New Republic, Nov. 8
While court watchers fixate on how Bush or Kerry’s Supreme Court picks will affect the culture war, federalism hangs in the balance, says an article. Bush appointees may succeed in “overruling … the post–New Deal regulatory state.” Kerry’s justices could “turn to international law to define the meaning of U.S. constitutional guarantees.” Either Bush’s conservative activism or Kerry’s liberal activism could inflame public opinion. “Take your pick.” … Marty Peretz delivers a vicious broadside on the United Nations and John Kerry. Its dithering in Rwanda and ignoring genocide in Darfur shows that “[t]he United Nations is bloated and corrupt.” Meanwhile, Kerry “is in denial.” … “TRB” says that conservatives, exhibiting “a fear of the uninformed masses,” are ambivalent about higher voter turnout. Consequently, the current administration has been slow to fund election reform in the neediest areas. “[O]nce again, poor and black voters are less likely to have their votes count.”—D.K.
Economist, Oct. 28 In a choice “between two deeply flawed men,” voters should elect John Kerry. “[T]he sheer incompetence” in the rebuilding of Iraq have undermined Bush’s credibility. Bush “has steadfastly refused to admit to” any mistakes, and has placed his vision “in unnecessary jeopardy.” Though Kerry’s views “oscillate,” he “would be in a better position to carry on with America’s great tasks.”… The suicide rate keeps falling in Britain, but not because people are any happier. “[C]onventional wisdom suggests that more Britons ought to be ending their own lives,” but quick and non-disfiguring methods are increasingly difficult to come by. Guns are scarce, and regulations have made it difficult to acquire large amounts of pills. … An article reports on the discovery of Homo floresiensis, a meter-tall relative of modern man. This less intelligent species may have evolved because of a restricted food supply and the absence of large predators.—D.K.
New York Times Magazine, Oct. 31
The magazine presents its second cover story on faith in one month, this time looking at how it’s integrated into the American workplace. The article focuses largely on Riverview Community Bank in Minnesota, a self-described “Christian financial institution,” in which bankers pray with their customers for things like “the best buyer for their house.” Such institutions are becoming quite popular (even Intel boasts at-work religious programs); one “unofficial leader of the movement” says thousands exist today. Surprisingly, legal snafus are not really an issue: “[F]reedom of religious expression trumps many other rights.” … In time for the release of his new novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, a profile of Tom Wolfe addresses the usual “biographical blah-dee-blah,” but also explores his struggles with depression, his susceptibility to procrastination, and his contentious relationships with John Updike, John Irving, and Norman Mailer. After their criticism of his previous book, A Man in Full, Wolfe decried, “they’ve wasted their careers by not engaging the life around them.”—J.H.P.
Rolling Stone, Nov. 11 John Kerry provides the usual sound bites in an interview with Jann Wenner, saying that his top five priorities as president are, respectively, safety, jobs, health care, education, and the environment. He’s remarkably candid, however, with his opinions of Bush’s Cabinet members. He says Rumsfeld “should have been fired long ago,” but admits, “I like Colin Powell enormously.” He adds that “Colin Powell is right, and Rumsfeld and Cheney marginalized him.”… In a profile, Jamie Foxx admits some films he made were less than stellar (Booty Call, Breakin’ All the Rules), but he played the parts because, “[y]ou gotta stay in the hunt.” In addition to his new film, a biopic of Ray Charles, Foxx discusses his penchant for the ladies (he has “three rolodexes worth of phone numbers”) and his standup comedy career.… Also, there’s a six-page excerpt from Tom Wolfe’s upcoming book, I Am Charlotte Simmons, its second serialization in Rolling Stone. (Read David Ritz on Ray.)—J.H.P.
Weekly Standard, Nov. 1 If Colorado passes Amendment 36 on Nov. 2, it could possibly be cause for legal action, says one feature article. Amendment 36 would divide the state’s electoral votes between candidates based on the number of popular votes each received. Opponents would likely argue that Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution is a provision that “makes it quite clear, some say, that the authority to decide how states allocate their electoral votes rests with the legislature alone, and does not extend to judges, commissions, or voters in ballot initiatives.”… One article criticizes Kerry’s misrepresentations about his antiwar activities because they “were not as innocent as he would like them to be remembered.” Kerry led Vietnam Veterans Against the War, which was “squarely in the radical wing of the antiwar movement.”… Another article points to inconsistencies in Kerry’s support of affirmative action. He once called affirmative action “an inherently limited and divisive program.”—J.H.P.
New Yorker, Nov. 1 The editors endorse John Kerry for president. Most of the five-page editorial is spent criticizing Bush for the way he handled issues surrounding the war, terrorism, the environment, and the Justice Department, among others. John Kerry, however, “offers a clear, corrective alternative to Bush’s curious blend of smugness, radicalism, and demagoguery.”… One reporter travels to Europe with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, the administration’s “most passionate and compelling advocate” for the war. Wolfowitz reveals “his hopes for a democratic Iraq now are modest”; he hopes it becomes “more liberal than what came before.” Wolfowitz visits with hospitalized soldiers, telling them, “I’m sure we’re going to win, and one day people will feel about you guys the way we feel about the guys who won World War II.” … Also, a collection of the late Richard Avedon’s photography called “Democracy.” Portraits include Jimmy Carter, Sean Penn, James Carville, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., soldiers, and other political personalities.—J.H.P.
Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 1 Last-minute pleas: While Kerry works busily to shore up support from black voters, Bush is counting on evangelical Christians to help him seal the deal, say two pieces in Newsweek. “Gay marriage has motivated millions of evangelicals in a way that even abortion never did.” … Ohio and Florida remain critical to both candidates’ campaign efforts. Unlike the 2000 election, in which Bush relaxed his campaign in the week before the election, both parties are prepared to work until the 11th hour, says one Newsweek article. One Republican strategist said of Karl Rove, “Karl knows that we couldn’t coast the way we did last time around.”… Working the “doors and phones” is the main strategy to accrue votes now. U.S. News says that “even Democrats concede that the GOP ground game has improved.” In the 2000 election, Republican volunteers “had made 415,000 calls. Last week it was up to 1.8 million.”
The messy aftermath: Time’s cover story examines the potential for chaos after Nov. 2, if the race is as close as polls indicate. Both parties currently spend about $9 million per day on campaign efforts but have also allotted funds to combat any issues that might arise on Election Day and as votes are being tallied. One Democratic group, Election Protection 2004, has more than 5,000 lawyers ready to help the party manage any conflicts. The Republicans, meanwhile, have $10 million apportioned to litigation needs. … Both U.S. News and Time run down potential Election Day pitfalls, including faulty election machinery that can result in inaccurate vote counts and issues surrounding provisional ballots. Although the Help America Vote Act “mandated provisional voting so that nobody would be refused a ballot for the wrong reason,” “[l]awsuits over provisional ballots have already sprung up in five states” because of ambiguity about which provisional votes count.
Safety and security: The question of who will make America most secure is still on voters’ minds. Time says some differences in the candidates’ foreign policy may not be as stark in practice as they are in theory. “Just as Kerry would be likely to adopt the basic principles of Bush’s military strategy against al-Qaeda, a re-elected Bush might have little choice but to embrance many of his opponent’s prescriptions for Iraq.” …U.S. News explores al-Qaida’s elusive nature. One terrorism consultant explains, “Al Qaeda has transformed from a group into a movement.” The war in Iraq hasn’t helped, either. “[E]xperts on radical Islam broadly agree that at least the short-term effects aren’t good.” … How do voters’ fears of war and terrorism play as a factor this election? “[I]n times of war, fear usually works to the advantage of the incumbent president,” says U.S. News, but voters’ frustration with the war in Iraq may test the limits of their support.—J.H.P.