Comments: Week of October 29, 2012

1. “The Barack-and-Bill double act on display this fall marks a new and intriguing phase in a psychological entanglement so rich that if Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were alive, they would surely be squabbling over it,” John Heilemann wrote in a story on the strange marriage of the Clintons and the Obamas for our special preelection-postelection issue (Bill & Hillary Forever,” ­October 22). “You simply cannot write the reelection battle story of Barack Obama without including the Clintons’ oversized role in fortifying the political wall against Romney’s assault, which Barack Obama can’t do on his own, including with the help of Joe Biden,” wrote Michelle ­Marshall at “For those Obama loyalists who have dismissed the Clintons for years, as well as progressives who hate all things Clinton, it’s a crow-eating moment. Try horseradish sauce, I hear it helps with swallowing an unpalatable plateful.” But at, some readers were not sure just how all-in the couple was, despite the secretary of State’s shielding the president by accepting responsibility for the embassy attack in Benghazi: “Hillary is being ‘presidential’ by taking the heat from a distance. It is a small part of positioning herself for a presidential run in 2016 should Romney not be able to turn the economy around. Obama better be watching his back all the time. The Clintons have their best interest in mind, not Obama’s.”

2. Frank Rich’s essay on the remarkable resilience of the conservative movement won unusual praise from the right (The Tea Party Will Win in the End,” ­October 22). “Rich is on to something,” wrote Samuel Goldman at The American Conservative. “Upsetting as it may be to believers in the inexorable march of progress, the movements of opposition to the Obama, Clinton, and Kennedy/Johnson administrations weren’t temporary spasms of reaction. Rather, they were manifestations of a perennial tendency in American politics that won’t disappear, no matter who wins the election in three weeks.” At the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal, Ed Kilgore was nodding grimly in agreement: “As Rich stresses, they are in politics for the long run, and figure that if they don’t win now they’ll win later, and disable the New Deal and Great Society with speed and dexterity once they have the opportunity.”

3. “One of the real costs of debate obsession is the stuff that doesn’t get covered as a result of it,” wrote Alec MacGillis at The New Republic about Jonathan Chait’s sketch of each candidate’s likely response to the “fiscal cliff” once in office (November 7th,” October 22). “Right now, what’s not being written about enough is what will actually happen in January, beyond all of Romney’s varying plans and intonations, if the White House changes hands. Luckily, at least Jon Chait is on that case.” The article didn’t make readers all that optimistic that crisis would be averted no matter who was in office. “I hope Obama does bring the heat as described in the article. But his ­history is not very promising: He betrayed a Democratic Congress at the end of 2010 to work out a deal exclusively with Republicans,” wrote one. “As for Romney and Ryan, if those clowns get elected, it will be like four more years of George W. Bush, with possibly the one thing that keeps us out of serious trouble being that we’re too broke (and too war-weary) to invade any more countries or to create any more corporate welfare programs like Medicare Part D or Medicare Plus.” At Slate’s Moneybox, Matthew Yglesias called out Republican bad-faith deal-making. “People who are simultaneously fretting about the fiscal cliff and also fretting about the lack of a grand bargain aren’t worried about either deficits or macroeconomic stabilization. They’re concerned about the fact that the GOP made a series of high-stakes bets in 2011 that they may turn out to lose … This is a huge deal.”

4. In a letter (published in full here), Jeb Bush was kind enough to respond to Joe Hagan’s story on the moderate former governor of Florida, now a forgotten figure in the GOP, calling it “full of inaccuracies about me and my family” (Bush in the Wilderness,” October 22). Most readers, though, found the profile flattering. “After the thoughtfulness of the story, it is as if these Jeb haters can’t read. Even a Bush shouldn’t be discriminated against, and Jeb and Bloomberg represent the hope for a better Republican Party if they choose to get involved,” wrote one reader at Added another: “There has never been a more respected, honorable, and humble leader, father, politician, humanitarian than George H.W. Bush … Jeb Bush, too, has been a true gift for Florida and all of its citizens. The two are some of the most compassionate conservatives known to man … Reagan, Bush (H.W.), and Jeb all showed how well the GOP can work with the Democrats to do what needs to be done in this country—when that stopped, the spiraling down of our nation’s strength, respect, morals, and economy began. Jeb can bring us back.

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Comments: Week of October 29, 2012