Four links to essays, all from the past few days; essays that, each in a different area, have a spot-on take on Where We Are Now. All four are highly recommended reading.
1. Hilzoy on the Electability Argument. I've been concerned by the electoral maps that show Clinton doing better against McCain than Obama (although there are good reasons not to take them seriously -- Kos had a great roundup here; and see also Noah Millman). But I don't take them too seriously mostly for, well, precisely the reasons Hilzoy outlines. So: what Hilzoy said.
2. NOT Jim Webb for Vice President. Kathy G, guest-blogging at Matt Y's blog, has a long & definitive round-up. For me the deal-killer is Webb's terrible record on women's rights (summarized by previously pro-web blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates here and here for anyone without the patience to read the long version (although if you're not convinced by the short: read the long). Women's rights are an absolutely core liberal principle, and would have a good claim to be a deal-killer any year (counterbalanced by Webb's (partial) apology for his past stances & movement in the right direction on these issues); but this year it should end the conversation: Webb should not be the VP nominee. Full stop. (Update: There's an interesting, if not (to me) ultimately convincing, reply to Kathy G by Spencer Ackerman here.) (Update 2: For a broader ideological/social context on why Webb would be a bad choice, see this insightful post by Ezra Klein.)
3. Rick Perlstein on Liberals on Conservatives. For those of my Noble Readers who are interested in serious politics, I had you at "Rick Perlstein" -- Perlstein is among the most interesting commentators around these days. (He mentions in the linked piece grad students whose dissertations were inspired by his work. I am (partly at least) one of them.) I don't know if I'm quite as sanguine about the level of liberal self-knowledge at this point (in 2008 specifically, I'm terrified of overconfidence), but overall, he's absolutely right. And always worth reading.
4. Mark Schmitt on what the Republicans Have Left. As I said above, I'm nervous about overconfidence. Personally, I'd be very grateful if all the various elegies for the Conservative Movement that are floating around these days (that's one of the better ones, btw) would get shelved until after November. (It would also improve their collective prose by allowing a lot of hedging to be cut -- either way, really.) But Schmitt is an incredibly insightful observer, and I think his outline of the current situation is a terrific one. So yes: read it.
5. Why You Shouldn't Give Money to Harvard. An alum whose 25 reunion would be this year -- via one whose fifth would be this year -- says that people shouldn't give money to my own alma matter (I'm precisely halfway between those two: if I were going, my 15th reunion would be this year). She's right: do something else. (See also Tim Burke.) And the same goes for Yale, Princeton and other rich schools. Not as important an issue as the above four, I grant you, but it's true, and it's worth saying, and a lot of people disregard it. So if it applies to you, go read -- and, even more importantly perhaps, forward it to those who need to read it.