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If you want to be reminded of why politics really matters, or be cured of romantic notions about old fashioned rural life, or just feel grateful that electricity comes out of the sockets in your house, read Chapter 27 of Robert Caro’s Path to Power. “The Sad Irons” is a vivid description of life in the Texas Hill Country before the 1930s, particularly the daily chores of a farm wife. It will cure you of whining about your smartphone for a full week.

There’s no legal link to the full chapter online, but here’s a sample:

An...

September 28, 2012

I don’t know who will lose the election, but I do know why. Barring an unforeseen twist, the singular weakness of each candidate is already well-known enough to explain why they didn't win.

Mitt Romney has the narrower path to the White House and, if he loses, an ideological fight will begin in the Republican Party even before President Obama’s victory speech. Conservatives will point to consecutive losses by “moderates” to make their case that the Party needs a true believer to carry the standard. Moderates will say that Romney was...

September 27, 2012

A political pundit, I can’t remember which one, once revealed the secret to making predictions on television talk shows: Say the most outrageous non-laughable thing you can. To get invited back, you want to be as entertaining and bold as possible, without sounding stupid. And since no one ever keeps track of the predictions, it doesn’t matter if you’re wrong.

Fortunately, there are more sober observers of the political scene and they deserve credit when they’re unflashy and right. Dan Balz of the Washington Post, who is one of the...

September 26, 2012

Just a guess, but the football broadcasting establishment seems to be united in favor of the referees’ union in the current labor dispute.

Sports broadcasters generally work hard to keep everything free of ideology – adhering to the Michael Jordan maxim that there are consumers from both parties – but you can sometimes pick up a whiff of politics under the chatter. I doubt, for instance, that Al Michaels and Bob Costas are voting for the same presidential candidate.

But the complaints about the replacement refs -- which serves...

September 25, 2012

LeBron James should be Mitt Romney’s role model.

LeBron’s talents were recognized very early, and his personal success in high school and in Cleveland dazzled all observers. Then, with Jim Gray’s assistance, he became deeply unpopular. Finally, he emerged a champion.

Governor Romney’s trajectory was much the same. His intelligence and leadership were noticed early, at prep school and then Harvard Business and Law schools. His success at Bain Capital earned him a fortune, and helped make him Governor of Massachusetts. But, with...

September 11, 2012