Other Magazines

A History of the Veto

And why President Bush might actually start using it.

New Republic, Oct. 9 A cover piece gives a grand tour of 101 Constitution Drive, which houses Washington’s most powerful lobbies. The building itself reflects the culture of corporate influence, from its prime location adjacent the Capitol to its bustling power-lunch restaurant: “This is the place for political spectatorship in the age of Abramoff, where you can see the questions before the nation actually being resolved.” A labor union owns the building—but you wouldn’t know it from the structure’s “slightly excessive craftsmanship.” A piece examines the history and viability of the presidential veto. Ever since Andrew Jackson first began expanding presidential powers, the White House has blocked “almost 15 times as many federal laws as the Supreme Court.” If Congress swings Democratic in November, Bush may soon be vetoing legislation regularly. Recent proposals to grant the president line-item veto-authority “show how fearful Americans remain of truly majoritarian politics.”— C.B.

New York, Oct. 2 Trend-spotter Kurt Andersen declares that the apocalypse is hot. Usually associated with creepy cults, the topic has caught the attention of professors, literary types, and Mel Gibson. But it’s the baby boomers behind this fascination with the end days: “For half a century, they have dominated the culture, and now, as they enter the glide path to death, I think their generation solipsism unconsciously extrapolates approaching personal doom: When I go, everything goes with me, my end will be the end,” charges Anderson. The magazine offers up a guide to surviving the post-bubble real-estate market. Here’s the condensed version: If you’re selling you’re screwed. That makes now the time to buy, because the average sales price of a Manhattan apartment is a pittance at $1.38 million. And real estate in New Jersey is a deal, but you wouldn’t want to live there.—Z.K.

New York Times Magazine, Oct. 1 A cover piece profiles Howard Dean, whose “50-state strategy” to retake Congress pits him against many Democratic Party elites. Instead of focusing on tight races in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, Dean is connecting with the party’s grass roots everywhere—an investment that could cost the DNC up to $8 million. Consider Alaska party chairman Jake Metcalfe a convert. He voted against Dean for DNC chairman, thinking he couldn’t fulfill his promise to deliver money to off-the-map state parties: “I thought, That’s not going to happen—not out here. … He proved me wrong.” A piece examines the work of a Los Angeles clinical psychologist who found child-rearing lessons in Jewish law. When Wendy Mogel began attending synagogue, she scrapped psychological models like id, ego, and superego for concepts like “yester hara, the bad impulse within us that is a source of passion and an impetus to creativity, and the yester tov, the good and proper impulse.”—C.B.

Weekly Standard, Oct. 2 An editorial pesters the administration to deploy more troops Iraq and criticizes those who claim there aren’t enough troops to send: “To those who warn that Iraq is ‘breaking the Army,’ we would respond that losing in Iraq will increase the burden on the military over the coming decades rather than decreasing it. Nothing breaks a military like losing.” An article analyzing George Allen’s journey from 2008 presidential front-runner to senator in danger of losing his seat dips into his childhood upbringing—he was cruel to his younger siblings—and the beginnings of his political career—he hasn’t lost a race since ‘82. Earlier this year GOP strategist Mary Matalin characterized Allen as an “authentic” and “serious” straight shooter. In light of Allen’s “macaca” moment and subsequent allegations of racism, the author notes: “Matalin might have been right at the time, but not anymore.”—Z.K.

The New Yorker, Oct. 2 Burkhard Bilger writes on the gem trade in Madagascar, which is transforming this extremely poor country in the Indian Ocean. Today, around half a million Malagasy make money off mining, whether by digging, dealing, or providing services to the miners. “Digging for sapphires was three to five times as profitable as farming, and the money worked its way through the community: a sapphire might changes hands ten times before it reached a velvet display case in an American store.” Bill Buford watched the Food Network for 72 hours straight, and he chronicles what he learned. Rachael Ray, Buford writes, is emblematic of the new breed of food-television personalities. The ingredients she uses have a “reassuring friendliness,” and to make her recipes, Buford writes, “You don’t have to know how to cook, just how to shop; and everyone knows how to shop.”— D.S.
Related in Slate: Jill Hunter Pellettieri defends Rachael Ray.

Newsweek, Oct. 2 A piece contends that Afghanistan, once Donald Rumsfeld’s example of a “failed state” turned budding democracy, has all but relapsed. Taliban fighters have returned to fill the “power vacuum” created by the absence of NATO, U.S., or local government control in some areas. One retired U.S. general believes the standoff could last “40 or 50 years.” Bush’s top commander, Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, acknowledges that the war is vastly underfunded. Success will require basic infrastructure: “Where the roads end, the Taliban begin.” A piece identifies a new generation of Karl Roves—an admaker, a strategist, and a direct-mail businessman who could play leading roles in the November elections. Scott Howell created a recent spot that “ends with the word ‘liberal’ pulsing on the screen as a shadowy figure walks down a long hallway”—a Rovian touch that indicates his legacy will outlast his White House tenure.—C.B.

Time, Oct. 2 Senior correspondent Michael Weisskopf, who lost his hand while reporting in Iraq in 2003, documents his recovery in a cover piece. While riding through Baghdad, a grenade fell into Weisskopf’s humvee: “In one fluid motion, I raised my right arm and started to throw the mass over the side of the vehicle, a short backhand toss. Then everything went dark.” At the time of the accident, Weisskopf’s son was the same age Weisskopf was when his father died, and the reporter notes the similarities. “I understood for the first time why he exited before getting to know me: he had gambled on a future that never materialized. It was a mistake I could begin to forgive.” A piece reports that the liberal “netroots” are adopting mainstream advocacy tactics like canvassing and phoning members of Congress. But with Joe Lieberman leading netroots favorite son Ned Lamont in their Senate race, it seems Democrats may have overestimated the movement’s clout.—C.B.