Provocative opinion pieces from newspapers around the globe:
- Michael Gerson in the Washington Post has an interesting take on President Obama's 2012 campaign, which is clearly devoid of the inspirational sparks he ignited in 2008. To Gerson, the "brand" of the Obama campaign is ruthlessness, the kind of class-based, divisive techniques that could be used by any liberal politician. That seems surprising and disappointing, coming from a guy who used to represent hope and change. There is no doubt Obama's strategy has shifted and a politician who once appealed powerfully to the heartstrings now seems to be aiming for people's wallets, but I suspect the shift has more to do with different circumstances -- Obama now has a record to run on, and four years of trying to reach across the aisle only seems to have worsened political polarization rather than reduced it -- than with cynicism on his part.
- Rep. Howard Berman, who's facing a tough reelection fight in the San Fernando Valley's newly redrawn 30th Congressional District against fellow veteran Democrat Brad Sherman, has an op-ed in Tuesday's issue of Israeli newspaper Haaretz talking up Congress' commitment to Iron Dome, an Israeli missile-defense shield. According to Berman, Iron Dome, whose funding he has strongly backed, has fundamentally changed the strategic calculus of terrorists and helped avoid open warfare such as the 2008 incursion into Gaza by preventing missiles from striking civilian towns. Israel backers in Berman's district should note, though, that Sherman is as strong a pro-Israel hawk as he is, so there's little difference between the candidates on that front. Which one did the Times endorse? It was a close call, but we gave the nod to Berman.
- Japan's agonizing struggle over energy -- and the profound questions it faces about whether it can afford to eliminate nuclear power, or it can afford the risks of a repeat of the Fukushima nuclear disaster -- are nicely expressed in a front-page column, Vox Populi, in Asahi Shimbun. For many Japanese, the question seems to come down to a concern for future generations. "We have already dumped a huge debt on descendants who are not even born yet. How can we harm them further by shoving uncertain nuclear technology on them?"
- The Chicago Tribune'sClarence Page seems to have been as annoyed by columnist Jonah Goldberg's latest book, "The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas," as I was, but he goes me a step further by actually reading it (my earlier post on Goldberg was based on a book-tour interview he did with NPR that rankled). Page notes, as I did, that conservatives are as prone to speak in cliches as liberals, but also goes on to defend many of the liberal cliches that so irk Goldberg. "I would argue that one person's cliche is another person's wisdom," Page opines.
- USA Today's reluctance to offend anybody typically makes for a pretty bland editorial page, but when it comes to analyzing the European elections and what they might mean for the United States, the centrist viewpoint makes a lot of sense. The bottom line of Tuesday's editorial: "Massive long-term forces -- global competition, aging populations and excessive debt -- are dictating choices that neither voters nor the politicians who cater to them want to make."