We didn't actually cover the opinion columns on the show today, but we've got you covered with all the day's must reads anyway. Enjoy.
MITT AND BEGONIA-GATE BY GAIL COLLINSNEW YORK TIMEShis week’s debate was a triumph for Perry, who not only put Romney on the defensive, but did it in complete sentences. He did get lost in the weeds during a discussion of Romney’s Mormonism. (“And this country is based on, as Newt talked about, these values that are so important as we go forward, and the idea that we should not have our freedom of religion, to be taken away by any means.”) The whole First Amendment thing might be a little complicated for a governor whose State Constitution prohibits anyone who doesn’t believe in God from holding public office. This is not a joke.
OCCUPY THE CLASSROOM BY NICHOLAS KRISTOFNEW YORK TIMESThe single step that would do the most to reduce inequality has nothing to do with finance at all. It’s an expansion of early childhood education. ... President Obama often talked in his campaign about early childhood education, and he probably agrees with everything I’ve said. But the issue has slipped away and off the agenda. That’s sad because the question isn’t whether we can afford early childhood education, but whether we can afford not to provide it. We can pay for prisons or we can pay, less, for early childhood education to help build a fairer and more equitable nation.
IT'S WHAT THEY ASKED FOREDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESIf Alabama succeeds in driving out all of its estimated 120,000 unauthorized immigrants, restrictionists will surely cheer. They will have only 49 states and 11 million more people to go. There is another more humane and realistic path in which immigrants could earn the right to stay — if Congress would accept its responsibility and move ahead with serious immigration reform. America’s history shows that assimilation works better than deportation — for everyone. If first-generation immigrants don’t all learn English, their children and grandchildren invariably do. They may be poor, but their children grow up to be productive citizen taxpayers.MUSICAL PRIMARIES BY HOWARD DEANWASHINGTON POSTThe balance of power in the nominating process has been skewed by the states’ unwillingness to respect the national parties and by the unwillingness of the parties to do much about it. Ultimately, the biggest victims of this quadrennial farce are the voters. However, if New Hampshire makes good on its threat to move its primary to December 2011, potentially prompting Iowa to also move into December to maintain its position as the first contest, the whole system could implode — which may be the best outcome of all. For a very small window, both national parties would have the political cover to reenvision the rules for a fair, balanced nominating process.A REPUBLICAN HAZING BY DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTEven by the standards of the highly charged immigration issue, what’s been happening among Republicans in recent days is, well, shocking. First came Herman Cain, now a leading contender for the party’s presidential nomination, arguing for an electric fence at the border that would be powerful enough to kill people. Next, the other leading contenders, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, devoted a large portion of Tuesday night’s Republican debate to a so’s-your-mama argument, complete with physical contact, about which was softer on illegal immigrants. Then, Wednesday morning, senators brought Janet Napolitano to testify on Capitol Hill, and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee put the Homeland Security secretary through a hazing ritual that stopped just short of making her climb an electrified fence.THE GOP'S DISAPPOINTING DISDAIN FOR FOREIGN AIDEDITORIALWASHINGTON POSTIt’s sad that, only three years after the George W. Bush presidency, no candidate defended foreign aid as a marker of American generosity and a transmitter of American values. Mr. Bush ramped up U.S. help for AIDS victims in Africa. He created the innovative Millennium Challenge Corp., which aims to increase the effectiveness of foreign aid by giving only to governments that serve their people decently. He understood, as any sensible politician does, that foreign aid will always be a hard sell, but he was willing to make the case. That’s a level of statesmanship missing from this year’s Republican field.BLAME THE FED FOR THE FINANCIAL CRISIS BY RON PAULWALL STREET JOURNALIf the Fed would stop intervening and distorting the market, and would allow the functioning of a truly free market that deals with profit and loss, our economy could recover. The continued existence of an organization that can create trillions of dollars out of thin air to purchase financial assets and prop up a fundamentally insolvent banking system is a black mark on an economy that professes to be free.SQUATTING ON WALL STREETBY DANIEL HENNINGERWhat we have is a complex $14 trillion American economy with a growth rate below 2% and nominal 9% unemployment the past two years. At such an awful level of growth, bad things happen to people at all strata of American life. The road up from sub-2% growth will be a steep climb. Drained of answers, an increasingly desperate presidency is traveling the country now, at the front of what is fundamentally a rolling circus called Occupy Wall Street.THE GOP AND ROMNEYCAREEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALMr. Romney has every right to cling to theories that were flawed in conception and have proven false in practice, though the rest of the GOP field has the responsibility to challenge his canned answers. ... Mr. Obama's unbridled expansion of government means that the election will present the electorate with the largest philosophical choice since 1980: To continue the trend toward a larger and growing government and the ever-higher taxes to pay for it, or to modernize the 20th century's broken government institutions. Republicans do not want to wake up in 2012 to discover that they have nominated someone who is unprepared, and maybe unwilling, to lead the reform of government that America needs.