Grabbing the Torch
New York Times Magazine on the generation gap among black leaders.
New York Times Magazine, Aug. 10 The cover story analyzes the emerging generation of black leaders. The piece notes that Obama's candidacy "accelerate[ed] [the] transition" between new and old guard black politics and exposed simmering tension between younger African-Americans and the establishment. The divide was evident in differing reactions to the Illinois senator's presidential run: For post-baby boom blacks, "the resistance of the civil rights generation to Obama's candidacy signified the failure of their parents … to embrace the idea that black politics might now be disappearing into American politics in the same way that the Irish and Italian machines long ago joined the political mainstream."… An article examines the rising practice of recycling—after a lengthy treatment process—sewage water into drinking-water systems. It's possible "indirect potable reuse" could inspire communities "forced to process and drink toilet water" to greater environmental awareness, but "[i]t's more likely that the virtuosity of water technology will let polluters off the hook."
Vanity Fair, September 2008 The cover story explores the relationship of France's first couple, Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy, whose affair caused the traditionally closed-mouth country to "officially [enter] the tabloid age. Designer Karl Lagerfield says of the pair: "They are hunters who met—predators. … He had seduced many women, and she was a kind of seductress. When two like this meet, it can be good." The Italian model, singer, and heiress "is thrilled to be First Lady."… A profile of interior designer Nicky Haslam notes that he "is famous for going to parties, and therefore it might shock some people to know that he actually works." But Haslam's projects include "the London apartments of Jagger and of record producer Nellee Hooper, a project for Charles Spencer, a fabulous house for Janet de Botton in Provence, a house in Marrakech originally owned by the late Mark Birley, the restoration of a Ponsonby-family chapel in Ireland, and a number of houses for wealthy Russians. …"
The Nation, Aug. 18 The cover story argues that "Congress and the lame-duck President are … sowing far more profound troubles for the country." In bailing out Wall Street, the government "is neglecting the grave risk of a deeper catastrophe for the real economy of producers and consumers" and "deforming democracy and opening the path to an awesomely powerful corporate state." And, by deciding "which private enterprises are 'too big to fail,' " the Bush administration goes against "[a] generation of conservative propaganda" that argued that "markets make wiser decisions than government"… An article looks at a rising star of the political punditry, Rachel Maddow, "a PhD Rhodes scholar lesbian policy wonk who started as a prison AIDS activist." The Air America host advanced not "by bluster and bravado but with a combination of crisp thinking and galumphing good cheer." She has her share of devoted fans—"Women, men, straight and not straight: they're all gay for her."
Economist, Aug. 9 The cover story surveys the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and wonders, "[w]ho today speaks truth to power—not only in authoritarian or semi-free countries such as Russia and China but in the West as well?" In the writer's native Russia, Solzhenitsyn's "should-be followers" are silent, perhaps in an attempt to "recover the perks and status that most of the intelligentsia enjoyed as the Soviet system's loyal servant."… An article considers the threat of bioterrorism after the suicide of Bruce Ivins, and the scientist suspected of carrying out the post-9/11 anthrax mailings. It notes, "So far, terrorists have generally opted for simpler, more spectacular tactics. … But as the anthrax case indicates, it takes only one individual who prefers anthrax spores to fireballs."… A piece asks if Obama's star power might be fading and carps that the "junior senator from Illinois is strikingly self-obsessed even by the standards of politicians."
Time, Aug. 18 The cover story describes how "jovially hyperactive preacher" Rick Warren is changing the face of evangelicalism. Neither "Grahamesque evangelist" nor a "paladin of the religious right," Warren concentrates instead on growing networks of churches. Graham-style evangelicals, says one source, tended to do mission work that was "relegated to 'occasional action to keep people alive, to teach them the Gospel in a credible way.' " By contrast, Warren "yearn[s] for full-scale battle with the 'five global giants': spiritual emptiness, selfish leadership, hunger, sickness and illiteracy."… A piece examines the resurgence of the home-birthing trend, in which women forgo hospitals and "the medical interventions that have become staples of modern childbirth, like contraction-inducing medication and C-sections. …" Some physicians are alarmed by a surge in the practice, arguing that "what may seem like a low-risk pregnancy can go very wrong at the time of delivery."
A New Yorker article fascinatingly unravels the life and motives of French con man Frederic Bourdin.
A critique of Nancy Pelosi in the Weekly Standard doesn't move beyond delivering a series of sarcastic responses to anecdotes found in her recently published memoir.
Best Culture Piece
Portfolio's profile of megapastor Joel Osteen and Time's cover story on fellow feel-good televangelist Rick Warren both focus on how the preachers avoid "sin issues" in an attempt to mainstream their messages.
Best Politics Piece
The New York Times Magazine's cover story on the new leaders of the African-American community reveals the nuances of the post-civil rights generation.
Quote of the Week
In The Nation's piece on Rachel Maddow, she comments on how "she gets all the girl questions": " 'I love the idea that I am the voice of woman,' she says, gesturing at her T-shirt, baggy jeans and Red Sox cap. 'Look at me. It's like: really? The one woman in the room is really mannish.' "
Morgan Smith, a former Slate intern, is a law student in Austin, Texas.