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Must Read Op-Eds for September 12, 2011

SLEEPING BARRY AWAKES  BY MAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMES’s eternally the gifted and sometimes indolent student who has to be wooed and pressured into making the

SLEEPING BARRY AWAKES  BY MAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMES[Obama]’s eternally the gifted and sometimes indolent student who has to be wooed and pressured into making the game-winning shot. As one aide joked, “We work 6 to 9 and he works 9 to 6.” But the odd rhythms of his temperament are less interesting when so much is at stake... Obama offers his own version of the split-personality presidency: Do we get Energizer Barry or Enervating Barry? It’s deeply confusing to a country that’s already confused, as well as to the Democratic Party. Will he ever get that through his magnificent brain? The nation deserves clarity and consistency... When the president stays insulated with his little circle that doesn’t know how to push his messages, and he lets the nihilist Republicans go unchallenged in their crazy claims to be saving the country they’re hurting, he sets the stage for Rick Perry. It’s still impossible to sum up what Obama’s presidency is about right now, except saving his own job.

PERRY, ROMNEY AND SOCIAL SECURITY  BY EDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALSocial Security can be reformed and it will have to be if current workers are to receive any return on their current taxes. Everyone serious knows what the reform options are—from changing the benefits schedule, to "progressive indexing," to raising the retirement age. ... Herman Cain mentioned it in last week's debate. But if that's too politically adventurous for the two Governors, maybe they can meet somewhere in between their rhetorical positions.


IN CHENEY'S MEMOIR, IT'S CLEAR IRAQ'S LESSONS DIDN'T SINK IN  BY BOB WOODWARDWASHINGTON POSTThe so-called slam-dunk case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction illustrates the failure. If anyone should have learned this, it is former president George W. Bush and former vice president Dick Cheney. Yet in his new memoir, “In My Time,” Cheney shows he has not fully absorbed that lesson when he writes about the administration’s response to the 2007 discovery of a nuclear reactor in Syria that the North Koreans had helped build.


AN IMPECCABLE DISASTER  BY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESWe’re not talking about a crisis that will unfold over a year or two; this thing could come apart in a matter of days. And if it does, the whole world will suffer. So will the E.C.B. do what needs to be done — lend freely and cut rates? Or will European leaders remain too focused on punishing debtors to save themselves? The whole world is watching.


I AM GOING TO BE HONEST WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE  BY RICK PERRYUSA TODAYBy 2037, retirees will only get roughly 76 cents back for every dollar that is put into Social Security unless reforms are implemented. Imagine how long a traditional retirement or investment plan could survive if it projected investors would lose 24% of their money? ... We must have a frank, honest national conversation about fixing Social Security to protect benefits for those at or near retirement while keeping faith with younger generations, who are being asked to pay.


UNHEALED WOUNDS  BY GEORGE WILLWASHINGTON POSTTen years on from Sept. 11, national unity, usually a compensation for the rigors of war, has been a casualty of wars of dubious choices. Ten years after 1941, and in more recent decades, the nation, having lost 400,000 in the unavoidable war that Pearl Harbor announced, preferred to remember more inspiriting dates, such as D-Day. Today, for reasons having little to do with 9/11 and policy responses to it, the nation is more demoralized than at any time since the late 1970s, when, as now, feelings of impotence, vulnerability and decline were pervasive. Of all the sadness surrounding this anniversary, the most aching is the palpable and futile hope that commemoration can somehow help heal self-inflicted wounds.


THE COVERT COMMANDER IN CHIEF  BY DAVID IGNATIUSWASHINGTON POSTPerhaps Obama’s comfort level with his intelligence role helps explain why he has done other parts of the job less well. He likes making decisions in private, where he has the undiluted authority of the commander in chief. He likes information, as raw and pertinent as possible... He likes action, especially when he doesn’t leave fingerprints. What this president dislikes — and does poorly — is political bargaining... If the rote political parts of his job sometimes seem uninteresting to him, maybe that’s because they seem trivial compared to the secret activities that he directs each morning. If only economic policy could be executed as coolly and cleanly as a Predator shot... On this anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, America is lucky to have a president who is adept at intelligence. But it needs, as well, a leader who can take the country out of the shadows and into the light.


AND THE GOOD NEWS IS...  BY GAIL COLLINSNEW YORK TIMESThe president is urging people to contact their elected representatives and tell them to pass his proposals: “I want you to call. I want you to e-mail. I want you to tweet. I want you to fax. I want you to visit. I want you to Facebook ... Send a carrier pigeon.”  Now that last one might really work. Truly, if the Republican House Conference was inundated by a couple hundred thousand angry carrier pigeons, there would probably be a real reaction. You may want to do the other stuff, too, because you are concerned citizens, people. But the idea that the president’s opponents are going to come around to his way of thinking because they’re buried in tweets and faxes is not a likely scenario... I think there’s another opening here for citizen involvement. If the problem is attitude, declare war on the national funk. Every time you hear a depressing piece of news, come back with something cheerful. For instance... The price of gas is approaching $4 a gallon in some places. On the other hand, Beyoncé is pregnant...


GETTING BACK TO A GRAND BARGAIN  BY THOMAS FRIEDMANNEW YORK TIMESWhile President Obama has talked generally about a Grand Bargain, he has never put a detailed offer before the American people and his own party faithful. It was a failure of leadership. Thursday night in his speech before Congress, President Obama finally rose to that challenge in a thoughtful, credible and substantive fashion... I believe most Americans want a Grand Bargain both in substance and in style. They want to see our politicians working together, acting collectively. We underestimate how much the toxic political rancor in Washington today casts a pall over the whole economy and makes everyone want to just hold fast to what they have... President Obama has now offered a legitimate, constructive proposal to reignite efforts to forge a Grand Bargain with Republicans. Several G.O.P. leaders indicated that they intend to look at it seriously. I sure hope so. With Europe heading into a tailspin, the world needs America’s economy on solid footing more than ever.


LOSS AND HOPE  BY EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESIt seemed, in the days after 9/11, as though we stood at the juncture of many possible futures. There was as much hope as grief, as much love as anger, and a powerful sense of resilience. We still stand at the juncture of many possible futures. They are occasioned not by what terrorists in four airliners did to us, but by what we have done in the decade since. As a nation, we have done a better job of living with our fears, sadly, than nurturing the expansive spirit of community that arose in those early days. We are still learning about the events of 9/11, and in truth, 10 years is a short window to assess the consequences of those attacks. Perhaps in time we will realize that the full meaning of what happened on 9/11 resides in the surge of compassion and hope that accompanied the shock and mourning of that September day.