Visual source: Newseum

Republican primary voters are looking for someone with some fight in them, and The Boston Globe's Joanna Weiss argues that Republican Mitt Romney "needs to get his Rambo on" if he's going to win the GOP primary:

These days, a decent chunk of the electorate wants warriors: culture warriors, war-vet warriors, Tea Party warriors. Fuming from the ears, Newt Gingrich-style, is, perhaps, a little much. But Mitt’s handlers have clearly decided it’s no good to be too nice. So there Romney was at the Conservative Political Action Conference, calling himself a “severely conservative Republican governor.’’ In the Wall Street Journal last week, he was chest-puffing on China. On the stump, he plays an angry Toby Keith song, “American Ride.’’ (Sample lyric: “Momma gets her rocks off watchin’ ‘Desperate Housewives’/Daddy works his ass off payin’ for the good life.’’) He’s trying harder to be “Rombo’’ than Ward Cleaver.

Here in Massachusetts, we can remember when Ward Cleaver-ness served Romney well. Mitt’s path to the governorship had a lot to do with projecting 1950s-style values, down to his habit of pushing female opponents aside with old-fashioned, good-natured condescension: He famously told his general election opponent, Shannon O’Brien, that her attacks on him were “unbecoming.’’ In a state where people routinely curse each other out for minor traffic offenses, Romney’s expressions of anger were clean and square: He said things like “It just frosts me,’’ or, in a pique of rage, “h-e-double-hockey-sticks.’’ [...]

But these days, within the GOP campaign, nostalgia for 1950s-era rhetoric has given way to nostalgia for 1950s-era policies on contraception. Meanwhile, civility has gone out of vogue. According to a story in Politico this week, some former Fox News viewers are angry at the network because it’s no longer partisan enough, having committed such sins as parting ways with Glenn Beck and asking Republican candidates tough questions.

Kira Zalan interviews the author of "The Real Romney," Scott Helman. Helman confirms that Multiple Choice Mitt has a long history of flip-flopping on the issues:
Did you figure out his true positions?

What we did is look back at who he was in each campaign, and each campaign he's been something slightly different. So you'll find people who think the real Mitt Romney is the one we're seeing now. And you'll find other people who say no, the real Mitt Romney didn't really care about social issues, was more interested in economics, was much more pragmatic, and not terribly ideological.

What would he say?

He would say, "I've settled on what I believe and I've written this book [No Apology: Believe in America] and you could see what I believe there."

The Detroit Free Press looks at the landscape in Michigan and points out that both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are appealing to fringe voters at the risk of the alienating general election electorate:
Despite the usual talk of Democratic mischief-making, those likeliest to participate in the primary are a slice off the far right of the Michigan electorate — older, more conservative, and far more likely to identify as evangelical Christians or tea party sympathizers than the more diverse group of Republicans expected to vote in next November’s presidential election.

So if it sounds as if everything Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have been saying in metro Detroit this week is calculated to appeal to the most extreme fringe of their party, it’s because that’s who’ll most likely decide their fate next week Tuesday.

The risks inherent in this shortsighted strategy are self-evident. Each time either candidate rails against organized labor, denigrates the auto bailout, or tries to outflank the other on hot-button social issues such as contraception and same-sex marriage, he’s generating a video record that may come to haunt him when a larger, more moderate electorate starts focusing on the general election.

Meanwhile, Brian Dickerson translates Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's endorsement of Mitt Romney:
"Our reinvention of Michigan is under way, and the future of the Great Lakes State is bright."

I'd mention the auto industry's latest quarterly results, but that would only call attention to the success of the federal auto rescue Gov. Romney has spent the last week trashing. So let's not go there.

"But our state is not an island unto itself. The American economy as a whole remains in difficult straits. Our next president must understand how markets work and know how to get our nation back on track. Mitt Romney is the man for the job."

Maybe not the very first guy you'd call, but have you checked out the rest of the wack-jobs in this field? I've been putting this off for more than half a year, but honestly, I don't see an alternative.

Representative David Price says that Super PACs are the "guns-for-hire" of campaign spending:
They're brought in to unload on other candidates while letting their favored politicians keep their hands clean. They can raise unlimited amounts from special interests and run ads without having to take immediate responsibility for their actions. While super PACs do have to report their donors, the FEC's arcane reporting requirements and reporting deadlines that may fall after elections, as well as the ability of donors to create shadowy pass-through organizations to obscure their true identities, make it easy for super PACs to avoid accountability.
Kyle Wingfield at The Atlanta Journal Constitution argues that the 2012 election disproves the notion that the GOP is a rump, regional, Southern party:
Instead of a Southern route, the path to the GOP nomination this year appears to run through the Midwest.

Santorum won the Iowa caucuses to keep his hopes alive, then got a boost from wins in (non-binding) contests in Missouri and Minnesota. Suddenly, he’s strongly challenging Romney in the latter’s birth state, Michigan. If he does so, Ohio just might steal Georgia’s thunder on Super Tuesday.

And if that happens? Southern Republicans ought to sit back and smile: Better to be along for the ride in a big party than driving solo in a small one.

Southern states may not be dominating the Republican primary contests, but Southern politics sure are dominating the GOP platform and the candidate's positions.

David Mayhew asks which was the most important U.S. election ever and looks at various factors, including voter interest and enthusiasm:

From the available historical accounts, it might be hard to beat 1860, when a nation facing the prospect of secession and civil war put Abraham Lincoln in the White House. There’s also the close, high-turnout election of 1896, when a frenzied rally by the business community warded off the populist William Jennings Bryan. The Rutherford Hayes-Samuel Tilden election of 1876 brought a photo finish and a contested verdict. The explosive four-candidate election of 1912 (with Democrat Woodrow Wilson, Republican William Howard Taft, Progressive Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt and Socialist Eugene Debs) brought talk of an Armageddon-style political show
Finally, your outside-of-the-box punditry of the day. Over at the Boston Globe, Gareth Cook looks into the future of neuroscience developments and argues for the need to update international weapon laws:
The chemical weapon convention bans the use of the kinds of horrific weapons deployed in World War I and, more recently, in the Iran-Iraq war. But the convention allows the development of non-lethal “riot control agents’’ for domestic use. In an earlier age, this sounded like a reasonable exception, but it has become a dangerous loophole which could set off a new arms race. The problem is that “non-lethal’’ gases are only non-lethal until they aren’t. [...]  The danger is that governments will use insights from neuroscience to design new gases, allowable under international treaties, which could also be used on the battlefield to immobilize or kill. [...]

Another dark possibility, highlighted in the Royal Society report, is a future where weapons are hooked directly into an operator’s brain, boosting performance. This admittedly veers into the realm of sci-fi, but not as far as you might think.

Hey, who would have thought that Rick Santorum would be a top contender for the Republican presidential nomination? Some things aren't as impossible as we think they are.

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