Jonathan Cohn

Senior Editor

Barack Obama is getting feisty. On Monday, as Karen Tumulty reports, he went after John McCain hard on the economy: Where he would rarely even mention McCain in the past, Obama now openly mocks him. McCain boasts of putting country first, Obama said, "but I have to say, it's not an example of putting country first when you say George Bush's economic policies have shown 'great progress.' " As for McCain's contention that Obama would be an "economic disaster," Obama retorted, "Mr. McCain, let me explain to you. The economic disaster is happening right now.

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Just Words?

The typical voter may not pay much attention to partly platforms these days, but activists certainly do. And at the Democratic Party platform hearings held in Pittsburgh just over a week ago, advocates for health care reform made their presence felt, proposing--and obtaining--revisions to the platform proposed by Obama and the party. The final platform proposal, which the full party will consider in Denver next week, now states that “every American man, woman, and child [should] be guaranteed affordable, comprehensive health care. ...

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Well-connected Washington insider Steve Clemons has already reported that signs point to Joe Biden as Barack Obama's running mate. Now comes this tidbit, coutesy of the Washington Post's Shailagh Murray: Tony Blinken, the Biden foreign policy adviser who accompanied Obama on his overseas trip, left Washington to go on vacation late last week. Destination? Hawaii.  The timing of Blinken's trip isn't clear. Maybe he got there after Obama left. Or maybe he really was on vacation.

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No, I don't have any new information. As far as I know, Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed may never have been a serious contender to join Barack Obama on the ticket--in no small part because Reed has said, repeatedly and with apparent sincerity, that he has no interest in the job. We certainly aren't hearing about Reed the way we are hearing about Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, and Tim Kaine.

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Insiders

Earlier this summer, when the Obama campaign announced that Jason Furman was joining its staff as director of economic policy, the storyline seemed to write itself: Centrist adviser will pull Obama to the right. Furman had first made a name for himself as a wonky twentysomething wunderkind in the later years of the Clinton administration--a period when, to the consternation of many liberals, Clinton emphasized balanced budgets, free trade, and welfare reform.

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Barack Obama could surely do worse than to tap Evan Bayh as his running mate. He is an honorable and highly experienced public official, having served both as governor and U.S. senator from his home state of indiana. And, as my colleague Nate Silver has noted, his voting record suggests he's actually a bit more progressive than his centrist image suggests. But does that make Bayh the best choice for the job?

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Does this new new ad for Barack Obama, which his campaign calls "embrace," work?  The crisply produced spot certainly does a nice job of tying John McCain to Bush, with snapshot after snapshot of the two embracing. (Thus, the title.) It also exposes the hypocrisy inherent McCain's ads, which mock Obama for his celebrity. Whatever McCain's relationship with the press today, he has a long history as a media darling. And that history has played no small role in his career trajectory. On the other hand, I wonder whether showing McCain on Leno, Letterman, etc., is all that damaging.

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By all accounts, Barack Obama is quite far along in his deliberations over a running mate. If he hasn't already made his choice, it's down to a tiny handfull of people. The time for suggesting new names, in other words, has long since passed. But with Michigan and its pivotal role in the election on my mind, I can't help but throw out another possibility, one so seemingly ideal I'm surprised we haven't heard more about him already: Senator Carl Levin. What woud Levin bring to the ticket?

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"Mayor Kilpatrick Ordered to Jail." The only thing surprising about that headline, which refers to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, is the timing. Kilpatrick is presently awaiting trial for perjury, obstruction of justice, misconduct in office, and several other charges--all of them stemming from an alleged affair with his former chief-of-staff and an alleged effort to hide it. It's a tawdry tale that you can read about here and here.

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Because I don't have anything better to do with my day than waste my time on stupid Internet gimmicks, this morning I clicked over to "Mike on Ads" to see whether my web surfing reflects my gender. If you haven't heard or read about this little toy yet, it basically looks at your browser history to see what sites you've visited. Then, using data on which genders are more likely to use each site, it guesses whether you are male or female and assigns a probability to it. Ezra Klein and Jeff Goldberg both tested out at 97 percent male.

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