Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! Tonight is the Florida Republican primary, and we’ll be live blogging it later on. This post is going to be a quickie, because I worked way too long on the one I put up last night. Still, I do have some interesting reads to recommend.

A couple of days ago, I read a fascinating piece by Emily Yoffe at Slate about the difficulty of adopting pets these days. It seems that if you want to adopt a pet from a rescue place, you have to fill out endless forms and go to great lengths to prove you’re worthy before you can be granted the privilege of taking home a cat or dog–or even a bird or hamster!

The article is really interesting and funny, so check it out. You won’t regret it. One of the most surprising facts Yoffe reveals is that 25% of people who are identified as animal hoarders are either past or present rescue workers!

I’m sure you’ve heard that Mitt Romney has been using a scorched earth policy against Newt Gingrich in Florida. The NYT had an interesting article on the reasons for Romney’s change in strategy.

In a call last Sunday morning, just hours after Mr. Romney’s double-digit loss to Mr. Gingrich in the South Carolina primary, the Romney team outlined the new approach to the candidate. Put aside the more acute focus on President Obama and narrow in on Mr. Gingrich.

Find lines of attack that could goad Mr. Gingrich into angry responses and rally mainstream Republicans. Swarm Gingrich campaign events to rattle him. Have Mr. Romney drop his above-the-fray persona and carry the fight directly to his opponent, especially in two critical debates scheduled for the week.

The results of that strategy, carried out by a veteran squad of strategists and operatives assembled by Mr. Romney to deal with just this kind of moment, have been on striking display here.

By this weekend, Mr. Romney’s aides were on the offensive and increasingly confident, with some combination of their strategy and Mr. Gingrich’s own performance swinging polls in Mr. Romney’s direction. Even as it acknowledged the damage inflicted on Mr. Romney by the past several weeks, his team suggested that it had learned a lesson about never letting up on rivals, especially if Mr. Romney wins the nomination and confronts Mr. Obama in the general election.

Some conservatives are really upset about what Romney is doing to Gingrich. They say he may win the Florida primary, but he’s hurting the GOP and probably making himself a weaker candidate against Obama. Here’s an excerpt from a post by William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection:

If you asked me even a couple of weeks ago whether the Republican Party could heal from the wounds of this election cycle in time to unite against Obama, I would have said ”Yes.”

I’m not so sure anymore. After the South Carolina primary the Republican establishment, and media supporters like Matt Drudge, launched Scorched Earth II on Newt, while pro-Romney pundits like Ann Coulter heaped scorn on the conservative and Tea Party voters who sided with Newt.

It may just be “not-beanbag” to the Romney campaign and its supporters, but people hear them loud and clear.

Two lines of attack have exposed a schism between the Republican political haves and have nots which will not easily heal: The attempt to rewrite the history of the Reagan revolution and the embrace of Nancy Pelosi’s partisan ethics attack and blackmail.

Another conservative writer and talk show host, John Batchelor says Romney and Gingrich are “setting the GOP on a path to destruction.”

The primary campaign nastiness between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich is exhausting Republican loyalists. What in Iowa was a feisty contest between the haughty Mr. Romney and the operatic Mr. Gingrich turned hollow in New Hampshire and harsh in South Carolina. By the close of the Florida scramble, with the Herman Cain Express back from the repair yard to hitch onto the Newt baggage car, what remains of the Republican dialogue does not appear likely to be of much worth for the fall campaign.

The solution to the puzzle may be to admit that the GOP has forfeited 2012 before the general election even starts. How did this happen so suddenly?

“That’s the great mystery of 2012,” a senior Republican journalist told me while watching the brouhaha in Florida. “We have the weakest incumbent president in 32 years, running on the weakest record in 32 years… and who’s taking the stage in South Carolina and Florida? It has to be the weakest field I can remember. Each of these candidates has in his character, in his history, in his idea set—never mind disqualifying—a guarantee for self-destruction. If Newt is the candidate, he’ll lose badly. If Mitt is the candidate, he’ll lose slightly less badly … So what you have is an almost complete guarantee that if these are the candidates, Barack Obama will be reelected.”

It seems to me that the GOP is experiencing a major schism like the one that spit the Democratic party in 2008. This will be interesting to watch.

Mitt Romney appeared on the Today Show yesterday to defend his new campaign strategy. I can’t embed the NBC video here, but you can watch it at this Atlantic Wire link. I think Romney comes off as both arrogant and passive aggressive. He also addresses (but doesn’t really deal with) Tom Brokaw’s objections to being used in a Romney attack ad.

“We’ll sit down with the lawyers, talk to the folks at NBC, and make a decision on that front,” Romney told the Today show’s Matt Lauer when asked if he would pull the TV spot heavily featuring a 1997 Tom Brokaw newscast about Newt Gingrich. What Romney said on Today sounded a bit more unsure than the Romney staffer who over the weekend said the campaign would not be taking down the ad.

Last night, Romney continued to “ridicule” Gingrich, according to Reuters.

A confident Mitt Romney solidified his lead in Florida polls and ridiculed Republican rival Newt Gingrich on Monday, calling his opponent’s attacks “sad” and “painfully revealing” the day before the state’s crucial presidential primary.

Romney’s self-assuredness was on full display during a campaign tour that felt at times like a victory lap, with the front-runner telling a crowd of 2,000 in Dunedin, Florida: “With a turnout like this I got a feeling we might win tomorrow.”

I can’t help but wish that Florida voters would wipe that self-satisfied smile off Romney’s face tonight. Amazingly, Andrew Sullivan shares my feelings.

I didn’t watch 60 Minutes on Sunday night, but Glenn Greenwald did: Leon Panetta’s explicitly authoritarian decree. Read it and weep.

That’s about all I’ve got. I’ll end with Charlie Pierce’s latest: Romney, Basking in a Ray of Reality, Faces Real Test It’s his take on the NYT piece.

I am supposed to write now about how Willard Romney, the only presidential candidate in history to run as his own animatronic double, got his swerve on, his mojo back, and his engorged pen… no, wait, let me start again. I am supposed to write about how Willard Romney, a man with the charisma of grass seed and the political principles of a moray eel, became a newly formidable candidate after his thumping by Newt Gingrich among the holy-rolling swamp-runners in South Carolina. I read in yesterday’s New York Times that, after failing the ultimate test of his Gooberhood, Willard fled to one of his several Fortresses of Solitude, only to emerge in Florida as a lean, mean pompadoured war beast:

It was a call to arms employing all the visible and invisible tactics of political warfare.

(Ed. Note: Did they paint their faces blue and eat the still-beating hearts out of live elk?)

Now you can go read the rest at Charlie’s blog, and then come back and share what you’re reading and blogging about.