What to Read Before You Unwonk Tonight

  • Obama gave a really good speech yesterday, one that clearly announces his main campaign strategy for the next year and has the potential of having his 2008 base return to occupying his camp. You should read it, but if you don’t have the time, Derek Thompson has a pretty thorough reader’s guide. After you read it, you should read Ezra Klein’s excellent analysis of the speech. Klein is right: Obama realizes that running on fixing political division won’t work this time around. He already failed at trying to change Washington. His most successful frame is running on economic division, and he just might be able to convince the base that his economic vision is change worth believing in. The speech, which Ana Marie Cox labeled “restrained frustration leavened with the pixie dust of hope"—was great for its focus on income inequality, but as Cox notes,

“To be blunt about how the middle class is suffering, you have to be blunt about who is making them suffer. That he chose to ground his argument with references to Teddy Roosevelt (rather than, say, Franklin) and praise of capitalism suggests that maybe he is still unwilling to talk about how the 1% got to enjoy their privileges, though. The problem with saying that "this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class" is that it glosses over all the moments that came before it – and makes it sound like the middle class isn't already broken.”

Regardless, John Cassidy thinks the speech will be one historians remember.

  • According to Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and National Review aren’t conservative enough.
  • Mitt Romney, in an act of electoral desperation, has finally joined the “Obama is a socialist” club.
  • Paul Starr has a different perspective on why American politics are trending right. It’s not the conservatives who are pulling the center toward them. Radical centrists are pushing the political conversation to the right.
  • Jonathan Bernstein casts the current crop of GOP candidates in the 1988 election movie.
  • "And sometimes standing outside that window is a circus peanut wearing a badger."
  • Wonky graph of the day.
  • Type rickperry.com into your browser and enjoy.
  • The Awl found a bunch of old press about the GOP candidates. Apparently, Ron Paul used to be a friend of Girl Scouts, Michele Bachmann was a friend of booze, and Newton Gingrich was a friend to animals.
  • Lede of the day: "Oh, Newtie, excite us, delight us, make our knees grow weak."

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