What's new in the Economist, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Sept. 3 2004 5:28 PM

Israel: The Other Swing State

Will the expat vote favor Bush?

The New Republic

The New Republic, Sept. 13 & 20 TNR devotes much of this double issue to a cover package on the GOP in the Big Apple. How will Bush fare among Jewish voters? Increasingly, his percentage of the national vote matters less than picking up votes in key states like Ohio and Florida. Don't forget the 100,000+ eligible voters in Israel: They're likely pro-Bush, and Republicans Abroad Israel, a 527 organization, thinks about 25,000 are registered swing-state voters.... Democrats banned Al Jazeera's network banner at their convention for fear of Republican criticism, but Republicans turned the tables by allowing it: "In reality, the Bushies are love-bombing Al Jazeera for one overriding reason: the contrast makes the Democrats look bad."... There's an epidemic sweeping conservatives: Unable to publicly chastise Bush for the war and his poor economic policies, they've "resorted to passionate Kerry-hating."..."I coulda been a contender": Sen. Chuck Hagel gets a jump on self-promotion for a 2008 presidential nomination wooing not voters but the media.—J.H.P.

The Economist

The Economist, Sept. 2 One article in this special issue on the automobile says the industry is in dire need of a pick-me-up: "[T]he car industry accounts for about 10% of GDP in rich countries," but Europe, the United States, and Japan, which sell 80 percent of vehicles worldwide, are "running out of growth." Americans shouldn't fret, however—another piece outlines how companies like GM and Ford have been able to consistently reinvent themselves. Perhaps somewhere down the line they'll do so via electronic and electric invention —one story dissects how telematics, which "connects cars with the outside world and with each other," will have a huge effect on the industry's future.... Though published prior to Bush's speech, a piece on the Republican Convention concludes that, "for the first time in the race, virtually every indicator—national and state polls, judgments of character and issues—have been moving towards Mr. Bush."—J.H.P.

New York Times Magazine

New York Times Magazine, Sept. 5 In the cover story, Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodóvar calls his latest film Bad Education"the anti-Mel Gibson movie." No wonder: The movie is about a druggie transsexual who was molested by a priest as a child—typical Almodóvar fare. The piece cites Almodóvar's upbringing during Franco's dictatorship as a significant influence on his career: "My movies are a post-Franco reaction." A haunting photographic collage of Almodóvar's leading ladies, featuring Penélope Cruz, accompanies the profile.... Voting based on a candidate's promise to create jobs? Think again. One economist calls that notion "the most grotesque mischaracterization of the economic backdrop" in a story that debunks the myth that the president has control over employment. In fact, the weather may have just as much influence.... Another story examines the rise of American "Christ-centered colleges" like Biola University, which now support infusing education with culture—since 1994, enrollment has surged 67 percent.—J.H.P.

The New Yorker
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The New Yorker, Sept. 6 The magazine all but ignores the Republican Convention by publishing its special food issue this week. With meditations on everything from snoek (a fish popular in South Africa) to mâche (a lettuce for those sick of iceberg), the issue is a welcome respite from political news. But for those who can't get enough news on the convention, the "Talk of the Town" section has several excellent pieces. One article examines how—and why—cities continue to woo "mega-events" despite the attendant security concerns. Many cities lack a "unique selling proposition" and thus view conventions (or other events like the Olympics) as a way to advertise themselves. Hendrik Hertzberg unloads on the Republicans who question John Kerry's record in Vietnam. The best political piece in the issue examines George Bush's slow and subtle moves toward a flat tax.—A.B.D.

The Weekly Standard

Weekly Standard, Sept. 6
While most of the media report on George Bush and the Republican Convention, the magazine devotes its attention to John Kerry, with a special focus on his Vietnam service. Editor Bill Kristol presents Kerry's 1971 testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, in which he recounted details of the war crimes other veterans told him they had committed. Kristol argues those comments will help Bush in November. Another article examines Kerry's speeches at Yale and asserts that he has always been a dove who is deeply skeptical about U.S. interventionism. The magazine also pulls back from the details of Kerry's service to analyze how journalists got forced into covering the Swift boat scandal that many of them seemed to find loathsome. The magazine makes a convincing case that new media (such as blogs) have undermined the traditional media's ability to set the news agenda.—A.B.D.

99_040830_newsmags

Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 6
Showtime for Bush:
As the Republican Convention gets under way in New York, the president graces the cover of all three newsmagazines. Time's article reviews George Bush's presidency and analyzes his thought process. It argues that the polarized electorate is a natural result of Bush's black-and-white worldview. Two excellent opinion pieces represent the public's sharply divergent views: Charles Krauthammer presents the case for Bush while Slate's founding editor Michael Kinsley lays out the case against him. … Newsweek frames its assessment of Bush around his midlife decision to quit drinking and find God. Although rich with detail, the article seems unnecessary after the focus on Bush's life story in 2000. … U.S. News writes that Bush's second-term agenda will be more limited than his first, given the tumultuousness of the last four years, not to mention the massive deficits that have accrued.

Spies and Lies: Newsweek reports on the swirling controversy surrounding Larry Franklin, the Pentagon employee who allegedly passed secret Defense Department documents to Israel. The story is well sourced, but the definitive account of the allegations—and the ensuing investigation—is the one in the Washington Monthly. U.S. News tries to determine just how good the spying business is these days. Three years after Sept. 11, the number of job listings at the intelligence community's largest placement firm has more than tripled. One official told the magazine, "[I]t's impossible to be unemployed" if you have a security clearance. Time reports on the twin plane crashes in Russia and analyzes the Federal Security Service's reluctance to declare that terrorists brought down the planes. The service—which goes by the acronym FSB and is the successor to the KGB—tried to ignore the terrorist explanation because Vladimir Putin's reputation rests on his ability to fight the Chechens most likely behind the attack.

Unrest in Iraq: Newsweek reports on the secret role Iran is playing in the continuing violence in Iraq. Both Iraqi officials and Western diplomats are convinced Iranians are backing rebel leaders in Iraq, including Muqtada Sadr.  Time offers an excellent view of the end of the siege at the Imam Ali shrine. A reporter inside Najaf presents a bizarre view of life in the midst of battle: As bullets whiz by, a boy attempts to sell him ice cream. U.S. News, which offered some of the best coverage of the Abu Ghraib scandal, gives a rundown of the military's official reports on the abuse at the prison. The magazine summarizes the systemic failures of leadership that both reports outline.—A.B.D.

Alexander Dryer works for The New Yorker in Washington, D.C.

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