New York Times Magazine, Jan. 13 Michael Lewis' cover story assesses Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, a man who arrived in Washington with a list of reasons why he didn't want the job. (O'Neill was previously CEO of Alcoa, an aluminum company.) That list, Lewis argues, reveals why O'Neill was such an odd choice for the post. For example, when O'Neill writes, "I've changed since I left Washington"—he spent his first 20 working years as a federal bureaucrat—he means he now prefers the limitless power of a CEO, which, of course, the Treasury job doesn't offer. Priceless anecdote: After a press conference, O'Neill keys his name into a Bloomberg machine search engine to see if he's made news. … David Grann profiles a fireman who survived the collapse of the World Trade Center but suffered posttraumatic amnesia. He can't remember whether he tried to save the other men in his company or whether he just tried to save himself.—B.C.
Newsweek, Jan. 14
The cover story tells the story of a jailed al-Qaida operative's American wife. April Ray, raised Muslim in Arizona, attended a few Osama Bin Laden family picnics, and she sounds like many other true believers when she blames the CIA or Israel for Sept. 11. But, eerily, Ray usually sounds like any other young mom; she is sarcastic and profane and lets her kids watch The Simpsons.... A piece anticipates a bizarre budget battle between George W. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Bush, who wants tax cuts and defense spending, will argue the old Keynesian Democrat line that certain deficits are OK. Daschle will sound like a GOPer, demanding fiscal responsibility from the reckless tax-slashing president.... An article previews Moxi, a new VCR-sized super gadget that gives you: cable (with TiVo-like recording capability), a DVD, a CD player with digital memory (you can toss the disks once they're downloaded), Internet access, and at least 80 gigabytes of hard drive space.— J.D.
Time, Jan. 14 Echoing sentiments expressed when Apple released the first iMac, the cover story gives the new version rave reviews but wonders if it will catch on. It looks cool and organizes an otherwise confusing mess of digital equipment (cameras and MP3 players, for example), but we are living in a Microsoft world, and at $1,299, the iMac may prove too expensive for material girls and boys. … A piece describes the "frustrating endgame" of the war in Afghanistan. Nobody knows where Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar are, and world attention is shifting to the unknown number of Afghan civilian casualties.— J.D. U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 14 The cover story continues the recent sanguine trend of declaring the economy healthy again. Who turned it around? Patriotic consumers with an "indomitable spirit" and an "unflagging desire to buy." Businesses cut production and jobs so sharply last year that they have to increase supply now to match demand. Oh, and Alan Greenspan deserves some credit too, of course.... An opinion piece measures changes in the political landscape since George W. Bush was elected. Democrats have dropped their popular Clintonesque Third Way for a slightly updated but still tired New Deal-style program. Meanwhile, Bush has united the Republicans more than even Ronald Reagan did, by harmonizing the two apparently opposed philosophies of small government and "national greatness."— J.D.
The New Yorker, Jan. 14 A profile of former FBI counterterrorism expert John O'Neill depicts a man consumed in every sense by al-Qaida. His imperious style won him many enemies in the national security community, and his stressful personal life (a wife and at least two girlfriends) eventually led to several on-the-job lapses, but he was one of the few who recognized the terrorist threat in America and worked tirelessly to stop it. O'Neill retired from the bureau last August to take a job as head of security at the World Trade Center. He died in the attack, three weeks after his first day. ... A piece offers more terrorists to fear in Central Asia. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which worked closely with Osama Bin Laden, has well-armed operations in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Brutal repression of Muslims in those countries will only increase militant fervor. The IMU could set its sights on U.S. Embassies.— J.D.
Weekly Standard, Jan. 14 Fred Barnes'cover story accuses popular historian Stephen Ambrose of plagiarism. In his latest book about the crew of a B-24 bomber, The Wild Blue, Ambrose apparently ripped off several paragraphs, nearly word for word, from Thomas Childer's book Wings of Morning. Ambrose has since apologized, and for what it's worth, Barnes says he did so "graciously."… A piece ridicules the Department of Health and Human Services' hang-up about gender biases in schools. Under Clinton, the "Girl Power!" initiative was an effort to raise the self-esteem and academic achievement of young females. But it came at a time when girls were already outperforming boys. Now, there are plans to create a male counterpart program called "Boy Talk," which the author sees as a foolish attempt to "rescue boys from their masculinity."— J.F.
The Nation, Jan. 21 The cover story says that Sept. 11 revealed how unrealistic realist foreign-policy theory is. Traditional realist doctrine holds that principled beliefs should take a back seat to a nation's foreign-policy interests. But in the war on terrorism, our strongest allies have not been defined by their interests but by the principles they hold to—namely, democracy. The idealistic globalists have it right that the only way to beat the forces of jihad is by fostering democracy abroad. … A dispatch from Uzbekistan says the Central Asian country may be breeding the next Taliban. Living in poverty under a harsh authoritarian regime, Uzbeks are increasingly channeling their discontent into radical Islamic fervor. Since Sept. 11, the United States has softened its criticism of its new best friend in the region and sent aid to its repressive leader.— J.F.