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Thomas Frank writes a letter to the the Tea Party:

It was quite a spectacle, your quest for the non-Romney, and we all know why you undertook it. In ways that matter, Romney is clearly a problem for you. His views on abortion, for example, change with the winds. Ditto, gay rights. He designed the Massachusetts health insurance system that was the model for "Obamacare." And he's even said that he approved of the TARP bank bailout, the abomination that helped ignite the tea party uprising in the first place.

Still, my advice to you idealists of the right is this: Get over it. Not for sellout reasons, like Romney has the best chance of beating President Obama. No. You should get behind him because, in a certain paradoxical way, he may turn out to be the truest to the spirit of your movement of all the candidates.

If nothing else, you in the tea party movement have spent the last three years teaching Americans that we are in a battle for the very soul of capitalism. And here comes Romney, the soul of American capitalism in the flesh.

Larry Kudlow says, yes, the economy is getting better but President Obama is in the way of real improvement and Republicans should boldly "overthrow the political establishment in Washington." The economic establishment should, of course, remain intact but less regulated and taxed. ...Kathleen Parker says he can't win, but
People who worked with Santorum in Washington have marveled at his new maturity. Gone is the sometimes-arrogant Santorum, though he remains bellicose at times, promising, for instance, to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Perhaps humbled by defeat and personal loss, he is today a kinder, gentler version of his earlier political incarnation. He also has suffered some of the cruelest attacks of anyone in the blood sport of politics, some so vile that they don’t merit repetition here. Suffice to say, those who have attacked him personally couldn’t hold up Santorum’s socks in a contest of personal honor.
So, how about mentioning the attacks that do merit repetition, or would that wreck the paragraph's whole premise?

Adam Serwer on the debate:

[T]he Republican candidates were asked questions that were essentially about whether or not they "hated" gays. Those questions are easy to deflect with a measured tone. Instead of asking the candidates about their feelings towards gay people, they could have been asked about any one of the many pending legal issues affecting the rights of gays and lesbians. Do the candidates support ending the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy? Would they support extending the same military benefits heterosexual couples have to same-sex families? Do they think gay couples should be able to adopt (Santorum, to his credit, explicitly said no.) Do they think Lawrence v. Texas was rightly decided or do they think states should be allowed to criminalize sexual behavior by consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes? Do they support or oppose the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages?

Many of the candidates are on record on these issues, and an informed moderator might have asked the candidates to explain their positions, since Republican stances on gay rights issues typically clash with their stated principles on federalism or individual rights. Instead, the Republican candidates got softballs about how they feel about gay people, which allowed them grin and prattle on about tolerance and equality, even while supporting laws that deny gays and lesbians the same rights as everyone else.

George Will brilliantly answers Hunter's question:
The left's centuries-old mission is to increase social harmony by decreasing antagonisms arising from disparities of wealth -- to decrease inequality by increasing government's redistributive activities. Such government constantly expands under the unending, indeed intensifying, pressures to correct what it disapproves of -- the distribution of wealth produced by consensual market activities. But as government presumes to dictate the correct distribution of social rewards, the maelstrom of contemporary politics demonstrates that social strife, not solidarity, is generated by government transfer payments to preferred groups.
Robert Dreyfuss:
There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical about the meaning of the US initiative toward the Taliban.

On the United States side, the military doesn’t want to abandon the fight, and no doubt many of the generals would love to carry the war into Pakistan, too, but President Obama has given them their chance, and they’ve failed. In 2009, in agreeing to the escalation of the war (twice), Obama gave the generals enough rope to hang themselves, and so they have. Now it’s time for the adults, i.e., the diplomats, to take over. But under pressure from Republican hawks, it’s not a safe bet that Obama can sell a deal with the Taliban to the American people, even though polls show that a substantial majority of Americans want to end the war.

On the Taliban side, the problem is that the Taliban is a complex organism with many moving parts, and on top of that Pakistan—which hosts the Taliban and its allies, and exerts what amounts to a controlling influence—holds all the high cards.

The Economist weighs in on the interim Fukishima report:
Such reports are, after all, confidence-building exercises. They are meant to reassure the public that, by exposing failures, they will help to prevent them from being repeated. In the case of Fukushima Dai-ichi there is still plenty to be nervous about. Although the government declared on December 16th that the plant had reached a state of “cold shutdown”, much of the cooling system is jerry-rigged and probably still not earthquake-proof. On January 1st a quake temporarily caused water levels to plunge in a pool containing highly radioactive spent-fuel rods.

Meanwhile, across Japan, 48 out of 54 nuclear reactors remain out of service, almost all because of safety fears. Until somebody in power seizes on the report as a call to action, its findings, especially those that reveal sheer ineptitude, suggest that the public has every reason to remain as scared as hell.

Mike Littwin:
Romney had expected to come here [to New Hampshire] on a victory tour in 2008. This year, he's on a conundrum tour. Why can't he pull away against such a weak field? He drew virtually the same number of votes in Iowa in 2012 as he did in 2008, which doesn't exactly sound like progress. But he's 30 points up in the polls in New Hampshire, he has loads of money, and he has a field of opponents who have taken turns imploding.

Still, Romney's first post-Iowa stop in New Hampshire is at a Manchester high school gym that they had to shrink — pulling in some curtains here, pulling out some bleachers there — to make the crowd of maybe 200 look like, well, a crowd. And when McCain joined him on the stage, all anyone could talk about was how awkward they looked together, which may be better for Romney than talking about how awkward he looks on the stage by himself.  

Paul Krugman:
Americans are much more likely than citizens of other nations to believe that they live in a meritocracy. But this self-image is a fantasy: as a report in The Times last week pointed out, America actually stands out as the advanced country in which it matters most who your parents were, the country in which those born on one of society’s lower rungs have the least chance of climbing to the top or even to the middle.

And if you ask why America is more class-bound in practice than the rest of the Western world, a large part of the reason is that our government falls down on the job of creating equal opportunity.

The failure starts early: in America, the holes in the social safety net mean that both low-income mothers and their children are all too likely to suffer from poor nutrition and receive inadequate health care. It continues once children reach school age, where they encounter a system in which the affluent send their kids to good, well-financed public schools or, if they choose, to private schools, while less-advantaged children get a far worse education.


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