The most amusing part of Zev Chafets' big Huckabee profile has for some reason been getting scant attention. Here's Chafets: The governor regards 1968 as the dawning of ‘‘the age of the birth-control pill, free love, gay sex, the drug culture and reckless disregard for standards.’’ Gay sex, huh? That wasn't around before 1968? Perhaps scientists invented it along with the pill... --Isaac Chotiner
The worst debate of the campaign--by far. The questions were boring, the candidates did not have enough time to answer, and Keyes was allowed to be bullying and obnoxious. More substantively, Romney and Huckabee both did very well (the Fox focus group, for what it's worth, overwhelmingly liked Romney), while McCain and particularly Giuliani seemed almost invisible. Thompson had some good lines, but isn't going anywhere. In short, not much of a debate, and probably not very significant. --Isaac Chotiner
That front page New York Times/CBS News poll has been getting a lot of ink, and you can see the full results in PDF form here. Although not really mentioned in the write-up, the numbers on the economy are striking. Bush's approval rating on the economy specifically is 5 points lower than it's ever been. Moreover, by 18 percentage points, respondents give the advantage to Democrats when asked which party would "ensure" a strong economy.
A charming story (third item) about White House Press Secretary Dana Perino: Appearing on NPR's light-hearted quiz show "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me," which aired over the weekend, Perino got into the spirit of things and told a story about herself that she had previously shared only in private: During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and she didn't know what it was. "I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis," said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown.
The excellent Steve Coll has an extremely confusing and unsatisfying Comment in this week's New Yorker. Here's Coll: Iran’s ruling clerics are revealed in the estimate as nervous types. As the mullahs watched the United States recklessly invade Iraq, in 2003, to destroy weapons of mass destruction that no longer existed, they harbored the guilty secret that their atomic-bomb program did exist, and might yet be discovered. So they apparently put their bomb work to rest.
The Los Angeles Times has a big story today on Iranian defectors. Here's the lede: The CIA launched a secret program in 2005 designed to degrade Iran's nuclear weapons program by persuading key officials to defect, an effort that has prompted a "handful" of significant departures, current and former U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the operation say. The previously undisclosed program, which CIA officials dubbed "the Brain Drain," is part of a major intelligence push against Iran ordered by the White House two years ago. This would certainly explain the NIE's turnabout.
Mike Allen has a big scoop at The Politico today which is now the lead story on Drudge. As the AP puts it in their write-up: Mike Huckabee once advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public, opposed increased federal funding in the search for a cure and said homosexuality could "pose a dangerous public health risk." As a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee answered 229 questions submitted to him by The Associated Press.
Ross' interesting post on the paradox of the GOP nomination fight--every candidate has a seemingly fatal flaw, but one of them has to win--brought to mind what I think has always been the most fascinating What If of the campaign. What if in, say, August, Jeb Bush had entered the race. Yes, his name is poison, but given the field I find it hard to imagine a scenario where he doesn't have a major impact--and maybe win. I'd be curious to know what people more informed about internal Republican dynamics think. --Isaac Chotiner
It pains me to say this, but the best thing I have read on Romney, Mormonism, and faith in the presidential campaign comes courtesy of Charles Krauthammer (David Brooks gets second prize).
Romney just quoted John Adams saying, "Freedom requires religion." This is a pretty radical statement, and something the candidate should be asked about later. Correction: Apparently that was not a John Adams quote; Romney said it on his own. --Isaac Chotiner