Isaac Chotiner

The Spitzer scandal has brought forth some articles like this very good one from Emily Bazelon on whether prostitution should be illegal. Meanwhile, Matt Yglesias opines: Whenever a politician gets caught up in a prostitution scandal, I do need to return to the fact that at the end of the day I don't really think the exchange of sex for money is serious wrongdoing in the sense that justifies criminal sanctions. One thing that I think often gets lost in these debates (whether they be over prostitution or drug legalization), is that an action can be wrong because it is illegal.

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Hillary Clinton in Newsweek: How can you win the nomination when the math looks so bleak for you?It doesn't look bleak at all. I have a very close race with Senator Obama. There are elected delegates, caucus delegates and superdelegates, all for different reasons, and they're all equal in their ability to cast their vote for whomever they choose. Even elected and caucus delegates are not required to stay with whomever they are pledged to. The strategy here seems completely mystifying.

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Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell avoided saying anything inappropriate on Meet The Press this morning, which must have calmed nerves in Clinton-land. Still, this comment about Clinton's "win" in Michigan, where Obama was not even on the ballot, was pretty amusing: I'm calling for a revote.  But, Tim, you run against uncommitted, that's the toughest election to win. I'd rather run against an opponent anytime than against uncommitted, and Hillary Clinton got 55 percent of the vote against uncommitted.   --Isaac Chotiner

The Clinton campaign, and the candidate herself, have lately been hinting that Obama is not ready to be Commander-in-Chief. But I had not seen any top level Clintonite actually say so outright--until now. From exiled TNR alum Ryan Lizza's campaign report in next week's New Yorker (quoting Mark Penn): “As [voters] get more of a sense that he’s not ready to be Commander-in-Chief, a lot of Independents who were supporting him are disappearing.” That seems pretty clear! Still, you have to admire the effrontery of a campaign that can claim their oppenent: A.

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The new ABC News/WaPo poll has some interesting nuggets. Obama beats McCain by twelve, and Clinton beats McCain by six. What accounts for Obama's bigger margin? Well, men prefer him by three points to McCain, and prefer McCain by seven points to Clinton.

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Everyone should read John Judis' analysis of the exit polls, but I want to quibble with a point he makes about race. Here's John: The exit polls ask voters whether the "race of the candidates" was "important" in deciding their vote. If one looks at the percentage of Clinton (and earlier Edwards) voters who said it was "important," that is a fair estimate of the overall percentage of primary voters who were not inclined to vote for Obama because he was black.

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Texas...whoa

CNN is giving the results of almost 750,000 Texas votes and Obama leads by over 100,000. Is this the early voting? If so, that's very good news for Obama.  --Isaac Chotiner 

A week ago, according to Intrade, Obama was an 80% favorite to win Texas. An hour ago it was 50-50. Now it's back up to 80-20 for, as far as I can tell, no reason. Theories welcome! --Isaac Chotiner 

The New York Times today has a brilliant front page piece on young Iraqis who have become fed up with their religious leaders, not to mention the religion-inspired violence consuming their society. Here's the key graf, late in the story: Violent struggle against the United States was easy to romanticize at a distance. “I used to love Osama bin Laden,” proclaimed a 24-year-old Iraqi college student. She was referring to how she felt before the war took hold in her native Baghdad.

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In a front page interview with the Wall Street Journal on Monday, John McCain talked taxes: On taxes, Sen. McCain is walking a fine line between courting keep-taxes-low Republicans while insisting he is the candidate of fiscal discipline. Two weeks ago, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked him on "This Week" if he were a " 'read my lips' candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?" referring to a pledge made by President George H.W. Bush, which he later broke. "No new taxes," Sen. McCain responded. "But under circumstances would you increase taxes?" Mr. Stephanopoulos continued. "No," Sen.

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