What's new in New York, the Weekly Standard, and The Nation.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Nov. 11 2008 4:38 PM

How He Did It

Newsweek and The New Yorker on Obama's win.


Newsweek, Nov. 17 A seven-part article on how Obama won the presidency spans 50,000 words and promises inside information from a team of reporters given special access over the past year. It begins in Chicago with Barack Obama's unlikely decision to run for president on just two years' senate experience. Reporters embedded with the campaigns reveal how John McCain first found a narrative, how Hillary Clinton's campaign lost the primary death match, and how the McCain camp's "loose cannon" atmosphere continually sabotaged its own message. When McCain picked Sarah Palin behind closed doors, it "had the feel of a guerilla raid, a covert operation." The long story's final chapter explains how Obama got voters to the polls in the last days and how rifts between advisers ended the McCain campaign on a "poisonous" note. As McCain staffers fought with Palin and one another, Obama showed the same calm he'd had since the beginning.


The New Yorker, Nov. 17 An article examines the "obsessive singularity" inside the Obama campaign that led them to victory: "In their tactical view, all that was wrong with the United States could be summarized in one word: Bush." That strategy worked in both the primary and general elections, since both Hillary Clinton and John McCain could be portrayed as hardened members of the Washington establishment. Other election-deciding tactical moves included Obama's choice to opt out of public financing and his careful management of his own celebrity—particularly after McCain's effective Paris Hilton ad. An article traces John McCain's path to "losing his soul," as one supporter describes it. Before the 2008 campaign, McCain was respected by members of both parties because of "a single belief: that he was more honorable than most politicians." Close friends confirm that his reputation wasn't a facade or a media concoction, which makes it all the more difficult to explain the angry, negative final months of his campaign.


Weekly Standard, Nov. 17 A scathing essay announces the end of conservatism and blames the movement's champions for its spectacular failure: "We've had nearly three decades to educate the electorate about freedom, responsibility, and the evils of collectivism, and we responded by creating a big-city-public-school-system of a learning environment." Among the tactical blunders are the right's pandering to the South, hysterics over Bill Clinton's personal life, interference with the public will on abortion, bumbling foreign policy, and support for expansive government spending. An article calls unity a "recurring delusion of American politics," noting that most unifying presidents are only retrospectively acknowledged as such. Reagan is now considered successful but was a polarizing figure in office. Obama may, like Reagan, eventually be seen as effective. "But if he does, it will be because, like Reagan, he engaged his ideological and political opponents in ferocious battles and beat them."


New York, Nov. 17
The cover story rapturously calls Barack Obama "a kind of religion … one rooted in a deep faith in rationality." A profile interviews New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, whose third book hits shelves next week. His first two, The Tipping Point and Blink, trekked in geek-cool academic research and marketing philosophy rendered as entertainment. Gladwell's critics object to his "parasitic" use of others' research, and the looseness with which he applies it to everyday situations. He tends to agree, and promises Outliers—which argues that the very successful are just very lucky—contains his "very bedrock beliefs." An article tells the story of a bailarina, a Spanish dancer at one of the many New York clubs where men pay for dance partners or table companions. Bailarinas aren't strippers, but often manage complex, frustrating lives of multiple romances and abusive working conditions.


The Nation, Nov. 24 An article blames the current economic situation on "a mythology about the dangerous consequences of big government that does not stand up to the evidence." The numbers, rather, show that the economies of nations who spend far more of their GDPs on "social transfers" than the United States does grow at the same rates. Bold government action occasionally leads in the wrong direction, but correctly-administered programs are more likely to boost productivity than to hinder it. With a GDP of $15 trillion, the U.S. can easily afford the improvements it needs "to compete in a more competitive world." A column backhandedly thanks Sarah Palin for her presence in the presidential race. She was "a gift to feminism" in both negative and positive ways: She clarified what feminism isn't ("feel good, 'you go girl' appreciation of the female moxie") and worked in tandem with Hillary Clinton to normalize the idea of a female president.

David Sessions is a former Slate intern. He is currently a blogger at Politics Daily.



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