The New Yorker, Oct. 20 A profile of the all-but-ignored Joe Biden reveals his hesitations about accepting Obama's invitation to join the Democratic ticket. (He insisted Obama choose him for his legislative experience, not his demographic pull.) Biden says that he and Obama tend to think well of other senators—including John McCain, a friend of Biden—and refrain from questioning their motives. Biden says he'd model his vice presidency after Lyndon B. Johnson, who the writer notes "tried to remain something of a Senate man."… An article by Malcolm Gladwell compares two different creative types: the young genius who emerges fully formed and the "late bloomer" whose artistic goals are so elusive that they require decades of practice to develop. Gladwell says the latter category flies in the face of conventional ideas about genius and creativity. Yet it describes writers like Ben Fountain, a successful lawyer who abandoned his career to write fiction, and painters like Cezanne.
New York, Oct. 20
An article finds that Wasilla, Alaska, is nothing like the "microcosm of America" Sarah Palin describes. The formerly desolate town of 10,000 is now marked with traces of Palin's governance (fast food and strip malls) and evidence of her unexpected rise to fame (churches that kick out press visitors). A number of Wasillans don't like Palin citing their town as her "experience," and some question her insistence that she "didn't blink" when maybe she should have.... A review of Oliver Stone's W. draws parallels between Stone and his subject, George W. Bush: "Though on opposite sides of the culture war, Bush and Stone were, fundamentally, questioners of the same authority—their fathers." Bush was forced to run his father's 1992 campaign, and the loss—which was attributed to his father's weakness—stung him. Similarly, Stone was "propelled out of his adolescence by a prodigiously talented, prodigiously damaged seeker."
Weekly Standard, Oct. 20 An article attempts to nail down Barack Obama's foreign policy ethos. His escalation procedure—diplomacy, more diplomacy, economic sanctions, then maybe a few strikes—bears a strong resemblance to Bill Clinton's. The exception is Afghanistan: Obama supports a "fundamental redeployment from an open-ended commitment in Iraq to an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan."… An article presented as a lecture on Obamanomics from "Weekly Standard U" divides Obama's economic plans into three divisions: "the not-so-bad, the bad, and the really, really bad." The less terrible: Obama's advisers are decent, and the markets would benefit from his cool temperament. The bad: "Obamanomics equals higher taxes, more government spending, a larger deficit, a more complicated tax code, increased regulation, a slowdown in global economic integration, and the resurrection of the labor unions."
Newsweek, Oct. 20 The cover story, written by Fareed Zakaria, sees the "silver lining" of the economic crisis: "This crisis has—dramatically, vengefully—forced the United States to confront the bad habits it has developed over the past few decades." According to one economist, the country has "demanded lots of government but refused to pay for it"—and as the old saying goes, "there is no free lunch." The collapse has been a "wake-up call from Hell" to both citizens and government, insisting that we confront our collective debt. … Twin profiles of presidential campaign managers Steve Schmidt and David Axelrod compare their approaches. Schmidt is credited with shaping up Arnold Schwarzenegger's bully image and solidifying his 2006 re-election and with forcing McCain to stick to a script. Axelrod famously taught an Indiana congresswoman "the value of going negative" and, despite perceptions, has been a staunch proponent of negative campaigning.
The Nation, Oct. 27 An article wonders if the Democrats' aggressive outreach to evangelicals will actually bear fruit: "[It] may counter the right-wing myth that Democrats are anti-religion, at least among progressively inclined believers, but it's unclear whether they will shift enough religious voters to alter the electoral map." Evangelicals have been more "persuadable" in this campaign than in 2004, but they were gravitating toward John McCain even before he picked Sarah Palin. Still, the few remaining undecideds may be a crucial gain for Obama. … A piece dissects Obama's health care plan and wonders how many of its proposals are realistic. Of chief concern are his plan to make insurance companies accept all applicants and his lack of specifics on making Medicare sustainable. His approach is "calculated not to arouse opposition from private industry," but it may not be "bold" enough to address the health care system's crippling problems.