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Must Read Op-Eds for Wednesday, December 7, 2011

GETTING TO A BROKERED CONVENTION  BY ERICK ERICKSONRED STATEI’d take DeMint or Bush in a heartbeat, but let’s be clear what this is: wishful thinking.

GETTING TO A BROKERED CONVENTION  BY ERICK ERICKSONRED STATEI’d take DeMint or Bush in a heartbeat, but let’s be clear what this is: wishful thinking. We go to war with the army we have and we go to the ballot box with the field we have. As much as I wouldn’t mind a brokered convention, I don’t think it will happen — though miracles do still happen. Also, I should note that a candidate getting in now might hit the Rick Perry problem and not actually be ready for prime time. A candidate, likewise, getting in at the convention would have to weather the media storm and inquiry in a way that the present candidates have not because that candidate would be the nominee and have bypassed everything now. Don’t hold your breath. But prayer does work.

EGYPT, THE BEGINNING OR THE END?  BY THOMAS FRIEDMANNEW YORK TIMESThe Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis have been living underground, focused largely on what they were both against and confined in their ideology to platitudes like “Islam is the answer.” Now that they are emerging from the Arab basement to the Arab street, they not only have to define what they are for but do it in the context of a highly competitive global economy that will leave Egypt’s 85 million people, about one-third of whom are illiterate, even further behind if they don’t get moving. This will eventually require some wrenching ideological adjustments by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis to reality. This story is just beginning.

OBAMA IN OSAWATOMIE  BY EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESMr. Obama was late to Roosevelt’s level of passion and action on behalf of the middle class and the poor, having missed several opportunities to make the tax burden more fair and demand real action on the housing crisis from the big banks that he excoriated so effectively in his speech. But he has fought energetically for a realistic plan to put Americans back to work and has been stymied at every step by Republicans. That seems to have burned away his old urge to conciliate and compromise, and he is now fully engaged against the philosophy of his opponents. ... Teddy Roosevelt knew better 101 years ago, and it was gratifying to hear his fire reflected by President Obama.

GINGRICH'S POOR EXCUSE FOR A BIG IDEA  BY KATHLEEN PARKERWASHINGTON POSTWith a degree of charity not apparent in Gingrich’s remarks, one can hypothesize what he may have meant, such as perhaps one can imagine becoming only what one has seen. How does a child who has never witnessed a doctor or lawyer in his everyday world imagine himself as one? Alas, Gingrich didn’t start there. Tough times call for tough solutions, but singling out poor children is one of those random thousand-ideas-a-minute that should have gone directly into the right brain’s shredder. A better idea might have taken its place. ...  Allow all children to volunteer to contribute to their school’s upkeep in exchange for vouchers redeemable for privileges that school kids value. ... It’s a capital idea both Democrats and Republicans could love.

ROMNEY AND GINGRICH'S WORDS REVEAL THEIR TRUE SELVES  BY RUTH MARCUSWASHINGTON POSTToday’s lesson in the laws of political grammar involves the indiscriminate employment of adverbs (Newt Gingrich) and the smarmy use of the first-person plural (Mitt Romney). ... Romney’s language suggests his distaste for being challenged and his barely concealed sense of superiority. Gingrich’s language illustrates his egotism and indiscipline. As Romney and Gingrich might say, we’re going to have to work to fundamentally transform that.

THE GOP AND THE DONALD  BY ALLYSIA FINLEYWALL STREET JOURNALMr. Paul is right in saying that participating in a debate moderated by Mr. Trump -- a "birther" who says he's not convinced that President Obama was born in the U.S. -- would demean Republicans, an outcome that the White House is no doubt cheering. If Mr. Gingrich failed to consider such ramifications before accepting the debate invitation, he demonstrated imprudence. If he decided to participate for political gain, he exhibited selfishness. Regardless, his acceptance reaffirms conservative critics who say that the former speaker of the House is immature and can't be trusted to lead the party, let alone the country.

THE TWO LEFT COASTS  BY EDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALBoth [New York and California] are dominated by public unions that refuse to allow serious reforms in pensions or state welfare spending and whose default policy is always higher taxes. Like Greece or Italy, the illusion is that you can chase revenue by raising taxes without regard to economic growth and the mobility of people and capital. Mr. Cuomo claimed to be different when he ran in 2010, but his resistance didn't even last a year in office. So two states are now taking one more whack at the people who create wealth, in order to redistribute more of it. For how that story ends, look to Europe.

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF MITT  BY REID WILSONNATIONAL JOURNALRomney's team needs to figure out how to keep expectations [in Iowa] as low as McCain did in 2008. It doesn't help him that the media now portrays the race as a two-man fight, which guarantees a winner-loser story no matter how much Romney downplays Iowa. But perhaps he should take a page from McCain's playbook, one that has informed his 2012 decision-making so far, and retrench in the Granite State. The temptation to deliver a knockout blow in Iowa must be strong for Romney's team. But if he swings too hard and misses, Iowa could punch back and cost Romney the aura of the front-runner that big polling leads in New Hampshire have thus far afforded.