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Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, July 30, 2012

A BLOCKING ELECTIONBY FRED HIATTWASHINGTON POSTFrom what Obama has done and said the past four years, we have a clearer sense of what he would attempt in the pa

A BLOCKING ELECTIONBY FRED HIATTWASHINGTON POSTFrom what Obama has done and said the past four years, we have a clearer sense of what he would attempt in the part of the job he does enjoy — shaping and implementing policy — if he had a second chance. But he’s likely to be as constrained by Congress in the next four years as he has been in the past two, and even more constrained by debt and deficits. Recognition of those limits may be one reason that he has yet to present much of a second-term agenda — and that the prospect of a second term has to be bittersweet. So the only motivation that surfaces clearly for voters is the desire to stop the other side — the conviction that the opponent’s agenda would be dangerous. If the pattern holds after the conventions, this may be what propels voters to the polls in November.THE GO-FOR-BROKE ELECTIONBY EJ DIONNE JR.WASHINGTON POSTFor conservatives, this is a go-for-broke election. They and a Republican Party now under their control hope to eke out a narrow victory in November on the basis of a quite radical program that includes more tax cuts for the rich, deep reductions in domestic spending, big increases in military spending and a sharp rollback in government regulation. In the process, the right hopes to redefine middle-of-the-road policies as “left wing,” thereby altering the balance in the American political debate. What should alarm both liberals and moderates is that this is the rare election in which such a strategy has a chance of succeeding.OBAMA'S THREE BIG MISTAKESBY DREW WESTENWASHINGTON POST...Obama’s administration made three crucial errors that enabled the Republican obstructionism that has tied his hands for the past two years, with GOP leaders shooting down any idea — even if it’s one of their own — that might have helped the president strengthen the economy. ...Obama's first mistake was inviting the Republicans to the table. ... The second mistake was squandering the goodwill that Americans felt toward the new president and their anxiety about an economy hemorrhaging three-quarters of a million jobs a month. ... The third way the administration created opportunities for Republican obstructionism will someday become a business-school case study: It let a popular idea — a family doctor for every family — be recast as a losing ideological battle between intrusive government and freedom.SLOW RECOVERY OR FAILED AGENDA?BY EDWARD LAZEARWALL STREET JOURNALPresident Obama has a tough task ahead of him. He must convince the American voter that the economy is improving and that he deserves the credit. At the same time, he must make the case that the blame for the slowness of the recovery lies with others. ... Mr. Romney can reply that Mr. Obama wants to have it both ways. The president does not accept responsibility for any of the jobs lost, but he wants to take credit for all of the gains. Yet we know that all recessions end and that labor markets recover eventually. What distinguishes this labor-market recovery is not that jobs are finally being created but rather the rate of growth is so slow that it will be 2016 before we return to pre-recession employment levels.