A Primer on Life After the Election

Forget Big Bird. Forget P90x. Forget Clint Eastwood and his empty chair. John Surico provides the all-important guide to getting back to how we once lived, before that time we spent 18 months and $6 billion to re-elect the president:

The Inevitable Post-Mortem Cycle

Now that Obama has reclaimed his throne, you can expect the second half of November to be filled with what happened pieces. Some predictable headlines: “The Rise and Fall of Mitt Romney,” “What Will Happen To Him Now,” “What Did He Do Wrong,” and, of course, “What Will Happen In The Second Term of President Obama.” The election craziness will drag on for a few weeks as everyone pours over the results and spits out mind-numbing conclusions about our national sanity.

Are we really just a conglomerate of red and blue battlegrounds? What does Obama’s election really mean? With a little less than half of the voting population fed up with the President’s policies, is the sake of the Oval Office’s legitimacy lost for the next four years? Answers to come. Oh, and don’t forget about the Congressional situation, the new Cabinet appointees and the like. Ugh, we still have a lot to deal with.

Read the full primer here.

Welcome to Camp Idontwantobama

All across the country, weeklong camps inspired by Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, and crazy love for our Founding Fathers are giving kids a crash course in American history. For the most part, it’s harmless summer fun: dodgeball, tug-of-war. You know, camp. But that’s not all they learn. Lauren Bans visited the very first Patriot Camp, in central Pennsylvania, and got a re-education she’ll never forget:

If I’m being completely honest, I have to admit I wasn’t sold on the idea that this would be a politically neutral history camp. In fact, I envisioned a kind of “Take back our country from the black guy” ethos permeating the place, the same attitude that dotted the 9/12 March on Washington, a movement that likewise billed itself as nonpartisan. This is partly because of Beck’s financial hand, but also because the first time I ever saw Miss Deb was in a 2011 clip from Beck’s show on Fox News, which she had posted on the Patriot Camp website.

In the clip, Miss Deb is sitting in the studio audience, alongside two other Pennsylvania moms, explaining the inspiration behind their camp. The inspiration, it turns out, was Glenn Beck. “One day,” she begins, “we heard you talk on your radio about Obama organizations doing summer camps, and we thought, ‘No, we need to do our own!’” She goes on to describe how she and the other moms searched wide and far but couldn’t find any decent American Revolution curriculums, how they were so excited by Beck’s “Founders’ Fridays”—a recurring segment on his show—that they decided to write one themselves. When she finishes, Beck adds: “And I started the fund-raiser for this, right? My wife and I wrote a check.”

The Becks gave a “generous donation,” according to Yvonne Donnelly, Beck’s ex-sister-in-law and founder of Constitutional Champions, the umbrella nonprofit that propelled the moms’ Patriot Camp idea nationwide. Donnelly was in the studio that day, too, nodding as Beck described his contribution. (Soon after this episode aired, Beck was criticized for a remark he made on-air about the massacre in Norway, when a right-wing terrorist killed sixty-nine people at a camp for leftist teens: “It sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler Youth or whatever. Who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.”)

A Brief History of Mitt Romney, Total Cheapskate

The GOP hopeful likes to portray himself as a self-made man, who inherited nothing and counted every penny. Jason Horowitz visit’s Romney’s childhood homes, and discovers a boy who inherited a lot from his father—from his advantages to his ambitions to his penny-pinching:

Celebrated as the Romneys were within their rarefied enclave, their money was decidedly crisper than the old fortunes held by the top executives from Chrysler, Buick, and General Motors perched on the hilltops. And the Romneys were well aware of it.

Phillip Maxwell, who attended Vaughn Elementary with Romney, was himself the scion of a great automotive family. When the two boys were nine, Maxwell spent the weekend at the Romney’s expansive house, on Vaughn and Lahser, which The Detroit News in 1954 said inspired admiring passersby to stop and “wonder about the people who live there.” Maxwell reciprocated soon after by inviting Romney to his grandfather’s sprawling estate.

Upon seeing the house, Romney turned to his friend and said, “‘Oh gee, I’m glad your folks’ house is as big and grand as mine,’” Maxwell recalled Romney as saying. “I never forget that. What a thing to say.”

Mitt Romney’s Dark Knight

Fehrnstrom calls himself a “utility player,” and in the press he’s typically identified as a “Romney spokesman” or a “Romney strategist.” But that doesn’t begin to do justice to his place in the high command. Fehrnstrom has been with Romney for a decade, longer than any other political adviser on his 2012 campaign. “Anytime I’ve got questions or I’ve got a doubt, I know I can go to Eric and I’m getting feedback from someone who’s inside Mitt’s brain,” Romney’s senior adviser Kevin Madden told me. Or as Peter Flaherty, another senior Romney adviser, puts it: “Eric has a deeper shelf of institutional knowledge of Mitt Romney than anyone I know whose last name is not Romney.”

If Karl Rove was Bush’s brain, then Eric Fehrnstrom gives his boss what he most dearly needs—a backbone.