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Political Strategy Notes

The Wall St. Journal Editorial "The GOP's Payroll Tax Fiasco: How did Republicans manage to lose the tax issue to Obama?" is getting huge buzz. When the WSJ joins the Weekly Standard and National Review in piling on Boehner, a consensus that knee-jerk obstructionism is getting old is emerging across the political spectum. Even Newt is urging Boehner to cave, sayeth the WSJ.

At Daily Kos DemfromCT has a good round-up on the payroll tax banjax.

Peter Grier's Monitor post "Are GOP voters fooling themselves about Newt Gingrich's electability?" discusses what polls show about the disconnect between Republicans and the population at large on the topic of Newt's chances against Obama.

George Will has a characteristically droll graph in his WaPo column on why Newt is not a real conservative: "Gingrich's unsurprising descent into sinister radicalism -- intimidation of courts -- is redundant evidence that he is not merely the least conservative candidate, he is thoroughly anti-conservative. He disdains the central conservative virtue, prudence, and exemplifies progressivism's defining attribute -- impatience with impediments to the political branches' wielding of untrammeled power. He exalts the will of the majority of the moment, at least as he, tribune of the vox populi, interprets it."

Tomasky makes the case that it could be Santorum time.

Conor Friedersdorf, staff writer at The Atlantic has a long article on "Grappling With Ron Paul's Racist Newsletters," agonizing really, over how to deal with Paul's publishing ugly racial diatribes. Friedersdorf glosses over the report in Ramesh Ponnuru's Bloomberg post, which I flagged on Tuesday, noting that in 2004 Paul was the sole vote (414-1) in congress against a resolution celebrating the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Worse, he gave a speech defending his vote, arguing that "employers who wish to discriminate against blacks, in his view, should be free to do so," according to Ponnuru. Judging by the tortured rationalizations, Libertarians seem to be having a tough time letting go of Paul.

CNN's Gloria Borger does a good job trying to make Paul explain his newsletters on camera. Watch Paul respond here. Meanwhile Jackie Kucinich of USA Today reports in "Paul's story changes on racial comments" that in an interview with the Dallas Morning News he "admitted writing at least some of the passages when first asked about them in an interview in 1996."

Lauren Fox argues at US News that "Ron Paul Victory Could Hurt Legitimacy of Iowa Caucuses," not for the aforementioned reasons, but because "If Paul wins and then fades really quickly afterward [in national campaigning]...then you have two caucuses in a row where the Iowa winner doesn't go on to be the GOP nominee," says Christopher Larimer, a professor at Northern Iowa University, quoted in Fox's article.

Iowa, Schmiowa, I say. It's past time for reforming the primary process so the states take turns going first or draw the privilege by lots. Other reform proposals here.

Alex Altman asks an important question at Time Swampland : "Americans Elect: Can a Well-Heeled Group of Insiders Create a Populist Third-Party Sensation?" Altman's article provides an interesting look at an ostensibly moderate group, which may function more as a stealth GOP effort to drain moderate support from Dems. See also Michael Finnegan's L.A. Times report on Americans Elect.