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January 7th, 2012 1:29 pm
A Plethora of Great Political Analyses

I’ve been so busy this week that I missed the chance to link to a host of excellent pieces as they came out. So now here’s some one-stop-shopping for wonderful political pieces.

First, Jennifer Rubin was on fire this week. She still is bedeviling Newt Gingrich. And she hits Gingrich yet again here. She continues to praise Rick Santorum, this time for running a “thinking person’s race.” (She was one of the only columnists to take Santorum seriously as a candidate as early as late summer.) She defends Santorum from the charge from Rick Perry — whom he continues to criticize — that the Pennsylvanian is somehow a “big government conservative.” (For that matter, I have a new piece answering that same charge, here at National Review Online.) On that same general topic, she blasts “the screechy voices in the blogosphere, the perfectionist pundits…,” those who demand philosophical purity without any political context. (This last was a particularly well argued piece.) She closes a piece analyzing Santorum’s big remaining challenges with a great paragraph: “Republicans can get awfully theoretical and sterile in their approach. Santorum can remind the entire field that politics is also about emotion, connection, inspiration and faith.” And she provides a moving portrayal of Santorum’s wife, Karen.

Whew! That was just in three days.

She’s not the only one writing with eloquence and perspicacity. Two new pieces at The Weekly Standard make the case (as William Kristol has made for months) that it is foolish to anoint a nomination winner prematurely and that “moderate” or “establishment” or “safe” choices are often less likely to win than are candidates the establishment sees as risky.

A note about Bill Kristol: For much of 2011, I repeatedly contended in private conversations with very smart Washington people (along wit columns here and elsewhere)  that Santorum, though a long shot, had a real chance to become a finalist or winner in the GOP nomination sweepstakes. For most of that time, everybody airily dismissed the idea out of hand. Only one conversation went differently. Over coffee in downtown DC with Kristol in early May, Kristol said he doubted Santorum could do it, but that he thought highly of him… AND that, considering what he, Kristol, already recognized as the weaknesses and volatility of this year’s apparent field (this was before the polls themselves became volatile), that he wouldn’t write Santorum off, because he could see a “path to victory” for Santorum, albeit a remote one. He then gave a quick “for instance” hypothetical situation (for just about 45 seconds of our discussion), whose details I don’t remember other than that he was the only person to even suggest Santorum could find such a path. Later in the summer, Jen Rubin started covering Santorum seriously, with the same insight Kristol had, and in the fall blogger R.S. McCain did as well. That was it. Nobody else. So a hat tip to the three of them….

Now, back to good pieces this week. I think the most remarkable piece of the week came from former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, a thoughtful, moderate, black Democrat whose insights are usually worthwhile. He wrote at NRO that Santorum’s Iowa caucus-night speech was superb — “the best Republican rhetoric in the last decade” –  and offered a real political threat to Democrats. Along those same lines, two OTHER new pieces at the Weekly Standard pick up on some of the same themes: “the neglected substance of the Santorum campaign,” and that “Santorum has the potential to be a formidable opponent to Obama.” As Jonathan Last noted — and this is a theme first seriously highlighted a couple of weeks back by NRO’s Rich Lowry, “It’s an interesting bridge, from economic to moral issues, that Santorum constructs.”

At NRO, Robert Costa called Santorum “a blue collar candidate,” and at the Telegraph in Great Britain, a columnist made Rocky Balboa comparisons in calling him a “working class hero.”

Meanwhile, turning to Mitt Romney, Deroy Murdock penned this absolutely devastating examination of Romney’s record as a tax hiker and a big burdener of business. Particularly of interest this week, Romney even taxes New Hampshireites: ”

As if impoverishing his own taxpayers were not bad enough, Romney’s March 5, 2003 signature raised taxes on non-residents retroactive to that January 1. Perpetrating taxation without representation, Romney’s law declared that, “gross income derived from… any trade or business, including any employment,” would be taxable, “regardless of the taxpayer’s residence or domicile in the year it is received.”

Consequently, according to data furnished by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, between 2002 and 2006, New Hampshire residents who work or do business in the Bay State shipped Massachusetts $95 million above what they paid when Romney arrived. The average tax paid by New Hampshirities to Massachusetts grew by 19.1 percent, from $2,392 in 2002 to $2,850 in 2006.

This is the sort of thing that Newt Gingrich is flinging at Romney. As Murdock shows, there is real substance behind it.

There…. that’s more than enough for now. I think there were others I wanted to highlight, but if I remember them, I’ll do so in another post.

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