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Must-Read Op-Eds for Thursday, February 22, 2012

OBAMA AS AN ALIENBY E.J. DIONNEWASHINGTON POSTThey say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion.

OBAMA AS AN ALIENBY E.J. DIONNEWASHINGTON POSTThey say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion. On some days he’s a Nazi, but on most others he’s merely a socialist. His especially creative opponents see him as having a “Kenyan anti-colonial worldview,” while the less adventurous say that he’s an elitist who spent too much time in Cambridge, Hyde Park and other excessively academic precincts. Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education. Please forgive this outburst. It’s simply astonishing that a man in his fourth year as our president continues to be the object of the most extraordinary paranoid fantasies.

FOUR DUDES & A TABLEBY GAIL COLLINSNEW YORK TIMESRomney thinks Michigan voters will like him better because he has earned the respect of Donald Trump. A person who claimed he had to postpone plans to run for president himself and save the nation because of a conflict with the airing dates for "Celebrity Apprentice." Well, there's always Santorum. The career politician! Actually, Trump was entirely unfair on this point - Santorum has been out of office since 2006, when he was defeated for re-election by one of the widest margins in American history. Take your pick, Republican primary voters. If neither one works for you, there's always Newt. Or Ron Paul. Some choice, dudes. Not groovy.FOR TEACHERS, SHAME IS NO SOLUTIONBY BILL GATESNEW YORK TIMESWe were blown away by how much energy people were putting into the new system - and by the results they were already seeing in the classroom. Teachers told us that they appreciated getting feedback from a peer who understood the challenges of their job and from their principal, who had a vision of success for the entire school. ... Developing a systematic way to help teachers get better is the most powerful idea in education today. The surest way to weaken it is to twist it into a capricious exercise in public shaming. Let's focus on creating a personnel system that truly helps teachers improve.REFORM & CORPORATE TAXESEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESWhile the administration insists that business tax reform should not add to the deficit, the country needs to raise more revenue to care for an aging population, rebuild infrastructure, improve education and tackle the deficit. Corporations, which benefit from all of those, should, as a matter of necessity and fairness, pay more. Our other concern is that like all tax reform, the potential for gaming the process is ever present and unless it is vigilantly managed could actually reduce revenue and add to the deficit.SANTORUM AND ROMNEY ARE MISCAST CANDIDATESBY GEORGE WILLWASHINGTON POSTToday’s Republican contest has become a binary choice between two similarly miscast candidates. Mitt Romney cannot convince voters that he understands the difference between business and politics. ... Romney is right about the futility of many current policies, but being offended by irrationality is insufficient. Santorum is right to be alarmed by many cultural trends but implies that religion must be the nexus between politics and cultural reform. Romney is not attracting people who want rationality leavened by romance. Santorum is repelling people who want politics unmediated by theology. Neither Romney nor Santorum looks like a formidable candidate for November.ARIZONA GOP DEBAE: ROMNEY BRINGS THE HEATBY JENNIFER RUBINWASHINGTON POSTRomney’s staff must have worked overtime to come up with a raft of data on Santorum. Romney hit Santorum on subsidies for the airline industry and the steel industry. Romney went after Santorum for earmarks. ... Romney bludgeoned Santorum on his endorsement of former Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.), who was eventually the 60th vote for Obamacare. With help from Paul, Romney also managed to tie Santorum up in knots on his votes, which included funding for Planned Parenthood. A much as on substance, Romney won on temperament. He was precise and calm. Santorum at times was obviously mad, pointing his finger and jabbing the air with his pencil.ROMNEY'S TAX REBOOTEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALNow that he has the right policy, Mr. Romney's main challenge will be selling it without apology. He has resisted tax cuts for individuals lest he be criticized for helping the rich, and he sometimes sounds guilty about his own wealth. But voters will sense if Mr. Romney doesn't believe what he says or if he shrinks from making a forthright case for it. The only way to defeat Mr. Obama's politics of envy is with the politics of growth and rising opportunity. Voters don't really care about a candidate's wealth as long as they conclude he has a plan to increase theirs.JUST YOUR AVERAGE, RUN OF THE MILL BLOG ON STATE-SANCTIONED VAGINAL PROBESBY JOE SCARBOROUGHPOLITICORegardless of your position on abortion, Bob McDonnell's move makes it more likely that Republicans can take the state out of Barack Obama's column this fall. It also keeps the Virginia governor in the running for VP. No word yet on whether Virginia's GOP legislators will now attempt to alienate the rest of the Commonwealth's voters by ordering state-sanctioned anal probes for men seeking public funding for their Viagra supplies.