See the Contradictions

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Aug. 10 2001 8:30 PM

See the Contradictions

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New Republic, Aug. 20
The cover story points out the contradictions in first lady Laura Bush, showing where her official White House biography rubs against the real world. Often portrayed as a cultural sophisticate—Bush backpacked through 17 countries after graduation and likes poking around old libraries—she has never uttered a controversial or sophisticated idea in public. At once, she is opinionated and demure, a central player and a supporting player, a career woman and a stay-at-home mom. And unlike her predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, she never fights these contradictions, and that, the author suggests, may be exactly how Americans want their first ladies to behave. A piece revisits the Blue Dogs, a group of 32 conservative Democratic congressmen who figured to be among President Bush's strongest allies. One problem: The White House completely ignored them. In the absence of any cajoling, a majority of the group opposed Bush's energy plan and his tax cut.— B.C.

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Esquire, September 2001
A profile of the late lineman Korey Stringer, completed prior to his collapse on the field from heat exhaustion, calls him the National Football League's "Enlightened Man." Stringer tells the writer "After three hours of just heaving your entire body into men the size of side-by-side refrigerators, you would go to the hospital probably." The cover story on Tom Hanks congratulates him for leaving "the realm of pussydom." With a slippery new mustache and an HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers" set in World War II, Hanks assures the writer that he has ended his love affair with weenie characters.— D.N.

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New York Times Magazine, Aug. 12 The cover story looks at toxic mold. This slimy black fungus is driving people to abandon infested homes and everything in them to avoid getting sick—then, from a safe distance, to sue for damages. Part construction defect and part personal injury, these new hybrid lawsuits have become an "Armageddon to insurance companies." (Case in point: Erin Brockovich has a suit.) Doctors say they've seen an increase in mold victims—who suffer afflictions from nosebleeds to severe memory loss—in the last year, though there's no scientific proof that the mold causes sickness nor any explanation for why reports are on the rise now.—M.C.

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Talk, September 2001
A 12-page "Declaration of Independence" photo spread lands the mag in presidential purgatory. With captions like "Grand Old Party" and "Mistaken ID," the pics highlight the travails of faux Bush twins (models) soaking up the nightlife. Momentarily behind bars, they are taken home by daddy to await punishment: "Compassionate Conservatism? You're Grounded." An article on Stephen Hawking suggests his professional reputation is in need of repair. The ALS sufferer remains the most recognizable genius alive, but colleagues have grown weary of all the Einstein and Newton comparisons. His book due out next fall may be his last chance to win them over.— D.N.

Vanity Fair, September 2001
Former ballplayer Tommy Gioiosa (pronounced "Gee-oh-suh") talks to the magazine about Pete Rose, even though he opted for a stay in jail  rather than testify at Rose's trial. Angered that he never got a thank you, Gioiosa now says that during the five years the two were housemates (and Rose was his hero), he helped Rose gamble thousands on baseball, sell phony memorabilia, and skim money from a drug deal. As an afterthought, he adds that Rose relied on a corked bat to break Ty Cobb's hits record. In a preview of his forthcoming book, David Halberstam writes on how a deeply suspicious military resisted Clinton on Kosovo. The piece focuses on the demise of Gen. Wesley Clark, who toed the Clinton line on involvement only to be squeezed out by his peers after the war effort was over. (ThisSlate "Book Club" discussed Clark's book Waging Modern War.)—D.N.

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Time, Aug. 13
The cover story grimly previews the next generation of Kennedys. The good news: Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend looks headed for national office. The bad news: Patrick (congressman) and Joe II (former congressman) had their rising stars grounded by scandal. Max tried running for Congress but was forced to drop out of the race because he was such an abysmal campaigner. An article reviews a triumvirate of Bush policy victories from last week. He moved closer to resolving a battle over his education package. A bill providing for Alaskan oil drilling passed the House. Most important, he cowed the Republican sponsor of a comprehensive HMO-reform bill (Charles Norwood) into accepting a more industry-friendly compromise. A piece makes the perennial observation that Harley-Davidson is struggling to attract younger motorcyclists. The V-Rod—its first entirely new model in 50 years—looks an awful lot like the popular Honda bikes.—J.D.

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U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 13
The cover story dismisses the Chandra Levy-fed hysteria about a missing persons epidemic. Few missing persons are abducted by weirdoes or sexual predators; the majority run away or are kidnapped by parents in custody battles. And 99 percent are found or simply come back home. A muckraking piece exposes the other side of the American obsession with the gem tanzanite. Tanzanian miners toil in abject conditions for tiny commissions while big South African corporations and a few local mine owners get filthy rich. The HIV-infection rate in the leading Tanzanian mining town: 60 percent. An article sounds the death knell of the generation as a demographic concept. The idea means less and less as more individualistic cohorts come of age. And businesses reject the generation because modern marketing requires more precise demographic gradations.—J.D.

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Newsweek, Aug. 13 The cover story cautions women against believing that medical science has increased the age of fertility. Encouraged by tales of 63-year-old first-time moms, many women put off pregnancy into their 40s. But in vitro fertilization, which works for one in three thirtysomethings, is only 10-percent effective for 43-year-olds. A piece attaches metaphorical importance to the fight over oil drilling in Alaska: Are we a nation of consumers or conservers? Drillers can't see the allure of the frigid, mosquito-infested Arctic Refuge and know that Americans love their SUVs. Environmentalists think drilling represents the reckless materialism that will spoil the rest of the American wilderness. An article gives gory details about the intensifying America Online-Microsoft feud. AOL spokesperson's best line: "We are not a monopolist, but a company that simply happens to be large." Microsoft spokesperson's spin: "Their advantage is politics and bogus legal attacks. … Our advantage is technical vision."—J.D.

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The New Yorker, Aug. 13 The cover story smiles at Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America and Hollywood's man in Washington since 1966. Like his mentor Lyndon Johnson, Valenti combines hard-edged advocacy with a fierce sense of loyalty and, at 80, has became the point man in the battle against Internet censorship. An article says that the doctors who certify brain death are making a philosophical judgment rather than a medical one. For ethical purposes, patients with no higher brain activity are pronounced dead even when their bodies continue to function. This definition paves the way for organ donation, which requires "dead" patients to supply organs but "live" bodies to preserve them until transplant time. But after reviewing the complexities of consciousness, the author cautions that the line between life and death might not be that clear.— D.N.

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