What to Read Before You Unwonk Tonight

  • Jonathan Chait wrote a truly excellent essay in this month’s issue of New York that refuses to sympathize with the liberal journalists and scholars who have been writing damning commentary on Democratic presidents since the early 20th century. Instead of adding to the journalistic canon of how Obama is a traitor to his 2008 campaign, he turns his sight back on the Drew Westens and Patrick Caddells and Doug Schoens of the world and tries to explain why liberals are never satisfied with the people they elect:

    For almost all of the past 60 years, liberals have been in a near-constant emotional state of despair, punctuated only by brief moments of euphoria and occasional rage. When they’re not in charge, things are so bleak they threaten to move to Canada; it’s almost more excruciating when they do win elections, and their presidents fail in essentially the same ways: He is too accommodating, too timid, too unwilling or unable to inspire the populace.

  • No one should be surprised that the Super Committee failed to agree on a deficit reduction proposal, but its failure doesn’t mean we should be disappointed. The outcome of the Super Committee deliberations is like a Countdown to Shutdown party where you actually get to count to zero AND not feel bad for partying at the end! Jonathan Bernstein has a good round-up of links that explain why this is the case. Ezra Klein also explains what the “non-defense discretionary spending” that will be cut in the trigger actually is.
  • The debate about our national budget and the future of the deficit is not about to end any time soon despite the end of the Super Committee, and XKCD and the Sunlight Foundation have some great infographics that provide more context to the whole debate.
  • In other infographic news, Slate updated their ingenious literal horse race animation of the GOP primary. Animating the race makes the quick-fire rise in the polls for Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Gingrich seem even more comic, and Romney’s endurance-race ready horse looks like the visualization of the saying “slow and steady wins the race” National Post also has a new graphic of the GOP race. It is now possible to say that the Herman Cain campaign is pear-shaped, the Rick Perry campaign is an apple, and the Ron Paul campaign has a really good metabolism.
  • Can the Occupy movement learn how to more effectively stage a protest from the environmental movement, which in turn borrows many tactics from the civil rights movement? Jane Mayer makes an argument for how.
  • PSA: Don’t watch Fox News. It will make you dumber.
  • How Newt Gingrich is like an air conditioner. No further commentary necessary.
  • Good satires of the 1 percent today, courtesy of McSweeney’s and the New Yorker.
  • Reuters released their best 100 photos of 2011 today. The images — in turn beautiful and harrowing, and always emotional — work as a reminder of all the gigantic moments of the past 11 months, as well as a frame for what awaits us in 2012.