W. Is for WASP

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Feb. 25 2000 9:30 PM

W. Is for WASP

New Republic, March 6

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The magazine issues its presidential endorsements. On the Democratic side, the editors endorse—gasp— Al Gore because he is a decent New Democrat and Bill Bradley is a pompous paleoliberal. On the Republican side, the editors select John McCain because he is earnestly seeking "to remake his party into something other than the political arm of the privileged few." As it did last week, " TRB" pooh-poohs the idea of "Clinton fatigue." Right-wingers claim that voters are intent on electing an "anti-Clinton" and left-wingers explain away Clinton's popularity as "mass false consciousness" because neither side can abide the success of New Democrat policies. An article argues that the religious right backs George W. Bush because he symbolizes the WASP aristocracy that Christian conservatives long to join.

Economist, March 2

The cover editorial almost endorses John McCain. McCain is "clean, heroic, straight-talking, likely to stand up strongly for democracy's interests around the globe" and appealing to swing voters. George W. Bush "risks finding himself trapped by the relentlessly rightward path he has adopted." A column claims that McCainmania rehabilitates the Vietnam War. His candidacy assuages "the professional classes' guilt about not serving in Vietnam" and "the Reagan Democrats' anger about serving and being betrayed. "  

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Rolling Stone, March 16

In a softball interview, Al Gore suggests that if science supports the efficacy of medical marijuana, he will be open to legalizing weed for sick folks. Gore vows to make global warming a big campaign issue. He says his favorite artists are Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Hank Williams, John Mayall, and k.d. lang.

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Washington Monthly, March 2000

A provocative cover debate considers whether the United States should universalize health care. One writer argues that health care should be considered a human right, not a good to be rationed by the market. The other counters that medicine is too dynamic to bureaucratize: Universalizing health care will diminish the quality of treatment. An article lambastes the Federalist Society for masquerading as a nonpolitical organization. The 25,000-member society has evolved from a law-school club into the engine for rolling back civil rights, abortion rights, and consumer rights. The society stocks the National Right to Life Committee and counts Kenneth Starr among its members.

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New York Times Magazine, Feb. 27

The cover story spotlights a family of Christian fundamentalists withdrawing from mainstream society. The Scheibners are home-schooling their seven-kid brood in a pop-culture-free home. Christian counterculture—a "parallel world" of evangelical films and music—sustains their separatism. An article empathizes with the "Grunts of Grozny." Russian soldiers are underpaid, underequipped, and undertrained. An accompanying photo essay about the ragtag Chechen rebels includes a picture of one fighter showing his technique for lassoing Russian helicopters with a rope. He has not yet caught one.

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Talk, March 2000

A profile casts Barbara Bush as "arguably the most important woman in the race for the presidency." Bush's "Betsy Ross-meets-Betty Crocker" image is a political asset in her son's campaign. "America's steeliest grandmother" is unabashed about leveraging her popularity into donations for the son she still calls "Little George." A gripping article chronicles a writer's encounter with the man convicted of shooting and paralyzing her nephew. The man, now in prison, describes his unspeakable life: He had half a dozen kids by as many women by the time he was 17, abandoned them all, and dealt drugs. He's awful, but the author's not sure he's guilty. The cover story, complemented by juicy photos, romanticizes Jennifer Lopez's relationship with Puff Daddy. Lopez loves Sean Combs because he understands her ambition and fame. When away from Puffy, the Latina diva travels with eight trunks of designer duds.

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Time and Newsweek, Feb. 28

Both mags savage George W. for taking the low road to victory in South Carolina. Newsweek's cover emblazons Bush's forehead with the word: "HARDBALL." Time's cover story claims that Bush was "ferocious even by South Carolina's down-and-dirty standards." The piece notes that Bush's campaign has already made several thousand attack phone calls to Michigan voters. ...Newsweek's cover story says Bush's Machiavellian moves give McCain "no choice but to get personal." Bush's feint to the far right will haunt him in the general election.

A Newsweek article  reveals that adolescents' brains are different than adults'. The parts of the brain associated with intelligence and self-control undergo a teen-age growth spurt but don't reach full maturity until the 20s. An interview with Miramax's Weinstein brothers discloses that Harvey is recovering from a bacterial infection he contracted in St. Barts. He boasts that "this year alone" three major studios offered him the helm. Time describes the corruption of Japan's most famous sport, sumo wrestling. "Sumo fixing" has made it nearly as phony as the WWF.

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U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 28

The cover story claims that global climate change is already changing the environment. Antarctica's year-round temperature has jumped 4 degrees since midcentury. Early winter temperatures are up about 9 degrees. As a result, glaciers are melting, seals are migrating, and Adélie penguins are dying. An article concludes that both Bush and McCain were bruised by the South Carolina primary battle. Bush's negatives rose, and he effectively branded McCain as a typical hypocritical pol. A piece reports that dark chocolate is good for you. The flavonoids in chocolate counteract the precursors of cancer and heart disease, according to two studies sponsored by the candy maker Mars.

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Weekly Standard, Feb. 28

The cover story flogs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for bullying businesses into creating ergonomically correct workplaces. OSHA's regulatory overreach is based on junk science. It would impose a "multibillion-dollar burden" on American business, expose employers to liability for stapling strain, and turn OSHA inspectors into "feng shui consultants." An editorial  castigates the presidential candidates for timidity on racial issues. Republicans failed to speak out against the Confederate flag. Democrats are kowtowing to Al Sharpton. …  An article argues that the digital divide doesn't exist. The gap between white and black computer ownership is shrinking. From 1994 to 1998 white computer ownership rose by 72 percent; African-American computer ownership by 125 percent.

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The Nation, March 6

An editorial encourages Ralph Nader to wage a serious Green Party campaign for the presidency. Nader could push the Democratic nominee to the left by articulating a "progressive alternative" on trade policy and corporate welfare. An article  attacks the attacks on "social promotion." In fact, holding kids back is counterproductive, since repeaters are more likely to drop out and remedial education for underachievers is less expensive and more effective than making kids repeat grades.

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Business Week, Feb. 28

An article predicts that Digimon could eclipse Pokémon. Like Pokémon, Digimon is a Japanese multimedia juggernaut featuring hundreds of odd critters. Digimon's manufacturers—the company that brought us Mighty Morphin Rangers—can't keep up with demand. (David Plotz foresaw the decline of Pikachu in this " Assessment.") A piece bets that third-party issue ads will become the dominant campaign-finance loophole of election 2000. The tax code allows political nonprofits to raise unlimited soft money, conceal the names of donors, and advise friendly candidates about their plans to broadcast helpful ads. The Republican Leadership Council already spent $1 million on ads attacking Steve Forbes and Al Gore.

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Harper's, March 2000

The vivid cover story warns against the dire consequences of America's bulging waistline. Obesity handicaps 20 percent of Americans, especially the poor. Heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and various nasty cancers all plague the overweight. Corporations aggressively push fast food on low-income people who have limited access to exercise. The story includes many vivid descriptions of our grotesque eating habits. An essay lampoons the penis-centered performance art of Matthew Barney. The Guggenheim is devoting a major exhibition to "the Michelangelo of genital art," who is known for his image of a penis impaling a beehive and his portrayal of a prosthesis-enhanced Harry Houdini.

Eve Gerber is a Slateeditorial assistant.

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