IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, June 18, 2012

2012'S FINANCIAL FREE-FOR-ALLBY FRANK BRUNI NEW YORK TIMES...ere we are, in an age of austerity surreally contradicted by the hundreds of millions being poured


...[H]ere we are, in an age of austerity surreally contradicted by the hundreds of millions being poured into campaigns. By some estimates Election 2012 will be a $2 billion affair, the majority of that probably amassed and put into play on the Republican side. There are indeed two Americas and two economies: one in which a conservative titan like Sheldon Adelson and his relatives blithely funnel $21 million toward the lost cause of Newt Gingrich, and another in which the median net worth of an American family has dropped to $77,300, which is roughly where it was in the early 1990s. Campaign spending skyrockets while government spending is under siege. Political ad makers get rich while infrastructure crumbles. And presidential candidates have been turned into platinum-level panhandlers.


Ronald Reagan's run to the White House was quickened by sluggish economies throughout America's most important political swing states in 1980. Those states' downturns doomed the then-sitting Democratic president. Three decades later, a different swing state dynamic may end up helping the current Democratic president living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. A quick look at the latest labor statistics actually shows surprising strength in America's most vital political swing states. …Add the lift that Barack Obama will surely get from Michigan and other Industrial Midwest states aided by the auto bailout and suddenly this year's swing state math seems to break President Obama's way. Of course, it is only June. And as any good Red Sox fan knows, the games don't really start to count until after Labor Day.



Romney will talk a great deal about economic freedom and enterprise, but mostly he wants to make this a classic throw-the-bums-out election. ...Obama is not blessed with the opportunity to be simple. He has to show that he knows things are bad for a lot of people but also insist that his policies made things a whole lot better than they would have been. He has to argue that the Republicans are blocking his proposals to improve the economy, but he doesn’t want to look like a politician inventing an alibi. ...[W]ith the campaign trying to connect Romney to the Bush past, is it outlandish to imagine that it would be tempted to resurrect the other half of 2008’s formula with the tongue-in-cheek slogan “Keep the change”? Perhaps that’s a step too far, but it captures Obama’s desire to become a change agent again by turning his opponent into a restorationist.


Perhaps more Greeks are coming to understand that German Chancellor Angela Merkel might have preferred a Syriza victory as an excuse to cut Greece out of the euro zone. The Germans are beginning to conclude that Greece may be unreformable. A Syriza victory would have been seen as Greece pulling the plug on its own euro membership. Mrs. Merkel will still face a difficult decision if Mr. Samaras forms a government and then seeks to renegotiate the bailout because he lacks the cash to fulfill its terms. Would the German Chancellor dare to say no, thus becoming the proximate cause of a first euro exit? That would be a terribly painful result for Greece, but as a lesson to the rest of Europe to shape up or suffer the same fate, it would have considerable utility.