Alec MacGillis

Senior Editor

Most of the time, I have very little patience for reflexive cries of liberal bias in the media.

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Jason Horowitz's long piece in the Washington Post about Mitt Romney's prep-school years is an absolute must-read, not least because of its revelation, confirmed by several fellow Cranbrook Prep graduates, of the the time that Mitt led a posse of students in pinning down a gay classmate and cutting off his bleached-blonde locks -- an episode the student, who died in 2004, decades later told a fellow classmate had been "horrible" to experience.

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Who knows what calculations went into Barack Obama’s decision to “evolve” back to where he’d started on gay marriage in 1996. The timing is striking—after Joe Biden’s blurt on Sunday, there were a lot of pundits and activists arguing that Obama was now behind not only his vice president but most of the country on this issue. Yet he decided to make his move the day after an election, in the swing state of North Carolina, that showed to what extent this is far from a settled issue in many parts of the country, whatever the polls might say.

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You could practically hear the guffaws emanating from Twitter last night over the 41 percent vote share that Keith Judd, a federal inmate in Texas, managed to win in the Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia. And sure, there’s humor to be had in an incarcerated man winning a bunch of counties against the incumbent president of the United States. But was this outcome necessarily as telling and disastrous for Obama as the twitterati snark was making it out to be? Not exactly. As is so often the case, the punditocracy was willfully ignoring regional context.

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My colleague Jonathan Cohn has the goods in explaining why Mitt Romney’s new attempt to drive a wedge between Barack Obama and the more centrist Democrats nostalgic for Bill Clinton fails as a matter of policy reality. But it’s also worth noting, with only a smidgen of facetiousness, why it actually makes some sense for Romney to praise Bill Clinton, apart from the blatant political gamesmanship at work. First, consider that when Bill Clinton was president, Mitt Romney was...kinda liberal! Heck, he even voted for Clinton’s rival Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Massachusetts Democratic primary!

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Put me squarely in the camp of Robert Caro admirers, even if I’m woefully behind in making my way through the biographer’s LBJ canon. But it’s also been clear to me for some time now that Caro’s exhaustive, colorful depiction of Johnson’s rise to power in Washington has not exactly been helpful when it comes to our country’s weakness for the Great Man Theory of politics and history.

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Tucked inside this morning’s lackluster monthly jobs report is a remarkable figure: the economy is back to a net positive for the number of private sector jobs created since the start of 2009. That is, even with the ginormous job losses that we saw in the first few months of 2009, we’re now back in the black from that standpoint. But that’s private sector jobs.

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Euro Trashed

I first saw Mitt Romney playing the dread Europe card on the campaign trail in Iowa. “I think President Obama wants to make us a European-style welfare state,” went the standard refrain. “What I know is that, if they do that, they’ll substitute envy for ambition. And they’ll poison the very spirit of America and keep us from being one nation under God.” At another stop, Romney warned that Obama’s policies were already “making us more and more like Europe. I don’t think Europe is working in Europe.

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My Stump-mate Noam has been doing a nice job of tracking the shift in approach from Team Obama’s “new politics” campaign in 2008 to its more mundane, grind-it-out strategy this time around. He zeroed in on the exact right example—Chicago’s emphasis on trying to score points on manufactured kerfuffles such as the Republican National Committee chairman’s ironic (and if you ask me, innocuous) comparison of women to caterpillars.

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