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

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Jan. 27 2009 2:43 PM

Caroline, No

The New Yorker and New York on how Kennedy botched her Senate seat campaign.

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The New Yorker, Feb. 2"Caroline Kennedy has had her moment and flubbed it," concludes a profile of JFK's daughter, who tried unsuccessfully to be named to Hillary Clinton's vacated Senate seat. Plenty are to blame, including Kennedy's allegedly clueless PR firm and imperceptive reporters. But perhaps this moment was meant to be flubbed: "Kennedy's friends are always saying how normal she is, and it appears that they are right," the author says. "Normal people do not run for the Senate."... A profile of Mohammad Tabibian, a Duke-educated economist who is one of Iran's "most important reformers," highlights his belief "that a free market can co-exist with social ideals." Founded on a "Marxist-Leninist reading of Shiite theology," the Islamic republic has long preferred populism to free enterprise. But as decades of destructive economic policies have left "the educated middle class ineffective, unmoored, and nearly irrelevant," a free-market consensus has slowly emerged.

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New York, Feb. 2
The dishy cover story dissects Caroline Kennedy's brief and failed pseudo-campaign. New York Gov. David Paterson turned "what could have been a moment of triumph" for himself into a "slapstick fiasco"—seven long weeks of erratic, confounding behavior and media showboating, and an ending no one fully understands. As for Kennedy, the previous political noncombatant "ended up as sullied as any lifelong politician," a victim of her "almost Victorian idea of rectitude" and a failure to "come to terms with the fact that the reason she was in line for the job was that she was, well, a Kennedy."... A column maintains that Barack Obama is leaning toward the center. Several Cabinet appointments seemed "almost designed to alienate progressives," and some pro-labor policy planks didn't survive the journey from change.gov to whitehouse.gov. Unifying a divided nation "will require [Obama] not just to appear to reach out rightward but to actually … you know, do it."

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Newsweek, Feb. 2
An essay casts Obama's inaugural address as a call to service in which the "definition of being an American" was "based on what you do, not who you are." The author argues that Obama's spiel about being a "civic republican"—always "a tough sell in fiercely individualistic America"—was especially out of style from the late 1960s to today. For that reason, the speech helped Obama's broader goal of moving the country beyond "the psychodrama of the Baby Boom generation." ... Fareed Zakaria says that Obama's top priority should be to jolt bank lending. Real-estate-backed assets need to be removed from balance sheets, even if yet more taxpayer dollars must flow to the financial industry. "The American public believes that we have already spent far too much money on bailing out the banks," Zakaria writes. "But the economic fact is that we have not spent enough."

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Weekly Standard, Feb. 2 An article examines the 2009 Virginia gubernatorial contest, "the first big political race of the Obama era." A sullied Republican brand and an influx of minorities and urban professionals into the state's northern region have pushed this once reliable GOP commonwealth into the blue column. But what if state attorney general and putative GOP candidate Robert McDonnell—a Catholic, socially conservative veteran who is "the quintessential Northern Virginia businessman"—prevails in November? Then "his formula—conservative principles, minority outreach, and a problem-solving message—will become the model for Republicans trekking back from the political wilderness."... Editor William Kristol says the GOP's direction "requires serious rethinking in fundamental areas." To that end, he calls for "tons of political entrepreneurship" and "heterodox ideas." "There should be vigorous debate," he argues. "Disharmonious disarray is in the short term much less of a danger than a false and stultifying unity."

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The Nation, Feb. 9 A piece calls for a re-examination of "the dominant role of the market in our society." Commerce, the author argues, must be put "in its proper place, where it serves our nature and needs rather than manipulating and fabricating whims and wants," and the federal government under Obama must enact policies to help put it there. The author recommends creating a Cabinet-level arts position, reducing consumer spending from 70 percent of GDP to 50 percent, and speeding the democratization of information technology.... An article distinguishes between the Gaza War's "battlefield winner"—clearly Israel—and the victor in the "legitimacy wars," which, due partly to alleged Israeli war crimes, will likely be Hamas. Comparing the situation with the struggle over apartheid, the author predicts that world opinion will ultimately confirm the Palestinian group's success, even if "Hamas is not the African National Congress, and Israel is not South Africa."

Marc Tracy is a writer living in New York.

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