A White House of Cards
Updated Friday, Dec. 6, 2002, at 4:28 PM
Esquire, January 2002 Ron Suskind's already famous piece on the influence of presidential adviser Karl Rove features the former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, John DiIulio, dissing the Bush administration's domestic policy wing: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. … What you've got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis." (Since the article's publication, DiIulio has recanted, presumably under pressure.) … Esquire's "Survey of the American Man" finds that a slim majority prefers pleated trousers to flat-front (won't someone call for a recount?) and that "my wife" is still the most popular answer for the "sexiest woman in America."—K.T.
Martha Stewart Living, December 2002 A Hanukkah piece encourages cooks to explore other vegetables besides potatoes when making traditional latkes; "it is kosher—and delicious—to include parsnips, sweet potatoes, and spinach" as long as the pancakes are fried in the holiday's celebratory oil. … An advisory article recommends shopping exclusively at your local farmers market for the freshest seasonal greenery. Longer-lasting evergreens include princess pine or cedar; and the most fragrant frond arrangements come from blending pine, eucalyptus, balsam, and juniper: "Mix them as you would flowers."… The best American cities for admiring holiday decorations are profiled. Topping the list: "artistically restrained" Cooperstown, N.Y.; Latino-inspired Santa Fe, N.M.; and the traditional Southern splendor of Natchez, Miss. (Read Slate's review of Martha Stewart's Christmas special.)— S.G.
New Republic, Dec. 16 The cover piece explains how the drug industry's influence with doctors and Congress has inflated the cost of prescription drugs. Drug companies justify their monopolies by citing the high costs of developing new drugs. In fact, companies spend much less than they say on research (especially compared with what they spend on marketing), and the majority of the drugs they introduce each year are only modified versions of hot sellers. The authors' prescription: major revision of patent law, strengthening of the FDA, and resolution on the part of doctors to stop eating out of the industry's hand. … A piece questions the CW about China's terrific economy: What if distorted statistics disguise a slow rate of growth and dangerous levels of deficit spending? If China's economy went bust, xenophobia that prosperity keeps in check could explode, threatening U.S.-China relations. …"TRB" says John Kerry shouldn't expect his Vietnam cred to offset his hedging on Iraq.— K.T.
Economist, Dec. 7 The cover story explains why Turkey should eventually be invited to join the European Union. It'll be a decade or more before Turkey has its economic house in order, but an EU invitation would show the Muslim world that the West doesn't consider democracy and Islam incompatible. … A survey looks at the educational background of the holders of Britain's top 100 jobs. Fewer than ever came out of Oxford, Cambridge, and the elite public schools. The change is a sign that the global economy is finally reengineering the old British establishment. … In light of Michael Crichton's new novel, Prey, an article assesses the prospects for nanotechnology. Optimists believe microscopic machines will bring about the industrial revolution of the 21st century. Pessimists, concerned about environmental impact, want a moratorium on all nanotechnology research. The truth is that nanotechnology is still a long way from living up to either sides' expectations.— J.F.
Washington Monthly, December 2002
The cover story looks at the role women could play in an Iraq invasion. Since the Gulf War, women have been given many more front-line and combat-support positions. How they perform in Iraq will be a test determining what military roles will be open to them in the future. … A profile of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman explains how the Washington outsider came to be America's most important political columnist. In part, it's his outsider status: He called Bush on the dishonesty of his fiscal policy when other political insiders wouldn't. … An article suggests three things the Democrats could have done to win in November: 1) Campaign on cutting taxes for everyone now, not just the rich later; 2) paint themselves as the party for multilateral action against Saddam: 3) given into a Homeland Security Department earlier, then bashed the Republicans for underfunding it.—J.F.
New York Review of Books, Dec. 19
An article asks why Russians don't clamor for an explanation of the bungled hostage rescue in a Moscow theater in late October. The incident sharply polarized the Russian-Chechen conflict into a "savage spiral of vendetta and reprisal." … A piece traces Israel's history, citing a series of missed opportunities for peace. Stubborn commitment to increased settlements may have blinded some leaders to possibilities of agreements with the Palestinians. …Slate's Jim Holt writes a favorable review of an early philosophical sci-fi classic that allegorically ponders the existence of multiple dimensions. One important question the book fails to raise: But why do we live in only three dimensions?—S.G.
New York Times Magazine, Dec. 8
The cover article challenges the rationale behind the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund. Originally created to protect the airlines, not the families, the fund has ended up drawing questionable distinctions between the Sept. 11 victims and victims of other terrorist attacks, and between victims who were investment bankers and those who were janitors. … An article describes how the parents of the members of the boy-band Dream Street sued the group's producers for corrupting their sons. The court didn't think much of their case, but the parents did pull their boys back from the dangerous brink of rock stardom—a result the boys are none too happy about. … A piece adds up the liberal arguments for and against war in Iraq and profiles several liberals who are either pro-war or on the fence. Even those who want to topple Saddam Hussein, though, don't support the Bush administration's way of going about it.—K.T.
U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 9
The cover story looks at the continuing scientific relevance of Albert Einstein. His stature has skyrocketed in the 50 years since his death, but the more we learn about Einstein and his life, the less we understand. … An article examines problems facing the Secret Service. More than 400 officers have resigned in the last year as the agency faces plummeting morale, leadership woes, and low recruiting. … A "Washington Whispers"piece says Saudi students studying at American universities are being warned to turn their homework in on time, avoid parking tickets, and get good grades to avoid scrutiny from terrorist-obsessed lawmen. The memo, issued by the Saudi Embassy, warns that "skipping classes" could lead to deportation.—H.B.
Newsweek, Dec. 9
The cover story profiles the increasing popularity of teen chastity. Abstinence programs are on the rise nationwide, thanks to increased federal funding. Yet disagreement continues over whether the sex-can-wait mantra is the best approach. … An article examines changes at the New York Times under Executive Editor Howell Raines. Once simply known as "the paper of record," the Times is being criticized for ginning up controversies as much as reporting them. (Click here for a Slate piece on the subject.) … A piece sums up all that went wrong in the AOL Time Warner merger. In short, the two companies were wrong for each other from the very beginning, and top execs knew it, but the chance to make history proved to be too tempting.— H.B.
Time, Dec. 9
The cover story warns of a coming epidemic of arthritis. Doctors predict that by 2020, the bone ailment will affect 40 million Americans, up from 20 million today. Among those who will suffer the most: Gen Xers, who will feel the effects of videogaming in their thumbs. … An article says the CIA has given the Saudis evidence that al-Qaida is planning attacks inside Saudi Arabia. The agency hopes to solicit more support in the war on terrorism. … A piece says investigators are worried that last week's attacks against Israeli interests might be intended to divert attention while al-Qaida plans a "spectacular attack."— H.B.
The New Yorker, Dec. 9
A piece profiles life in Jerusalem, a once-vibrant city that is vanishing amid violence and bloodshed. Hundreds of thousands of residents have left the area in search of a better life, but many remain out of loyalty to what was and what could have been. … An article looks at the backstage battle over ballerina toe shoes. Some dancers have started performing in a new Nike-type shoe that some claim reduces injury, is more comfortable, and lasts longer than traditional pointe shoes. Others argue the new shoe will undermine the artistic value of pain and suffering. … A piece by Susan Sontag looks at how photography has interpreted our perception of war. While it has increased our awareness about conflict and its impact, photography has eclipsed other forms of understanding—and remembering. People end up thinking of just the photos, not the real horrors of war.—H.B.
Weekly Standard, Dec. 9
The two cover articles debunk a pair of ideas underlying anti-war arguments. The first is that deterrence worked against the Soviets and can work against Saddam Hussein. Maybe, but life in the era of Cold War deterrence was miserable. If we have the option, isn't it better to stop the problem at its source? Pre-emption is a kind of pre-deterrence: It sends the message that if you try to build weapons of mass destruction, you will be punished. … The second false idea is that "stability" is a desirable end in itself. Some argue that regime change will destabilize Iraq and perhaps other regimes in the region. But so what? Better to live in an "unstable" democracy than under the "stable" hand of Saddam. … The editorial defends "Megan's law" statutes on the grounds that sex-crime recidivism is alarmingly high. In Massachusetts, more than half of the sex-offenders released from prison in the last 25 years were rearrested for a similar crime.— J.F.
Holly Bailey is a writer in Washington, D.C.
In addition to being the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura, Joshua Foer is the author of Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, which grew out of a story he wrote for Slate.
Siân Gibby assists in editing the Faith-Based column. She copy-edits for Slate.
Kate Taylor is the arts reporter at the New York Sun and the editor of an anthology of essays about anorexia, Going Hungry, which will be published next spring.