Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal has a column today asking whether Israel can bomb Iran. He writes:
Put simply, an Israeli strike on Iran would not just be a larger-scale reprise of the attacks that took out Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 and Syria’s in 2007. On the contrary: If it goes well it would look somewhat like the Six-Day War of 1967, and if it goes poorly like the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Nobody should think we’re talking about a cakewalk.
The Republican presidential race is still at the stage where it is possible to spin theories about how frontrunner Mitt Romney can be toppled. Those scenarios aren’t particularly likely, but if there’s any credence to them at all, a couple of things are going to have to happen today to put a dent in the frontrunner’s armor. Newt Gingrich’s southern strategy requires him to survive a long wait until the next GOP debate scheduled for February 22 and to win big on Super Tuesday on March 6. But that’s a fairy tale for another day. Today’s long shot involves a Rick Santorum win in Minnesota and/or Missouri in order to elevate the former Pennsylvania senator to the position of the leading “non-Romney” as well as the standard bearer for conservatives in the race. But unlike Gingrich’s plans, which are undermined by the former speaker’s open hatred for Romney, the Santorum opening today is no fantasy.
The Minnesota caucus appears to be Santorum’s for the taking with the only current published poll of the state showing him with a narrow lead. And the Pennsylvanian has a real chance of knocking off Romney in the non-binding primary in Missouri. Though Romney is set to roll to a big win in Colorado, if Santorum can pull off upsets in at least one and possibly two of the other two states to vote today, it may not stop Romney but it could put a spike in Gingrich and enable Santorum to emerge as his main challenger.
With Mitt Romney’s overwhelming victory in Nevada– he won just over 50 percent of the vote –the former Massachusetts governor has secured three double-digit wins in the Northeast (New Hampshire), the West (Nevada), and the South (Florida). He remains in the catbird seat. For him to lose the nomination would require an epic collapse. I rather doubt we’ll see it.
What makes this week marginally interesting is whether Rick Santorum supplants Newt Gingrich as the “conservative alternative” to Romney. That depends on how Santorum does tomorrow in Colorado and Minnesota, the next states that hold GOP nominating contests, as well as Missouri, which holds a “beauty contest” (the state’s official nominating process takes place later in the year). It seems to me, and increasingly to others, that Santorum is a far better figure for conservatives to rally behind than Gingrich, whose weaknesses I have dealt with at length in the past. I’ll only add that at his press conference on Saturday Gingrich looked to be seething with rage for Romney, and he demonstrated, one more time, that he simply doesn’t have the emotional balance and temperamental traits that one looks for in a president. There’s something a bit sad in watching Gingrich, who has done a great deal for the conservative cause in his life, burn up like this.