G.O.P.

His biggest boosters, a coterie of Wall Street conservatives, have lost their love.

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Editor's Note: We'll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! The coming battles over austerity and scarcity should favor the party of small government. But the G.O.P. shouldn't get cocky. Democracy | 11 min (2, 823 words) What would cause someone to marry Osama bin Laden? Paul Rudnick has several theories. The New Yorker | 3 min (708 words) Sometimes headlines can sell a piece.

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In his TNR column last week, my esteemed colleague and mentor William Galston expressed one of the more regularly repeated convictions about presidential politics: Reelection campaigns are a referendum on the incumbent. As he wrote: One of the best established findings of contemporary political science is that in presidential contests involving an incumbent, the incumbent’s record is central to the public’s judgment.

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CHARLESTON, S.C.—Thursday night’s four-top GOP debate made it official: The South Carolina primary has become a referendum on Newt Gingrich. Just 10 days after he was left in a dustbin labeled “Yesterday’s Man” after dismal finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich has confounded the experts yet again. The oft-derided and consistently under-estimated House speaker has now bested Jesus in his sheer number of resurrections—an association that can only help as the South Carolina primary vote looms.

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At first glance, it’s not at all clear that the Democrats should be dominating the PR fight over the payroll tax-cut extension that's stalemated Congress. When the music stopped on the congressional debate, the GOP-controlled House had passed a year-long extension of the tax cut while the Senate had only passed a two-month extension, and the White House had endorsed the latter.

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Ross Douthat asks why I've been mocking both the possibility that Mitt Romney might win the Republican nomination and the conservative attempt to draft alternative candidates into the race: a question for writers like Chait and Larison, who have made sport of both Romney himself and of the conservative hope that someone else will emerge to take his place. As disinterested observers of the G.O.P.

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I've always had a lot of respect for the Republican elite, by which I mean respect for their ability to evaluate candidates and pick the best one available. I really don't understand what they're thinking right now, though, and I raise the issue in a column for the New York Times magazine: The Republican Party’s presidential-nominating process has always been run by elites. Oh, the voters have their brief moments of triumph, hoisting up an unelectable right-winger (i.e., Pat Buchanan) or an uncontrollable moderate (John McCain, the circa-2000 version). But the establishment always wins.

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[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] Well, as long as we're highlighting nuggets from the recent Robert Draper profile of Palin, here's my nominee for most telling: “I am,” Sarah Palin told me the next day when I asked her if she was already weighing a run for president. “I’m engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here.” Palin went on to say that there weren’t meaningful differences in policy among the field of G.O.P.

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From old friend Nate Silver, blogging from his new home at the New York Times: The poll stealing the headlines this morning is from Gallup, and for good reason: it gives the Republicans whopping 10-point lead on the generic ballot. ... The poll is probably an outlier of sorts, by which I mean that were you to take the exact same survey and put it into the field again--but interview 1,450 different registered voters, instead of the ones Gallup happened to survey--you would not likely find the G.O.P. with as large as a 10-point advantage.

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