Political Link List: October 3, 2012

Super PACs, a conflicted Massachusetts governor, and economic malaise.

The Atlantic: The New Price of American Politics (by James Bennet)
Key passage: ““This is a very sophisticated system,” says Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, who has been fighting for tighter controls on political money since the Watergate days. “That’s the beauty of the system for these guys. This is a legalized-bribery kind of system where no one has to say anything. I don’t have to say what I want—you know what I want.””

The New York Times: The Mitt Romney Who Might Have Been (by Robert Draper)
Key passage: ““Have you seen the movie ‘Animal House’?” one of Governor Romney’s environmental officials asked me. “You remember that character who has the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, both telling him what to do? Watching Romney, my sense was that he was always inclined to do the right thing on environmental issues. But then there was the devil on the other side. You could almost see it. It was palpable. Clearly, in retrospect, he was weighing what was right for Massachusetts with how it would play nationally.””

National Journal: Defying Gravity (by Beth Reinhard, Major Garrett, and Jim Tankersley)
Key passage: “Further muddling the economic dynamic is the emerging evidence that Americans have lowered their expectations for growth—yet they remain eager to grasp at any indication that they are wrong. Voters see the economy, ever so slowly, improving. It’s a critical distinction. If things were getting worse, economists say (and even Obama campaign officials concede), the president would likely be losing. Instead, he appears to be benefiting from voters seeing slivers of good news where economic data suggest there are none to be found. Optimism is rising, improbably, among consumers, small businesses, and stock traders, with Democrats and (more crucially) a share of independents feeling better about the future than Republicans.”