Linton Weeks

Linton Weeks joined NPR in the summer of 2008, as its national correspondent for Digital News. He immediately hit the campaign trail, covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; fact-checking the debates; and exploring the candidates, the issues and the electorate.

Weeks is originally from Tennessee, and graduated from Rhodes College in 1976. He was the founding editor of Southern Magazine in 1986. The magazine was bought — and crushed — in 1989 by Time-Warner. In 1990, he was named managing editor of The Washington Post's Sunday magazine. Four years later, he became the first director of the newspaper's website, From 1995 until 2008, he was a staff writer in the Style section of The Washington Post.

He currently lives in a suburb of Washington with the artist Jan Taylor Weeks. In 2009, they created The Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation to honor their beloved sons.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney just may be the same person. Think about it. Have you ever seen the two of them in the same limo?

All right. Of course, the pair of politicians who will in all likelihood be the major party nominees for the 2012 presidential election have their differences. Republican Romney, for instance, has been a governor and chairman of the Olympics; Democrat Obama has not. Obama, on the other hand, has been a senator and a president. Romney has not.

It is the weirdest thing. There are more ways than ever to communicate with people, yet it sometimes seems like it is more difficult to connect — and stay connected — with anyone.

Should you shoot off an email? Tap out a text? Post a private message on Facebook? Write on their Facebook wall? Skype, poke, ping or conjure them up on a digital tin can phone?

Close your books, America. It's time for a pop quiz.

Do you believe Barack Obama is:

a) The best of presidents? A blogger who goes by the name Troubadour on Daily Kos, Brian Altmeyer, pretty much makes the claim in a recent post: "Barack Obama is either the best President we've ever had, or more humbly, equal to the best Presidents we've ever had (and thereby one of their number)."

Nylon stockings became all the rage. Black fedoras were the "pure quill" — meaning the real deal. Bing Crosby crooned Only Forever on the console. And Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American actor ever to take home an Oscar.

Ah, 1940. Three score and 12 years ago, America was in a very different place — economically and culturally.

But on April 2, 2012, when the National Archives releases detailed data from the 1940 census, we will get an even keener idea of how much — or how little — this nation has really changed in the past 72 years.

From the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, a symbol emerges: the hoodie.

A simple hooded sweatshirt has become emblematic of certain assumptions in America. And of a desire by many to overturn those assumptions.

Dear Open Letter Writers,

Are you open to the idea that the open letter has become the victim of its own success?

Listen to the conversations around you — colleagues at the office, customers in the coffeehouse line, those who serve you, those you serve, the people you meet each day. "Give me a tall latte." "Hand me that hammer." "Have a good one."

Notice anything missing? The traditional magic words "please" and "thank you" that many people learn as children appear to be disappearing.

"Strange things are happenin' to me" a bewitched Mitt Romney said recently to a crowd of Mississippi supporters. The former Massachusetts governor is right: Strange things do happen to folks, especially national political candidates, when they talk to us Southerners. They start drawling and twanging, trying to sound like us. Sometimes, they're mocking us; sometimes they're just trying to be friendly. We know the difference.

March 7, 2012

"Sorry" may seem to be the hardest word, but a lot of famous folks seem to always be saying it. Rush Limbaugh and President Obama both apologized recently. When a public figure makes a mistake, the public wants an apology. A public apology. In this quiz, match the apology with the famous apologist.

That's it. They win. He's giving up his privacy.

Trying to maintain privacy in contemporary America is just too time consuming, too complicated, too exhausting. He can't tell the good guys from the bad guys anymore. He doesn't know whom to trust.

Found time! An extra day. How will you use it? Here are 24 ideas. None of them takes longer than an hour. Because time is tight, time is of the essence, time is money. And if you don't have time to get to everything on the list, don't worry. Maybe in 2016.

Feb. 29, 2012 Hour By Hour:

Like baseballs in a batting cage, the controversies that divide us just keep on coming. Fast and unpredictable.

Last month it was the flap over the Susan G. Komen foundation and its move to cut financial support of Planned Parenthood. The resulting imbroglio dredged up deeply held convictions among Americans about women's health issues and "cause marketing" that, in this case, has resulted in profits for companies promoting breast cancer awareness and research through pink and omnipresent product tie-ins.

Oh no. Not another debate among those guys who are running for the Republican presidential nomination. By at least one count, Wednesday night's Dustup in the Desert — sponsored by CNN and Arizona's Republican Party — is the 26th such face-off — if you count forums and head-to-head encounters.

A tale of two couches: The first, pictured recently in the New York Daily News, is where NBA supernova Jeremy Lin reportedly spent nights — perhaps battling Linsomnia — before erupting into a game-changing beast and leading the New York Knicks to a euphoric win streak.

Americans are obsessed with perfection.

We implement zero-tolerance policies in our schools and businesses. We improve on the atomic clock with the quantum-logic clock that is twice as precise. We use multi-angle instant replay cameras in certain professional sporting contests to make sure the referees' calls are flawless. We spend millions on plastic surgery. We strive for higher fidelity, resolution, definition, everything.

Through the smog and the smeariness of the seemingly ceaseless process of selecting a president, one thing is clear: Americans are seething.

The Soup Movement in America is based on a simple recipe: Bring a bunch of people together to eat soup. Ask each person for a modest donation — say $5. Listen to a few proposals about how people might use that pool of money for a worthwhile project. Vote on the best proposal, and give all the money to the top vote-getter. Go home full and fulfilled.

It was so clear for a moment: Mitt Romney was in the lead in the presidential nomination race. Newt Gingrich was a distant second. Rick Santorum — the youthful candidate — was appealing to the socially conservative voters. And Ron Paul was hanging on.

Then things got weird.

Given the nonstop, stereo-rock news cycle, the warp speed tempo of geopolitics and the constant to-and-fro between the media and the president, has the State of the Union address become obsolete?

Traditionally, the speech — an annual where-we-stand lecture delivered by the president to a joint session of Congress — has for decades been an opportunity for the professor in chief to issue a national report card and put current events in calm, codifiable context.

The race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination is fixing to get, as we Southerners tongue-in-cheekly say, about as slippery as a greased pig in a hog wallow. Nasty as a old possum in a croaker sack. Murky as South Carolina swamp mud.

The Republican primary focus is shifting to the South, where folks talk and act different from the rest of the country. And where they look for different characteristics in candidates than other regions of the ...

When a gunman opened fire on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and others at a shopping center near Tucson exactly a year ago — killing six people and injuring Giffords and many others — some people were quick to blame the episode on the overheated political climate.