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Jonathan Alter in Bloomberg View on elections past Alter says that each camp is looking to different elections, hoping it will provide a model for the outcome of this one. "Republicans are pointing to 1992, when a Democratic challenger won, and Democrats favor 2004, when a Republican incumbent prevailed," he writes. "The point is, we don't know. One of the fun things about politics is that there are no reruns, only echoes that reverberate in our historical imaginations." He runs through those reverberations, noting the ways the campaign resembles or digresses from elections from 1936 to 1980 to 2004. 

Larry Sabato and Kyle Kondik in The Wall Street Journal on the election's deciding dates Sabato and Kondik point to dates and events that will have huge impact on the election, and those that won't be more than media hype. Romney's convention will matter, as will the unemployment numbers that come out just days before the election. Debates probably won't make a difference, and neither will the vice presidential pick, they argue. "[W]e assume [Romney will] make a reasonable pick who might be worth a point or two in his or her home state. Otherwise, the effect of the selection will likely be more media sizzle than electoral steak."

Jonathan Chait in New York on Ryan for VP And in your daily dose of vice presidential speculation, Chait argues that Romney may be backed into choosing Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate. "Conservative anxiety has stalked Mitt Romney since the outset of his presidential campaign, expressing itself in a series of hopes that a nominee who was not Romney might win, and then, after his nomination became inevitable, as endless caterwauling for Romney himself to act less … Romney-like. Romney's vice-presidential selection has begun to serve as a stand-in for these demands." As conservatives have set their sights on Ryan this week, it might become essential that Romney appease them.

Ta-Nehisi Coates in The New York Times on Romney and culture Coates writes that Romney's take on culture, and its responsibility for a nation's success, is far too simple. "When people invoke culture in the Romney manner, what they are really invoking is a scale by which humanity may be ranked from totally dysfunctional to totally awesome. The idea is that culture is a set of irrefutable best practices, when in fact it is more like a toolbox whose efficacy depends upon the job," he writes. "If you want to create a nation with a dominant entertainment media, perhaps American culture is the way to go. If you're uninterested in presiding over a nation with 25 percent of the world's prisoners but only 5 percent of its population, perhaps not."

Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post on Louise Mensch and 'having it all' Marcus writes that the "can women have it all" debate (spurred on by The Atlantic in July) continues with Conservative MP Louise Mensch's decision to quit her job and move to New York in part to spend more time with her children. Marcus applauds Mensch, as she did Yahoo's Marissa Meyer, for self-describing rather than prescribing experiences on the work-life balance problem. "What I appreciate about both Mayer and Mensch, though, is their willingness to refrain from instructing others," she says. "This is less 'I Don't Know How She Does It' and more 'I Just Know I Can't Do It Anymore' — a bit of Mummy Humility that we in the United States could stand to import."

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