws are widely accepted. They are understandable. They are probably here to stay. But they seem to me a costly form of sanctimony.COULD DEFEAT FOR OBAMACARE MEAN VICTORY FOR OBAMA?BY MARK PENNWASHINGTON POSTObama, like President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, could bring enormous pressure to bear on the court and use a decision against the health-care law as a rallying cry for change. He could suggest that Supreme Court justices' terms be limited to 10 years and staggered across presidencies, a popular idea I tested with voters two years ago. He could even propose a constitutional amendment to overturn the health-care decision - and why not throw in the Citizens United ruling as well? Campaign operatives might conclude that Obama finally has an issue that could rally the base around him and bring back the enthusiasm and turnout of 2008. Even better, a Supreme Court ruling against the Affordable Care Act might boomerang against the Republicans, who will be gulping champagne and looking like they would rather do nothing to help people who need vital health insurance. It's tempting, but this approach plays mainly to the base that Obama already has. I'm not sure I buy it, and I'm not sure the president would choose such a course.THE RIGHT'S STEALTHY COUPBY E.J. DIONNNEWASHINGTON POSTWho can doubt that today’s right would declare his day’s Mr. Republican and Mr. Conservative a socialist redistributionist? If our nation’s voters want to move government policy far to the right, they are entirely free to do so. But those who regard themselves as centrist have a moral obligation to make clear what the stakes are in the current debate. If supposed moderates refuse to call out the new conservatism for the radical creed it has become, their timidity will make them complicit in an intellectual coup they could have prevented.ASSAILING THE SUPREME COURTEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALFar from seeking an activist ruling, the ObamaCare plaintiffs aren't asking the Court to overturn even a single Commerce Clause precedent. ... At stake in ObamaCare is whether the High Court will ignore 225 years of constitutional understanding to ratify the federal government's claim that it can force individual Americans to buy an insurance product—to engage in commerce—so it can then regulate all of the health-care market. The activism charge is a political canard intended to obscure these grave issues and intimidate the Court, and the Justices and the public would do well not to take it seriously.THE POLITICS OF JUSTICEBY JOE SCARBOROUGHPOLITICOThat Kennedy and O'Connor would admit in a Supreme Court decision that they feared reversing constitutional error because of political recriminations should be shocking to even the most casual observer of the Court. ... For the moment, conservatives can count themselves lucky that 67% of Americans want the Court to overturn the President's health care law. But if those numbers change as its repeal begins to look more likely, Anthony Kennedy may start looking for guidance from the crowds and the New York Times editorial page. When that happens, all legal reasoning takes a back seat to pure politics.FORWARD, MARCH!BY BILL KRISTOLWEEKLY STANDARDElection Day this year could look more like 2004-a narrow victory for a not-too-popular but not-too-unpopular incumbent. That's especially the case if the GOP candidate runs a campaign like John Kerry's in 2004. Which is where the conventional wisdom among consultants is leading him. The campaign was backward-looking, biographical, and lacking in broad themes. Such campaigns degenerate into endless sniping about various misstatements and gaffes by both candidates... . Obama could win such a campaign. What's the alternative? A forward-looking campaign, more like Reagan's in 1980 and Clinton's in 1992. Reagan and Clinton didn't simply depend on unhappiness with the incumbent. They elaborated a different, and they claimed better, path ahead for the country.  ... Explanation-as opposed to denunciation of others, or celebration of self-hasn't much characterized the campaign of... Mitt Romney, so far. But if Romney-assuming he's the nominee-can't lift his general election campaign above the level of the primary contest, he's likely to lose.