New Republic,Nov. 22
As post-election Democratic recriminations fly, the loudest criticism is that the Kerry campaign failed to offer a clear message."[A] litany of issues filled the message vacuum," and the campaign never constructed a compelling narrative about the principles that would motivate a Kerry presidency. The candidate himself was a primary cause of the failure. Kerry "didn't inspire intense enthusiasm, even among many of his own employees."... The editors lament the legacy of Yasser Arafat. "He lived in fear of the gangster culture that he created," unable to truly commit himself to peace for fear of a violent death. He failed to create a Palestinian state because he never accepted the existence of Israel...."TRB" warns Democrats against "coalescing around the idea that their basic policies are fine." Post-Sept. 11, Americans are understandably anxious about liberalism. Democrats "need an ideological shift on foreign policy akin to the domestic policy shift ushered in by Bill Clinton."—D.K.
Economist, Nov. 13
Yasser Arafat's death "may be just what is needed to bring the 'peace process' in the Middle East back to life." With the "re-entrance of Mr. Bush" and "extraordinary political turmoil" within Israel, the other sides are open to new solutions. If pragmatists like Mahmoud Abbas emerge victorious, the goal of an independent Palestine at peace with Israel can be pursued in earnest.... In the wake of the assault on Fallujah, America must "persuade the Sunnis to take part in January's election." This will require a renewed offensive against the insurgency, evidence that the vote will take place, and assurances that Sunnis will play a role in the new Iraqi government.... This article offers another debunking of the assumption that evangelical Christians seized power in the U.S. presidential election. (Slate weighs in here.) "Moral values" voters make up only one portion of Bush's base, and the decentralization of the evangelical movement "could have implications for how much of their agenda is adopted."—D.K.
New York Review of Books,Dec. 2
Ariel Sharon is unilaterally evacuating Israeli settlements in Gaza "to assure Israel's permanent control of the West Bank." While the world applauds Sharon's disengagement in Gaza, Israeli settlements are expanding in the West Bank. Any Palestinian state in Gaza "will exist essentially as a large prison." The article says the inevitable failure of this state will be used by Sharon to claim that Palestinians cannot be trusted to govern more territory. ... The intellectual links that have connected India and China for two millennia are still important today, says a piece. "While India has much to learn from China about economic policy ... India's experience with ... democracy could still be instructive for China" ... The research put into the third installment of Norman Sherry's biography of Graham Greene is "awe-inspiring," but the book suffers from its attempt to find a real-life inspiration for every one of Greene's characters.—D.K.
New York Times Magazine, Nov. 14
How has globalization tainted the American movie? Because overseas box offices bring in big bucks for Hollywood, studios green-light movies with plot lines and premises that translate easily across borders, says one piece. "While other countries have interpreted globalism as a chance to reveal their national psyches and circumstances through film, America is more interested in attracting the biggest possible international audience." As a result, says one film executive, "Our movies no longer reflect our culture. They have become gross, distorted exaggerations." Given the popularity of American exports like Van Helsing and The Day After Tomorrow, "it is easy to understand why the world views America with a certain disgust." ... Another piece examines why Chinese megastar Maggie Cheung, who's acted in 75 movies, is not an American sensation. According to producer Janet Yang, "geography and history place Asian actresses too far outside the range of the girl next door, practically a prerequisite for female superstardom in this country."—J.H.P.
Washington Monthly, November
The magazine's cover story about Barack Obama examines the role he plays in the "emerging market for a certain kind of black president, the fulfillment of which will be both harder and, potentially, more powerful than any archetype we've seen before." The article compares Obama to other African-Americans who've displayed the same promise for political grandeur before him—Colin Powell and, most recently, Cory Booker. For such individuals, "their race isn't a ball-and-chain, but a jet engine—the feature that launches them into stardom."... Frequent Slate contributor Phillip Carter examines the role the Bush administration played in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. "[T]he road to abuses began with flawed administration policies that exalted expediency and necessity over the rule of law, eviscerated the military's institutional planning, preparation and troop strength, and thereby set the conditions for the abuses that would later take place."—J.H.P.
New Yorker, Nov. 15 Jon Lee Anderson investigates how the decision by L. Paul Bremer III to de-Baathify Iraq "unequivocally" contributed to the current insurgency. Although the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority still stands by his decision to ban the party—after all, it "had been virtually synonymous with Saddam Hussein's regime; it was the instrument through which Iraqis were brutalized"—many believe the cooperation of some Baathists could have helped U.S. efforts in Iraq. Even non-Baathists, such as Mudher Khairbit, believe "the ban had been a mistake": "By banning the Baath Party, the Americans made it more powerful, more popular."... James Surowiecki analyzes how Bush's push to create an "ownership society" will hurt, rather than help, individuals. "Social Security, Medicare, insurance—these are basically risk-sharing mechanisms. Rather than let each person run the risk of ending up destitute or sick, these programs pool the risk. Because the risk is shared, it can be managed."—J.H.P.
U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 15 President Bush's appeal to voters was, well, his appeal to voters: He won partly because he "was simply better at connecting" with Americans says one U.S. News story. "Though Kerry has no reason to be ashamed of his campaign, and though he did an excellent job in his three debates, he simply was unable to connect with voters on an emotional level."... Bush focuses on his legacy this term, says another piece, citing "Reforming the tax code, perhaps by enacting a flat tax or a national sales tax," as one component of his agenda. But, "Bush is vulnerable to second-term mistakes, some say, because of his instinct to plow ahead no matter how much criticism he gets." Bush's chief legacy could be his influence on the Supreme Court, should he get the likely opportunity to appoint justices. The magazine cites J. Michael Luttif of the 4th Circuit and Samuel Alito of the 3rd Circuit as contenders.—J.H.P.
Weekly Standard, Nov. 15 If Democrats want to win the next election, they need to learn how to talk about faith, says one feature. "[T]he Democratic party elite continues to regard purple prose about the Almight as a no-no. Unless that changes, the Democratic party, bred and led mainly by staunchly secular pro-choice liberals, will die before 2020."(Read Robert Reich and Steven Waldman in Slate on why faith is important to the Democrats.)... Another piece says Bush can avoid major second-term gaffes by retaining key staff members. It's not Powell or Rumsfeld who we need to keep America safe, "but Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser. To keep Rice, Bush might have to elevate her to secretary of state. He'd be smart to do it." The article also warns that Republican gains in the Senate can help Bush but, "that's hardly a filibuster-proof majority." "The day after the election Bush said he'd 'work to earn' the support of Democrats. He'd best start right away."—J.H.P.
Time, Nov. 15 Time churns out a special election issue with a range of pieces, from a retrospective of pivotal campaign moments to a look at the Democratic Party's future. One piece paints a detailed portrait of both contestants on the day of the election. While Kerry, buoyed by news of the exit polls moved from "wild hope to stunned despair," Bush obviously experienced the opposite effect. The reason for Bush's ultimate success? "The weight that voters attached to values suggests that Rove's single-minded attention to the goal of turning out 4 million more evangelical voters than in 2000 may have paid off." (Slate says it wasn't moral values that Bush over the top here.) … Separate pieces explore potential candidates in 2008. Hillary Rodham Clinton is cited as a top Democratic contender, along with John Edwards and Howard Dean. Potential Republican candidates? Try Rudy Giuliani, Jeb Bush, John McCain, and Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist.—J.H.P.
Newsweek, Nov. 15 Newsweek reporters reveal their behind-the-scenes experiences on the campaign trail, dishing more on Kerry than on Bush. Revelations about the Bush clan are along the lines of how a friend "worried that the President's heart really wasn't in this [campaign]," or that the Bush daughters "simpered and giggled" through their introduction at the GOP Convention, but "they were hurt by the reviews."... Details about Kerry, on the other hand, include Kerry's active pursuit of John McCain as running mate. According to one piece, Kerry "made an outlandish offer. If McCain said yes, he would expand the role of vice president to include secretary of Defense and the overall control of foreign policy." When McCain replied, "You're out of your mind," Kerry "was thwarted and furious about it," asking "an intermediary … 'Why the f--- didn't he take it?' "… Another article reveals how at one point during the campaign, Kerry says of Bush, "I can't believe I'm losing to this idiot."—J.H.P.