Lightning Round: Politics Everywhere.

  • The point has been made a bazillion times before, so George Packer's lengthy look at how broken the U.S. Senate is doesn't break much new ground. One thing it does highlight is that the Senate lacks a clear identity. An attempt at achieving an aristocracy in America? A bad imitation of the House of Lords? A check on the fleeting passions of the public? But even with an identity, Packer makes clear the various archaic rules of the body would remain a formidable obstacle to reform.
  • Ben Nelson flak has denied the Nebraska senator will switch parties if the GOP makes big gains in November, but that's not the only speculation in this Joe Klein post that is suspect. Klein writes, "If Charlie Crist wins running as an Independent in Florida, then a three-member Independent caucus -- Nelson, Crist and Joe Lieberman -- could have the clout to determine which party organizes the Senate." I doubt Republicans will let Crist caucus with them, Nelson's still a Democrat, so that leaves the "clout" of Joe Lieberman. Not persuasive.
  • Frequently the public gives schizophrenic responses to poll questions, but sometimes pollsters give an assist, as with this terrible CNN poll. Questions such as which party "is patriotic" and "agrees with you on issues you care about" do not offer much insight into the partisan preferences of Americans. And I love the leading questions "some people" think the government should "promote traditional values" or "is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses." I wonder who these people are!
  • Weekend Remainders: Visualizing Washington, D.C., in 1791; Damon Linker on the decline of Norman Podhoretz and Commentary; John Boehner celebrates ignorance and demagoguery; and who created the 1990s surplus, Clinton or the GOP?

--Mori Dinauer