What's new in The New Yorker, Esquire, and the New Republic.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Jan. 20 2009 8:02 PM

Out With the Old, in With the New

The Weekly Standard bids farewell to Bush, while Newsweek prepares the way for Obama.

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Weekly Standard, Jan. 26 A feature frowns at the Bush administration's "nearly unbroken string of defeats and retreats" in its policy toward North Korea. Some of the blame falls on President Clinton, who "chose to ignore the mounting evidence that North Korea was cheating" by developing "an illicit uranium-based weapons program." But the Bush administration failed because "the president and his administration never actually developed a policy toward North Korea—an approach through which those attitudes toward this dangerous regime would be operationalized, and objectives coherently pursued." An editorial argues that some Republicans are "about to draw the wrong lessons from the Bush legacy." Bush's spendthrift ways raised the hackles of conservatives who want their party to " 'return to its roots' and oppose the welfare state on principle." However, Republicans wishing for smaller government should instead push for "a less intrusive government that encourages personal responsibility among its adult citizens."

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Newsweek, Jan. 26 The cover story examines Obama's presidency in light of the country's changing demographics, four decades after Lyndon B. Johnson's Immigration and Nationality Act ushered in waves of new immigrants. Obama's ascension to the presidency was possible because "[a]s the electorate changes, voters themselves are more likely to come from diverse backgrounds or live in a world in which diversity is the rule, not the exception." As race becomes a less prominent issue in American politics, "class will likely constitute the major dividing line in our society," a feature argues. The gap between the middle and upper classes has significantly widened in the last 40 years, but "the rate of upward mobility has stagnated overall, which means it is no easier for the poor to move up today than it was in the 1970s."

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New Republic, Feb. 4 The cover story argues that recessions reinforce the global economic pecking order, and the present one will do the same by assuring U.S. dominance over developing economies once the dust settles. Russia, China, and India face setbacks to their recent growth because of falling oil prices, reliance on the American economy, and political instability. Ultimately, "the financial crisis may actually resuscitate U.S. power relative to its rivals." A feature uses the Harvard and Yale law schools as an analogy for Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. A Yale Law graduate, President Clinton reflected the strengths of his fellow alumni, who were "creative, deep-thinking, engrossed by public policy" but perhaps more ambitious than pragmatic. Obama, on the other hand, was influenced by the emphasis on "discipline" at Harvard, which was "a three-year hazing ritual" compared with Yale's "three-year Renaissance Weekend" ethos.

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The New Yorker, Jan. 26 Slate contributor Atul Gawande mulls options for health care reform under the Obama administration. The author compares the successful transitions of several European countries to government-sponsored health care during the last half-century. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service "was a pragmatic outgrowth of circumstances peculiar to Britain immediately after the Second World War." Since "our health-care system has been a hodgepodge for so long … we actually have experience with all kinds of systems." Regardless of the path the U.S. government pursues, it needs to focus on cutting costs for patients. An article chronicles the early history of the American newspaper leading up to its first death knell in the 18th century. Prior to the American Revolution, the Stamp Act ate away at publishers by requiring the purchase of a stamp for every page printed. Colonial papers alternately folded and resurfaced, but during the war, they "proved crucial to the resistance movement."

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Esquire, February 2009 An essay contends that Americans were complicit in the country's failures over the last eight years. President Bush's two terms were marked by "ironies that exposed the consequences of our assent." People were horrified to learn of the National Security Agency's wiretapping yet were perfectly willing to relinquish "more of our privacy to Steve Jobs than we ever did to George Bush as soon as we bought an iPhone." What remains is a "Moral Bubble, and it will not be pricked until we take responsibility not just for the forty-third president's actions but for our inaction." A profile of Vice President Joe Biden weighs the "qualities that made some people dismiss him as a showboat and others trust him with their lives." The author went behind the scenes with Biden in the weeks after the election, a time during which, Biden says, "nobody [paid] any attention to me at all."

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