Opinion: Debate day reading list: how to bone up before Barack Obama and John McCain’s final showdown


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Tonight we will be live blogging Barack Obama and John McCain’s final presidential debate, just as we did their previous showdowns. You can find our coverage right here, beginning at 5:30 p.m. PDT.

While the candidates brush up on their talking points (we already know Obama’s, because they were accidentally sent to the media), we thought you might want to bone up, too. So we present you with our debate day reading list -- a collection of some of the most interesting politics stories online:


Stephanie Strom of the New York Times writes an illuminating piece about Obama’s connections to ACORN, a community organizing group that Republicans say committed voter fraud in several important swing states. Does the ACORN fracas seem ugly? It won’t after you read Jill Lepore’s article in the New Yorker about how we used to vote. In the nineteenth century, she says, Americans sometimes had to quite literally fight their way to the polls on election day (they also had to bring their own ballots).

Meanwhile, in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Thomas Frank defends another favorite McCain campaign target -- William Ayers. And Politico’s Jeanne Cummings notes that while McCain’s ads linking Obama to Ayers are getting a lot of attention -- Obama is actually airing many more commercials.

John B. Judis write in the New Republic about politicians’ personalities and the role that “heroism” has played in some elections.

Ryan Lizza profiles Joe Biden (remember him?).

Our own Johanna Neuman and Seema Mehta preview the debate, and Richard Cohen explains in the Washington Post the questions he’d like to see the candidates answer.

And finally, if you don’t have time do all that reading, Slate recaps all that has happened in the election since the first presidential debate in a handy (if a bit slanted) four-minute video:

-- Kate Linthicum