Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast on the reasons for Gingrich Recent polls now show Newt Gingrich leading the list of candidates for the Republican nomination. "[T]his goes deeper than discontent with Romney. These voters want to blow up the Republican Party -- and someday, they just might," Tomasky writes. Tomasky gives the many reasons Gingrich would never win an election, let alone the nomination, including his political and marital baggage, and his history of reversing positions on climate change and financial reform. Tomasky says part of his popularity has to do with Romney's flaws, but he also wonders if Gingrich is currently filling the role of the super conservative that Rick Perry gave up when he took a stand on immigration. "[T]hese Republican voters really do seem like people who collectively would accept losing next year if it means they can drag the party farther to the right and win in 2016 with a purist," Tomasky says.

Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View on Israel and Obama's open mic incident Unknowingly speaking into a live microphone with French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week, Barack Obama revealed frustrations with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That moment "revealed two mistaken interpretations of Middle East politics that could have grim consequences as the conflict over Iran's nuclear program moves to a boil," Goldberg writes. The first comes from critics of Obama who equate his dislike of Netanyahu with a lack of support for the Jewish state, a conclusion the PM's domestic opponents would likely resist. Second, this incident comes at a moment when Israel's relationship with the U.S. will be tested anyway by the response to the Iranian nuclear program. Israel could strike without U.S. approval which would strain the relationship and probably cause Iranian retaliation against American resources. "It's desperately important for the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister to build between them a minimum level of trust. Open mics don't help," Goldberg writes.

Gideon Rachman in Financial Times on European technocrats Critics of the new technocratic leaders in Greece and Italy complain about the lack of democracy behind their appointments. "But technocrats have something to be said for them in the middle of a financial crisis," Rachman writes. They are already comfortable with the territory of finance, and because they don't seek political careers, they can make difficult decisions. The world and especially proponents of the European Union should hope they succeed because already extremist parties in both countries are gaining some popular support, Rachamn writes, and they are skeptical and even hostile to the European Union. "So a great deal is riding on the ability of the technocrats ... The trouble is that, while Monti, Papademos and Draghi are very able men, they are not miracle-workers. The situation in Europe may now be too far gone for even the most steely and brilliant of technocrats to turn things around."  

Frank Bruni in The New York Times on water-boarding and American exceptionalism Republican candidates this week advocated returning to the practice of water boarding our terrorism detainees in the same debate that they spoke of American exceptionalism. "If we truly believe ourselves to be exceptional, a model for all the world and an example for all of history, then why would we practice torture?" Bruni asks. He describes water-boarding, calling it torture, and revisits the Republican debate when several candidates declared otherwise. Much of the Republican tough talk on terrorism is political posturing designed to make Obama look soft. But Obama's record isn't very vulnerable to those claims, Bruni says. We face difficult decisions and a tricky balancing act when it comes to keeping this country safe ... But we have to be careful about how far we go ... because the rightful burden of the leadership we insist on is behavior that's better than everybody else's, not the same or worse." 

Joanna Weiss in The Boston Globe on candidates and late night interviews Rick Perry responded to his own embarrassing debate gaffe with a string of comedic comments, most notably on Letterman's late-night show, that might actually have improved our opinion of his delivery. "The benefits [of late-night appearances] for candidates are well-known: a larger and broader audience than they get from political shows, and a chance to show the public their human side ... But the not-so-dirty secret of late-night TV is that it's often good for voters, too," Weiss says. While reporters necessarily ask tough questions putting candidates on guard, late-night interviewers tend to "cut to the chase" and have more open discussions with the candidates. Jimmy Kimmel was able to use comedy to continue hitting Herman Cain with questions about sexual harassment last week, whereas CNBC's debate moderators allowed him to demur. "Humor can give you a way out of a jam. But it can also make the bad things stick."