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Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, February 27, 2012

GHASTLY OUTDATED PARTYBY MAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMESThe contenders in the Hester Prynne primaries are tripping over one another trying to be the most radical, un

GHASTLY OUTDATED PARTYBY MAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMESThe contenders in the Hester Prynne primaries are tripping over one another trying to be the most radical, unreasonable and insane candidate they can be. They pounce on any traces of sanity in the other candidates — be it humanity toward women, compassion toward immigrants or the willingness to make the rich pay a nickel more in taxes — and try to destroy them with it... The Republicans, with their crazed Reagan fixation, are a last-gasp party, living posthumously, fighting battles on sex, race, immigration and public education long ago won by the other side. They’re trying to roll back the clock, but time is passing them by.

OBAMA'S DREAM: TO RUN AGAINST SANTORUMBY KATHLEEN PARKERWASHINGTON POSTLet me be blunt: If Republicans nominate Rick Santorum to run for president, they will lose. The prospect of four more years of President Barack Obama holds some appeal for many Americans but probably not for most Republicans. It may give doubters among them some comfort, however, to know that Obama and Santorum share the same prayer: that Santorum be the Republican nominee. It gives me no pleasure to rap Santorum, a man I know and respect even if I disagree with him on some issues. Not that he minds. He’s a scrapper who loves a fight — and he forgives. Bottom line: Santorum is a good man. He’s just a good man in the wrong century.

WHAT AILS EUROPE?BY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESFor the rest of us, however, getting Europe right makes a huge difference, because false stories about Europe are being used to push policies that would be cruel, destructive, or both. The next time you hear people invoking the European example to demand that we destroy our social safety net or slash spending in the face of a deeply depressed economy, here's what you need to know: they have no idea what they're talking about.REGULATING OUR SUGAR HABITBY MARK BITTMANNEW YORK TIMESTo some, dictating what recipients of benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can eat seems unfair. But when the program began in 1939 ... participants received $1.50 in stamps for every cash dollar spent, 50 cents of which was designated for purchase of agricultural surplus. That’s already a directive on spending, but perhaps more important is that nearly three-quarters of a century ago almost the only thing you could buy — with or without regulation — was real food. Since then Big Food has moved our diet in the wrong direction, and now we have a surplus of emptycalories. The argument for limiting the use of food stamps to actual food is consistent with established policy. ...  Payments have been based on the cost of a “nutritionally adequate diet.” Let me state the obvious: there is no nutritional need for foods with added sugar.OBAMA HASN'T WON REELECTION YETBY E.J. DIONNEWASHINGTON POSTIf the election were held right now, President Obama would likely win by about the same margin that propelled him into office in 2008. ... The biggest concern for the Democrats (and the best hope for the GOP) is that the president’s lead is far from overwhelming, even though Republicans — and particularly Mitt Romney — have been badly weakened by their nomination battle and Obama has been left largely unmolested by the conservative super PACs. ... Romney no longer driven by the need to pander to the right could regroup and reposition himself. ... And the super PACs, fueled by millionaires eager to avoid the tax rates Obama is promising, could fire away freely, field-testing messages and searching for the president’s points of weakness. Obama is far better off than he was six months ago. But he cannot afford to go wobbly or to let the good news go to his head. MY ECONOMIC FREEDOM AGENDABY RICK SANTORUMWALL STREET JOURNALAmerica's budget process is broken. Our economy and American families are struggling, and the country needs bold reforms and major restructuring, not tinkering at the margins. Obamanomics has left one in six Americans in poverty, and one in four children on food stamps. Millions seek jobs and others have given up. ... [I]n my first 100 days as president, I'll submit to Congress and work to pass a comprehensive pro-growth and pro-family Economic Freedom Agenda. Here are 10 of its main initiatives: 1. Unleash America's energy. 2. Stop job-killing regulation. 3. A-pro-growth, pro-family tax policy. 4. Restore America's competitiveness. 5. Rein in spending. 6. Repeal and replace ObamaCare. 7. Balance the budget. 8. Negotiate and submit free trade agreements. 9. Reform entitlements. 10. Revive housing.WISHING UPON IRANEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALNo one in government wants to be blamed again for overestimating an enemy's capability, even if the history of intelligence has more episodes when America underestimated an adversary... President Obama has misjudged Iran at every turn—starting with his assumption that the mullahs would negotiate with him because he wasn't George W. Bush, that he would engender goodwill by downplaying Iran's stolen election in 2009, and that sanctions would make them bend. Wishful intelligence thinking won't deter Israeli leaders from defending their interests any more than it will stop Iran from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.