Opening Act: The Phantom Menace

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 8 2012 8:22 AM

Opening Act: The Phantom Menace

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US President Barack Obama walks to Marine One after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport on October 7, 2012. Obama is on a three-day trip during which he will campaign in California and Ohio as well as attend the establishment of the Cesar Chavez National Monument. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages

ALBUQUERQUE -- After spending a weekend talking to voters in a close state that's no longer really "swinging," the first presidential debate has come to remind me of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Democrats walked out of the theater/turned off the TV saying "huh, well, I wanted it to be better." After a few days of talking to friends, it changes from a disappointment into the worst piece of crap in human history.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Today, Mitt Romney will give a foreign policy address at the Virginia Military Institute, loaded up with adjectives and powerful verbs. At the same time, a rump of the House Oversight committee will hold a hearing on Libya.

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Peter Baker studies the rise of Joementum.

Mr. Biden will be counseled on how to avoid Mr. Obama’s mistakes and even correct them with a more aggressive prosecution of the Republican ticket. Mr. Axelrod’s involvement highlights the stakes the Obama campaign places on the debate, and Mr. Biden has been reading “Young Guns,” the book co-written by Mr. Ryan, and practicing attack lines that Mr. Obama avoided.

Nobody ever writes about it, but Biden is marginally unpopular with voters. Four years of being portrayed as a buffoon, without Sarah Palin to take the edge off, has taken a PR toll. So he's underrated, and Ryan remains (to the low-info voter) still unknown.

If Rep. Michael Grimm survives 2012, it will be an eloquent statement on the power of district mapping.

Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm investigated the Gambino crime family as an FBI agent — before opening a restaurant with a business partner so close to one of the mob clan’s capos, he considers him an “uncle,” according to sources and court documents.

The Politico Battleground poll finds a post-debate dip in Democratic enthusiasm, which seems like the sort of thing a good debate could fix.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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