Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal on Obama and his opponents Steve Jobs's biographer recounts his theory that successful companies begin their decline when the salesmen become more important than the engineers and designers that make good products. "The theory applies also to our politics. America is in political decline in part because we've elevated salesmen—people good on the hustings and good in the room ... above people who love the product, which is sound and coherent government," Noonan writes. She calls Obama a good salesman who did not know the product of government and so did not accomplish as much as he wanted. His Republican opponents, most notably Herman Cain, are no more serious, she says, recalling Cain's inability to remember his canned answer on Libya this week. "The purpose here isn't to slam Mr. Cain but to point out that when Republicans talk like this—no, when GOP voters cheer Republicans who talk like this—it leads their opponents to smile in smug satisfaction."
Michael Bérubé in The New York Times on Joe Paterno's complex legacy The Penn State scandal has revealed a culture of cover-up and shown students rioting on behalf of those who protected a child molester. "But there are also 6,000 full-time teachers and researchers working here ... Like the vast majority of our 45,000 students, we did not riot. ... This is our place that has been trashed, and we care deeply about cleaning it up," writes Bérubé, a Penn State humanities professor. Bérubé argues for his school's strong academic programs, and admits that much of their success is due to leadership and private donations from the disgraced coach Joe Paterno himself. Paterno donated the beginnings of a library, and held his players up to high academic standards. "And yet there is a sense in which the Paternos' academic legacy makes the scandal worse, or more complicated ... Because of that reputation, Penn State faculty members were permitted to feel less conflicted about the school's football program than our counterparts elsewhere," Bérubé says.