Other Magazines

White-House Wives

Time on how presidential candidates’ spouses are changing the game.

Time, Sept. 14 The cover story looks at the changing role spouses are playing in this year’s presidential campaign. Spouses getting involved in their husband’s administration are nothing new, as evidenced by Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt. But the writer argues that while a spouse’s influence hasn’t changed, the amount of public exposure has. Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama campaigning for their husbands are only the most obvious examples. The article also devotes a significant portion to the next big thing in presidential spousal roles: first husband. An article focuses on the efforts of some gym teachers to increase childhood exercise by, of all things, purchasing video game equipment. Kids aren’t playing Halo 3 but “exergaming systems”—games like Dance Dance Revolution, where moving your body controls the game. Studies suggest that some exergames may be better than, say, walking on a treadmill, but there is no word on how it performs compared with traditional gym-class aerobic activities, like soccer. It’s an insidious effort, suggests one pro-exergaming social worker: “We are tricking them into exercising.”— J.M.

Economist, Sept. 15 The nuanced cover editorial offers a gloomy prognosis for the war in Iraq but, nevertheless, concludes that American forces should stay. The magazine was not impressed by Gen. David Patraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s testimony this week, as “the spin General Petraeus put on the military achievements of the surge exaggerated the gains.” The writers make their distaste for the situation abundantly clear but argue, “America owes something to Iraq’s people” for having self-interestedly invaded their country. The war may already be the complete failure that the Democrats are calling it, but at the moment we have no way of being completely certain.” An article criticizes the relaxed U.S. reaction to the overthrow of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif was an “appalling” leader but “represents something without which democracy cannot thrive—a real political movement with popular support.” His successor has shown no evidence that he’s interested in returning to democracy. American spokespeople called the developments “an internal matter,” but they’re wrong: “Whether Pakistan moves back to democracy, or is condemned to authoritarianism, is of great interest to America, and the rest of the world.”—D.S.

Atlantic, October 2007
A superb cover story on Bill Clinton’s philanthropic endeavors artfully describes how the former president is trying to change the face of philanthropy for years to come. The piece outlines the business model of the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative and its efforts to curb harmful emissions by focusing on profit margins and market economics. Clinton and his partner Ira Magaziner, who spearheaded Clinton’s failed universal health-care proposal in 1993, are convinced that inviting the private sector into the energy market is the only way to make energy-efficient products available enough to change consumers’ behavior. If this article is any indication, Clinton has certainly convinced the press that his brand of philanthropy has revolutionary potential. The magazine adds more fodder to the mainstream media’s canon of Facebook.com articles with an above-average piece. This iteration analyzes Facebook’s not-so-recent decision to allow third-party developers to design applications for the social networking site. The piece’s rational thesis is that Facebook’s “walled-garden” approach may succeed because users are so overwhelmed by the vast infinity the Internet has to offer outside of the site’s confines.—C.M.

New York, Sept. 17 An enterprising New Yorker tells the hilarious, fascinating story of creating a tiny farm in his 800-square-foot Brooklyn back yard. To put to the test the arguments of the “locavore” movement—that people should eat only what’s grown within a few miles of their home—he planned to live exclusively off the farm for one month. But he’s hardly begun before the forces of nature interfere: withering plants, cannibalistic rabbits, a psychotic egg-eating chicken, and, finally, a tornado. He loves the taste of the homegrown food, but after spending $11,000 and severing a finger, he concludes that it’s “miserable, soul-crushing work.” An article profiles a brash man: New York Post Editor Col Allan, an Australian whom one friend says “can drink just about anybody I know, with the exception of Christopher Hitchens, under many tables.” Amid a flurry of Post scandals that include favor-trading and strip-club visits, Allan remains as defiant and offensive as his paper’s bold headlines. He hates the hyprocrisy of his detractors and knows “what a glass house looks like.”— D.S.

New York Times Magazine, Sept. 16
A comprehensive cover story looks at the “flip-flop rhythm of science” through the lens of hormone replacement therapy. It was initially thought to prevent heart attacks and osteoporosis in women, but a later study concluded that it led to a higher risk of stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer. The writer warns that any of a number of clinical biases, statistical variations, and the public’s tendency to quickly jump to conclusions makes studying chronic diseases an inexact art at best, an impossible endeavor at worst. The conclusion is, like all good advice, common sense: “[R]emain skeptical.”  A fascinating profile of Russian/Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev investigates the intersection of religion and business in the life of “the man who broke De Beers international diamond cartel.” The world’s 210th richest man spends his time expanding his business empire, leveraging his estimated $4 billion to $8 billion fortune to advance his fundamentalist Chabad brand of Judaism through schools and community-building. He also takes potshots at Warren Buffet when he can: “A lot of very rich men wait too long to give their money away.”—J.M.

National Review, Sept. 24 In a fat, six-part editorial, the magazine’s editors reconstruct the strategic and moral case for staying and winning in Iraq. “This war can still be won, but only if we have the nerve and patience to see it through.” An article on the recent disrobing of Sen. Larry Craig muses over the secret life of the undercover cop who busted him. “What a job! Did he, I wonder, go to work every morning (if that is when he set out for work) with a song in his heart? Did he tell his wife the nature of his current posting, and in what detail?” An essay explains and forgives the Mother Teresa’s crisis of faith, revealed in recently released private correspondences in which the Catholic nun described her inability to feel the presence of God. “They are not really signs of doubt, although at times they feel like that. They are in fact signs of Christian adulthood. …”—G.H.

Newsweek, Sept. 17
cover story takes a long view of Hillary Clinton, from her days as first lady to the present. There’s no breaking news here, but the article does a fine job tracking how Clinton learned from her mistakes after the health care fiasco. “Hillary Care” was “too big, too unwieldy,” and Clinton tried to force the plan through without consulting leading Democrats, let alone Republicans. But these days she “dive[s] into the small-detail stuff” like “Dear Colleague” letters and has worked closely with ultraconservative Trent Lott. An article examines why just one-quarter of the country’s 3 million teachers are male—the lowest rate in 40 years. Top three reasons: The starting salary is low, just $30,000; “grown men who express physical affection for small children can be accused of being pedophiles;” and the old stereotype that men “lack nurturing skills.” So what, you ask? The graduation rate for boys is lower than for girls—a gap that might have something to do with the shortage of male role models.—J.L.

The New Yorker, Sept. 17, 2007
A George Packer essay amply covers the consequences of withdrawal from Iraq and delivers a counterpoint to Gen. David Petraeus’ likely “unremarkable” assessment before Congress of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq. For Packer, the “inadequacy of the surge is already clear, if one honestly assesses the daily lives of Iraqis,” and he predicts a grim future for Iraq, with or without the presence of U.S. troops. A piece focuses on the defining dynamic of the Democratic primaries: responding to the Clinton years. In each election since his presidency, “the field [has] narrowed to a Clinton candidate and an anti-Clinton candidate.” In 2008, it’s obvious who the Clinton candidate is, but how will she navigate that politically fraught territory? Hillary Clinton puts it succinctly: “Any Democrat who rejects the only two-term Democratic President we’ve had since Franklin Roosevelt is rejecting an important part of how we are in a position to be able to run and win in the 2008 election.”—M.S.

Weekly Standard, Sept. 17
A frivolous cover story on the culture of fun in the workplace is a snappy and snarky takedown of corporate-mandated staff bonding. The article rides the wave of sarcastic entertainment like The Office to provide an inside look at the emerging field of fun consultation—aka “funsultation”. Companies like Delaware’s Fun Department are hired to bring humor—not sarcasm—to office parks nationwide, yet are often greeted by groans from employees. The article makes Dunder Mifflin sound like the scene of a reality show rather than a television comedy. A bland feature spends time with John McCain’s campaign in New Hampshire and tentatively declares his once-anemic presidential bid to be revived. “It is far too early to start writing the McCain comeback narrative. But it is equally early to be writing his political epitaph.” Besides a funny aside about dumplings, the run-of-the mill piece doesn’t offer much new insight into the campaign’s inner workings.—C.M.