The Weekly Wrap


Friday on the Dish, Andrew made the moral case for Obama, calling him the "best conservative president since Bill Clinton. He then dismantled Peggy Noonan's Obama takedown and accused her of Romnesia – or lying.

Then as Murray Waas reported on Romney's persecution of gay parents, Nate Cohn analyzed both candidates' paths to victory in Ohio and Brendan Nyhan unpacked media-fueled momentum narratives. Meanwhile, forty percent of the country confused the pro-choice and pro-life parties, John McCrain imagined the consequences of killing the Electoral College, and as Seth Masket noted Obama's field office advantage, Drum suspected Obama's ground game advantage is overstated. 

Earlier in the day, third-quarter GDP came in at 2.0%, Josh Barro said Gary Johnson would be an economic disaster and Charles R. Morris argued that over-developed finance industries harmed manufacturing. Suderman then previewed post-election politics, Kate Dailey provided numbers on early voting and Douglas Labier explored the psychology of political lies. And as John Warner confessed that he's overwhelmed by this election season, Michael Hastings defended Valerie Jarrett and Obama rolled out new Florida-focused ads. Mark Bowden then discussed how the drug war evolved and as Colorado's marijuana legalization looked poised to pass, its police continued to arrest 10,000 pot-smokers a year.

In international commentary, Hussein Agha and Robert Malley surveyed Islamists' transition to power and Tim Padgett likened Mourdock's abortion stance to those in Latin America. 

Alice Dreger then explained the sex lives of Siamese twins, tennis' first professional trans player expressed ambivalence about her legacy and Amanda Hess considered the demand for condom-free porn. Jeff Masters then examined where Sandy will hit, as Bill McKibben saw the hurricane as a preview of future natural disasters. Teju Cole explored Nigeria's "jungle justice," assisted suicide prolonged life and the era of brownstones dimmed. VFYW here, MHB here and a dog dressed as Paw Ryan for Halloween.

The rest of the wrap after the jump:


By Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Thursday on the Dish, Andrew agreed with Clinton on calling Romney a far-right extremist and a flip-flopper, though he was still given the chills by Romney's shape-shifting. He then hoped for an election outcome that resembled 2004 more than 2000 and weighed in on the Mourdock rape comment, extolling a Christianity that embraces the "mystery of the Hidden God," while readers illuminated the theodicy debate underlying Mourdock's abortion views. Andrew also foiled comparisons between his Catholicism and Romney's Mormonism, and interpreted the political rhetoric behind a Mormon apostle's defense of the ban on African-Americans.

In polls, Kyle Kondik called the House for the GOP, and as Silver suspected Romney's momentum has stalled, Mark Blumenthal broke down the Mittmentum myth. Meanwhile, in election news, Ezra Klein argued the race comes down to healthcare, Chait unloaded on Paul Ryan's compassion play, Ambers analyzed the indecision of undecideds and Kornacki examined blue-state apathy. Enten expected voting gaps to widen, Christina Wolbrecht attributed the gender gap to men fleeing Dems while Jared Bernstein reminded everyone that the Dems already have cut spending – a lot. Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier then looked at the relationship between sports and politics and while the Obama campaign went 47% in the Ad War, the South Dakota GOP accused a Dem congressional candidate of… studying.

In global coverage, Syria's horrifying conditions worsened, Mark Bowden revealed the biggest surprise of his book on the OBL raid and Graeme Wood covered the Salafi movement. Plus, ladyboys in the UAE ran the risk of abuse from the authorities.

A reader then debated Peak Apple arguments, while others refined the discussion on the benefits of school class size. Dana Stevens contemplated on-screen intimacy, Adrian Woolridge imagined the consequences of driverless cars and Christina Agapakis unspun the history of the urine wheel. Also, extroverts needed introverts, Mike Riggs explained why cops are seldom fired and Roger Ebert gushed about Cloud Atlas. Plus, Saint Beardrick looked bearded, butch and pious. MHB here, VFYW here and FOTD here

Raceand the race

Wednesday on the Dish, Andrew hoped that Obama would fight complacency, noted that everything about Romney is fake and took down Michelle Cottle's Hillaryland piece. On the topic of Mormonism, Andrew wondered how Romney challenged the church's racist policy and readers weighed in on issue – while some called the LDS a giant Etch-a-Sketch, others thought Andrew had gone over the edge.

In polls, Nate Cohn analyzed data on race and Blumenthal checked in on swing states. Then in election news, Clinton and Clint duked it out in ads, Molly Ball gamed out the ground game and while Romney reiterated his position on gay marriage, a Prop 8 proponent switched sides. Surowiecki then tackled Romney's healthcare proposals and Nate Cohn doubted Super PACs would decide the election.

Dave Weigel debunked Libya conspiracy theories, Mark Bowden mused on the impact on terrorism of OBL's death, and Brian Crisher and Mark Souva compared our navy to that of 1916. Michael Koplow pushed back against the idea that Israel might be facing a hard-right majority and Michael Massing reflected on drug consumption. 

In assorted commentary, Dana Goldstein evaluated the evidence on the benefits of small classes, Noreen Malone profiled Felix Salmon, and Claudia Hammond explored instant greying. Olivia Solon then reported on Detour, Matt Soniak revealed the reason that recordings distorted voices and Quinn O'Neill demystified crazy beliefs. And as Lucas Siegel detailed Clark Kent-as-blogger, Peter Bregman endorsed meditation. Brian Barrett then hailed the arrival of Peak Apple, popular kids earned more and Jeff Goldblum "drunkenly" explained PayPal. Finally, Frans Johansson pointed out the secret to success, Matt Novak provided a short history of the robot dog and "knife on a bottle" took the prize for worst sound. FOTD here and VFYW here.  


By Feng Li/Getty Images

Tuesday on the Dish, Andrew marveled at why Romney's Mormonism hasn't been scrutinized and called out the bishop appointment of a Bush-Cheney torture architect. He then interpreted Mittmentum – something Jon Chait called attention to earlier – and guffawed at Romney's etch-a-sketching on foreign policy.

In debate reactions, Weigel determined that Romney won the insta-polls, Beinart hailed the third debate a victory for Bush, and as the blogosphere weighed in, readers analyzed. A secret tunnel connected Iran and Syria, Romney backed the ICC and after the former Mossad chief excoriated Romney, Andrew hit back at Conor Friedersdorf's drone argument. Plus, Andrew revealed the zen of live-blogging, Michelle Malkin policed Ann Coulter and Mitt played Rafalca for Ann.

In election coverage, a reader pointed to Obama's stronger poll numbers, John Scalzi updated the view from Ohio and Douthat feared for the electoral college. Andrew Romano and Daniel Klaidman unpacked Obama's power moves, Obama rolled out ads on his second-term agenda and Drew Linzer thought Obama was the favorite. Mark Bowden then explained what impressed him the most about Obama, McKay Coppins checked in on Breitbart and Obama held a baby.

Maryland's marriage equality prospects looked up, Jacob Sullum flagged a marijuana-friendly site and as Andy Grove proposed suggested retail prices, William Cohan wondered whether financial crimes will go unpunished.

Andrew then reported on his bout with bronchitis, John Garnaut highlighted how little is known about Xi Jinping and David Sedaris lampooned gift-giving. Linda Holmes found that friendship ousted the family sitcom, YouTube proved less violent than TV and Matt Haber checked in on Jim Downey. Autofill failed, MHB here and VFYW here. Plus, don't forget to ask Massie anything!


By Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images

Monday on the Dish, Andrew declared Obama the winner, though he thought Romney's defeat on points "will be an acceptable result." And as the blogosphere reacted and the Tweetosphere weighed in, the horses and bayonets meme took off.

In debate preview coverage, Walter Russell Mead thought Romney needed to tie with Obama tonight, Enten pondered the importance of tonight's debate and Elizabeth Economy lamented both candidates' superficiality on China. Ezra Klein ridiculed the distinction between domestic and foreign policy, Jonathan Cohn insisted Obama had a second-term vision and Andrew Sprung issued an etch-a-sketch warning. 

Then in polling, Nate Silver addressed mixed signals, while Ambers analyzed the horse race. More generally, Doug Mataconis wondered whether newspaper endorsements still mattered, Daniel Foster made the case for the electoral college and Michael Grunwald heralded the president's environmental achievements. And while Tammy Baldwin pioneered gay visibility in Wisconsin, John Avlon checked in on the campaign to oust Michele Bachmann. Meanwhile, Obama's latest ad barrage drew distinctions against Romney on Iraq and Afghanistan, economists made a presidential Frankenstein and the candidates got creched.

In assorted commentary, readers chided Russ George's recklessness, Steve Brodner skewered the real housewives of the Middle East and Jeopardy! preferred non-typical nerds. Stoned spiders spun weird webs, Alan Jacobs criticized TED and readers reflected on the origin on internet dating. Sportscenter MHB here and VFYW here.


Albi, France, 1 pm

Saturday and Sunday on the Dish, the fervor of the presidential election receded as books, religion, and culture seized our attention. The main political news we covered was the unfolding story of Romney's Benghazi boomerang here and here.

In literary coverage, Keith Gessen profiled the hate-based friendship of Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin, Jeffrey Williams charted the rise of the academic novel in America fiction, Brad Leithauser reflected on the burden of unread books, Danny Heitman complicated our understanding of Thoreau, Geraldine Brooks explained her sophisticated method for shelving her books, Martha Nussbaum celebrated fiction's moral power, Daniel Mendelsohn described why he's a critic who takes the long view, and Mark Signorelli captured the power of poetry. Read Saturday's poem here and Sunday's here.

In matters of faith and doubt, Andre Dubus meditated on the meaning of sacraments, Michael Quinn reviewed the history of LDS meddling in American politics, a pastor gave surprising testimony about marriage equality, Rachel Held Evans embraced the fraught enterprise of interpreting the Bible, and Roger McCann explored why the problem of God's existence isn't merely a matter of logic. Marc Barnes detailed Andy Warhol's saintly side, Christian Wiman found God in the midst suffering, a Mormon offered the reasons she's voting for Obama, mainline Protestant churches were accused of nefarious anti-Zionism, and Jerry DeNuccio unpacked the religious and literary history of anti-materialism.

In assorted coverage, a new study muddled the classic marshmallow test, Peter Jager theorized why everything is bigger in Laos, Michael Adams extoled the health benefits of slang, Michael Gonzales noted crack's arrival in his neighborhood, Kurt Hollander delved into the history of Aztec alcohol, and Jacob Silverman reminded us just how dangerous a drug alcohol is. We also analyzed the origins of Internet dating and jokingly pondered whether Obama was a socialist or a failture, while Stephen Burt explicated his difficulties dressing like a woman, Meehan Crist scrutinized the latest merging of psychonalysis and neuroscience, William Deresiewicz appreciated America's infrastructure inheritance, and Ross Andersen showed how climate changing is threatening the world's oldest trees.

We asked Christopher Ryan anything here and Reihan Salam here. Tweet of the day here and cool ad watch here. MHBs here and here, FOTDs here and here, VFYW here and here, and the latest window contest here.