Let some problems be: Back in America, I'm trying to chill out

February 22, 2012 12:57 pm

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Back on the American scene after 14 days in Bolivia, during which I saw not one single gun, even in the airports, I have taken a temporary vow to try to calm down on subjects that rile me in my own country.

So "let it be," for the moment, on debates about the Republican nomination fight, European bank woes, Israel's threats to attack Iran and the juxtaposition between America's poverty and its expenditures on defense.

I have found myself being drawn into caring whether the Republicans nominate Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate, as opposed to the other remaining candidates -- Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.

The reason I have come to care is because America deserves in November a reasonable choice between two not-unreasonable candidates. More important, the campaign should be waged with the state of the economy as its principal issue. That means employment, budget priorities, the national debt, infrastructure, education and other subjects directly relevant to Americans' well-being.

I believe Mr. Romney, given his business, gubernatorial and general management background, is capable of conducting a serious dialogue with President Barack Obama on that subject.

If the Republican candidate were to be Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Paul or Mr. Santorum, the voting public would be sent off into the woods in pursuit of runaway rabbits peripheral to America's real concerns, such as contraception, abortion, "life," or other "values" issues which should remain in the realm of private choice. Letting Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Paul or Mr. Santorum get his hands on the American economy would be the moral equivalent of letting me dismantle your computer or service your car.

Eurozone problems, another issue that Americans are asked to care about, richly deserve instead the let-it-be tag. Its real importance -- that is, what American banks would have to eat if Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain went into the tank -- amounts to $80.4 billion. Their losses would be reduced to $49.9 billion once their own precautionary measures -- hedges, etc. -- went into effect. The major U.S. banks concerned are Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.

Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor (dsimpson@post-gazette.com, 412 263-1976).
First Published 2012-02-22 11:57:37

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