Addition by Subtraction
Democrats can increase their stature by reducing the deficit.
Updated Friday, Nov. 19, 2004, at 4:50 PM
New Republic, Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 Deficit reduction could lead Democrats out of the political wilderness, says the cover story. Democrats should "remake themselves as the party of fiscal sanity and paint the president's agenda as a waste of the country's future." If Democrats can convince Republican deficit hawks to challenge their party, "an emerging bipartisan dialogue can give the impression of a 'fiscal sanity consensus' opposed to the White House and congressional leadership's profligacy."... Of the eight Supreme Court candidates profiled in the magazine, four are "conservative activists" and four are "principled conservatives." The activists want to "enforce limits on federal power ... that have been dormant since the New Deal." The principled conservatives "believe in deference to legislatures."..."TRB" blasts conservatives who call their opponents religious bigots. Most criticism of the Christian right is based on a disagreement with their agenda—not a hatred of faith. "[H]arsh criticism is not disrespect—and to claim it is undermines democratic debate."—D.K.
Economist, Nov. 20 According to the cover story, the economic growth enjoyed by China's urban coastal region is reaching its rural inland. As a result, "China's domestic economy is starting to become a powerful engine of growth." Inequality still exists between the rural and urban populations, but "incomes are still rising in rural China, even if they are rising much faster in the cities." China "will need co-operation between bureaucracy and enterprise" to continue its rapid growth. … U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is set to hear the conclusions of a panel formulating "five basic 'criteria of legitimacy' ... for the use of force." Its recommendations could represent "the UN's last chance of reforming itself for a very long time."... Condoleezza Rice's appointment to secretary of state "opens up some possibility of greater diplomatic engagement." Bush has quietly suggested that America must patch up its frayed relationships with Europe, the magazine says.—D.K.
New York Times Magazine, Nov. 21 The cover story describes why antidepressants now carry a black-box warning indicating they could induce suicidal tendencies in teenagers. Told through the vantage point of the Millers, whose son committed suicide after taking Zoloft, the article addresses how the warning—the government's highest—can affect adolescent treatment—"This could mean a lot of untreated children." But it fails to draw concrete conclusions about the link between suicide and antidepressants, offering only that until the FDA acquires "fresh data," "doctors will have to decide whether they want to go up against a black-box warning. And parents will have to decide whether they want to trust their doctor's judgment."... Another article recounts the heartbreak of Election Day for Steve Bouchard, America Coming Together's Ohio director. Though ACT increased voter turnout, "turnout alone is no longer enough to win a national election for Democrats. The next Democrat who wins will be the one who changes enough minds."—J.H.P.
Atlantic, December Given evidence suggesting a looming conflict with Iran, the Atlantic puts together a "war game" that "attempt[s] to stimulate many aspects of conflict—operational, strategic, diplomatic, emotional, and psychological," without consequences of "real war." Ultimately, the group of seasoned experts concludes that the president "should understand that he cannot prudently order an attack on Iran." According to the group, the "available military options" "to slow or stop Iran's progress toward nuclear weaponry ... are likely to fail in the long term." With troops already in Iraq, "the United States lacks enough manpower and equipment to take on Iran." More important, however, is that "a full assault would require such drawn-out preparations that the Iranian government would know months in advance what was coming."… Also, Mark Bowden reveals the regrets of hostage-takers from the 1979 Iranian crisis. They "regard their actions as a monumental mistake—a criminal act that disrupted not just the lives of the American hostages but ultimately the life of their own country."—J.H.P.
Weekly Standard, Nov. 22 A profile of Arafat examines his role as a terrorist, saying he "taught an entire generation of Muslims that Terrorism is Power." The piece advocates that Palestinians "will find true liberation only if they can transcend the senseless violence that he falsely insisted was their only hope."... Another piece proposes a "three-pronged agenda" for the United States' involvement in the Middle East. The United States should continue to encourage Sharon's plan to end Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip; it "should promote a U.S.-Palestinian agenda that emphasizes democracy, transparency, accountability, and the rule of law"; and it should enlist the help of Arabs and Europeans.... Though the Bush administration may view Arafat's death as a renewed opportunity for peace, one story says that "finding an Israeli optimist is no easy task." "Jewish religious sects, political movements, even Zionism itself," have flourished despite the loss of Israeli leaders, so Israelis wonder why Palestine in the aftermath of Arafat's death would be any different.—J.H.P.
New Yorker, Nov. 22 Malcolm Gladwell supposedly became a victim of plagiarism when playwright Bryony Lavery lifted passages for her play, Frozen, from his 1997 New Yorker profile of psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis. Yet when Gladwell discovered the news, he says: "[A]lthough I said I'd been robbed, I didn't feel that way. Nor did I feel particularly angry." Using myriad examples of how musicians have long (intentionally or unintentionally) poached short sequences from one another to create a new piece of art—Kurt Cobain's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" bears resemblances to Boston's "More Than a Feeling," for instance—Gladwell assesses the nuances of plagiarism and concludes that it's necessary to "understand the distinction between borrowing that is transformative and borrowing that is merely derivative."… Another piece examines the effects of the French law that forbids the wearing of "symbols or clothes" that disclose "religious affiliation" in all public schools. The law, which has been received with both staunch opposition as well as support from a range of individuals, will be reassessed at the close of this academic year.—J.H.P.
Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 22 The imposing threat of Iran: By examining intelligence reports, U.S. News reveals examples of how Iran is supporting Iraqi insurgents, such as sending intelligence agents into Iraq "tasked with finding information on U.S. military plans," as well as training terrorists. "For years, the State Department has identified Iran as the world's pre-eminent state sponsor of terrorism." It's the Iranian threat of nuclear attack that's most disconcerting, however. The former chief weapons inspector in Iraq tells U.S. News, "I would not put it past [Iran] to carry out spectacular attacks to demonstrate the cost of a hostile policy. That is the policy issue—can we learn to live with Iranian nuclear capacity?"... Another article stipulates that "The United States estimates that Iran could field its first nuclear weapon in three to seven years." According to one official, Iran's involvement in Iraq and the knowledge of nuclear capabilities begins "to tip the balance in the direction of pre-emptive military strikes" against Iran.
The Fallujah aftermath:Time recounts the experience of one platoon in Fallujah, observing that the insurgents "are a tenacious enemy who fight as any guerrilla force might—never head on, always from behind or the sides at moments when it's least expected." Despite last week's full-scale attack, which had "the most brutal up-close combat conducted by the U.S. military since Somalia," Time says "victory over the insurgency in Iraq isn't necessarily any closer." ...U.S. News points out that attacking Fallujah may be necessary to gain control, but "it alone won't persuade former supporters of Saddam Hussein and other hostile Sunnis to join the political process." ...Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria wonders if it could instead have the reverse effect: "If Fallujah is more likely to lead to a Sunni boycott of elections, what exactly has it accomplished?" He says that unless strategists devise a method to manage Sunnis, even "the best military tactics will not work."
Arafat's legacy: How will Yasser Arafat's death impact the Middle East peace process? Although Mahmoud Abbas is likely to become Arafat's successor, Newsweek says "it could be many years before he enjoys anything close to Arafat's credibility with Palestinians." The problem is that "[t]he very things that make Abbas acceptable to Washington—his political moderation and pragmatism—render him unpopular among Palestinians." As such, the support of Marwan Barghouti, the popular leader of Fatah in the West Bank who has recently expressed an interest in running for president himself, is crucial to Abbas' success. ... U.S. News argues that now is the time for Palestinians to right their course: "Either settle down and build a life, or keep right on marching, on the road to nowhere." ... That may be easier said than done, however. Time says that "[i]n Sharon's office, no one thinks a new set of Palestinian leaders will do what Arafat couldn't: dismantle the terrorist organizations."—J.H.P.
David Kenner is a former Slate intern.