FOR PRESIDENT, NEWT GINGRICH BY EDITORIAL
NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER
America is at a crucial crossroads. It is not going to be enough to merely replace Barack Obama next year. We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing… [He] is by no means the perfect candidate. But Republican primary voters too often make the mistake of preferring an unattainable ideal to the best candidate who is actually running. In this incredibly important election, that candidate is Newt Gingrich. He has the experience, the leadership qualities and the vision to lead this country in these trying times. He is worthy of your support on January 10.
CRAVEN POLITICAL CRUDITÉS BY FRANK BRUNI
NEW YORK TIMES
As a country we’ve shifted emphasis from goods to services, manufacturing to marketing, and everyone natters on about the importance of brand rather than the quality of product — about the sell rather than the substance. I think politics has followed suit, and politicians, stuck in a sclerotic system that renders real accomplishment difficult, lavish more energy on words than on elusive deeds. What matters is what they can convince voters of and how voters are left feeling about them — and their foes — as a result… Campaigns waged with lies presage governments racked by distrust. The sclerosis starts there. And I don’t think this country can endure much more of it without profound, lasting damage.
PRESIDENT AS PIÑATA BY NICHOLAS KRISTOF
NEW YORK TIMES
I’m hoping the European elections will help shock Democrats out of their orneriness so that they accept the reality that we’ll be facing not a referendum, but a choice. For a couple of years, the left has joined the right in making Obama a piñata. That’s fair: it lets off steam, and it’s how we keep politicians in line. But think back to 2000. Many Democrats and journalists alike, feeling grouchy, were dismissive of Al Gore and magnified his shortcomings. We forgot the context, prided ourselves on our disdainful superiority — and won eight years of George W. Bush. This time, let’s do a better job of retaining perspective. If we turn Obama out of office a year from now, let’s make sure it is because the Republican nominee is preferable, not just out of grumpiness toward the incumbent during a difficult time.
THE POLITICS OF ECONOMICS IN THE AGE OF SHOUTING BY BILL KELLER
NEW YORK TIMES
There really is a textbook way to fix our current mess. Short-term stimulus works to help an economy recover from a recession. Some kinds of stimulus pay off more quickly than others. Once the economic heart is pumping again, we need to get our deficits under control. The way to do that is a balance of spending cuts, increased tax revenues and entitlement reforms. … So what’s the problem? Why is our system so fundamentally stuck? Partly it’s a colossal, bipartisan lack of the political courage required to tell people what they sort of know but don’t want to hear. Partly it’s a Republican Party … wants no deal with this president. Partly it’s moneyed, focused lobbies that swarm in defense of specific advantages written into the law; there is no comparable lobby for compromise, let alone sacrifice.
THINGS TO TAX BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES
A recent report by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out that before 1980 very-high-income individuals fell into tax brackets well above the 35 percent top rate that applies today. According to the center’s analysis, restoring those high-income brackets would have raised $78 billion in 2007, or more than half a percent of G.D.P. I’ve extrapolated that number using Congressional Budget Office projections, and what I get for the next decade is that high-income taxation could shave more than $1 trillion off the deficit. … So raising taxes on the very rich could make a serious contribution to deficit reduction. Don’t believe anyone who claims otherwise.
DEFENSE BILL OFFERS BALANCE IN DEALING WITH DETAINEES BY CARL LEVIN & JOHN MCCAIN
When the Senate resumes debate on the 2012 defense authorization bill this week, one of the many issues we will turn to is the best way to handle the detention of suspected terrorists. … Congress has passed a defense authorization bill every year for five decades. This year’s bill includes pay raises for our troops, funding for equipment to protect them from roadside bombs, and medical care and other benefits for them and their families. It would be extremely unfortunate if disagreements over these detainee provisions prevented us from passing this bill and fulfilling those duties. … We hope our colleagues, President Obama and his advisers will recognize the substantial work we have done to accommodate their concerns and work with us to pass a bill that honors our values and protects our nation.
PRIVATIZE THE NATION’S MAIL DELIVERY BY GEORGE WILL
Labor costs are 80 percent of the USPS’s costs (53% of UPS’s, 32% of FedEx’s), in part because it has negotiated very friendly union contracts. The postal service did that because it is free from the tiresome need to make a profit and its competition is limited by law, which forbids anyone else to deliver a letter that is not “urgent.” Mail volume has declined 20% in five years, and the decline probably will accelerate. An online virus has never attacked a corkboard.” Surely privatization beats depending on the USPS for delivering the intellectual light that irradiates the republic.
DIVIDED MODERATES WILL BE CONQUERED BY E.J. DIONNE
Common sense says there is no way the United States can or should deport some 11 million illegal immigrants. But when Newt Gingrich spoke of this reality — and suggested that conservatives ought to worry about how deportations would break up families — he was said to have committed a gaffe that will end his ride as the Republican front-runner. In today’s GOP, it’s becoming dangerous to be sensible. We need moderation all right, but a moderate third party is the one way to guarantee we won’t get it. If moderates really want to move the conversation to the center, they should devote their energies to confronting those who are blocking the way.
CONGRATULATIONS, AND DON’T GET COCKY BY JONAH GOLDBERG
I suspect and fear that Newt will interpret his comeback incorrectly and see his new front-runner status as proof he can discard all of the lessons learned from his flameout earlier this year. This is the moment [when] it’s going to be hardest for Gingrich to restrain his Newtness. This is the moment [when] perceived vindication breeds hubris. Already, he’s talking about teaching an online course from the White House, bragging that [President Barack] Obama can use teleprompters in their debates and trying to run as a general-election candidate on immigration. On their own, these are all fine, even laudable. But when combined, among some Newt-watchers, they feel like omens that World Historical Newt is returning to the scene. He should fight that temptation and keep his nose to the grindstone.
IT’S ROMNEY, HUNTSMAN OR BUST BY DAVID FRUM
The Washington, D.C., primary is set for April 3. I’ll probably cast a vote that day for Huntsman, if only to show support for a brave and independent-minded candidate — and in hope that a strong Huntsman showing will be interpreted as a call for a more modern and inclusive Republican party. If Mitt Romney emerges as the ultimate nominee, I’ll place my hope that the Romney who enters the Oval Office will be the innovative, solutions-oriented Romney 1.0 — and not the placate-every-GOP-interest-group Romney 3.0 we’ve seen on the 2011 campaign trail. Any other nominee would gravely test my commitment to the political party I’ve supported since I entered the United States as a college student in the fall of 1978.