* The GOP’s incoherent response to Libya events: Michael Hirsh offers a fascinating look at the domestic political pluses and minuses of Obama’s approach to Libya, which was widely derided by conservatives as “leading from behind.” Of particular interest is this assessment of the Republican response:
Obama’s approach also appears to have sown discord in Republican ranks. Leading GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney has criticized Obama for being “weak” and “following the French into Libya,” as well as relying too much on international organizations. On Monday, the rigorously anti-Obama editorial page of The Wall Street Journal joined Romney, arguing that Qaddafi might have been toppled faster and fewer people would have been killed “if America had led more forcefully from the beginning.”
But at an earlier point, Romney worried about U.S. “mission creep” and questioned the rhetoric against Qaddafi personally, asking who was “going to take his place.” Meanwhile, other GOP candidates, such as Rep. Michele Bachmann, embraced a new isolationist strain emanating from the tea party movement and criticized the Libya intervention altogether, saying that events in that country didn’t threaten U.S. interests.
Bachmann is now isolated herself, and can’t bring herself to express satisfaction about what’s currently happening. The chaotic response of Republicans, of course, doesn’t necessarily ensure that this will prove a clear political winner for Obama — as Hirsh notes, this is at best a “nuanced” political victory. We don’t know where events are heading next, and there are still serious questions about the President’s decision to undertake the Libya operation without Congressional authorization.
But the GOP’s response to Obama’s approach to the mission and its outcome thus far — particularly among the 2012 hopefuls — has been unmasked as almost comically incoherent.
* Why the GOP opposes extending payroll tax cut: Ezra Klein on why Republicans adamantly supported extending the high end Bush tax cuts but not the payroll tax cut:
Two months ago, we were talking about raising taxes on the rich. Now we’re talking about keeping them low on the poor.
* Where’s Grover Norquist on the payroll tax cut extension? After asking the question yesterday, I have still not gotten an answer from Norquist’s spokesman on whether GOP opposition to extending the payroll tax cut constitutes a violation of his anti-tax pledge.
* Dems keep elevating Jon Huntsman: The DNC is out with a new Web video featuring footage of Huntsman slamming the GOP on the economy. The key Hunstman quote: “We have no good ideas that are being circulated or talked about that will allow this country to get back on its feet economically.”
This quote — which again shows Huntsman in the odd role of trying to distinguish himself by acting far more reasonable and sensible than his rivals about his own party’s shortcomings — is likely to air in paid TV ads in 2012.
* Rick Perry’s “radical, loony views” are big problem for GOP: Eugene Robinson, on Perry’s newfound efforts to distance himself from his 2010 book: “It’s reasonable to assume that if Perry held a bunch of radical, loony views less than a year ago, he holds them today.”
Yes, and as Robinson notes, the very real prospect of him winning the nomination underscores how problematic the GOP field has become if Republicans hope to win independents in the general election.
* Can GOP retake the Senate? Aaron Blake has a useful roadmap detailing that Republicans have a good shot at retaking the upper chamber, because they only need to net four wins and 23 of the 33 contested seats are in Dem control. Key footnote: Elizabeth Warren’s likely challenge to Scott Brown could be a major factor and will likely emerge as a top-tier, nationally watched race.
* Elizabeth Warren will run true grassroots campaign: As a true antagonist of Wall Street, Warren may not be able to count on extensive support from high-rolling financial types, meaning her campaign will be largely fueled by grassroots Dems across the country. Of course, this is another reason why this race will be so significant.
* White House blames predecessor’s policies for debt: Republicans are gleefully pointing to this Mark Knoller article arguing that the debt has gone up faster under Obama than under any previous president.
But what if the White House’s claim that the escalating debt is largely the result of policies Obama inherited actually happens to be true?
* Romney acting as if 2012 GOP primary is foregone conclusion: Mitt Romney plans to unveil his jobs plan the same week Obama gives his jobs speech, another sign that Romney wants to elevate himself — while marginalizing his rivals — as the only legitimate challenger to the president. Too bad 2012 primary voters get their say first.
I wonder how Michele Bachmann reconciles her belief in free markets and her desire to have the president determine the price of gasoline.
Of course, Bachmann is under no obligation whatsoever to reconcile contradictory beliefs.
* And Sarah Palin’s new video NOT a sign she’s running: As I noted the other day, Palin’s latest moves are all about making the case that she remains newsworthy in her current role. Mike Allen reports this morning that she’s not announcing September 3rd, as many expected; and if she — if — enters it won’t be until late September.
What else is happening?