New Republic, Sept. 27 Hamas’ militant operations have caused “ordinary Palestinians to turn away from the radical Islamic group, saying that the costs of their attacks in Israel have become too much for average Palestinians to bear,” says this piece, part of the magazine’s cover package on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Hamas is struggling to determine its next step—moderates advocate politics versus violence, but more militant members believe the group “should exact revenge for the killings of its leaders.” Another piece examines the vital role Ariel Sharon has played in combating terrorism in Israel: “Sharon imposed on himself a regimen of single-mindedness and patience … [he] broke with his own party’s ideology and recast himself as a consensus politician.” Important lessons, the article argues—Sharon’s strategy should be a model for both the United States and Russia in their fights against terrorism.… Leon Wieseltier criticizes members of the Israeli right for calling Sharon’s plans to evacuate the settlements in Gaza and the West Bank “a crime against humanity.”
Economist, Sept. 27”The machinery of America’s democracy is creaking,” declares the cover story. The article cites “human error, laziness, and, in the case of those gerrymandered districts, bipartisan corruption,” as contributing factors, as well as a complicated voter-registration process, problematic absentee voting, and subpar vote-counting machinery.… The Economist is the latest magazine to compare questions about Bush’s National Guard service to Kerry’s problems with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. But this piece says, “There are three good reasons for thinking that Mr. Bush is less vulnerable to attacks than Mr. Kerry”: The Kerry campaign’s reliance on his Vietnam service make the Swift boat allegations more damning; people readily ignore Bush’s “self-confessed youthful indiscretions” because they’re used to them; and Republicans have better self-defense tactics.
New York Times Magazine, Sept. 19 Human-rights advocate Fern Holland was one of the first two American civilians working for the Coalition Provisional Authority to be murdered in Iraq. The cover story examines the cause of her death in light of her work: “What started as a humanitarian endeavor to liberate Iraqi women quickly shaped into a political battle.” Her murder remains unsolved, but when one of her colleagues asked Iraqis about Holland’s death, they told him, “She crossed the line. She went deep into the land of male superiority. … [I]t has to do with the religious beliefs in the region and it has to do with the folkways.”… A profile of Arthur Miller reveals why he wrote a new play about former wife Marilyn Monroe, and what he thinks of theater today: “It used to be that a play seemed to resonate into the society a lot more … and now it’s simply one more entertainment.”
The New Yorker, Sept. 20
Political strategist Bob Shrum may write a damn good speech, but can he help Kerry win the election? A profile examines his unimpressive history—none of the seven presidential contenders he’s represented have won. And Kerry’s recently sought additional help from strategists like James Carville, who “worried that Kerry’s message was cluttered with too many facts.” In politics, Carville says, “The less you say, the more you’re heard.” (Read Chris Suellentrop’s take on Bob Shrum in Slate.)… Malcolm Gladwell analyzes the shortcomings of popular personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Thematic Apperception Test. Personality testing is a $400 million a year industry, thanks largely to corporations who want a window into employees’ strengths and weaknesses. But what can the tests really tell us? The basic answer: “It depends.” “The quality of being a good manager is, in the end, as irreducible as the quality of being a good friend.”
Weekly Standard, Sept. 20 The magazine examines the election in the context of the war. Kerry may want to pull American troops out of Iraq and rely on foreign troops instead, but”[d]oes he really think there are tens of thousands of battle-ready French, German, and Belgian troops willing to go storming into Falluja at the first request from President Kerry?” … “ The horrible attacks on Russia are attacks on us, too,” says another piece, asserting that only aggressive action taken by the Bush administration offers any hope of combating terrorism. The piece derides the Kerry campaign for its “simplistic approaches and criticisms” of the war and compliments Bush for his “more complex and sophisticated strategy.” … Also, CBS can clear its name in the Killian memo controversy by following these three tips: Find the original docs, acquire a typewriter from the same era, and track down some additional Killian memos.
Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 20 Muddy water: Newsweek tackles the mudslinging of Campaign 2004, calling it the “ most vituperative presidential campaign since the divisive days of Richard Nixon.” The cover story dissects the potential effects of the Killian memo controversy, pointing out that whether the documents are real or forged, “traces of mud usually stick, whatever they are made of, whoever hurls them.” Kerry had to deal with the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth; “now, it seems, it’s Bush’s turn—at least in small measure.”… U.S. News gets past the document controversy by independently analyzing Bush’s National Guard service and finds “the White House used an inappropriate —and less stringent—Air Force standard in determining that he had fulfilled his duty,” since Bush didn’t always attend all “44 inactive duty training drills” required annually, among other things. The White House did not respond to U.S. News’ findings, but said Bush “served honorably.” (Click here to read Slate’s summary of the Killian memo controversy.)
Working 5-2-7: Newsweek reports on how a tax-law loophole and the lack of strict governance by the Federal Election Commission has enabled groups known as 527s to wield enormous power this election. They’ve collectively “raised upwards of $300 million.” Since they’re restricted from endorsing a specific candidate, they instead expend their money and energy attacking the other guy. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have dedicated their cause to questioning Kerry’s Vietnam service; the Texans for Truth are doing the same to Bush. The article says Democrats currently lead in 527 power, backed by the deep pockets of tycoons like George Soros, who “pledged to spend as much of his fortune as necessary to beat Bush. … And Sen. John McCain, whose McCain-Feingold campaign-reform law effectively put a ban on “soft money,” speaks out against the FEC’s ineffective crackdown on 527s, pledging to reform the FEC so that the groups can no longer fuel campaign smears.
Can Kerry close in? Time scores the first Kerry interview with a major news outlet in more than a month and offers accompanying analysis. On Bush’s rise in the polls: “I don’t know what you’re talking about in terms of the Bush bounce,” he says, “Polls don’t mean anything to me right now.” (U.S. News contributes to the dialogue on Kerry by noting his stellar reputation as a “closer.”) Kerry does cite his biggest regrets—voting to confirm Justice Scalia and “that any of us put faith in what the President said about how he would take America to war.” … According to Time’s cover story, 3 million illegal immigrants will enter the country this year. While 20 percent of those deported have had criminal records in the United States, “the agency in charge, the Homeland Security Deparment, does not have a clue as to the whereabouts of any of them, criminal or noncriminal, including those from countries that support terrorism.”
Economist, Sept. 11 The cover story recounts the recent tragedy in Beslan and provides a broad survey of how the conflict in Chechnya is affecting Russia’s entire North Caucasus region. Kabardino-Balkarskaya is now host to Chechen rebels; Ingushtia, a republic once “fairly free of such terror” is no longer. In short, “Chechnya’s conflict is sowing seeds elsewhere.”… Another article focuses on the politics of the crisis. Recent events may prompt Putin to be still more aggressive in Chechny, but he’ll need to “break today’s nexus of perverse incentives that do so much to keep the war going,” like “the top-to-bottom corruption that makes a joke of existing controls.” … The magazine also analyzes Bush’s bounce in the polls. Though Bush is ahead, polls can be misleading: “[P]eople who feel the winds of public opinion shifting in their direction are more confident about telling pollsters what they think than those who don’t.” (Read William Saletan’s analysis of the poll numbers in Slate.)