New Republic, Dec. 17
The cover package takes stock of conservatism after Sept. 11. One piece, by Andrew Sullivan, sees potential fault lines in the GOP: Libertarians distrust Bush’s tough law enforcement measures; neocons have split with the White House over foreign policy; cultural pessimists underestimated America’s spirit; theocons still embrace public religion, a concept instantly outdated by Sept. 11. … Another piece, by Peter Beinart, argues that a libertarian revolt is just what the country needs. Thus far, conservative groups—like the NRA and the Eagle Forum—have undermined Bush’s military tribunal plan in ways liberals never could have dreamed of. … A piece flattens GOP congressman Bill Thomas, whose bluster threatens to ruin post-Sept.-11 good feelings. Some of his attacks make little sense: While debating an economic stimulus bill, Thomas accused Democrats of “race-baiting.”—B.C.
Economist, Dec. 8
The cover story says Israel should think twice before deciding it can no longer deal with Yasser Arafat. By attempting to drive Arafat to irrelevance in the Palestinian Authority, Ariel Sharon may be compromising Israeli security. Whoever they may be, secular or Islamic, Arafat’s successors will probably be more radical than he is. … An article ponders the next stop in the war on terrorism. The Bush administration distinguishes between two types of states: those it wants to make an example of through military action, and those it wants to turn into allies against terrorism. In the first category are Somalia and Iraq. In the second: the Philippines, Yemen, and Sudan. … A piece looks at America’s options for dealing with Saddam Hussein. Paul Wolfowitz has long argued in favor of trying to foment revolution in the South. But there is no Iraqi equivalent of the Northern Alliance capable of doing the grunt work on the ground.—J.F.
New York Times Magazine, Dec. 9
The issue is dedicated to the “Year in Ideas.” … Cheating Is Part of the Game: and not just for Danny Almonte, the 14-year-old who snuck into the 12-and-under Little League World Series. Parents hold kids back a year in middle school so they’ll be bigger, faster high-school football players. Elite colleges let in athletes who wouldn’t otherwise qualify. … The Crawl: Cable news channels framed the screen with a never ending parade of headlines. “Television,” the author writes, “became a print medium.” … Quarterbacks as Middle Managers: This year, the NFL raised its signal callers to be cautious and bland. Ravens’ QB Trent Dilfer, last year’s Super Bowl winner, proves “this is not an era for great men; this is an era for men who don’t blow it.” … The White House Doesn’t Need the Press: The Bushies shun Beltway journalists while doling out scoops to local papers. Actually, most of the time they don’t dole out scoops at all.—B.C.
Time, Dec. 10
The cover story, a George Harrison eulogy, predictably challenges the quiet Beatle stereotype. Ambivalent about fame and tragically hemmed in as a songwriter by the Lennon-McCartney juggernaut, Harrison led the band to psychedelia and came into his own with his post-Beatles masterpiece, All Things Must Pass. Although a (justified) fixation on violent Beatlemaniacs marred his final years, he died a “happy mystic.”… A piece reports on the slow progress of the terrorist manhunt (only a quarter of the Most Wanted have been apprehended or killed). Osama Bin Laden is probably hiding in the serpentine caves of Tora Bora, but after Somalia, American troops won’t risk a door-to-door search; instead, they’re dropping massive bombs on cave entrances. … The latest on the propaganda war: Most of the Arab world still hates America. Although street protest quieted considerably in the wake the Taliban’s unnervingly rapid collapse, most Arab journalists call the United States racist and blame the war on American support for Israel.— J.D.
Newsweek, Dec. 10
The cover story wonders if Attorney General John Ashcroft “is trying too hard to fill the shoes of the last J. Edgar Hoover.” Some Justice Department and FBI officials say privately that the domestic terror hunt has gone too far, and a poll reveals that public support for expanded investigative power is waning. Of 603 people still in custody, only a dozen have been tied to al-Qaida. … An article likens recent technological advances in warfare to the invention of gunpowder. The hyped smart bomb has arrived in earnest, as more than half of the air raids involve “precision ordnance.” The unmanned Predator beams streaming video of the battle action to commanders, eliminating the crippling “fog of war.”… A piece describes how Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?, once Disney’s savior, became the bane of its existence. By airing the show in prime time, ABC alienated young viewers, and, complacent about Millionaire’s success, the network cut the new-show budget.— J.D. U.S News & World Report, Dec. 10
The cover story tries to rescue the Pentagon terror attack from the obscurity that has come with always being compared to the collapse of the trade center. Featuring stories of casualties and survivors and the heroes who tried to save them, the piece points out that more people died at the Pentagon than at Oklahoma City. … A piece reports on the hospital crisis in Afghanistan. Even the public hospital enforces a pay-first policy, and nobody can pay. Doctor salaries have been suspended for four months, and electricity and heat are unreliable. Construction was halted on a new surgery wing because the charity group footing the bill also bankrolled terrorists.— J.D.
The New Yorker, Dec. 10
A piece says the post-Sept. 11 political climate is the Republicans’ dream come true. The old way: Clinton centered debate around Medicare and Social Security, so Americans cared about what government could do. The new way: After a huge tax cut, a recession, and a war, the country stares deficit in the face. Spending, tax-cutting, and everything else except military expenditures stop in their tracks, which means Americans now care about what government cannot do.… A piece from the front lines in Afghanistan portrays Afghan warriors, especially Northern Alliance mujahideen, as anarchical, brutish clowns. The Taliban defect with few reservations in the face of defeat. The Northern Alliance fighters make war on each other to decide who gets to commandeer the jeeps used by defecting Taliban.—J.D.
The Nation, Dec. 17 An essay frames the current conflict in terms of a global cultural war between Enlightenment values and religious fundamentalism. The Islamic world represents only one front of this war; another is the domestic culture war that has defined American politics for more than three decades. … A piece alleges that Judith Miller and her co-authors of Germs have bungled the New York Times anthrax coverage, and their book is partly to blame. Presumably relying on the same fixed sources who contributed to Germs, Miller et al. pushed an alarmist state-sponsored theory about the anthrax attacks and managed to miss some of the major turns in the investigation. … Gore Vidal offers a paragraph-by-paragraph lambasting of the New York Times’ Florida recount review. According to Vidal, the Times buried its most important point in Paragraph 16: Bush won by 537 votes, but 680 of his late-arriving overseas votes were illegally counted.—J.F.
Weekly Standard, Dec. 10 The cover article puts Osama Bin Laden on the psychiatrist’s couch. Like Jack Kevorkian and the Unabomber, Bin Laden is diagnosed as holding to an “overvalued idea,” an exaggeratedly intense commitment to a singular belief. Psychiatrists have found that such destructive behavior can best be treated not by searching for its root causes but by interrupting it—e.g., by putting anorexics under dietary supervision. By implication, the way to fight terrorism is not to try to deal with underlying issues but rather to put the terrorists out of commission. … A piece looks back at America’s immediate reaction to Pearl Harbor. Searching through old periodicals, the author finds “little of the sense of horror and drama that overtook this same country” after Sept. 11.—J.F.