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Must Read Op-Eds for Thursday, January 12, 2012

THE PRIMARY PRIMERBY GAIL COLLINSNEW YORK TIMESTo understand Newt Gingrich, you have to envision a mixture of “Kill Bill” and “Carrie,” after Sissy

THE PRIMARY PRIMERBY GAIL COLLINSNEW YORK TIMESTo understand Newt Gingrich, you have to envision a mixture of “Kill Bill” and “Carrie,” after Sissy Spacek gets hit with the bucket of blood. His only mission in life is getting even with Mitt Romney and the rich minions who paid for all those anti-Newt ads in Iowa. ... Now Gingrich has roped in a few rich minions of his own, and you should watch the video they’ve just put out. Romney looks worse than the evil banker in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s full of heart-tugging former factory workers who used to have happy homes and wonderful Christmases until ... Mitt Romney Came to Town. By the time it’s over, you will want to gather up the peasants and march on one of Romney’s mansions with flaming torches. There is nothing Gingrich won’t do to get Mitt.

ROMNEY'S AUTHENTICITY PROBLEMBY JONAH GOLDBERGNATIONAL REVIEW[Romney's] authentic inauthenticity problem isn’t going away. ... That’s an ominous sign given how much enthusiasm there should be for making Obama a one-term president. It’s almost as if Romney’s banality is infectious. ... The most persuasive case for Romney has always been that if he’s the nominee, the election will be a referendum on Obama. But that calculation always assumed that rank-and-file Republicans will vote for their nominee in huge numbers no matter what. That may well still be the case, but it feels less guaranteed every day. Every four years, pundits and activists talk about how cool it would be to have a brokered convention. This is the first time I can remember where people say it may be necessary.ROMNEY'S HARD LINEEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESIn this campaign, Mr. Romney has shed all good sense. He recently said he would even veto the Dream Act, which could give legal status to blameless young immigrants who go to college or serve in the military. On the day of the Kobach endorsement, the Romney campaign released a TV ad in Florida. Mr. Romney, who has opposed bilingual education in favor of English, “the language of America,” shows he is willing, as always, to say what it takes to scrape up votes. “Muchas gracias,” he tells voters at the end of the ad, which is in Spanish.PIOUS BALONEY 2.0BY KATHLEEN PARKERWASHINGTON POSTRomney can be criticized for lots of things, including his tin-eared attempts to get down with the people. Recently, he said that he, too, had worried about getting a pink slip. Gingrich might justifiably have called that baloney. ... But to nitpick his success, or to suggest that firing people for lousy service disqualifies him from being president is an insult to all those everyday Americans who really aren’t as dumb as these GOP candidates apparently think, as New Hampshire voters demonstrated. Sometimes people need to be fired, and sometimes they shouldn’t be hired at all. That’s reality.ROMNEY'S CLEAR PATHBY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POST[Romney is] a much better candidate this time around. And now, as he showed Tuesday night, he has a speech. Romney’s victory address did not soar, but it was hard-hitting and potentially effective. It consisted of one attack after another on Obama and his record, and the basic theme was that the president wants to make our society more European in the way it provides social welfare. Romney boldly — and, to be sure, unfairly — frames the campaign as a battle for the nation’s soul. Administration officials always believed that Romney would be Obama’s toughest opponent. They’re right. Listening to Romney’s skillfully chosen words, I thought: Game on.KAMIKAZE GINGRICH, ON THE LOOSE IN SOUTH CAROLINABY DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTRomney has it wrong. Gingrich’s attacks on him are the very essence of free enterprise: They’re helped by campaign finance laws that sell elections to the highest bidder. For those Republicans who thought that unlimited political contributions would be a good thing for their party, it’s a delicious irony that a casino billionaire is using his money to underwrite a populist assault on the GOP front-runner. ... If Republican elites don’t like millions of dollars being spent to amplify that anti-Romney message, they have only themselves to blame.ROMNEY AND THE CORPORATE RAIDER CRITIQUEBY FRED BARNESWALL STREET JOURNALMr. Romney bears some of the blame for the awkward [Bain] situation. Candidates for president normally build their campaigns on a big idea. Mr. Gingrich's is that he would crush Mr. Obama in debates and win the election. Mr. Perry's is that he would extend the economic success of Texas to the entire nation. Mr. Romney's is himself, the man whose skill at economic revival was on display at Bain. ... What Mr. Romney needs is a bigger idea to deflect attention from Bain. He's treated the economy as susceptible to his personal care. That's insufficient. A bold plan for economic growth, especially a controversial plan with sweeping tax reform, might work. But if not that, then at least do something that dwarfs Bain—and do it soon.