Visual source: Newseum

NY Times:

The drop in the unemployment rate last month opens up a new front in the presidential campaign, with the White House getting a first big opportunity to define an improving trend in the economy and Republicans emphasizing that conditions still remain unacceptably bad.

Michael Tomasky:

The incompetence charge is real, and it’s tempting to think that it was ineptitude, or maybe stupidity or naiveté about the political process, that enabled him to announce a presidential candidacy thinking that the Ginger White story and all these other allegations would not come out. But it was none of those things. It was his astonishing narcissism. Let’s quickly allow for the fact that maybe Cain is telling the truth, and that he called and texted White’s cellphone 61 times in four months because he was “trying to help her financially.” OK; allowed. But now let’s contemplate what is probably the case, that White is telling the truth. If she is, then Cain cut off the affair just eight months ago, right before he began running. That’s not ineptitude. That’s just chutzpah.
And you thought no one could have a bigger ego or think more highly of themselves than Newt Gingrich. Well, Herman Cain can.

Kathleen Parker: Even the pundits are having trouble saying anything nice about Newt. Or Mitt. In today's column, we learn that at least Newt has that sin and redemption thing going. The Southern GOP base eats that up. Mitt? Ummm.... I'm sure there's something.

Maggie Haberman:

Longtime Gingrich watchers see clear signs that “Good Newt” (disciplined, charming, expansive in personality and intellect) is engaging in an internal battle with “Bad Newt” (off-message, bombastic, self-wounding) as his political fortunes rise.

“Remember, this is the man of the combination of Churchill and de Gaulle to begin with,” conservative columnist George Will told radio host Laura Ingraham. “He’s the embodiment of a nation in deep peril. The stage has to be lit by the fires of crisis and grandeur to suit Newt Gingrich.”

Jennifer Rubin asks her readers:

Mitt Romney’s not consistent enough for them. Newt Gingrich has strayed on abortion issues. Herman Cain is a disaster. So what’s a social conservative to do?
Okay by me if they just stay home.

Charles Blow:

On Thursday, at a campaign stop in Iowa, the former House speaker said, “Start with the following two facts: Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.” (His second “fact” was that every first generational person he knew started work early.)

This statement isn’t only cruel and, broadly speaking, incorrect, it’s mind-numbingly tone-deaf at a time when poverty is rising in this country. He comes across as a callous Dickensian character in his attitude toward America’s most vulnerable — our poor children. This is the kind of statement that shines light on the soul of a man and shows how dark it is.


Tom Joyner, the popular syndicated radio personality, asked his listeners Friday morning to suggest the first thing Cain should say to his wife when he arrived at their suburban Atlanta home to have that talk.

“Don’t shoot!” was one of Joyner’s favorites. Also: “Why are my bags packed?”

Republicans thought this guy was Presidential material?

NY Times:

Deep rifts among House Republicans over a payroll tax break became evident Friday as rank-and-file members of the caucus told their leaders that they did not want to extend the cut in Social Security taxes for another year, as demanded by President Obama.

Thursday night’s Senate votes on extending the one-year holiday — a priority for the Obama administration — revealed deep differences between the parties not just over how to pay for the payroll tax break, but also on whether to continue it at all.

Where does that leave the payroll tax debate, and the larger battle over taxes?

In particular, there is a split among Republicans — and an unfolding debate in which Democrats appear to have seized the upper hand on the issue of taxes....

It’s worth noting that even though 26 Republicans voted “no” on their own party’s payroll tax plan, the 20 who voted “yes” — combined with the one Republican and the 50 Democrats who backed a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) — yields a total of 71 senators who have voted in favor of some type of extension.

That suggests a compromise could pass the Senate.

No, every bill that Congress needs to pass is not an excuse to hold America hostage. Someone tell the Republican Study Group.

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