Phil Busse stole McCain lawn signs in Minnesota during the 2008 presidential campaign. The prank made him infamous:
"Within hours, I received several hundred angry emails and phone calls, including three death threats. A man in Michigan yelled at me over the phone, calling me 'sick' and 'demented,' and informing me that he was going to go steal ten times as many Obama signs in retaliation. A man from Texas, who described himself as 'a 29-year-old, 250-pound Republican,' called me 'little Phillip' and offered to whoop my ass. A man in California told me to go play a long game of 'go hide and fuck yourself,' and warned that he was planning to exercise his Second Amendment right. Another man from Springfield, Oregon, left a voicemail message calling me 'despicable' and informing me that he would hunt me down if I returned to Oregon. Clearly, whatever message I had intended about visceral participation in politics was completely eclipsed by the messenger. In hindsight, this would be the third principle of public spectacle—and one that I was long overdue to have learned."
PUBLISHED: May 1, 2013
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2752 words)
"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
"It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 21, 2013
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2116 words)
Coming Tuesday from Frontline: "Inside Obama's Presidency."
We've collected a list of stories from Obama's first term—share your favorite presidential stories on Twitter with the hashtag #longreads.
A critical look at the political newspaper and website Politico:
"One classic method of unleashing irresistible Drudge bait on the Internet is to boil another outlet’s story down to a couple salacious-sounding excerpts, or (failing an effective condensing strategy) to simply reinterpret the material to fit a Drudge-friendly narrative. This past May, for example, Vanity Fair published an excerpt from Maraniss’s biography of Barack Obama. (The liberal media vetting blackout continued apace, in other words.) Politico’s Dylan Byers took the excerpt and turned it into a little micro-news story: Obama admitted to Maraniss that certain figures in his first memoir were 'compressions'—i.e., composite characters. Byers completely missed that Obama explicitly said at the outset of his own book that some characters were composites, but Drudge didn’t care. 'Obama Admits Fabricating Girlfriend in Memoir,' went his headline, with a link to Politico instead of Vanity Fair—and another false right-wing meme got its wings."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 5, 2012
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6530 words)
[Not single-page] Bill Clinton's relationship with Obama has thawed, and he and Hillary have become two of his biggest assets. A look at their relationship and the Clintons' political future:
"The Barack-and-Bill double act on display this fall marks a new and intriguing phase in a psychological entanglement so rich that if Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were alive, they would surely be squabbling over it instead of Sabina Spielrein’s hysteria. No one close to Obama or Clinton even bothers with the pretense that there is any real affection between them. But most concur with the assessment of a Democratic operative with tentacles deep in both worlds: that 'the relationship today is totally transactional—and highly functional.'
"What Obama stands to gain from the transaction is plain enough to see. The support of the political figure with the highest approval rating, 69 percent, of any in America. The suasive services of a surrogate who can talk the owls down from the trees. The imprimatur of a former president associated with a period of broad and deep prosperity, imbued with unparalleled credibility on matters economic, and possessing special traction with the white working- and middle-class voters whom Obama has always had a hard time reaching. What Obama stands to gain, in other words, is a healthy boost in his quest for reelection—one all the more invaluable in the wake of his dismal performance in the first debate."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 15, 2012
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7015 words)
A look at a struggling diner in northeastern Ohio. This is the first of five columns by Dan Barry about Elyria, Ohio, a town which is "the kind of place where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each hope that his promise of a restored American dream will resonate":
"'Is she O.K.?' a customer asks one difficult day.
"'My mom?' asks Kristy, the waitress.
"'Yes,' the customer replies.
"Sometimes you can see why, as Donna hunches into the desk space she has carved from the back-room clutter and works through the mound of mail. 'I’m looking for shut-off notices,' she says, half-joking."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 13, 2012
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4084 words)
An adaptation of Mark Bowden's new book
on the hunt for Osama bin Laden:
"Everyone else favored sending in the SEALs. Clinton, who had faulted Obama during the primary campaign for asserting that he would send forces to Pakistan unilaterally if there was a good chance of getting bin Laden, now said that she favored the raid. She delivered this opinion after a typically lengthy review of the pros and cons. She noted that the raid would pose a diplomatic nightmare for the State Department. But because the U.S.-Pakistani relationship was built more on mutual dependence than friendship and trust, it would likely survive the crisis. Admiral Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, gave a detailed PowerPoint presentation before delivering his endorsement. Mullen had witnessed McRaven’s rehearsals at Fort Bragg and in Nevada. He had high confidence in the SEAL team.
"Brennan, Donilon, Clapper, Panetta, and Morell all agreed. The C.I.A. director felt strongly about it, which was not surprising. This had been his project all along, and the analysts who worked for him would have felt betrayed if their boss had changed his mind. Panetta told Obama that he ought to ask himself this question: 'What would the average American say if he knew we had the best chance of getting bin Laden since Tora Bora and we didn’t take a shot?'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 13, 2012
LENGTH: 39 minutes (9960 words)
It is "a national disgrace": The U.S. prison system, for years, failed to stop rampant sexual abuse from occurring behind bars. Inside the new program to stop it:
"The review panel’s most recent report describes the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, a maximum-security state prison in Troy, Virginia. About 1,200 women are confined there, and when the BJS surveyed them in 2009, 11.4 percent said they’d been sexually abused by other inmates in the preceding year alone; 6.0 percent said they’d been sexually abused by staff."
"The twelve months asked about in that survey came shortly after sexual misconduct by Fluvanna’s staff had already turned into scandal. Former inmate Melissa Andrews told the review panel about Patrick Owen Gee, who was chief of security at the prison—a man, she said, who seemed to hate women. When he started working at Fluvanna, he 'went from wing to wing in each building and told us, "you bitches think you’ve been living in Kindercare…things are going to change."' Andrews also testified that the warden to whom Gee reported, Barbara Wheeler, 'said to officers many times, that if she took anything and everything from us including our humanity maybe we would not return to prison' Gee was convicted of sexually abusing the inmates he was supposed to protect in 2008, and sentenced to five years in prison."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 4, 2012
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5463 words)
Harper Reed went from running a T-shirt community to running digital operations for Obama's reelection campaign. Inside the team's top-secret efforts to refine voter targeting to a granular (or: "creepy") level:
"By the 2000 election, political data firms like Aristotle had begun purchasing consumer data in bulk from companies like Acxiom. Now campaigns didn't just know you were a pro-choice teacher who once gave $40 to save the endangered Rocky Mountain swamp gnat; they also could have a data firm sort you by what type of magazines you subscribed to and where you bought your T-shirts. The fifth source, the increasingly powerful email lists, track which blasts you respond to, the links you click on, and whether you unsubscribe.
"In the past, this information has been compartmentalized within various segments of the campaign. It existed in separate databases, powered by different kinds of software that could not communicate with each other. The goal of Project Narwhal was to link all of this data together. Once Reed and his team had integrated the databases, analysts could identify trends and craft sharper messages calibrated to appeal to individual voters. For example, if the campaign knows that a particular voter in northeastern Ohio is a pro-life Catholic union member, it will leave him off email blasts relating to reproductive rights and personalize its pitch by highlighting Obama's role in the auto bailout—or Romney's outsourcing past."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 2, 2012
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3417 words)