PLEASE HOLD THE CHEESE
BY FRANK BRUNI
NEW YORK TIMES
Most troubling was [Romney’s] attack on Jon Huntsman for working in the Obama administration as opposed to agitating for its overthrow. Huntsman signed on at the start, before Obama had shown what kind of leader he would be… Besides which, can’t a person exert more influence on the inside than out? And must he agree with a country’s leader on all matters to take on a specific assignment? … Romney got along fine with the Democrats who dominated the Massachusetts Legislature when he was governor. Deservedly, he brags about that. Then he turns partisan hellcat, hissing at any appeasement. I find that hard to digest. It’s just plain hammy.WHERE ARE THE LIBERALS?
BY DAVID BROOKS
NEW YORK TIMES
Given the circumstances, this should be a golden age of liberalism. Yet the percentage of Americans who call themselves liberals is either flat or in decline. There are now two conservatives in this country for every liberal. … The most important explanation is what you might call the Instrument Problem. Americans may agree with liberal diagnoses, but they don’t trust the instrument the Democrats use to solve problems. They don’t trust the federal government. … If Democrats can’t restore Americans’ trust in government, it really doesn’t matter what problems they identify and what plans they propose. No one will believe in the instrument they rely on for solutions.
THE CORPORATE CANDIDATES
NEW YORK TIMES
Mr. Romney doesn’t like to talk about the precise nature of his business experience. Instead, he prefers to claim his occupation as a leveraged buyout king actually benefited ordinary workers, even casting himself as one of them. … Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum have avoided talking about their own financial histories, having become multimillionaires by peddling their influence to big corporations after leaving Congressional office. For voters worried about the economy, neither a past record of buyouts nor lobbying should inspire any confidence.
MITT ROMNEY’S IMPROBABLE ACCOMPLISHMENT
BY MICHAEL GERSON
Romney’s competitors have attempted to portray Romney’s ideological inconsistency over time as a character failure. It hasn’t worked, mainly because Romney is a man of exemplary character — deeply loyal to his faith, his family and his country. But he clearly places political ideology in a different category of fidelity. Like Dwight Eisenhower, Romney is a man of vague ideology and deep values. In political matters, he is empirical and pragmatic. He studies problems, assesses risks, calculates likely outcomes. Those expecting Romney to be a philosophic leader will be disappointed. He is a management consultant, and a good one.
ROMNEY’S AW-SHUCKS RHETORIC RINGS FALSE
BY RICHARD COHEN
Mitt Romney is starting to get on my nerves. He reminds me of Reggie, the rich, handsome, athletic and effortlessly superficial character in the “Archie” comics. He does almost everything well, and he looks like a million bucks (leveraged for much more), but he rings hollow, like the class president who would bring glee to all of Riverdale High by slipping on a banana peel. I’d kill for that. … Jon Huntsman is on to something when he says Americans seek forthrightness in their politicians — leaders who take their convictions from their gut, not focus groups. Romney does not come across as that guy.
THE STEPHANOPOULOS STANDARD
BY WILLIAM MCGURN
WALL STREET JOURNAL
On the social issues especially, the media narrative is that Republicans are obsessed. The truth is that at a time when millions of Americans can’t find work, when our Middle East policy is in turmoil, when the future of Mr. Obama’s signature legislative achievement—health care—is in question, every Republican in the running is itching for the opportunity to talk about how he would address these things. In sharp contrast, it was Mr. Stephanopoulos and Ms. Sawyer who showed themselves consumed with nonexistent initiatives on contraception and what you might say to gay friends who are sitting in your living room. Saturday night on ABC, we saw this bias in its full, condescending form. We also saw something less well appreciated: that a Republican candidate can turn it to his advantage.
BILL DALEY’S LOST YEAR
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Someday William Daley may tell the world what went wrong during his short, unhappy tenure as White House chief of staff, but even now it’s safe to say it was a lost year for him—and the country. … Mr. Daley knew Bill Clinton, a friend for whom he worked as Commerce Secretary, and Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton. Mr. Daley’s resignation is in that sense truth in advertising because for nearly a year the White House has really been run from Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign office in Chicago. Mr. Daley is free at last.
THIS IS THE MOST BORING NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY EVER
BY WALTER SHAPIRO
THE NEW REPUBLIC
Even though the primary is regarded mostly as a sack race for second place, Romney inspires all the enthusiasm of “Vegetables Are Our Friends” week in an elementary school cafeteria. My nominee for the typical New Hampshire Romney voter is Dwight Corning, a recent transplant from Connecticut who moved to Dover after he retired from an electronic firm. “I think Romney’s reliable,” Corning said after the rally in Rochester. “I don’t think he’ll do anything crazy when he gets in.” A vote is a vote, but Corning sounded about as passionate as if he had been asked to recommend a CPA.
WHAT A BIG GOVERNMENT CONSERVATIVE LOOKS LIKE
BY ERICK ERICKSON
Santorum is a conservative. He is. But his conservatism is largely defined by his social positions and the ends to which government would be deployed. But he has chosen as the means to those conservative ends bigger government. We see big government conservatives most clearly when they deviate from the tireless efforts of people like Mike Pence and Jim DeMint and the others who were willing to oppose George W. Bush’s expansion of the welfare state. Rick Santorum was not among them. … This is not the record of a man committed to scaling back the welfare state or the nanny state.