This week wasn't lacking for political news; indeed, I don't have time to include it all here. So here's the political open thread with a first burst of links, to be updated later in the weekend.
The week in brief…
– The Democrats debated again in one of the stupider circuses thus far: A hollering crowd, silly questions, and a melting Bill Richardson. (Who the hell lit the place?)
– The House passed, by a veto-proof margin, a bill that will put the onus on lenders not to let people buy mortgages they can't afford.
– Tom Tancredo got what will be his last burst of attention, failing a miracle showing in Iowa, with a spine-tingling/ridiculous ad about Mexicans nuking your local mall. Ben Adler asks why Tancredo's gone nowhere in the Republican race.
– Anti-Paulism. When Ron Paul gets a burst of positive attention, a flurry of negative stories come hurtling. A few months ago it was his support from Alex Jones and 9/11 conspiracy theorists; this week it was his support from Don Black and other white supremacists. The scandal boiled down: Paul is supported by white supremacist sites, he's received money from some of the big ones, and he refuses to denounce them or return the cash.
In the more rarefied circles of political journalism, this is a fairly big story: One reporter asked me how much of Paul's 11/5 money was from racists, as if most of it was. (I personally know two journalists working on "Paul's fascist ties"-type stories.) In the larger media, it's nowhere: The campaign reporters who care about Paul are still focusing on his fundraising and surprisingly huge rallies, not digging much deeper. But they're going to start digging eventually. The Anti-Defamation League (relying in part on my reporting) is mulling over what to do with Paul. Say what you want about Abe Foxman, but he knows how to turn the media onto a story.
Should Paul be held responsible for the people who support him? That's an impossible standard, and especially difficult for a candidate who's attracted voters from all over the right-wing fringescape. But should he disclaim and denounce support from racists? Yes. Without even being asked, he should.
– Fredpocalypse Now. Conventional wisdom: Mike Huckabee's low-budget poll surge is stripping away the rationale for Fred Thompson's campaign, and his fall in the polls will continue apace. Bold, ahead-of-the-curve prediction: Thompson's Ron Paul-style, grassroots-driven fundraising day will deepen this storyline. Why? It's scheduled for the day before Thanksgiving. The rationale, apparently:
This effort is to give Senator Thompson the Thanksgiving Present he deserves.
OK, hands up: Who gives "Thanksgiving presents"? Who, instead, travels on the day before Thanksgiving? Who, when they go online with their credit cards that week, will be thinking about presidential politics versus the Amazon.com and Target.com and RealDoll.com pre-Christmas sales? The Paulites' fundraising dates of 11/5 and 12/16 have come in for some mockery (including from one AEI scholar who demanded Paul return the 11/5 money, since Guy Fawkes was basically a limey bin Laden), but they've proven successful (so far) because they had an ideological, movement-oriented resonance. A "Thanksgiving present"? That's cult-of-personality politics in the service of a candidate whose cult is definitely dwindling.
Below the fold…
– Ana Marie Cox on why John McCain must win New Hampshire, scratching her head at why his campaign doesn't get this.
– Jeremy Lott on why 9/11 is the new Antietam.
– Shawn Macomber reports from the Nevada debate. It's worse than you saw on TV.
– Ramesh Ponnuru announces a winner in the pundit primary.
And for Politics and Prog… I've been resisting an Emerson, Lake and Palmer link with all my might, but the Poteet High School Percussion Ensemble has made my stubborness impossible to maintain.