The Plank

Hillary Punts, But Still Beats Richardson

I'll second Noam's complaint that Hillary seemed to come off as arrogant and standoffish when she refused to answer Tim Russert's question about Social Security (and Israel/Iran policy too, for that matter). Why bother to show up at these debates if you're not going to even pretend to answer the interesting questions?

Mitt Falling

Romney's lead in New Hampshire has completely evaporated.

Noam has more here.

--Isaac Chotiner

Bayh Hearts Hillary, Cont'd

Yes, Evan Bayh may be the milquetoastiest guy in the Senate, but I share Noam's thinking about Bayh's potential to be Hillary's (admittedly not electrifying) No. 2. And I think there's no question that the Indiana Senator is jockeying (oh-so-politely, of course) for the slot.

Blowing Smoke

On Thursday and Friday of this week, President Bush will host an international conference on climate change. Anyone who thinks this signifies a genuine change of heart on his long-standing opposition to curtailing greenhouse emissions would be wise to read this article about his administration's efforts to undermine California's emissions-reducing proposal.

Another Date With Bill

Ack. Here's the subject line/come on from my latest "Bill Clinton" email, this one encouraging Hillary supporters to sign up for the chance to hang out and watch one of the upcoming debates with the former president.

"You, me, a TV, and a bowl of chips"

That's it. I've gotta email Team Hillary and find out who dreamed up these bizarre teasers--and how much they'd had to drink.

Will keep you posted.

--Michelle Cottle

Mccain Fund-raising Goes Stealth

In addition to my "Bill Clinton" solicitation, I also received a midday missive from "Roger Staubach," the subject line of which reads simply "From Roger Staubach."

The email begins:

Dear Michelle,

Bathroom Sex: Not Just For Closeted Gay Senators

Heterosexual, co-ed Wisconsin football fans can also succumb.

--Jonathan Chait

Ugly Americans, The Movie

A number of smart conservatives (and some unexpected ones) have taken Fred Thompson to task for his pseudopatriotic boast that

Why Is Romney Talking So Much About Change?

Jonathan Martin has a smart post up about the conflicting challenges the Romney campaign faces: Romney is trying to distance himself from the mess Bush's GOP has made of the country. At the same time, he has to win over a Republican establishment that's still skeptical of his moderate Massachusetts pedigree, to say nothing of his Mormonism. As Jonathan puts it, "he's wanting to give the Sunday sermon a week after he joined the church."

50 Years Ago

Vanity Fair has online an extraordinary, heartbreaking essay about the Little Rock Nine, who integrated Central High School 50 years ago this month. The story focuses on 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford, the shy, pretty subject of Will Counts's iconic photograph of the event, and on the furious teenage protester also captured in his frame, Hazel Bryan.