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THE HANGOVER: Democrats awoke Friday morning following a strong three-day showing in Charlotte with a jobs-report headache that could linger into November. The numbers: 96,000 new jobs added (fewer than the 125,000 expected) and an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent (two ticks down from July, but only because more Americans stopped looking for work).
Politico's Ben White with the analysis: "There was nowhere to hide in a report that painted a picture of an anemic economic recovery that seems unable to take flight and ease the lingering concern among voters that a president they still like personally has nonetheless failed in his main task of boosting growth and jobs. The poor report from the Labor Department took on added significance for Obama after a convention acceptance speech that received decidedly mixed reviews—even from sympathetic Democrats in Charlotte—and included nothing new in the way of policy initiatives or fresh approaches to job creation."
THEN AGAIN: We should probably note that the numbers unveiled today are almost certainly wrong. As the Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb points out, only once in the past 30 years has the government not later revised its monthly jobs estimate. More Goldfarb: "Over the past three years, the employment report has understated how many jobs were created by as much as 99,000 and overstated it by as much as 86,000. The nation dwells on the number when it comes out, but nobody pays attention when the number is updated."
REWIND: Slate's John Dickerson on what he saw last night: "The president gave a Robert Frost address, a choice for voters to pick between one of two roads: 'On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.' ...
"[I]f the president didn't sketch a clear road map, it might not matter. The future is on its way. The budget deficits are unsustainable, entitlement programs and the inefficient tax code have to be reformed. Lawmakers are either going to do it or reality is going to do it for them. That means even if you don't put much stock in either man's plan for the future, one of them is going to be on the job when the hard choices are made about what to fund and how to reform taxes. If that's the case, then voters will need to pick the president they think will protect their way of life."
WHAT WAS MISSING: Eliot Spitzer says the president's biggest mistake was failing to outline a second-term agenda.
FACT-CHECK: The Washington Post takes a close look at Obama and Biden's speeches and finds they "sometimes took license with the facts or left out important information."
Happy Friday and welcome to the Slatest PM. You made it. We all did. Follow the entire @slatest team and @JoshVoorhees on Twitter, or fill your host's inbox with whatever's on your mind at email@example.com.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Your host will be out at the beginning of next week so you won't receive an afternoon newsletter on Monday or Tuesday. But don't fret, he'll be back on Wednesday raring to go. In the meantime, Daniel Politi (@dpoliti) will take the controls of the Slatest blog.
EXPLAIN YOURSELF: Clint Eastwood has broken his post-RNC silence. Here's how he explained how he came up with the idea behind his performance-art-meets-stump-speech to his hometown newspaper, the delightfully named Carmel Pine Cone: "There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down. When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I’ll just put the stool out there, and I’ll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn’t keep all of the promises he made to everybody."
NOT JUST A JOB, A JOBS PROGRAM: Slate's Will Saletan looks at how Romney's new swing-state barrage of ads against military cuts promises more jobs through government spending.
LOOKING FOR MORE?: Check out this week's Political Gabfest here.
EVER WONDER WHAT A NAVY SEAL NON-DISCLOSURE CONTRACT LOOKS LIKE?: Here you go. The Pentagon turned one over to Reuters to make the case that SEAL-turned-author Matt Bissonnette broke his pledge when wrote No Easy Day, an account of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
IT'S OFFICIAL: The Haqqani network is a "terrorist" group, according to the United States.
SOUNDS LESS FUN THAN VEGAS: The Guardian: "Prince Harry has flown into Afghanistan to begin a four-month tour of duty with the British army, during which he will command one of the UK's Apache attack helicopters. The prince, who is known as Captain Wales within the armed forces, flew into the conflict zone from RAF Brize Norton along with hundreds of other military personnel as part of the regular rotation of forces."
CHECKING THE TRAPS—
AP: "Former neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman wants to use Trayvon Martin's school records as part of his defense."
WaPo: "A Pakistani court granted bail Friday to a young Christian girl whose jailing on a blasphemy charge three weeks ago spurred an international outcry over the treatment of religious minorities."
Reuters: "Two shallow 5.6 magnitude earthquakes hit mountainous southwestern China on Friday, killing at least 64 people and forcing tens of thousands of people from damaged buildings, state media said."
WSJ: "Private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP has agreed to buy U.S. power-plant developer Cogentrix Energy LLC from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., as Carlyle looks to replace some of the expertise it is losing as it pursues energy investments independent of its longtime partner Riverstone Holdings LLC."
WHAT YOUR HOST IS READING RIGHT AFTER HE HITS SEND: The NYT Magazine's look at who saved Ohio. (A) President Obama, B) Republican Gov. John Kasich, or C) None of the above?
Enjoy your weekend. We'll see you back here on Wednesday. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe here or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.