Being Wicked Smaht Not Sufficient to Win in Massachusetts

Ben Smith shares this clue that the 2012 elections will be as high-minded as ever:

Byron emailed over a press release from the Massachusetts GOP, which points out that Elizabeth Warren couldn't name a Red Sox player when she was asked yesterday.

The release goes on to compare Warren's comments to Martha Coakley's "infamous gaffe" in 2010, and calls it a sign that Warren "comes from a world of Harvard elitism and is far removed from the middle-class values she claims to represent."

Why a Battle of the Budget is Looking Unlikely

While Obama's jobs proposal and the Super Committee have dominated Beltway chatter this week, the more urgent issue of the moment is the looming threat of a government shutdown. Here's where things stand:

Pennsylvania GOP Abuses Constitution and Disenfranchises Black Voters for Fun and Profit!

As far as the Constitution is concerned, each state is allowed to determine how it allocates its Electoral College votes. Most states hew to a winner-take-all system, but a few – Maine and Nebraska – allocate theirs by congressional district: your electoral vote total depends on the number of congressional districts you win, not your total vote share.

What Lobbying Isn't

In the other night's Republican debate, Michele Bachmann charged that the reason Rick Perry tried to mandate that girls in Texas get a nefarious "government injection" of Gardasil to prevent infection with HPV, which causes cervical cancer, was that Merck, the company that makes the drug, gave Perry political donations. Perry responded that the company only gave him $5,000, and he was offended at the idea that he could be bought for so little.

Haven't We Seen This Movie Before?

Hilarious/depressing headline of the day, from Politico:

On Jobs Bill, White House Bets On Boehner's Support

President Barack Obama needs House Speaker John Boehner’s help to muscle a jobs bill through Congress, but he’s betting that Boehner needs the win just as badly.

The White House strategy rests on the risky assumption that Obama can sell Boehner on a new political reality: With voters desperate for jobs, neither leader can afford to do nothing.

They can't actually be serious.

Special Elections are "Special" for a Reason

If the economy were a little stronger, and unemployment a little lower, there’s a good chance that New York’s 9th District would have remained in Democratic hands despite the indiscretions of its former congressman, Anthony Weiner.

But the economy is weak, unemployment is high, and voters are unhappy with President Barack Obama. In yesterday’s special election, Republican Bob Turner capitalized on that discontent to score a decisive win in the New York 9th, a heavily Democratic district that hasn’t had a Republican representative since 1922.

Too Much Hat, Not Enough Cattle?

In responding to a post by Ross Douthat comparing Rick Perry to Howard Dean ("who many Democratic primary voters wanted to support, because he was speaking their language and gleefully throwing insults in the teeth of a president they hated, but also a candidate whose weaknesses were obvious enough that he couldn't finally make the sale"), Jonathan Bernstein makes a good point:

Obama Returns to Large Leads Over All Republicans

Texas Governor Rick Perry is still the front-runner in the Republican presidential contest, but according to the latest Public Policy Polling survey, his standing has slipped in head-to-head matchups with President Obama.

Giving Away the Show

I think Jamelle's post below perfectly captures the flavor of last night's GOP debate, in which what was generally a contest to see who could be more wingnutty was occasionally interrupted by a candidate put on the defensive because they had done or said something reasonable. I'm not surprised, given this, that one challenge Michele Bachmann made to Mitt Romney has gotten less attention.

The Real Story from Last Night's GOP Debate

When it comes to Republican presidential debates, we’re reaching a point where the behavior of the audience overshadows the rhetoric of the candidates. At last week’s debate in California, for example, audience members cheered when Texas Governor Rick Perry defended his frequent use of the death penalty.

Put Me In, Coach...

I don't mean to mock, but here's what George W. Bush told HBO, according to Gawker, about his most nervous moment as president. Turns out it was when he threw out the first ball at a Yankee game after 9/11:

The adrenaline was coursing through my veins, and the ball felt like a shotput. And Todd Greene, the catcher, looked really small. Sixty feet and six inches seemed like a half-mile. And anyway, I took a deep breath and threw it, and thankfully it went over the plate. The response was overwhelming. It was the most nervous I had ever been. It was the most nervous moment of my entire presidency, it turns out.

Today in SAT Prep: Romney Is to Clinton as Perry Is to Obama

Today, still 14 months out from the Republican National Convention, some journalists remain wary of thinking the race could be over so soon despite Rick Perry's impressive polling. Amy Gardner at the Washington Post wrote yesterday that "Republicans are still shopping for a presidential nominee" and Ken Rudin argued on his NPR blog that the 1972 primaries provide historical evidence that all candidates should be considered viable nominees, especially this early in the game.

The Problem of a Romney Presidency

A decade ago, political scientists Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro wrote an excellent book called Politicians Don't Pander, in which they argued convincingly that the popular image of politicians slavishly following public opinion to determine where they should change their positions was bunk. That, however, was before Mitt Romney emerged on the scene. Yes, Mitt has a pandering problem, but if you're a Republican, it's really two problems.

Will the White House Welcome GOP Hatred of the Jobs Act?

If I were tasked with crafting the Republican Party’s legislative strategy in the wake of President Obama’s jobs speech, here’s what I would suggest: Instead of mindless opposition to the president’s proposal, craft a small-bore plan and pass it as the American Jobs Act. When this neutered bill fails to produce the benefits promised by Obama, attack him as hapless and ineffectual. It’s foolproof!

That is, unless your party is dominated by lawmakers and activists with a categorical opposition to anything that looks like compromise, even if it yields political advantage. Here’s Politico with an inside look at the GOP’s response to President Obama’s jobs pitch: