MAKE UP TURNED BREAK UP
NEW YORK TIMES
When Rice asked to come to the Hill to meet with some of her Republican critics, it seemed détente was nigh. But somehow the hour-and-a-half powwow caused an escalation, with McCain, Graham and Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire emerging to say they had more reservations than before. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who’s scheduled to meet with Rice on Wednesday, suggested that she would be better suited to run the Democratic National Committee than State. If Rice can’t soothe the egos of some cranky G.O.P. pols, how would she negotiate with China?
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S MOMENT
Since his reelection, Mr. Obama has fueled a campaign-style effort to pressure Republicans to give ground on taxes. That’s fine, but it won’t be enough. At some point, he has to prepare the American people — and his own supporters most of all — for the “hard decisions” required to put the country on a sound financial footing. That means spending cuts, it means entitlement reform, it means compromise, it means a balanced solution that will please neither House Speaker John A. Boehner nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Only one person is in a position to make it happen.
THEY SAY IT BEST WHEN THEY SAY NOTHING AT ALL
Saying nothing at all is still the rage in Washington as Democrats and Republicans have spent the week warily circling one another, saying nothing of meaning, and yet offering hope to politician and pundit alike that Washington leaders may yet avoid taking America’s economy off the side of a fiscal cliff. … Senate Majority Whip Dick Durban appeared on “Morning Joe” to also talk about the fiscal cliff. …Within minutes, it became clear that like Cantor, the Illinois senator had no intention of crossing his key constituents on national TV. And yet the liberal senator left all of us on the panel with the same feeling we had the day before after the conservative majority leader walked off set – that somehow, some way, Democrats and Republicans might just figure out a way to avoid a calamitous fiscal cliff.
THE PACE OF LEAVING AFGHANISTAN
NEW YORK TIMES
Seventeen months ago, President Obama said…troop reductions [in Afghanistan] would continue at a “steady pace” until the remaining 66,000 were out by the end of 2014. A “steady pace” should mean withdrawing all combat forces on a schedule dictated only by the security of the troops. That should start now and should not take more than a year. We strongly supported the war in Afghanistan following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but after more than a decade of fighting and a cost upward of $500 billion it is time for a safe and orderly departure. If there was ever a serious chance of building a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, it was lost when President George W. Bush abandoned that challenge to pursue his pointless war in Iraq.
WARREN BUFFETT’S MISTAKE
At the risk of sounding like a fiscal version of a broken record, Ronald Reagan and George Bush the elder ran the federal government at 22 percent of GDP at a time when America was much younger. We’re shortly going to double the number of seniors on Social Security and Medicare. …We can’t operate government at a smaller share of the economy with twice as many seniors without forcing damaging cuts in the resources we devote to other non-elderly purposes. … In that spirit, Warren, please have another look. Remember, it’s not about solvency, it’s about renewal. Craft a plan, run the numbers, and see if you don’t agree that if we’re serious about America’s future, 21 percent of GDP will be a fatal straitjacket in an aging America.