Gabfest Radio: The Free to Be ... You and Me Edition

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On this week’s episode of Gabfest Radio from Slate and WNYC, Political Gabfest panelists Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, David Plotz, and special guest Will Saletan discuss the campaign’s home stretch, whether Mitt Romney has done enough to make himself a plausible alternative to Barack Obama, and what the "Castle Doctrine" says about how gun laws are evolving in America.

Then on the Culture Gabfest portion of the show, panelists Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner are joined by Slate senior editor Dan Kois to discuss his article on the 40th anniversary of Free To Be … You and Me and whether its advocacy of gender equality remains relevant and its feminist ideals remain convincing to children today. The Gabfesters then consider the institution that is the Saturday Night Live debate send-up and how its origins as Dada event comedy translate to a television landscape saturated with political satire. Finally, they discuss the website, which asks the crowd to parse romantically-ambiguous texts.

Join the Gabfest discussion all week long at the Political Gabfest Facebook page and the Culture Gabfest Facebook page.


Here are links to some of the items mentioned in this week’s episode:

POLITICAL GABFEST (Click here for this week’s individual episode at Slate):

John says Romney is peaking at just the right moment.

John notes that both campaigns are bragging about their ground games; The Atlantic’s Molly Ball takes a closer look.

John refers to Will’s expert knowledge of Romney’s position changes; check-out Will’s thorough investigation of how, when and why Romney changed his position on abortion.

Want more on Romney’s abortion history? Will also prepared a round-up of other reporting on Romney’s views.

Can Romney actually govern from middle? Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin reviews the political science literature for an answer.

Emily says laws like the Castle Doctrine are encouraging more violence than they prevent.


Cocktail Chatter:

Emily chatters about what happened to the popular kids from high school, and recommends Katy Waldman’s summary of the research.

David chatters about Dolores Umbridge’s stunt double: Mitt Romney.


CULTURE GABFEST (Click here for this week’s individual episode at Slate):

Dan Kois on the 40th anniversary of Free To Be … You and Me for Slate.

Songs from Free To Be … You and Me: “William's Doll,” “Parents Are People,” and “Girl Land.”

That Girl, the TV show Marlo Thomas starred in from 1966 to 1971.

Books with empowered female characters, including Pippi Longstocking, the Anne of Green Gables series, Pride and Prejudice, and Little Women.

A few of the celebrities involved with Free To Be ... You and Me: Harry Belafonte, Alan Alda, Cicely Tyson, and Diana Ross.

Saturday Night Live’s presidential debate spoofs, including Romney and Obama in a town-hall-style debate, Sarah Palin vs. Joe Biden in 2008, Dan Aykroyd as Jimmy Carter, and a bunch from 1976 to today.

SNL writer Jim Downey in an interview for The New Republic discussing the challenge of spoofing presidential candidates.

The speech made by then-Illinois State Sen. Obama in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention, launching him as a potential presidential contender for 2008.

Laura Bennett for The New Republic on how dead accurate presidential impersonations miss the point., the site that allows you to crowdsource close reading of texts from the men in your life.

Rebecca Greenfield for the Atlantic Wire on as a vehicle for mocking women’s cluelessness about men.

The Guardian’s Ally Fogg on “Modern Romance for Generation Text."



Dana’s pick: The Twitter feed of National Geographic’s Digital Nomad Andrew Evans, who travels around the world tweeting as he goes. His Twitter feed is full of wonderful photos, guess-where-I-am contests, and assorted enviable content.

Julia’s pick: For New Yorkers and visitors alike, the not-to-be missed Brooklyn Heights gem, Iris Café. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge, stop by the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and visit Iris Café to experience the platonic ideal of a sandwich.

Stephen’s pick: Vergennes Laundry, an understated, stylish coffee shop with a low hipster-per-square-foot ratio in Vergennes, Vt.