OUT OF AFRICA AND INTO IOWA BY MAUREEN DOWD
NEW YORK TIMES
Newt Gingrich's mind is in love with itself. It has persuaded itself that it is brilliant when it is merely promiscuous. This is not a serious mind. Gingrich is not, to put it mildly, a systematic thinker. His mind is a jumble, an amateurish mess lacking impulse control. He plays air guitar with ideas, producing air ideas... He didn’t get whiplash being a serial adulterer while impeaching another serial adulterer, a lobbyist for Freddie Mac while attacking Freddie Mac, a self-professed fiscal conservative with a whopping Tiffany’s credit line, and an anti-Communist Army brat who supported the Vietnam War but dodged it.
ROMNEY AND GINGRICH, FROM BAD TO WORSE BY GEORGE WILL
Republicans are more conservative than at any time since their 1980 dismay about another floundering president. They are more ideologically homogenous than ever in 156 years of competing for the presidency. They anticipated choosing between Mitt Romney, a conservative of convenience, and a conviction politician to his right. The choice, however, could be between Romney and the least conservative candidate, Newt Gingrich. Romney’s main objection to contemporary Washington seems to be that he is not administering it. God has 10 commandments, Woodrow Wilson had 14 points, Heinz had 57 varieties, but Romney’s economic platform has 59 planks — 56 more than necessary if you have low taxes, free trade and fewer regulatory burdens... Jon Huntsman inexplicably chose to debut as the Republican for people who rather dislike Republicans, but his program is the most conservative.
Gingrich, who would have made a marvelous Marxist, believes everything is related to everything else and only he understands how. Conservatism, in contrast, is both cause and effect of modesty about understanding society’s complexities, controlling its trajectory and improving upon its spontaneous order. Conservatism inoculates against the hubristic volatility that Gingrich exemplifies... Romney might not be a Dewey. Gingrich might stop being (as Churchill said of John Foster Dulles) a bull who carries his own china shop around with him. But both are too risky to anoint today.
WILL CHINA STUMBLE? DON'T BET ON IT. BY STEVE RATTNER
NEW YORK TIMES
Not unlike the United States in the 19th century, China’s early stage of industrialization has brought with it an unsavory wild West flavor, from cronyism to fraudulent accounting, that justifiably worries investors. But behind those distractions is a country that is investing substantially in its future — about 46 percent of its gross domestic product, compared with 12 percent in the United States. And while total government debt in China is high — by some estimates, higher than in the United States — much of the Chinese debt was incurred for investment rather than consumption, far better for longer-term growth. Notwithstanding accounts of “roads to nowhere,” China has vastly improved its core infrastructure. Its government arguably does better than ours at allocating capital.
AND NOW ... PROFESSOR GINGRICH BY FRANK BRUNI
NEW YORK TIMES
Romney seems newly shaken, Newt-ly spooked. It must be wearing on him to stand as long as he has with his chest thrust out, waiting for his corsage while the electorate casts around for some better date to the prom. No wonder his knees, to judge by his own Fox News appearance last week, have gone a little weak. Romney’s wobble gives Gingrich a window. Just watch him squeeze through it, pontificating all the while about the nature of portals and the history of glass. That Republicans don’t mind a lecture is reassuring. That they’re so open to this particular lecturer isn’t.
SEND IN THE CLUELESS BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES
Whoever finally gets the Republican nomination will be a deeply flawed candidate. And these flaws won’t be an accident, the result of bad luck regarding who chose to make a run this time around; the fact that the party is committed to demonstrably false beliefs means that only fakers or the befuddled can get through the selection process. … The Washington Post quotes an unnamed Republican adviser who compared what happened to Mr. Cain, when he suddenly found himself leading in the polls, to the proverbial tale of the dog who had better not catch that car he’s chasing. … The same metaphor, it seems to me, might apply to the G.O.P. pursuit of the White House next year. If the dog actually catches the car — the actual job of running the U.S. government — it will have no idea what to do, because the realities of government in the 21st century bear no resemblance to the mythology all ambitious Republican politicians must pretend to believe.
THE WINNER OF THE GOP CAMPAIGN: WASHINGTON BY DANA MILBANK
Neither of the remaining contenders represents a danger to Washington’s political culture. Mitt Romney, trained at Harvard and financed lavishly by Wall Street and special interests, is a technocrat and a second-generation politician driven more by ambition than any of the various ideologies he has assumed over the years. Conservatives were justifiably searching for an alternative to Willard Milquetoast, but they wound up with an anti-Romney who is the consummate Washington insider: a man who has made himself a multimillionaire by peddling his influence in the capital.
A GOP REALITY-SHOW RACE, THANKS TO THE TEA PARTY BY E.J. DIONNE
A party that lived by the tea crowd in 2010 is being severely hobbled by it now. The Republican right wants the kind of purity that led it to take candidates such as Cain and Bachmann with great seriousness for a while. The same folks took Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell and Joe Miller seriously in the 2010 Senate primaries, too. None of them got elected. Perry once seemed the answer to this problem. Now that he, Cain and Bachmann have faltered, lonely conservative hearts have turned to Gingrich. This is odd, since Gingrich can give Romney an excellent run in any flip-flopping contest. But Gingrich has always kept at least one foot in the camp of movement conservatism, and he talks like a movement guy. This could be enough. The question is whether he has the discipline not to say something really foolish between now and Jan. 3, the date of the Iowa caucuses.
THE CASE FOR JON HUNTSMAN'S CONSERVATISM BY JAMES PETHOKOUKIS
A good amount of the flack Huntsman has taken from the right seems more about form than function... [T]he policies Huntsman advocates, if implemented, would usher in a conservative, free-market, small-government revolution that no Tea Party member could help but applaud. No Thatcherite or Reaganite, either. This isn’t a lesson in comparative conservatism, an attempt to prove Huntsman is more or less conservative than Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or the rest of the Republican field — or more or less deserving of the GOP nomination. Certainly not. This is about policy, about agenda and about not ignoring some great ideas because of a candidate’s awkward introduction.