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Must Read Op-Eds for October 3, 2011


THE ROUND AND THE OVAL  BY FRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMESLet’s talk about discipline. It’s not an attribute that carries through in a consistent, coherent fashion to all facets of a person’s life; disciplined or undisciplined behavior on one front doesn’t augur identical behavior on others. Someone can be a flawless steward of his or her physique and a wanton lunatic in all else. Ever been to Hollywood?

The thinness that I managed in college didn’t reflect laudable self-control. It reflected bulimia and laxatives. My borderline obesity in my mid-30s wasn’t a sign of indolence and drift. Professionally, I was working harder and more reliably than ever. And my sustained anguish over my waistline and tortured efforts to regulate it bespoke a kind of shallowness and vanity that I’m not looking for in politicians. It seems too prevalent among them already. No two stomachs are precisely alike, and I know whereof I speak. I was born with such a fierce, unappeasable hunger that, as a toddler, I threw screaming fits if I didn’t get, say, a third hamburger….

FLORIDA REPUBLICANS FOR OBAMA  BY EDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALGOP voters should want to see who can take a punch and who is built for the long haul. They should also want their nominee's potential weaknesses or skeletons exposed during the primary campaign, rather than become fodder for the Obama-MoveOn-Soros-media machine once it's too late to change. Under Republican National Committee rules, the Florida GOP will pay for queue-jumping by losing half of its delegates to the nominating convention in Tampa in August. So the claim of enhancing Florida's voice is false on its face. This has the aroma of an insider play to shut down the primary contest early, and Republicans won't go along if they want the strongest nominee.


TALK TO, NOT AT, PAKISTAN  BY ASIF ALI ZARDARIWASHINGTON POSTThe recent accusations against us have been a serious setback to the war effort and our joint strategic interests. It is not as if Pakistanis will stop reclaiming our terrain, inch by inch, from the extremists, even without the United States. We are a tenacious people. We will not allow religion to become the trigger for terrorism or persecution. But when we don’t strategize together, and when an ally is informed instead of consulted, we both suffer. The sooner we stop shooting verbal arrows at each other and coordinate our resources against the advancing flag of fanaticism, the sooner we can restore stability to the land for which so much of humanity continues to sacrifice.


THE CURSE OF THE MITT  BY GAIL COLLINSNEW YORK TIMESMitt’s been on a roll, knocking over one new challenger after another on the road to the Republican presidential nomination. As soon as they get near him, they seem to go ga-ga. Rick Perry is sounding as if English is his third language. Michele Bachmann is seeing invisible people who tell her terrible stories about killer vaccines... [Chris] Christie has been hesitant, possibly because he knows about the Curse of the Mitt, which causes hitherto successful politicians to act like blithering idiots... Nancy Reagan, Henry Kissinger and George H.W. Bush all reportedly called Christie urging him to run. Those are very impressive names, although sooner or later he’s going to have to get some high-profile supporters under the age of 85.


GO BIG, BE BOLD, BE SMART  BY ALAN SIMPSON AND ERSKINE BOWLESWASHINGTON POSTAs the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (widely known as the “supercommittee”) begins its work, many have asked what we would counsel based on our work last year as co-chairmen of the president’s fiscal commission. We can summarize this advice in seven words: Go big, be bold and be smart. The stakes for this committee are very high. If the panel is unable to reach agreement on a credible deficit-reduction plan, and the across-the-board cuts agreed to in the August debt-ceiling deal are allowed to take effect, the consequences to our economy and our political system would be serious, if not devastating. Such an outcome would produce not only bad policy... but would further undermine public and market confidence in the political system’s ability to resolve problems.


CHRIS CHRISTIE CAN'T SAVE US  BY DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTChristie, like Obama, is a man of prodigious talent. Selfishly, I hope he abandons his reluctance and enters the race. If nothing else, he will entertain us on the campaign trail. But the hopes surrounding a Christie candidacy are misplaced, for reasons having nothing to do with Christie. If he wins the nomination and beats Obama, he will disappoint his credulous followers just as Obama has disappointed his and George W. Bush disappointed his. Washington’s problems are beyond the ability of one man to repair.


CAN THE LEFT STAGE A TEA PARTY?  BY E.J. DIONNEWASHINGTON POSTThe question for the left now, says Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America’s Future, is whether progressives can “establish independence and momentum” while also being able “to make a strategic voting choice.” The idea is not to pretend that Obama is as progressive as his core supporters want him to be, but to rally support for him nonetheless as the man standing between the country and the right wing. A real left could usefully instruct Americans as to just how moderate the president they elected in 2008 is — and how far to the right conservatives have strayed.


THE BANKERS AND THE REVOLUTIONARIES  BY NICHOLAS KRISTOFNEW YORK TIMES“Occupy Wall Street” was initially treated as a joke, but after a couple of weeks it’s gaining traction. The crowds are still tiny by protest standards — mostly in the hundreds, swelling during periodic marches — but similar occupations are bubbling up in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. David Paterson, the former New York governor, dropped by, and labor unions are lending increasing support.

I tweeted that the protest reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and that raised eyebrows. True, no bullets are whizzing around, and the movement won’t unseat any dictators. But there is the same cohort of alienated young people, and the same savvy use of Twitter and other social media to recruit more participants. Most of all, there’s a similar tide of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protesters regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable.


UNIVERSITY OF WHEREVER  BY BILL KELLERNEW YORK TIMESIt's true that online education has proliferated, from community colleges to the free OpenCourseWare lecture videos offered by M.I.T. ...  But the Internet has so far scarcely disturbed the traditional practice or the economics at the high end, the great schools that are one of the few remaining advantages America has in a competitive world. Our top-rated universities and colleges have no want of customers willing to pay handsomely for the kind of education their parents got; thus elite schools have little incentive to dilute the value of the credentials they award.


HOLDING CHINA TO ACCOUNT  BY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESBen Bernanke, said it clearly last week: unemployment is a "national crisis," with so many workers now among the long-term unemployed that the economy is at risk of suffering long-run as well as short-run damage. And we can't afford to neglect any important means of alleviating that national crisis. Holding China accountable won't solve our economic problems on its own, but it can contribute to a solution - and it's an action that's long overdue.


HOW DID THE ROBOT END UP WITH MY JOB?  BY THOMAS FRIEDMANNEW YORK TIMESIn the last decade, we have gone from a connected world (thanks to the end of the cold war, globalization and the Internet) to a hyperconnected world (thanks to those same forces expanding even faster). And it matters... Indeed, there is no “in” or “out” anymore. In the hyperconnected world, there is only “good” “better” and “best,” and managers and entrepreneurs everywhere now have greater access than ever to the better and best people, robots and software everywhere. Obviously, this makes it more vital than ever that we have schools elevating and inspiring more of our young people into that better and best category, because even good might not cut it anymore and average is definitely over.