The Friday Political Thread: Keep Your Nuts


Convincing Quote of the Week
"Libertarians are getting ready for the mainstream, and mainstream America may finally be ready for them."
Time magazine

The Week in Brief
– John McCain's economic team ended the recession. Just in time!
– The Bill of Rights got pared down to a manageable nine.
– Jesse Jackson went nuts.
– Bob Barr started polling in the high single digits… or did he?
– Jesse Ventura pondered a comeback.

Below the Fold
– Chris Hedges frets about the implications of FISA reform on the press.
– Nate Silver notices that Obama has been compared to everyone who's run for president since the 1940s.
The Onion picks Obama's running mate.
– Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild calls Obama an "elitist." Seriously, kids.
Time tries to grok the Libertarians.
– Surprise! Mark Penn's rotten to the core.

I've taken a request for this week's Politics 'n' Prog. Thanks to Jon Rowe for recommending "The Pinnacle."

SATURDAY UPDATE: This is awful news: Tony Snow has died.

Tony Snow, a conservative writer and commentator who cheerfully sparred with reporters in the White House briefing room during a stint as President Bush's press secretary, has died of colon cancer, Fox News reported Saturday. Snow was 53 years old.

Shikha Dalmia's 2007 interview with Snow is here.

SATURDAY UPDATE II: Daniel Larison ruminates on one of my electoral obsessions.

Except for Indiana, which is a natural target for an Illinois candidate, most of the "map-expanding" moves that Obama is making right now make little sense. I know that the Montana, North Dakota and Alaska polls show a very close race, and at least one has shown Obama leading in Montana, but there are structural reasons that these states almost never vote Democratic in the presidential race, just as there are structural reasons why "the Casey belt" states are more likely to vote that way.  Many of the latter would be reverting to previous voting patterns, while the newly targeted states will have to break with long-established patterns.  Put another way, if these states even voted for Bob Dole, odds are they will still end up voting for Dole Mk II

McCain. I just don't think Larison understands these states. Not until 2000 were Montana and North Dakota out of bounds for Democrats. In 1988, Michael Dukakis only lost Montana by 6 points and North Dakota by 13. In the two Clinton races, with Perot pulling independent voters, the Democrats won Montana once and lost North Dakota by smallish margins. Clinton's Kentucky and Tennessee wins (to use two states Larison says Obama should play for) were not overwhelming: In 1996, Clinton beat the pathetic Dole in Kentucky by 13,000 votes out of about 1.4 million. For a number of oddball demographic and cultural reasons, western whites like Obama more than Appalachian whites like him. Those same whites are represented right now, in Montana, by two Democratic senators and a Democratic governor, and in North Dakota by two Democratic senators and a Democratic congressman. I don't think Obama is shadowboxing by playing in the plains and west.