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


SUSTAINING SUCCESS IN AFGHANISTANBY JOHN MCCAIN, JOE LIEBERMAN, & LINDSEY GRAHAMWASHINGTON POSTA key part of this post-2014 U.S. military commitment should be a counterterrorism force that can continue working with our Afghan partners against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, ensuring that these groups can no longer pose a military threat to Afghanistan, our allies and us. ... This agreement could change the narrative in Afghanistan and the region from one of imminent international abandonment to enduring international commitment. These decisions rest … with President Obama. We have disagreed with some of his choices regarding the war in Afghanistan. But after all our nation has sacrificed in Afghanistan, we stand ready to do everything in our power to secure the same bipartisan support for this war in its twilight hours as when it began more than a decade ago.

ROMNEY'S MISTAKESBY ROSS DOUTHATNEW YORK TIMESEven the most successful candidate inevitably makes significant mistakes. A grinding, delegate-accumulating march to the nomination counts just as much as any other kind of win. There are advantages in working through problems in the primary season so that you know when to go for the jugular and how not to talk about your money during the fall campaign. These consolations notwithstanding, right now the toll of the long primary campaign looks more significant than its potential benefits. Romney has all but won despite his campaign’s blunders, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like to have those blunders back.

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PLEASE STOP APOLOGIZING BY BILL MAHERNEW YORK TIMESThe answer to whenever another human being annoys you is not “make them go away forever.” We need to learn to coexist, and it’s actually pretty easy to do. For example, I find Rush Limbaugh obnoxious, but I’ve been able to coexist comfortably with him for 20 years by using this simple method: I never listen to his program. ... I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone. … If we sand down our rough edges and drain all the color, emotion and spontaneity out of our discourse, we’ll end up with political candidates who never say anything but the safest, blandest, emptiest, most unctuous focus-grouped platitudes and cant. In other words, we’ll get Mitt Romney.ONE SKETCHY CANDIDATEBY DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTIt is typical of Mitt Romney’s luck that, on the morning after he all but secured the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign became embroiled in a controversy over a 1950s plastic toy. Actually, it appeared more like Romney was playing Chutes and Ladders: He just landed on Space 87 and slid all the way back to 24. Suddenly, Romney’s event at an American Legion hall in the Baltimore suburbs, was transformed from a gab session about gas prices into an Etch a Sketch fest. Alice Stewart, a Santorum aide, brought a bagful of pocket-size Etch a Sketches and handed them out in the parking lot. ... “Conservative principles should be written in stone, not on Etch a Sketch,” the Santorum aide declared righteously. You sunk my battleship!RYAN'S HAT IS IN THE RINGBY DANIEL HENNINGERWALL STREET JOURNALRepublican discontent the past nine months has been about the inability of any presidential candidate to match the moment as Mr. Ryan defines it. But it may be that Republicans have been loading up more hope than any one candidate can bear these days. A modern presidential candidate is Gulliver, pecked at daily, even hourly, for months by thousands of squawking Internet crows. If Ronald Reagan himself were running like this for a year, we'd start picking at him, too. Worse, they are connected to nothing other than themselves. ... The party and its presidential candidates have become like celestial bodies, rotating in distant corners of the same galaxy. With the Ryan budget, this party's two poles are joined. THE SUPREME COURT WEIGHS OBAMACAREBY DAVID RIVKIN & LEE CASEYWALL STREET JOURNALUpholding ObamaCare would destroy this dual-sovereignty system, the most distinctive feature of American constitutionalism. ... The ultimate purpose of this "individual mandate" is to force young and healthy middle-class workers to subsidize those who need more coverage. Congress could have achieved this wealth transfer in perfectly constitutional ways. It could simply have imposed new taxes to pay for a national health system. But that would have come with a huge political price tag that neither Congress nor the president was prepared to pay.THE NOMINEEBY ERICK ERICKSONRED STATETheoretically, Rick Santorum could keep Romney from getting to 1,144. But as Romney piles up more and more wins and neither the Gingrich nor Paul campaigns remain factors, let alone have pulses, the inevitable will set in. Conservatives may not really like Mitt Romney, but they do not want a fractured party too divided to beat Barack Obama. There will be no white knight, no dark horse, and no brokered convention. We have our nominee. ... Conservatives have and no doubt will continue to make it very clear that Mitt Romney may be the standard bearer of the Republican Party, but he most definitely is not the standard bearer of the conservative movement. The disentangling of the movement from the party will continue. So too will our shared effort to oust Barack Obama from the White House.MITT ROMNEY: THE CONSUMMATE ETCH A SKETCHBY DANIEL HOROWITZRED STATELook, we understand that the comments emanated from a campaign official and not the candidate himself.  But these comments just confirm what we’ve always known about the people surrounding him.  They are all purveyors of pale pastel political positions.  From their perspective, this is just a game of electoral politics; an opportunity to assume power for power’s sake. Moreover, Fehrnstrom’s comments have struck such a cord with the base because they sum up Romney’s history in one image.  Whenever he needs to win a particular political office, he resets the slate and pollinates it with whatever positions he ascertains to be politically expedient.IS ROMNEY’S FATE KRISTOL CLEAR?BY JOE SCARBOROUGHPOLITICOStill, hope springs eternal for those hoping for a conservative knight in shining armor to emerge from Tampa, though some of us are starting to sound like Japanese soldiers burrowed into Pacific islands ready to fight a battle whose outcome is already determined. But don't expect Bill Kristol to march meekly behind the Republican Party's flawed front runner. Kristol told readers why Mitt Romney may have won the battle but conservatives are likely to lose the political war this fall with Barack Obama. … Put me in the Kristol camp. Faced with the historic opportunity to retain the House, take the Senate, win the White House and reshape the Supreme Court for a generation, the Republican Party seems destined to nominate a candidate they do not even like.