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Must-Read Op-Eds for Tuesday, February 21, 2012

REPUBLICANS ARE MAKING IT EASY FOR OBAMA BY MICHAEL GERSON WASHINGTON POST need to offer a credible economic alternative, while pointing out that Obama has m

REPUBLICANS ARE MAKING IT EASY FOR OBAMA BY MICHAEL GERSON WASHINGTON POST [Republicans] need to offer a credible economic alternative, while pointing out that Obama has missed his own objectives on reducing unemployment and the federal debt by a mile. Obama — having pledged to cut the deficit in half during his term — has produced four massively unbalanced budgets that put the United States on the road to Athens. He has done little or nothing — this is the craven part — about the unsustainable growth of entitlement spending, which threatens the security of the elderly and the future stability of the economy. But as long as Republicans are focused elsewhere, they are providing Obama with his own private bailout.

IMMIGRATION AND THE 2012 CAMPAIGNEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESPresident Obama has hardly been inspiring on this issue. He has pushed deportations to record levels while failing to reform immigration more humanely. But he, at least, understands that the right immigration solution is one that doesn’t reward illegality but channels immigrant energy and aspirations to fruitful ends. It is the hard-won compromise that combines tougher border and workplace controls with a legalization path and a well-designed future flow of workers to meet our economy’s needs. That’s a plan that Mitt Romney, a few Mitt Romneys ago, once admired. It’s the one he deplores now.SHUTTERING BAD CHARTER SCHOOLSEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESNearly a third of charter authorizers have not established clear revocation criteria; fewer than half have the kinds of strong, independent review panels the association recommends; and about only half issue annual reports that show the schools how they are doing. State governments and local districts need to do a much better job overseeing these schools, which now educate more than two million students. When weak charters stay open, students are deprived and public money is wasted.VALUE OUR FAMILIESBY FRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMESIn the intensifying debate over same-sex marriage, what I sometimes find hardest to understand is why so many opponents don’t see gay people’s longing to be wedded as the fundamentally conservative, lavishly complimentary desire it is. It says marriage is worth aspiring to and fighting for. Flatters it. Gives it reinvigorated cachet, extra currency, a sorely needed infusion of fresh energy.THE GAY MARRIAGE HALO EFFECTBY JOE NOCERANEW YORK TIMESIt is becoming increasingly evident that on the issue of same-sex marriage, the New York governor is on the right side of history, and the New Jersey governor is on the wrong side. Since Cuomo signed New York’s marriage bill, Washington State has approved a same-sex marriage law and Maryland could approve one this week. Other State Legislatures have bills in the works. Most conservatives under the age of 30 view same-sex marriage as a nonissue. Suddenly, four years seems like a very long time. By 2016, it is not inconceivable that same-sex marriage will be a widely accepted part of American life. In which case, Cuomo will have gained another political advantage by supporting it when he did. And Christie’s veto, meanwhile, may not look so politically astute after all.UNCLE SAM IS NO IMAMBY SAMUEL RASCOFFNEW YORK TIMESThe relationship between the national security imperative and a great religious civilization is inevitably fraught. Reconciling the two won’t be achieved by allowing officials to become more active in espousing theological alternatives to radical Islam — or in training law-enforcement and intelligence professionals with hateful caricatures of Islam. The government’s efforts ought to be guided instead by the wisdom of the First Amendment and the values that it enshrines.OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT, MITT ROMNEY SHINESBY DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTRomney’s unimproved performance on the campaign trail underscores one of the few certainties in this chaotic political year:  If this is the Romney voters see, he’s doomed. So desperate are GOP faithful to avoid him that they have elevated Rick Santorum, yet another implausible opponent, to the front in opinion polls. ... Yet Romney is still very much in the race, because of what he’s doing away from the microphones. He has privately embraced the Machiavellian notion that it is safer to be feared than loved. As his public face has proved, there’s no chance of him being loved. But with bloodthirsty strategists backed by tens of millions of campaign and super PAC dollars, the milquetoast man on the stump has been, in his off hours, a killer.RICK SANTORUM COULD TAKE REPUBLICANS DOWN WITH HIMBY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTIn GOP circles, there is more than a whiff of panic in the air. Unemployment is still painfully high, Americans remain dissatisfied with the country’s direction, even the most favorable polls show President Obama’s approval at barely 50 percent — and yet there is a sense that the Republicans’ odds of winning back the White House grow longer day by day. ... The issue, for Republicans, is not just that Santorum would lose in November. It’s that he could be a drag on House and Senate candidates as well. Imagine, say, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) trying to explain to his constituents why someone who doesn’t fully understand women’s participation in the workforce should be president. Listen closely and you can hear the anguished cries: “Mitch! Chris! Jeb! Help!”SEX, LIES AND RICK SANTORUMBY WILLIAM MCGURNWALL STREET JOURNALThey have large implications for society, and those few who have actually read "Humanae Vitae," as Mr. Santorum has, might be surprised to find how prophetic that document was in its warnings about the consequences of the contraceptive mentality for society, including the weakening of the marriage bond. ... That doesn't mean Mr. Santorum should compromise his views. To the contrary, he needs to keep his comments simple, clear, and focused on the political point he is hoping to make. That in turn will require letting pass a great deal that he might be itching to respond to. Mr. Santorum cannot change the double standard. With a little discipline, however, he need not let himself be defined by it.