Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

Sep 07, 2012

  • Obama makes case for 2nd term: ‘harder’ path to ‘better place’

    By Helene Cooper and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for a second term on Thursday night, making a forceful argument that he had rescued the economy from disaster and ushered in a recovery that would be imperiled by a return to Republican stewardship.

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  • Dispatches From the Democratic National Convention

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    In 2008, if Barack Obama's outdoor convention speech had been moved inside, he still would have raised the roof. When he was denied the chance to speak in the elements at Bank of America stadium this week, the closed venue seemed fitting. Obama's speech to the 2012 Democratic National Convention, like his presidency, has a lid on it. It was workmanlike from a president who had to strain with the reality of being in office. “The times have changed,” he said, “and so have I.” At his 2008 address in Denver, audience members cried at the end of his speech. Tonight, one delegate said Biden had been more inspiring. Another said Bill Clinton's speech was the one she would be sending around to barber shops and beauty parlors.

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  • Two conventions tell the tale of 2012

    By John F. Harris and Jim Vandehei, Politico

    Republicans last week in Tampa and Democrats this week in Charlotte were not faking it. Partisans on both sides really do regard the other party’s nominee with contempt, and both sides look at the other’s agenda with genuine incomprehension.

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Sep 06, 2012

  • How Bill Clinton does it

    By John F. Harris and Jonathan Martin, Politico

    The crowd was roaring, TV commentators were gushing, and Barack Obama himself thanked Bill Clinton for his nominating speech with a big hug as he left the stage here Wednesday night.

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  • Verdict is in: Obama levels more personal attacks

    By John F. Harris and Alexander Burns, Politico

    A crabby, negative campaign that has been more about misleading and marginal controversies than the major challenges facing the country? Barack Obama and Mitt Romney can both claim parenthood of this ugly child.

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  • Platforms reveal deep divide on hot-button issues

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    While the economy dominates this presidential election, issues such as abortion, immigration, regulation, and—in a sudden and startling reversal of Democratic platform language—God and Israel, have added a dose of intrigue to the conventions.

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  • Biden’s speech likely to spotlight strengths, or foibles

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Folksy and loose, passionate and sometimes off script, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrives onstage Thursday night as the president’s most important political partner, policy enforcer, conscience, scold and occasional albatross.

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  • 4 years later, scarred but still confident

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    He warned them in 2008, and when he formally opened his re-election campaign in May, he put it in his speech again. He will “never be a perfect president,” he said, a line he now repeats at stop after stop. The unspoken subtext: It’s not my fault if you didn’t listen or expected too much.

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  • Clinton delivers impassioned plea for Obama second term

    By Jeff Zeleny and Mark Landler, The New York Times

    Former President Bill Clinton and President Obama hugged onstage Wednesday night after Mr. Clinton delivered an impassioned plea on behalf of Mr. Obama’s re-election, the 42nd president nominating the 44th to a second term with a forceful and spirited argument that Democratic values would restore the promise of the middle class.

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  • Bill Clinton offers forceful defense of Obama’s record

    By Dan Balz and Philip Rucker, The Washington Post

    Former president Bill Clinton delivered a spirited defense of President Obama’s handling of the nation’s struggling economy here Wednesday night, criticizing the agenda and philosophy of Mitt Romney and accusing the Republican Party of ideological rigidity and an unwillingness to compromise.

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Sep 05, 2012

  • Obama didn't stop the middle-class free-fall

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    The middle class in America today is not better off than it was four years ago, not better off than it was at the end of the Great Recession in 2009, not even better off than when President Clinton left office in 2001.

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  • ‘Are you better off?’ The answer is less clear than it was in 1980

    By John Harwood and Mark Landler, The New York Times

    When Ronald Reagan asked voters a week before the 1980 election whether they were better off than four years earlier, he turned a race that had been nip-and-tuck for months into a landslide victory — and showed how a pointed question can be a lethal political weapon.

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  • Can Obama break D.C. gridlock if re-elected?

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    Polarized, gridlocked, uncooperative, partisan, impossible. That's how Democrats -- including some of President Obama's past and current White House advisers -- described the nation's capital during several moderated discussion sessions Tuesday at the party's convention here.

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  • Dispatches from the Democratic National Convention

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Barack Obama has said that his biggest mistake in office is that he hasn't told the right story to the American public. Maybe he should have let his wife tell it. First lady Michelle Obama delivered a powerful and deft defense of her husband, wrapping him in biography and the American story. She also started the process of rebutting the previous week's attacks.

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  • First lady Michelle Obama lauds husband’s values, vision

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    First lady Michelle Obama declared Tuesday that her husband’s record in office has proved his values, his vision and his courage, as the Democrats opened their convention here with a wide-ranging appeal to the diverse constituencies and interests they must bring out in force to reelect the president.

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Sep 04, 2012

  • Dems' time to shine at DNC convention

    By John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Obama team sees convention as paving way to victory

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama and his campaign team believe a successful Democratic National Convention can help plow a path to victory in November. Having experienced the same phenomenon in Denver four years ago, they hope to bottle convention magic one more time.

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  • For Michelle Obama, a new image but an old role

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    When Michelle Obama spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, she was warily viewed as a woman proud of her country “for the first time” and caricatured by The New Yorker as an Afroed and armed rebel soldier.

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  • Republicans try to counter Democrats' convention

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republicans prepared a counterpunch to the Democratic National Convention this week by introducing their new line of attack with a not-so-new question: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

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  • Obama makes detour to visit hurricane site

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama took a short detour from campaigning on Monday to inspect the damage wrought by Hurricane Isaac last week and the government response, a stop that took on outsized political overtones in this campaign season.

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