The New Lott

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
June 15 2001 11:30 PM

The New Lott

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New Republic, June 25
The cover story assesses Chris Matthews and Bill O'Reilly, talk-show hosts who embody the values of working-class Catholics. Or at least aspire to. While Catholic politicos like Tip O'Neill subordinated social issues for economic concerns, Matthews and O'Reilly do the opposite: They retain "the language of Catholic class consciousness while divesting it of economic meaning." Thus, their shtick is woefully one-dimensional, even for talk show hosts. Prime example: They're quick to scold the Clintons, or any immoral "Ivy League elitist," but they're baffled when working-class Catholics actually vote for the Clintons. A piece handicaps the field of potential Republican Senate leaders. With Trent Lott all but dismissed as a "narrow legislative mechanic" prone to being outfoxed by the Democrats, several contenders have emerged, among them Don Nickles of Oklahoma, Larry Craig of Idaho, and Bill Frist of Tennessee.—B.C.

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Economist, June 16 The cover story probes the gap between the haves and have-nots, rehashing the age-old philosophical question, "Does inequality matter?" The have-nots, the author writes, are right to be angry if society doesn't provide an equal opportunity to succeed. The most alarming instance of inequality is "pure, sheer poverty"—when people are so poor that they can't even voice their opinion through normal democratic processes. What's one answer? Have the super-rich return to the wide-ranging philanthropy of Victorian Britian, "salving their consciences as well as defusing some of the criticism." A piece uses historical examples to predict the future of the Tory Party in Britain. After disastrous elections, this year being no exception, the Tories morph from an ideologically driven party to ruthless vote-getters. Thus, the next iteration will likely be driven by conservatism and more of "a pragmatic exercise in stagecraft."—B.C.

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New York Times Magazine, June 17
The cover story tracks the strange case of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a prominent Egyptian scholar jailed by his country's authoritarian regime. Saad Eddin committed two sins: He wrote about the conflict between Egyptian Muslims and Copts, and he offered public commentary on President Hosni Mubarak's family. Just days after his comments, Mubarak's security forces arrested Saad Eddin in a midnight raid, and after a ludicrous show trial, the academic was sentenced to seven years of hard labor. Why would Mubarak, the author wonders, "risk international censure and opprobrium to teach a lesson to one influential but essentially powerless intellectual?" An article follows professional autograph seekers. A small group of twenty- and thirtysomething men gathers signatures in ways that would make the paparazzi blush: airport confrontations, high-speed chases, even donning disguises to confuse celebs who insist on one autograph per person. But it pays off: A guitar signed by Mick Jagger retails for $2,000.—B.C.

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The New Yorker, June 18 and 25
The fiction issue. A piece by Susan Sontag ruminates on the role of the narrator. Focusing on Glenway Wescott's The Pilgrim Hawk, a neglected treasure of American literature, Sontag writes that the narrator's basic job is "to watch, to reflect, to understand (which also means to be puzzled by) what is going on." Wescott's narrator is distinctively American: An apologist, he begs the reader to forgive him for being a poor judge of character. In fact, this "frenetic reflectiveness," as Sontag dubs it, is what justifies the novel's very existence. A novelist writes about what he doesn't understand but wishes to. The "Shouts & Murmurs" column traces the history of the sound bite, the form with which humans strip away "all non-essential sound and meaning." What was the unedited version of philosopher René Descartes' most famous saying? "I think, therefore I am John Ritter."—B.C.

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Time, June 18
The cover story chronicles the adventures of 33-year-old Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb Everest. An article explains why the FDA worries about drinks spiked with echinacea, ginkgo biloba, or Saint Johnswort: Herbal additives in food haven't been proved safe, and it's easier to overdose when the herbs are eaten rather than taken as pills. A Jenna Bush-inspired article advises parents to take their cue from colleges on how to manage teen drinking. Tips for keeping kids from abusing the sauce: Tell them their peers drink small amounts and imbibe less often than they think, accept that kids are going to drink, and encourage them to do it safely.—A.F.

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Newsweek, June 8 The cover story picks the brains of "the dominators"—superathletes such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Martina Navratilova. Their advice: sweat, intimidate, don't rest on your laurels, and the oblique, "Have a sense of the historic." Though sworn to secrecy "in part to avoid the impression that Bush needed remedial training," several participants reveal the details of President Bush's preparations for his European trip. While Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld fight "a tug of war to dominate policy," Condoleezza Rice has Bush's ear. Newsweek pegs June 19 as outgoing FBI Director Louis Freeh's last day. Two leading contenders for Freeh's post are U.S. Attorney Robert Mueller and Bush père's Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger.—A.F.

U.S. News & World Report, June 18
U.S. News asks what's wrong with the FBI. The mag enumerates a litany of recent bungles. While the search for missing Washington, D.C., intern Chandra Levy continues, an article reminds that Rep. Gary Condit, who has called Levy "a good friend" but has repeatedly denied an affair (despite allegations from an unnamed Levy relative), is not a suspect in the case. Levy's parents are worried that a sex scandal would distract from the search, now in its sixth week.—A.F.

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Vanity Fair, July 2001
A piece dissects Bill Clinton and Al Gore's bitter breakup. Painting the relationship as the Odd Couple without the laughs, the article details how Gore finally detonated what was always a tenuous bond by sidelining Clinton—who thought Gore owed much of his success to him—during the last election. The two haven't spoken since Inauguration Day.... A piece describes how Howell Raines snagged the executive editorship of the New York Times. After a controversial stint as the Times' editorial page editor and with no experience in the paper's Manhattan newsroom, Raines, critics speculate, secured the top post by cozying up to the publisher. Adoring fans insist he's just that good.—M.C.

Maureen Sullivan is a Slatecopy editor.

Amanda Fazzone is an assistant editor at the New Republic.

Bryan Curtis is a staff writer for Grantland. Follow him on Twitter.

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