Mitt passes the "trash Newt" test

In the two Florida debates, and in the nasty ads Romney is running against Gingrich, Romney finally showed Republican voters he was willing and able to go to the mattresses, as they say in “The Godfather.”

Wanting your party’s candidate to demonstrate an instinct for the jugular is a leadership quality that would never turn up in polling data or in focus-group discussions. People know better than to say they want to know their guy can be an SOB when necessary, just as most politicians know it’s a problem if they come across as an unmitigated SOB.

But the plain truth is that the willingness to confront a rival directly while looking him straight in the eye and saying some pretty harsh things, and the ability to withstand the counterattack and keep on with the assault, are qualities of toughness and perseverance every successful major politician must demonstrate.