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Must-Read Op-Eds for Sept. 25, 2012

MITT'S MORTIFICATIONFRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMESwe need to ask whether we now have an electoral process so vacuous, vicious and just plain silly that most people i

MITT'S MORTIFICATIONFRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMESwe need to ask whether we now have an electoral process so vacuous, vicious and just plain silly that most people in their right minds wouldn’t go anywhere near it. It chews up candidates and their families, spits them out and cackles with hyperpartisan glee all the while. Yes, those candidates volunteer for it, but still. The process doesn’t necessarily serve some wondrous purpose of culling the herd and toughening the survivors, as the people invested in it — including those of us in the news media — often like to argue. Romney’s bleeding has plenty to do with his intrinsic shortcomings and his shortsightedness...But I wonder if we’re not seeing the worst possible version of him, and if it isn’t the ugly flower of the process itself. I wonder, too, what the politicians mulling 2016 make of it, and whether, God help us, we’ll be looking at an even worse crop of candidates then.WHY MITT ROMNEY IS SLIPPINGEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESTo some extent, Mr. Romney’s diminishing stature is because of two recent statements that revealed his deficiencies to a newly interested audience. He falsely suggested that the Obama administration was sympathetic to the violent Muslim protests in Libya and Egypt, illustrating his ignorant and opportunistic critique of foreign policy. And he was caught on video belittling nearly half the country for an overreliance on government handouts. These moments, though, were not fumbles or gaffes. They were entirely consistent with the dismissive attitude Mr. Romney has routinely shown toward non-Americans or the non-rich. Now even long-undecided voters are starting to catch on and dismiss him. ...Mr. Romney is free to pursue this shallow, cavalier campaign for six more weeks, but he shouldn’t be surprised if voters increasingly choose not to pay attention.

ONLY TIME FOR SMALL TALKDANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTThe candidates tell you that this campaign is about big issues. If you believe that, you’re being snookied. Romney doesn’t dabble in messy things such as what precisely he would do in Afghanistan or with the tax code. But he has made time to do interviews with Leno, David Letterman and People magazine in addition to Kelly and Michael. Obama hasn’t held a formal news conference in the White House in more than six months, but he has found places on his calendar for Leno, Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, People, “Entertainment Tonight” and, of course, “The View.” In this “Jersey Shore” culture, it’s perhaps inevitable that candidates would try to reach voters by chatting about the banal and the prurient. But this doesn’t make it any less depressing.THE BUBBLE CANDIDATEJENNIFER GRANHOLMPOLITICO...Presidents are isolated too. But the difference is this: all of Mitt Romney’s life has been in the bubble. He was born into privilege and he never left it (even his Mormon mission experience took him not to Ethiopia, Belize or Mumbai but to France). By contrast, President Obama was born to a single mother on food stamps. He knows what it’s like to be poor and to know struggling people. The president’s privilege is recent; Mitt Romney’s is life-long. The thick privilege bubble wrap around Romney means that he must work that much harder to come into contact with the real world. He bears the “special burden” of wealth, and laudably generous donations to church don’t create that contact. Romney’s 47 percent comment was not intentionally malevolent; rather, his remarks simply reflect honest and profound ignorance of the daily lives of most people.