The president needs to up his game. “The great divide between conservatives and liberals today is over equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome. Those are serious intellectual differences to discuss, but Obama apparently wants no part of it. He would rather turn his opponents into brutish, cartoon characters.”

Newt Gingrich didn’t make up at his meeting with conservatives. “Newt hit buzz saw in meeting with Right leaders.” It seems there were some really hard questions by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and some “tense” moments with “skeptical” conservatives.

Unfortunately, the president isn’t up to the challenge. “In coming years, the United States must take steps to address the serious challenges of a large and growing fiscal gap as well as rapidly rising costs for both public and private purchasers of medical services. These problems are of course inter-related, as rapid cost growth in federal health entitlement programs is the most important reason that budget estimates show long-term deficits and debt soaring to levels that would be crippling for the American economy.At the center of these twin challenges is the Medicare program. It is the largest federal health entitlement program, and Medicare spending is already putting tremendous pressure on federal finances due to many years of rapid cost growth.” Well worth your time to read the whole thing.

Jon Corzine gives up the search for the missing $1.2 billion. “Visibly tense in the politically charged hearing, Mr. Corzine, 64 years old, on Thursday told the House Agriculture Committee that he has been ‘devastated by the enormous impact on many peoples’ lives’ caused by MF Global’s collapse. ‘I simply do not know where the money is,’ he said in response to questions from the panel, noting that ‘there were an extraordinary number of transactions during MF Global’s last few days’ and that he didn’t know everything that was going on.” Well, not knowing what was going on is entirely plausible in his case. The till was billions short when Chris Christie took over the New Jersey governorship as well.

Not giving up the ghost. “The key, I think, would be if both Romney and Gingrich stumbled during January. If that were to happen, there would be a window of opportunity in February—during the gap between the first spurt of January primaries and Super Tuesday on March 6. The window probably closes around Valentine’s Day—Tuesday, February 14—so let’s call the late entry the Valentine’s Day option. That could be the last chance (unless there’s a deadlocked convention, which isn’t totally outside the realm of possibility either) for Republicans to throw off the old suitors and run into the arms of a new Prince Charming. Or two. And Valentine’s Day is for the young. So (as I argued a year ago—and several times subsequently), why not the best? Ryan-Rubio 2012?” Hmm. I think the window likely closed around Halloween.

Could this really have been a slip-up? “A well-funded group backing Mitt Romney accidentally posted a campaign ad that harshly attacks Newt Gingrich. The ad said Democrats are hoping for Gingrich as the nominee because all of his ‘baggage,’ including ethics violations while he was Speaker of the House and earlier support of climate change legislation, ‘amnesty’ for undocumented immigrants, and a requirement that everyone buys health insurance.” What, nothing about the serial infidelity?

The jig is up: The new Newt is the old Newt. “Gingrich has a history of making serious charges that turn out to be self-indictments — witness his recent attack on congressional advocates for Freddie Mac, despite having been one of its well-paid consultants. Gingrich’s language is often intemperate. He is seized by temporary enthusiasms. He combines absolute certainty in any given moment with continual reinvention over time. These traits are suited to a provocateur, an author, a commentator, a consultant. They are not the normal makings of a chief executive.”