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Libya is the topic at hand for today's New York Times editorial:

For more than 40 years, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has dominated and terrorized Libya — his image plastered on what seemed like every wall and his goons posted on every corner. Late Monday, with rebel fighters in substantial control of Tripoli, he was nowhere to be found, and his regime seemed to be collapsing.

There may be more dark moments to come. We are in awe of the courageous Libyans who pressed their fight. The rebels — a ragtag band that overcame incredible odds, battlefield defeats and bitter internal divisions — have showed extraordinary commitment and resilience.

The Washington Post chimes in and looks at how recent events validated U.S. intervention:

The imminent collapse after 42 years of Moammar Gaddafi’s brutal and capricious regime demonstrates that even a half-hearted U.S. effort can make a big difference. Mr. Obama insisted six months ago that U.S. participation would last only “days”; he kept the connection between military means and political goals murky; he fudged rather than comply with the War Powers Resolution; he was slow to recognize the Libyan opposition.

But as British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy led, Mr. Obama crucially maintained enough U.S. support to keep the NATO mission going. Libyans themselves provided the motivation and the manpower, but they could not have succeeded without U.S. help. And Mr. Obama sustained the mission despite criticism from both Democrats and potential 2012 opponents.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times argues that we shouldn't follow the same blueprint for Syria:

The international campaign against Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi is on the verge of a historic achievement: The judicious use of force by Western nations has given that nation's rebellion the opportunity to eliminate a longtime scourge. And yet the experience of Libya, though it ushers out an unstable ruler, offers an uncertain model for U.S. foreign policy.

The use of force to address the internal abominations of other nations raises profoundly difficult questions for American policymakers. Eager not to serve as the world's police force and yet determined to support democratic values and human rights, the United States often finds itself facing limited, unpalatable options. It may stand aside and allow rulers to abuse their people, or it may intervene, risking American lives and reinforcing the international impression that this nation is entitled to govern others.

The Chicago Tribune gives its take on the pseudo "controversy" over President Obama's vacation:

We understand the criticism of Obama. With so many Americans out of work — that's certainly no vacation — some believe the president needs to be at his Oval Office desk 24/7 until the crisis eases. And yes, there's also a debt crisis. An obesity epidemic. Syria is aflame, and Libya in turmoil. The Euro is in midmeltdown. Iran wants nukes.

But all of that was true last week, too … and will be next week. All the more reason Obama needs a respite from D.C. and all those decisions.

A recent New York Times Magazine highlighted the perils of "decision fatigue": "No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can't make decision after decision without paying a biological price," reporter John Tierney wrote. "It's different from ordinary physical fatigue — you're not consciously aware of being tired — but you're low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain …"

Result: Your desperately overloaded brain seeks shortcuts and may take reckless risks.

Antidote: Take a break from being The Decider.

Eugene Robinson runs down Rick Perry's litany of mishaps and extreme policy positions and points out that Perry, who was supposed to be the antidote to a weak GOP field, is anything but:

“I think when you find yourself at an extreme end of the Republican Party,” Huntsman said of Perry, “you make yourself unelectable.”

He’s correct. But maybe we shouldn’t take his word for it, or Ron Paul’s word — after all, they’re Perry’s opponents. Maybe we also shouldn’t take the word of Karl Rove, who called Perry’s remarks “unpresidential,” since Texas apparently isn’t big enough for the George W. Bush camp and the Rick Perry camp to coexist without feuding.

Suffice it to note that two weeks ago, GOP luminaries were scrambling to find new candidates. And now, after Perry’s debut? Still scrambling, I’m afraid.

Indeed, the GOP candidate pool is so lukewarm, Pataki is thinking about going for a swim. Amanda Paulson at Christian Science Monitor looks at what he brings (and doesn't bring) to the table:

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani have all generated buzz recently – in some cases, it seems, prompted more by wishful thinking on the part of GOP insiders rather than by the potential candidates themselves.

The latest Republican to attract rumors of an imminent bid is former New York Gov. George Pataki. Mr. Pataki confirmed just a few weeks ago (during a visit to New Hampshire, following a trip to Iowa) that he was considering entering the race, and now some sources say he may announce a 2012 presidential candidacy as early as next week. [...]

As some observers have noted, the current field of Republican candidates is not only relatively weak, but also leans heavily to the conservative, anti-establishment types – perhaps opening up space for a candidate like Pataki.

Still, it will be hard for someone with such a low national profile to gain momentum at this late date, and his policies seem to run counter to the current mood of the activist Republican base, who will choose the candidate. And he has many similarities with the current front-runner, Mitt Romney – also a former governor of a Northeast state, also relatively moderate.

Rachel Maddow asked Michael Steele for his thoughts on the ever-widening GOP field:

Maddow then asked Steele to evaluate the chances of various candidates, to which Steele replied generally that he believed the “field is pretty much set” and that he expected Jon Huntsman to “resonate with a significant number of Republican voters,” his test being the next debate where he must attack the candidates to their faces and not “pull a Pawlenty, where confronted with the very people he is talking about, saying ‘my bad.’” He even gave Pataki a chance, but implored to the party to wrap up letting people in the race. “Whoever is in is in, go do you thing, run,” he argued, “stop all this dog and pony nonsense about getting in the race.”

Evan McMorris-Santoro and Kyle Leighton at TPM look at the polling and argue that Micele Bachmann's peaked:

Now, it appears, Michele Bachmann's moment has come and gone.

When Bachmann jumped in the presidential fight, more than a few pundits predicted she had a real shot at the nomination thanks to their view of a Republican Party more likely to pull another Christine O'Donnell next year than pick a real threat to President Obama.

Those pundits may still prove prescient, but the numbers show it's becoming less and less likely. The reason? Texas Gov. Rick Perry. His entrance into the race -- and his brand of tea party friendly politics and executive experience -- seems to be Bachmann's problem.

Polls have shown a sharp decline for Bachmann, despite being the frontrunner in the Ames Straw Poll and eventually winning it. And there one major reason is the entrance of Perry. Nationally, Bachmann's presence is being displaced by Perry, who jumped ahead of the field in the latest Rasmussen survey, the first choice of nearly a third of respondents, with Bachmann only registering 13 percent.


WASHINGTON — Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman says he’d be open to running as vice president if rival and tea party favorite Michele Bachmann wins the nomination.

The former ambassador to China and ex-Utah governor says that every time he’s been asked to serve his country he’s answered “yes.” Huntsman tells CNN interviewer Piers Morgan that if asked by the Minnesota congresswoman to run as her vice president he’d “be the first person to sign up, absolutely.”

Huntsman tried quickly to backtrack, saying the answer was based on a hypothetical question and that he has no doubt he’ll win the GOP nomination.

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