IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT USTHOMAS L. FRIEDMANNEW YORK TIMESMitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech on Monday that could be boiled down to one argument: everything wrong with the Middle East today can be traced to a lack of leadership by President Obama. If this speech is any indication of the quality of Romney’s thinking on foreign policy, then we should worry. It was not sophisticated in describing the complex aspirations of the people of the Middle East. It was not accurate in describing what Obama has done or honest about the prior positions Romney has articulated. And it was not compelling or imaginative in terms of the strategic alternatives it offered. The worst message we can send right now to Middle Easterners is that their future is all bound up in what we do. It is not. The Arab-Muslim world has rarely been more complicated and more in need of radical new approaches by us — and them.
OBAMA'S ROCKY MOUNTAIN HORROR SHOWJOE SCARBOROUGHPOLITICO...Is the 44th president no more than a mediocre political talent who’s had one of the greatest runs of luck in history? And did that luck begin to run out in Denver last Wednesday during the homestretch of his final campaign? A week later, many Democrats fear that it did. ... It is possible that the political class has overestimated Barack Obama’s talents for too long now. But I suspect Wednesday night’s outcome was more the result of an arrogant campaign underestimating a former Massachusetts governor. That proved to be a pretty dumb thing to do to a guy who breezed through Harvard, revolutionized Wall Street, saved a Winter Olympics, signed a landmark health care bill with Ted Kennedy by his side, raised five gifted boys, and retains the love and respect of a woman he first met in elementary school. Like every campaign that crossed swords with Ronald Reagan, Chicago’s arrogance blew up in their face. The question now is whether Barack Obama will suffer the same fate as Gov. Pat Brown and President Jimmy Carter. The answer to that question is anyone’s guess.
BARRY TRAILS OFFMAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMES...Obama knows that he alone is responsible for his unfathomable retreat into his own head while 70 million people watched. He hadn’t been nailing it in debate prep either, taking a break to visit the Hoover Dam, and worried aides knew his head wasn’t in it. When the president realized what a dud he was, he apologized to flummoxed and irritated advisers. ... Even though Obama was urged not to show his pompous side, he arrived at the podium cloaked in layers of disdain; a disdain for debates, which he regards as shams, a venue, as the Carter White House adviser Gerry Rafshoon puts it, where “people prefer a good liar to a bad performer.” ... It is that distaste for salesmanship that caused Obama not to sell or even explain health care and economic policies; and it is that distaste that caused him not to sell himself and his policies at the debate. THE MUPPET IN THE ROOMDANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTAt the Denver debate, Romney said he would eliminate Obamacare (doing so would actually increase the budget deficit, because of related tax hikes) and the public-broadcasting subsidy, which is $445 million a year — or little more than one one-hundredth of 1 percent of federal spending. But Romney proposes to cut federal spending by trillions of dollars — more than $5 trillion over the next decade, assuming he follows the sort of blueprint laid out by his running mate, Paul Ryan. That threatens much more than Muppets and monsters. Human lives are at stake. I WAS RIGHT ABOUT THAT STRANGE JOBS REPORTJACK WELCHWALL STREET JOURNAL...The the 7.8% unemployment figure released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last week is downright implausible. And that's why I made a stink about it. ... The possibility of subjectivity creeping into the process is so pervasive that the BLS's own "Handbook of Methods" has a full page explaining the limitations of its data, including how non-sampling errors get made, from "misinterpretation of the questions" to "errors made in the estimations of missing data."Bottom line: To suggest that the input to the BLS data-collection system is precise and bias-free is—well, let's just say, overstated.