Alec MacGillis

Senior Editor

Recently, I asked whether Republican voters would care enough about the crony capitalism evident in Rick Perry's Texas to vote against him. For Tea Party conservatives to do so, I suggested, would mean confronting the disconnect between their populist rhetoric and their willingness, until now, to tolerate Republican coziness with big business. Commenter "Rayward" made another good point to explain why the crony capitalism charge may not take against Perry: "Crony capitalism has no sting anymore because Republicans have neutered the term by calling Obama a crony capitalist.

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Fun times this afternoon at the Values Voters Summit, judging from the dispatches from the first day of the conference. Rick Perry was introduced by the head of the Southern Baptist Convention, who afterward staunchly affirmed his church's position that Mormonism is a "cult." Perry, meanwhile, got in another dig at the White House on Israel, suggesting that the administration has abandoned its ally. “When I am president, America will again stand with our friends," he said.

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Ronald Steel apparently had it wrong when he titled his magisterial 1981 biography of our magazine's co-founder "Walter Lippmann and the American Century." For how could the 1900s have been the American Century when, according to Mitt Romney, the American Century has just begun? From Romney's highly-touted foreign policy address at the Citadel this morning:   But I am here today to tell you that I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century. In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world.

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News alert: Bill Clinton supports President Obama's jobs bill and his plan to pay for it by raising taxes on the wealthy, the "Buffett Rule." You might not think this was newsworthy, a former Democratic president supporting another Democratic president's proposal to bring taxes closer in line with where they were under the first president's tenure, but Clinton, in typically Clintonesque fashion, managed to leave that support rather in doubt.

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Okay, so it may not be as damaging in Massachusetts as displaying one's Red Sox ignorance, but still, guffawing with a radio talk show host about your female opponent's unsuitability for nude modeling may not be the best route to reelection. Massachusetts has shown an odd reluctance to elevate women to higher office, but if there's anything that could help women rally around one of their own, this might be it.

On the morning after Sarah Palin's announcement that we have to make do without her this time around, a brief recollection from three years ago, just before her stock began to fall: It is a cold and rainy night in Wasilla, where I have spent the previous week reporting on Palin's tenure as mayor. Palin has come to Alaska to do her first prime-time interview, with ABC's Charlie Gibson.

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The political class is reacting with some astonishment to the Perry campaign's announcement that it raised $17 million in the third quarter (actually, in barely more than half the quarter, given Perry's late entry.) This most impressive sum conflicts with the boom and bust story line that had settled on Perry, after his surge to the front of the pack and more recent stumbles. But really, no one should have been surprised by this figure. As I describe in my new cover story in the magazine, raising money is what Perry does better than just about anyone.

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While the political circus kept spinning its what-might-have-beens around Chris Christie yesterday, there was an actual election going on in West Virginia, where Democratic governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who took over from Joe Manchin when he moved to the Senate, was up against Republican Bill Maloney.

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I'll leave it to the pundits to decide what will happen in the Republican primary now that Chris Christie has decided to keep his talents in Trenton. What does seem worth some thought, though, is what we won't see happen that we likely would have if Christie had gotten in: a full rekindling of the war over public employee unions. The issue has receded somewhat in the public consciousness since the showdowns in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere earlier this year, even as the fight carries on in several states.

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When Barack Obama arrives in St. Louis tonight for a couple of fundraisers, he will be greeted by a targeted media hit from American Crossroads, the outside group led by Karl Rove that had such an impact in the 2010 midterms and is gearing up for the same next year. The group's new ad, a $50,000 buy in Missouri, will attack Obama's jobs plan by invoking the recent words of the president's ever-helpful fellow Democrat: Bill Clinton.

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