Five Best Tuesday Columns

Bret Stephens on the GOP candidates, Joe Nocera on the NCAA, George Will on Romney and Gingrich, Roger Cohen on Sarkozy, and Ron Klain on Iowa's voting dysfunction. 

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Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal on the GOP's losing team Stephens opens with a list of reasons he think President Obama doesn't deserve reelection, and yet he has doubts. "Let's just say right now what voters will be saying in November, once Barack Obama has been re-elected: Republicans deserve to lose." He thinks South Carolina's voters picked Newt Gingrich because, given a lack of viable candidates, they simply went with the most entertaining debater. He has harsh words for Romney, whom he says should have better predicted the calls that he release his taxes. He commends Ron Paul and Rick Santorum for their convictions, but writes them off noting that those convictions aren't likely to resonate with voters. Lastly, he criticizes the non-candidates like Mitch Daniels who begged off for personal reasons and put aside "duty." "[T]he U.S. will surely survive four more years. Who knows? By then maybe Republicans will have figured out that if they don't want to lose, they shouldn't run with losers."

Joe Nocera in The New York Times on the N.C.A.A.'s abuses The N.C.A.A. has suspended UConn freshman Ryan Boatright from the basketball team twice this season while they investigate charges that his mother receives improper gifts related to his play. As Nocera continues to write about the N.C.A.A., he says, "one question keeps reverberating in my head: How can this be happening in America?" He outlines the N.C.A.A.'s demands that Boatright's mother show them her finances, and her forced cooperation for fear resistance will lead to consequences for her son. He takes apart the N.C.A.A.'s excuses that the school, not the organization, suspended Boatright. Finally, he quotes a reader who e-mailed him after another column on the topic. "[W]e all fear it, and it is all-powerful and follows its own rules and makes them up as they go along. Who are they protecting? The same thing the Gestapo protected: themselves."

George Will in The Washington Post on Gingrich and Romney There's a weak argument being made that Gingrich's win in South Carolina will benefit Mitt Romney because it will elicit an equal and opposite reaction of sorts in his direction. "With Gingrich defining the GOP brand, the Republicans' dream — unified government: a trifecta of holding the House, winning the Senate and the White House — might become three strikes and they are out," writes Will. Will defuses Gingrich's argument that his skill at debates should make him the nominee. ("So, because Gingrich might sparkle during 4 1/2 hours of debates, he should be given four years of control of nuclear weapons? Odd.") He notes that Romney's liabilities weren't the ones we predicted, but rather, his financial sector work. This loss should force him to argue for his candidacy on reasons other than electability. "[T]he nominating process in this complex continental nation usefully foreshadows the challenges of governing such a nation."

Roger Cohen in The New York Times on Sarkozy's election French President Nicolas Sarkozy faces a reelection challenge from Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. "If the French decide leadership is more important in a time of crisis they will grit their teeth and re-elect Nicolas Sarkozy. If they want change from a president never close to their hearts, they will — as Samuel Johnson said of second marriages — embrace hope over experience," writes Cohen. He notes that Hollande should win since he tends to fit most French peoples' sense of a president, and Sarkozy hasn't been personally popular, but he thinks Sarkozy may come from behind because he has handled the debt crisis well so far. He says Hollande's rhetoric has shown a bourgeois dislike for Sarkozy and a concern only for his platofrm and for France over Europe. "In the end what's unforgivable in a politician is ego and ambition that allow no greater cause than self. That's not the case with Sarkozy."

Ron Klain in Bloomberg View on Iowa and voting dysfunction Klain begins by wondering how Americans would react if officials couldn't determine the winner of the Super Bowl because of technological difficulties. "The Super Bowl metaphor is absurd, of course, because we invest untold sums in tracking ... the result of every single football play ... Why then, in the world's greatest democracy, do voters still vote on paper ballots tabulated by hand, on punch-card devices that jam or misalign ...?" asks Klain, who knows all too well from his role as counsel to Al Gore's recount campaign. The uncertifiable Iowa results, of course, bring our out-of-date voting methods once again to the forefront. He says efforts to legislate in the aftermath of 2000 haven't worked, and writes off worries about corporate fraud with more advanced machines by noting that this system is equally untenable. "Will conservatives and Republicans now appreciate that everyone has a stake in America's having the electoral system we deserve?" he wonders.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.