Must Read Op-Eds for Thursday, January 5, 2012

Updated
THE MARCH OF THE NON-MITTS
BY GAIL COLLINS
NEW YORK TIMES

There are still plenty of … Republican options. After his fifth-place finish in Iowa, Rick Perry suspended his campaign but then tweeted, “Here we come, South Carolina.” This appeared to surprise some of his staff, who seemed to feel as if their long political nightmare had ended in Des Moines. But it turned out that Perry had jogged his way back into the race. “I was out on the trail when it kind of came to me,” he said. … Ron Paul is still in competition, as is Newt Gingrich, who appears to be running mainly on rancor, the candidate of the I Want to Eat Mitt’s Liver Party. And Rick Santorum, who continued the excitement of Iowa by flying into New Hampshire for a rally at a nursing home.

WAITING FOR MITT THE MODERATE
BY NICHOLAS KRISTOF
NEW YORK TIMES

[I]n the coming months, the most interesting political battle may be between Romney and Romney. Now, do we really want a chameleon as a nominee for president? That’s a legitimate question. But I’d much rather have a cynical chameleon than a far-right ideologue who doesn’t require contortions to appeal to Republican primary voters, who says things that Republican candidates have all been saying and, God forbid, actually means it. MITT ROMNEY OUT OF CONTROL
BY DANA MILBANK
WASHINGTON POST

If this is Mitt Romney’s idea of a victory rally, one shudders to think what would have happened if he had lost the Iowa caucuses. … [McCain] grimaced when he was introduced, and as Romney delivered his own stump speech, an increasingly impatient McCain pulled up his sleeve and checked his watch. McCain gave his endorsement address without mentioning Romney’s Iowa win until the end. “By the way, we forgot to congratulate him on his landslide victory last night,” he said, laughing. Romney ignored him.

ROMNEY’S NOT-A-MANDATE
BY EUGENE ROBINSON
WASHINGTON POST

[Romney] comes out of Iowa with a win, in the technical sense, but also with a new chief rival who has the potential to do fairly well in New Hampshire and very well in South Carolina. Given the shrinking field, there will be room for Santorum’s support to grow if he campaigns effectively. Romney, meanwhile, still hasn’t proved that he can break through that 25 percent ceiling he keeps bumping against. And he has to deal with a Newt Gingrich who is wounded, angry and able to make himself the center of attention — the political equivalent of a snarling wolverine. Yes, a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation.

SUDDENLY, A FUN CANDIDATE
BY GEORGE WILL
WASHINGTON POST

Rick Santorum has become central because Iowa Republicans ignored an axiom that is as familiar as it is false: Democrats fall in love, and Republicans fall in line. Republicans, supposedly hierarchical, actually are — let us say the worst — human. They crave fun. Supporting Mitt Romney still seems to many like a duty, the responsible thing to do. Suddenly, supporting Santorum seems like a lark, partly because a week or so ago he could quit complaining about media neglect and start having fun, which is infectious.

A HOUSE DIVIDED
BY DANIEL HENNINGER
WALL STREET JOURNAL

Analysis of the caucus voters makes clear that Mitt Romney holds the Republican vote that most values electability, defeating Barack Obama with whatever works. Nothing wrong with that. Winning matters. There’s much to like in the Romney candidacy. But no one doubts that Mr. Romney’s strategy is counting on two things: electability and inevitability. The problem is that any campaign running on a mixture of electability and inevitability this year is by definition filling the atmosphere with a lot of cynicism. … [Mr. Romney] is trying to force Republicans to cast a cynical vote in a year when many don’t want to do that. Some will, but not all. It’s the “not all” that could cost him the election.

CONTEMPT FOR CONGRESS
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

These appointments are brazen enough that they have the smell of a deliberate, and politically motivated, provocation… Remember a year ago when Mr. Obama was talking about “regulatory relief” and moving toward the political center? He even sent us an op-ed. Congress can’t do much immediately to stop these appointments, but it ought to think creatively about how to fight back using its other powers—especially the power of the purse. However, private parties will have standing to sue if they are affected by one of Mr. Cordray’s rule-makings, and that’s when the courts may get a say on Mr. Obama’s contempt for Congress.

IOWA’S OPENING SKIRMISH
EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

Mr. Santorum will get the biggest bump out of Iowa, coming from nowhere in the final weeks to finish strong. … But to be more than an Iowa flash, he’ll need to broaden his message to include economic growth and a jolt of optimism. In his moral fervor Mr. Santorum can sometimes sound like a charter member of the cast-the-first-stone coalition, when most voters prefer a more tolerant traditionalism. … Iowa’s caucuses have missed nearly as many future Presidents as they’ve picked, so Tuesday’s vote was hardly the last word. Our sense is that the eventual GOP nominee would benefit from a good, hard slog.

EVERYTHING YOU HEARD LAST NIGHT WAS BULL
BY ERICK ERICKSON
RED STATE

[T]he tea party has failed because it has surrendered itself into the hands of Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich — all of whom would use government to suit allegedly conservative ends, which is not conservative in and of itself. But by God Mitt Romney may now get the political beating everyone has been expecting him to get. Newt Gingrich has nothing left to lose. He can go Newtlear against the guy he sees as having destroyed him. Newt Gingrich can unleash unmitigated hell against Mitt Romney and just like the attacks on Newt were true, they’ll all be true about Mitt Romney too.

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Must Read Op-Eds for Thursday, January 5, 2012

Updated