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Must-Read Op-Eds for Tuesday, March 20, 2012

WHEN THE GOOD DO BADBY DAVID BROOKSNEW YORK TIMESThe inner world is a battlefield between light and dark, and life is a struggle against the destructive forces

WHEN THE GOOD DO BADBY DAVID BROOKSNEW YORK TIMESThe inner world is a battlefield between light and dark, and life is a struggle against the destructive forces inside. The worst thing you can do is, in a fit of pride, to imagine your insecurity comes from outside and to try to resolve it yourself. If you try to “fix” the other people who you think are responsible for your inner turmoil, you’ll end up trying to kill them, or maybe whole races of them. ... According to this older worldview, Robert Bales, like all of us, is a mixture of virtue and depravity. His job is to struggle daily to strengthen the good and resist the evil, policing small transgressions to prevent larger ones. If he didn’t do that, and if he was swept up in a whirlwind, then even a formerly good man is capable of monstrous acts that shock the soul and sear the brain.

THE GOP BUDGET AND AMERICA'S FUTUREBY PAUL RYANWALL STREET JOURNALIt is rare in American politics to arrive at a moment in which the debate revolves around the fundamental nature of American democracy and the social contract. But that is where we are. And no two documents illustrate this choice of two futures better than the president's budget and the one put forward by House Republicans. ... The contrast with our budget couldn't be clearer: We put our trust in citizens, not government. Our budget returns power to individuals, families and communities. It draws inspiration from the Founders' belief that all people are born with an unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. Protecting this right means trusting citizens, not nameless government officials, to decide what is in their best interests and make the right choice about our nation's future.

Read Monday's Must-Read opinion columns

THE METS SWITCH TEAMSBY JOE NOCERANEW YORK TIMESUnder the terms of the [Madoff] settlement, Katz and Wilpon won’t have to pay the $162 million for three years, giving them time to shore up the Mets’ finances. Indeed, because many of their accounts were also net losers — and the trustee has agreed to accept those claims as legitimate — they might actually wind up paying much less than that out of pocket, depending on how much the trustee can raise in those three years from other sources. If they do have to pay, they have personally guaranteed $29 million. Thus, the two men who fought so hard to prevent Irving Picard from collecting from the net winners are now in the position of rooting for him to do so. They might start by having a little talk with their former ally, Helen Chaitman.MANY KINDS OF CATHOLICBY FRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMESFor the church ever to grouse that critics make too much of this, let alone to retaliate against victims and accusers, is galling. But it helps explain the breach between the hierarchy — invested in its own survival, resistant to serious discussions about the celibate culture’s role in child sexual abuse — and everyday Catholics. They’re left to wonder where they fit into their church and how it fits into the modern world. They don’t really constitute a voting bloc, because their political allegiances reflect income and education as much as creed. That’s a big part of their resistance to Santorum. But it’s also true that his particular Catholicism isn’t theirs. It’s the hierarchy’s. And his poor performance among Catholics should cause cardinals, bishops and the candidate himself to rethink the way they approach their religion.A CAMPAIGN THAT'S GOTTEN STUCK IN A RUTBY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTThe primaries have given the Obama campaign a tutorial in how to attack Romney, the likely nominee. And the Republican Party has spun itself so far to the right that Obama can easily make a centrist appeal to the independent voters who will decide the election. But that doesn’t get Obama off the hook. True, he has been telling Americans what problems we face and what measures we can take to meet those challenges. What he hasn’t done is give us a sense of purpose. We need more than actuarial calculations about how many more years we have until Social Security benefits need to be adjusted. We need a goal — something more practical than a moon base. We need a mission. We need a reason to get out of bed on Election Day.THE IMPROBABLE MR. SANTORUMBY WILLIAM MCGURNWALL STREET JOURNALIf Mr. Romney could speak about ObamaCare the way Mr. Santorum does—not simply as a policy disagreement but as a threat to our freedom—he'd be locking up the nomination. Instead, here we are, plodding on to Tampa. Count me among the conflicted: those who wish that these issues had a sunnier, more disciplined champion—and who thus calculate that Mr. Romney, notwithstanding his own weaknesses, has the greater chance against Mr. Obama this fall. The perfect candidate, alas, chose not to run, as all perfect candidates are wont to do. Even so, there is something about watching Mr. Santorum ... there is something admirable about a man who takes it all and refuses to be silenced.IS MITT ROMNEY THE MOST UNPOPULAR LIKELY PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE EVER?BY ANDREW ROMANOTHE DAILY BEASTAt this rate, Romney is shaping up to be the most unpopular presidential nominee on record. ... [H]e currently boasts the worst primary-season favorable-unfavorable split of any major-party nominee of the last 36 years (at least). There have been roughly 20 polls released in the last two months; only one gives him a positive favorable rating. ... The depth and duration of Romney’s favorability dip is unprecedented. ... To win in November, Romney would have to make history … by changing more minds that are more deeply set against him than any other nominee in recent memory.