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A Political Reading List for the Campaign's Last Days

by Cally Carswell 

Tags: reported writing, election 2008, political reporting, New Yorker, New York Times, Politico, the New Republic, the New Statesman, Wonkette,

The events, and often even the non-events, of the 2008 election season have spawned a growing group of die hard political junkies, whose habit for constant information about Obama, McCain, and Palin (sorry Biden) is nursed by the legions of reporters and bloggers working the 24-hour news cycle. But with less than a week remaining in the horserace, what’s actually worth reading? Here’s a brief, and by no means comprehensive, guide to political writing for the home stretch.

First, a few from the New Yorker: Particularly fit for mention on this blog is James Wood’s “Verbage” essay, detailing the Republican Party’s “deep suspicion of language.” A thorough piece on Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, is an antidote to the hyper-partisan tone that is sure to dominate the campaign’s last throes. And an essay from David Sedaris is likely the only place you’ll find the choice in this election compared to choosing between chicken or a “platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it” on an airplane.

From last Sunday’s New York Times, Frank Rich’s column may help ease the anxiety of Obama supporters worried that racism will decide this election, arguing that “white Americans are not remotely the bigots the G.O.P. would have us believe.”

In the blogosphere, Politico’s Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith seem to require little sleep. Their blogs are updated almost constantly and are two of the greatest information sources for full-fledged election addicts. (They also prove that it is possible to be too informed.) But Politico does stellar reporting too. This week one piece that stuck out explained McCain’s negative media coverage with detailed and self-reflective treatment, which I haven't seen done elsewhere.

Looking back a bit, Michelle Cottle’s blog post, “Spare Me Your Reverse Snobbery,” for the New Republic remains one of my favorite rants of the season, and though it was published in late September, it's still relevant. So is the year-long perspective offered up by Alec MacGillis in a recent piece for the New Statesman, which thoughtfully chronicles the reporter’s time on the campaign trail with Obama, beginnning with the Iowa primary last fall.

If you need laughs more than thoughtfulness at this stage, Wonkette will surely deliver. They’re snarkier than Sarah Palin and refer to John McCain by the pet name Walnuts. What more could you want?

Add your suggestions to the list in the comments section below.