Must Read Op-Eds for Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Updated
FAMILIARITY BREEDS NEWT BY FRANK BRUNI
NEW YORK TIMES

Republican strategists who were never persuaded that Michele Bachmann posed a credible threat, and who maintained a similar skepticism about Cain, say that the Gingrich challenge is different, and that he could really be the one to ruin things for Romney. For Democrats, that would be a godsend. The benefits of familiarity wouldn’t work as well for Gingrich in the general election, where he’d be a more polarizing figure than Romney, whose blandness and ideological squishiness have an upside… Although Gingrich has gone through his own policy contortions, his image and personality are more sharply defined: petulant, truculent, arrogant. If voters supporting him in the primaries were going to be turned off by that, wouldn’t it have happened already?

DR. BERWICK’S PINK SLIP BY JOE NOCERA
NEW YORK TIMES

Health insurers and hospitals, who had generally thought of Medicare as little more than a stodgy, bureaucratic insurer, began to see it in a different light, as Medicare staffers, trained as “improvement coaches.” … 17 months is hardly enough time to complete such a transformation, and it is hard to know if Dr. Berwick’s emphasis on quality will stick. What he needed, most of all, was more time — precisely what the Republicans wouldn’t give him. By refusing to confirm him, Republicans won a pointless victory against the president. But, if the day ever comes when they — and the country — truly get serious about reforming Medicare, they may regret giving a pink slip to the best man for the job.

THE WONKY LIBERAL BY DAVID BROOKS
NEW YORK TIMES

Republican candidates can say they will deregulate and, in some areas, that would be a good thing. But it will not produce a short-term economic rebound because regulations are not a big factor in our short-term problems. It is easy to be cynical about politics and to say that Washington is a polarized cesspool. And it’s true that the interest groups and the fund-raisers make every disagreement seem like a life-or-death struggle. But, in reality, most people in government are trying to find a balance between difficult trade-offs. … Obama’s regulations may be more intrusive than some of us would like. They are not tanking the economy.

MR. ROMNEY’S MISSING DETAILS
EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

Mr. Romney’s plans for Medicare are too vague to evaluate. For workers not yet close to retirement, he would turn the existing Medicare program into a “premium support” system in which enrollees would be given fixed amounts of money to buy private health insurance or a version of traditional Medicare. … But the crucial question is how fast the premium support would be allowed to rise from year to year to keep up with increasing costs. Mr. Romney provides no clue about that. A fiscal plan this hazy may be sufficient for primary voters. But if Mr. Romney becomes the nominee, he will have a great deal more leveling to do with the broader American electorate.

LEADER OF FORTUNE BY RICHARD COHEN
WASHINGTON POST

By running a campaign spot that rips an Obama statement out of its specific context, Romney proves that he will not allow the mere truth to stand between him and his objective. As a businessman, that objective was profit; as a politician, it’s victory at the polls. … When in the 2008 campaign, Obama said, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” he was quoting an aide to John McCain. The Romney ad has him saying it on his own. This is a lie. … This is more of Obama’s good luck. In Romney, he had an opponent who appeared honest. He is a flip-flopper, but that’s an occupational disease. … But the ad is different. It’s a lie, a lie about truth.

TIME FOR MITT ROMNEY TO TAKE THE MITTS OFF? BY MARC THEISSEN
WASHINGTON POST

With Gingrich as the nominee, one Romney adviser told me, the election will become a race about yesterday instead of tomorrow. It will be about his tumultuous speakership rather than Obama’s failed presidency. That’s not the kind of race you want to run, Team Romney says. For now, the Romney campaign is leaving that argument to others. But it may not be able to do so for long. Romney strategists liken the campaign to an Indy 500 race — you drive steady, let the other cars rub metal and spin out, and make sure you are there in the last lap. The problem is, you need eventually to rub some metal yourself, and to make a move if want to cross the finish line first.

THE CASE FOR NEWT BY JOE SCARBOROUGH
POLITICO

[Y]ou may be asking yourself what could be the case for a man who is an ideological train wreck and the worst manager this side of Barack Obama? It’s simple, really. When Gingrich was speaker of the House, he was responsible for kick-starting a movement that did three historic things: (1) Balance the budget for the first time in a generation. (2) Balance the budget four years in a row for the first time since the 1920s. (3) Pass welfare reform. Consider that Gingrich did all three over the strenuous objections of Bill Clinton and the Democrats in Congress and you begin to understand the affinity that conservatives who don’t know Newt Gingrich have for Newt Gingrich. Is there a Republican in the field who can top these achievements? No. Does any other living Republican come close? No. What’s it all mean for the Republican Party and America? Who the hell knows.

TRUMP’S DEBATE SIDESHOW
EDITORIAL
NATIONAL REVIEW

[W]e’ll keep it brief: Trump is a tax-hike-supporting, missile-defense-opposing, universal-health-care-advocating, eminent-domain abusing, Schumer-Weiner-Rangel-Reid-donating, long-time-pro-choice economic protectionist who in 2008 called George W. Bush “evil” and lauded president-elect Barack Obama as a potentially “great president” who would “lead by consensus.” The Trump debate is a sideshow, and those who would be the Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States are, one and all, better than it. The nominating process must be about which candidate can lead the country back to fiscal and economic reality, not about which candidate can best truckle with a reality-TV star.

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Must Read Op-Eds for Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Updated