What's new in the New Republic, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Oct. 1 2004 6:37 PM

Gloomy Forecast

Oil prices and a spending slump could be bad news for the global economy.

Economist

Economist, Oct. 2 Four pitfalls threaten to derail the booming world economy: "higher oil prices, a slump in America's consumer spending, a global house-price bust, and a hard landing in China." Americans may have to resign themselves to a slower recovery than they had initially hoped. Household saving is at a record low, and "over-indebted American consumers may be forced to tighten their belts." A special report finds little hope in its survey of Palestinian life and politics. The intifada has further impoverished residents of the Gaza Strip and left thousands homeless; "Gazans habitually describe their bit of Palestine as a cage or prison."... This article endorses John Howard for re-election as Australian prime minister, primarily because of the pledge by his challenger, Mark Latham, to pull Australian troops out of Iraq. Such a move would send "a terrible message to those who cut off the heads of their victims and post their atrocious videos on the internet."

New Republic

New Republic, Oct. 11 The cover story says that President Bush understands government policy by reducing it to a narrative, with himself in the lead role. In his mind, Bush is the central figure in an ever-unfolding series of dramas" and as the protagonist, there are certain qualities that he most desires to present. This practice has allowed advisers to manipulate him to suit their purposes. Conservative aides have convinced Bush that certain policies are "principled," show "resolve," or, should they want to dissuade the president, "Clintonian."... TRB attacks the "grotesque talking point" peddled by conservatives that Democrats are assisting terrorists and demoralizing U.S. troops by criticizing the postwar reconstruction.... This article profiles John Sasso, the Kerry aide charged with providing order and discipline to the Kerry campaign. Sasso keeps a low profile by staying off national television, earning him the reputation as "the Keyser Söze of the Democratic Party"—and one of John Kerry's most trusted advisers.

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New York Times Magazine, Oct. 3 The magazine examines the "next cultural establishment" through a series of articles on music, theater, and art. A detailed exploration of MoMA's plans for rebirth anchors the issue. The museum, which returns to Manhattan on Nov. 20 after a two-year sojourn in Queens, is moving into its new $858 million home with innovative ideas about how to present its collection. The article is too detailed for general interest readers; the back-and-forth about where a given painting should hang will be exciting mostly to modern-art devotees.... Another piece decries how the ethereal world of the multimedia display is replacing the physical world of the "irreproducible object" at the city's museums. The magazine advances a thoughtful argument for the "secular cathedral" of the traditional museum.... A.O. Scott explains why Miramax's possible demise—perhaps at the hands of corporate parent Disney—would not mean the death of the smart filmmaking with which it is associated.—A.B.D.

Weekly Standard
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Weekly Standard, Oct. 4 The magazine explains why the leaders of "Old Europe" (France and Germany) are secretly pulling for Bush. Apparently, Chirac and Schröder like Bush because his administration asks nothing of them. Also, as long as Bush remains the bête noire of European liberals, European leaders will be able to draw attention away from the stagnant economies of their flagging welfare states. The article is counterintuitive enough to be an interesting read, but the argument seems too clever by a half.... Another piece explains why the Democrats have no hope of retaking the Senate—a prospect that began capturing the party's imagination this summer. The state-by-state analysis is sound, although the magazine argues for a coattail effect that might not materialize if Bush loses.... Finally, the magazine revels in the right-wing triumphalism that has attended much of the Dan Rather memo scandal coverage. The conservative movement, John Podhoretz writes, has finally defeated elite liberal media.—A.B.D.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker, Oct. 4 While Fallujah and Najaf dominate American headlines, George Packer argues that another city will play a far larger role in the eventual success or failure of an independent Iraq: Kirkuk. The cosmopolitan city suffered a massive Arabization program under Saddam's rule—primarily because its culture offended Baathist notions of Arab glory, but also because its oil deposits make it a strategically vital population center. Those driven out under the previous regime are returning home, and it seems everyone has a claim to the place. Some are already comparing Kirkuk to Sarajevo and warning that ethnic strife in the city may lead to civil war.... Another article responds to those gleefully predicting the downfall of mainstream media in the aftermath of the CBS scandal. Rather's reliance on faulty memos was more likely a result of "scoopaholism" than his political biases, the magazine argues. At the same time, proving a network anchor is fallible doesn't prove anyone else would do a better job.—A.B.D.

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Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 4
Slaughter in Sudan:
Time devotes its cover to the ongoing conflict in Sudan's Darfur region. The story goes a long way toward explaining the what of Darfur—the murder, rape, and torture that the United States has called genocide—but is too short in its explanation of the why—the cause of the violence that has claimed 50,000 lives. The magazine makes a convincing case, however, that the brutality will continue without foreign intervention. An accompanying essay by Samantha Power argues that the U.S. declaration of genocide will mean little without action. (Also see Power's excellent piece in The New Yorker about Darfur.)... The other weekly newsmagazines follow the rest of the media's lead in ignoring Darfur. Newsweek puts an excerpt from Bob Dylan's new memoir on its cover.... U.S. News' cover features an examination of modern Native American life.

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Things fall apart: As Iraq descends deeper into chaos, U.S. News looks ahead to the upcoming presidential debate and the broader campaign-trail discussion over what to do about a country plagued by a seemingly uncontrollable insurgency. For the first time since Vietnam, an American election is being dominated by a foreign policy discussion, the magazine argues.... Newsweek reports how desperate the situation has become. The suicide car bombings that rock Baghdad daily are scarcely considered news when the world is consumed by gruesome beheadings of Western. The magazine also features an interview with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who discusses U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.... Time offers five steps to win in Iraq. But it's unclear how the magazine's ideas—from training Iraqi defense forces to holding legitimate elections—are any different from the policies the United States has pursued for months.

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Growing and dying: For those who wonder how Starbucks can support a store on every corner, Newsweek offers amazing news: The coffee giant plans to double the number of stores it operates within the United States to 12,000. The company will fuel this growth with an ambitious series of new initiatives; it plans to expand its drive-through stores nationwide and to beef up its Hear Music record label, which had the No. 2 album this month.... Time catches up with Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone, who discusses his company's China strategy. The media honcho reveals his goal to triple MTV China's audience to 10 million but brushes aside the magazine's question about Chinese censorship. Redstone also avoids a discussion of Dan Rather's future at Viacom subsidiary CBS.... U.S. News takes a look at a set of companies with considerably dimmer prospects. Traditional airlines are finally undergoing the big shakeout predicted after 9/11, the magazine argues, and some will not survive bankruptcy restructuring.—A.B.D.

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

David Kenner is a former Slate intern.

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