What to Read Before You Unwonk for the Weekend

Rejoice! Congress won at not ruining the Constitution today! The Super Committee won at doing nothing.

NERD FIGHT. Round Two. Or three. This has been going on for a while. The Monkey Cage’s John Sides added his two cents to the Economics v. Campaigns election forecast debate, saying that it’s difficult to assess how effective campaigns are while we’re watching them unfold. Maybe it’s time to bench this topic and bring it back for round three after next November. Nate Silver also tried to find out which economic factors have been most consistent in predicting electoral outcomes. Turns out the ISM manufacturing index is a better predictor of whether an incumbent will re-win the White House than the change in unemployment rate or GDP. Yay data.

As an addendum to the “Do Campaigns Matter” debate, the “Do Debates Matter” debate might also become a thing soon, followed inevitably by the, “Do the Party Elite matter” and “Do Superdelegates matter” debates that close every primary season.

I’m with John Cassidy on this one: “Unlike many of my friends and acquaintances, I don’t feel particularly let down or cheated by Barack Obama. Back in 2008, I viewed him not as a transformative political figure but as a moderate, talented young Democrat, whose speaking skills and keen intelligence partly made up for his lack of experience. In a classic “time for a change” election, he was the right man in the right place.” Despite the truth in this statement, Obama’s tenure has not been without mistakes that deserved to be followed with disappointment. One example is Obama’s failure to acknowledge the Occupy movement; the truth of their complaints and the hope and heart of their protests mimic that of his own 2008 campaign. Cassidy wrote the speech that Obama should have given earlier this week.

Abortion has become invisible in the GOP’s national platform, mostly because of this election season’s focus on the economy.

In other news, voters in Mississippi would vote for Abe Lincoln over Jefferson Davis, partly because Honest Abe is no longer a man, but a mythic creature, even more mythic than Republican deity Ronald Reagan, who could never win a primary today.

Should presidential candidates have to pass a civics test in order to run? The New York Times has five different perspectives on whether testing if candidates know what’s in the Constitution they vow to protect so emphatically would make for a better pool of candidates. For the current crop of presidential candidates, it would been more advantageous for voters if they were forced to complete a Sporcle of their own shows platforms, past issue positions, and previous jobs.

At this point, I have no idea what is going to happen with Newt Gingrich. I knew that the 90s were starting to overtake the 80s as the trendy era to pine for, what with everyone listening to Nirvana again and TeenNick bringing back “All That” and “Clarissa Explains it All,” but I never thought this nostalgia would extend to former congressional figures.