What to Read Before You Unwonk Tonight

  • The GOP candidates are turning the Republican Party into a Toyota with its brakes on fire. They realized too late that their math on how many debates were essential to show off that they were 1) not Obama and 2) really conservative, was a bit off, but it’s too late to stop now, and the brakes wouldn’t work anyway. And once the general election comes, no one will trust what they’re selling. OK, I might have expanded on Peter Feaver’s metaphor a bit, but nonetheless Republicans are NOT happy.
  • You know who else isn’t happy? Herman Cain. He’s “not supposed to know anything about foreign policy.” That’s what Chilean models—his second choice for secretary of state after Henry Kissinger—are for.
  • Right now, Congress is less popular than Hugo Chavez, Nixon during Watergate, and the idea of the U.S. turning communist. So it’s probably a good idea for them to make sure the government doesn’t shut down this weekend if they don’t want to be overthrown by a trendier Marxist uprising.
  • NERD FIGHT. Both Nate Silver and his political-scientist opponents have good points when it comes to debating the merit of election forecasts that rely only on economic data. And, the question at the heart of the debate—how much do campaigns matter—is one to spend a long time pondering given the increased cost and time suck of elections, as well as the increasing propensity for spectacle, which absorbs an ever larger amount of horse race-hungry media coverage.
  • The narrative that the Obama campaign is failing on a large scale to perform as well as it did in 2008 needs to stop. This fear has been found wanting ever since it first crept up with this September article on donors. Josh Tucker does a great job refuting the argument that new college grads that campaigned in 2008 aren’t going to reprise their canvassing and phone-calling roles this election cycle by listing other things they have failed to do since the last election:
  • Sleeping in until 11 A.M. regularly
  • Starting new clubs on campus in an effort to bolster their resume
  • Eating their meals in a cafeteria
  • Writing papers until 2 A.M. in the morning
  • Taking their laundry home to their parents’ house over the holidays (OK, maybe not so sure on the last one).
  • Young people are occupying Wall Street, but not just with posters and tents. Ivy League grads are flocking to finance and management consulting, causing a brain drain that leaves other fields, like science and engineering, hungry for new ideas and potential leaders.
  • Will someone please make an Alexander Hamilton biopic? Hendrik Hertzberg offered a quick rundown today on the dearth of good American political dramas and the egregious lack of a good film on the guy who wrote most of the Federalist Papers, has prime facial real estate on American currency, and died in a duel. Hamilton’s life is well documented in music and viral video. Time to hit the big screen.

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