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Must Read Op-Eds for September 19, 2011

FOR JOBS, IT'S WAR  BY CHARLES BLOWNEW YORK TIMESThe American political discussion has finally turned to the right target: jobs.

FOR JOBS, IT'S WAR  BY CHARLES BLOWNEW YORK TIMESThe American political discussion has finally turned to the right target: jobs. Even so, the president’s jobs bill is already being nickeled and dimed from the right — and the left — even though it is only throwing nickels and dimes at the problem to begin with. But at least it’s a start, even if a long-overdue one. To understand just how overdue it is, one need look no further than the absolutely dreadful data issued this week by the Census Bureau... No matter how you slice it, it’s bloody. There are now 46.2 million poor Americans. Of those, 2.6 million fell into poverty last year. At 15.1 percent, the poverty rate is at its highest since 1993. Bloody, bloody, bloody.

[In his new book, "The Coming Jobs War," Gallup chairman Jim Clifton] makes this striking statement, drawing from all of Gallup’s data: “The primary will of the world is no longer about peace or freedom or even democracy; it is not about having a family, and it is neither about God nor about owning a home or land. The will of the world is first and foremost to have a good job. Everything else comes after that.” The only problem is that there are not enough good jobs to go around.

LEADERSHIP CRISIS  BY EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESAs the economy faces the risk of another recession, and the 2012 campaign looms, President Obama has been groping for a response to the biggest crisis of his career. All he has to do is listen to the voters. The Times and CBS News released a new poll on Friday, and once again we were impressed that Americans are a lot smarter than Republican leaders think, more willing to sacrifice for the national good than Democratic leaders give them credit for, and more eager to see the president get tough than Mr. Obama and his conflict-averse team realize. So long as the politicians keep reinforcing their misconceptions — and listening only to themselves — the country has little chance of getting what the voters want most: jobs and a growing economy.


CAN OBAMA CALM DEMOCRATIC PANIC?  BY E.J. DIONNEWASHINGTON POSTObama and his party are grappling with the “tragedy of the commons” in a classic form. Obama, who has been so happy to stay distant and above the concerns of his Democratic allies, cannot afford to lose them now. Democrats in Congress have a long list of reasons for being resentful. The special elections will aggravate their fears of embracing the president too closely. Yet if Obama’s presidency is weakened further, the resulting damage will afflict Democrats as a whole. However justified their past grievances might be, they have a powerful collective interest in seeing the fighting Obama get his new act off the ground.


VOTERS WANT STATE GOVERNMENT REFORM  BY DOUGLAS SCHOENWALL STREET JOURNALVoters also think that while public sector workers generally can retire with full benefits at about age 57 years old, this is too early. Generally they say the normal retirement age should be 65. It is clear that American voters endorse a very specific agenda to reduce spending, pare back employee benefits, and hold the line on taxes wherever and whenever possible. The electorate clearly shows sympathy with the concept of limiting collective bargaining rights, but so far has not seen or come to accept the direct linkage between restricting that benefit and assuring the ongoing fiscal well-being of their state.


FILL IN THE BLANKS  BY BILL KELLERNEW YORK TIMESPersonally, I can stand a little ambivalence in our leaders, particularly compared with the blinkered certitude of the previous administration. But in politics there are few greater liabilities than a perceived lack of definition. Against Obama we have a cast of Republicans who talk about the federal government with a contempt that must have Madison and Hamilton spinning in their coffins. The G.O.P. campaign sounds like a contest for the Barry Goldwater Chair in States’ Rights. So let’s get real. Yes, Obama could do better. But we could do a lot worse.


THE BLEEDING CURE  BY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESWhat we really need, however, is to convince a substantial number of people with political power or influence that they’ve spent the last year and a half going in exactly the wrong direction, and that they need to make a U-turn. It’s not going to be easy. But until that U-turn happens, the bleeding — which is making our economy weaker now, and undermining its future at the same time — will continue.


DEMOCRATS FOR ROMNEY?  BY DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POST[Given the] growing fears that Obama may lose in 2012 to any Republican with a pulse, maybe it’s time for Democrats to stop hoping that Perry will be the next Barry Goldwater. There’s admittedly not much they can do to shape the outcome of the presidential primaries, but they might wish to think twice before using their rapid-response teams to help Perry bury Romney. One party operative close to these decisions told me there have been a “lot of conversations” about the dilemma, with some labor and environmental groups arguing for easing up on the anti-Romney message machine out of a belief that he would be the “lesser of two evils.” Good thinking. If Obama is doomed, who would Democrats rather have in possession of the nuclear suitcase: the technocratic Romney, or the coyote-shooting Perry?ISRAEL- ADRIFT AT SEA ALONE  BY THOMAS FRIEDMANNEW YORK TIMESI have great sympathy for Israel’s strategic dilemma and no illusions about its enemies. But Israel today is giving its friends — and President Obama’s one of them — nothing to defend it with. Israel can fight with everyone or it can choose not to surrender but to blunt these trends with a peace overture that fair-minded people would recognize as serious, and thereby reduce its isolation. Unfortunately, Israel today does not have a leader or a cabinet for such subtle diplomacy. One can only hope that the Israeli people will recognize this before this government plunges Israel into deeper global isolation and drags America along with it.

EGGHEAD AND BLOCKHEADS  BY MAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMESTraveling to Lynchburg, Va., to speak to students at Liberty University... Perry made light of his bad grades at Texas A&M... It’s enough to make you long for W.’s Gentleman’s C’s. At least he was a mediocre student at Yale... Our education system is going to hell. Average SAT scores are falling, and America is slipping down the list of nations for college completion. And Rick Perry stands up with a smirk to talk to students about how you can get C’s, D’s and F’s and still run for president. The Texas governor did help his former chief of staff who went to lobby for a pharmaceutical company that donated to Perry, so he at least knows the arithmetic of back scratching.


RICK PERRY, UBER TEXAN  BY GAIL COLLINSNEW YORK TIMESThe real question isn’t how Texas is doing but whether Perry’s experience there has led him to think about the federal government at all, except as a sinister force that can be identified as the villain when anything goes wrong... Having an interest in national government that’s mainly limited to disliking it might work fine if you’re the governor of a state that has always regarded itself as “low-tax, low-service” anyway. It’s a little more problematic if you’re the guy in charge of keeping the dollar stable, the food supply safe and the national defense ready. We could live with a president who named his boots “Freedom” and “Liberty.” Not sure about one who has contempt for the job he’s running for.