The Plank

Redefining Success

In its "Primary Sources" section, The Atlantic points to a July Pew poll about marriage and parenting. The finding that most fascinates The Atlantic and that seems of particular concern to the folks at Pew is the fact that only 41% of Americans regard having children as key to a successful marriage, behind seven other factors including "Faithfulness," "Happy Sexual Relationship," "Sharing Household Chores," and "Good Income."

The survey's executive summary notes:

Applause Lines

There was a telling moment during John McCain's speech to the NRA this morning. From the Chicago Tribune:

More On Pew And Parenting

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I completely agree with Michelle's take on the presumed conflict Pew finds between Americans overwhelmingly thinking that unwed parenting is a problem, yet increasingly believing children aren't necessary for a happy marriage.

Poor Alberto

If you think the last two years have been a rough time for Alberto Gonzales, check out what's happened to a different Alberto: former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. First, his poorly-thought-out scheme to return from exile and run in Peru's 2006 presidential election ran into trouble when he was arrested by Chilean authorities while en route to Peru and later placed under house arrest.

Zinging Fred

At an early Republican debate John McCain's rivals tweaked his past alliances with liberals by referring to the "McCain-Feingold" (campaign finance) and "McCain-Kennedy" (immigration) bills.

Now, via camp Romney, comes the "McCain-Feingold-Thompson" soundbite. Fred did have a substantial hand in that bill, too.

--Michael Crowley

Rudy In Hostile Territory

I went to Rudy Giuliani's speech at the NRA's "Celebration of American Values" in Washington today and found his pitch to be pretty shrewd. The heart of Giuliani's case was that he and the NRA faithful share a similar set of, well, values, even if they operationalize them in different ways. Giuliani dwelled on how his work as mayor and U.S. attorney focused mostly on fighting crime and restoring order, which was similar to the rationale a lot of the more orthodox speakers offered up in defense of gun ownership.

"is This Thing On?" [tap Tap, Squealing Feedback]

The sputtering Thompson rollout--sounds like his fundraising will disappoint, among other things--summarized by Politico's Mike Allen.

It seems the GOP could use a savior to save it from the savior. I'm reminded of this great old Monty Python sketch, which I was delighted to discover on YouTube. After Thompson, who will be the next GOP milkman?:

--Michael Crowley

Quote Of The Day

"He's like a force of nature.... I don't even pretend to be that. That's not who I am." --Hillary Clinton, on her husband, in the AP.

--Michael Crowley

Dobson's Dilemma

Andrew calls attention to Christian Right grand poobah James Dobson's wh*ithering assessment of Fred Thompson. And the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody reads the tea leaves: