Today, Other Magazines flips through Newsweek, The New Yorker, the Weekly Standard, New York, and Vanity Fair to find out what’s worth your time—and what’s not.
Former Bush adviser Karl Rove pens a hatchet job in Newsweek on “how to beat Hillary” next November. Meanwhile, DailyKos publisher Markos Moulitsas offers the obvious advice to “make the Bush record the issue” that will defeat Republicans. Neither offers anything particularly insightful, choosing instead to devolve into partisanship.—J.M.
Best Campaign Piece
A New Yorker feature on Barack Obama’s efforts to catch Clinton in the polls offers a detailed looks at exactly what he’s doing to try and gain ground: painting himself as the only honest horse in the race.—B.F.
Best War Piece
An article in the Weekly Standard examines the Human Terrain System, a method the U.S. Army uses in Afghanistan to overcome cultural barriers. The insightful eyewitness report reveals the system’s inabilities to clear the biggest hurdles, like language and social status.—D.S.
From George Packer’s New Yorker assessment of the Republican presidential candidates: “Off camera and in private, a few of the Republicans seem to understand that Bush has driven the country into a ditch. But, because the thirty per cent of Americans who remain die-hard Bush supporters have a death grip on their party, those candidates won’t say so, choosing to repress their constructive impulses and sound as shallow and jingoistic as possible while campaigning.”—B.F.
Best Economics Piece
Vanity Fair examines the economic effects of Bush’s presidency, arguing that they will take generations to reverse. The article reminds us that “5.3 million more Americans are living in poverty now than were living in poverty when Bush became president,” and class stratification is so severe that it is “heading in the direction of Brazil’s and Mexico’s.” Ultimately, the piece concludes, “just as Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib have eroded America’s moral authority, so the Bush administration’s fiscal housekeeping has eroded our economic authority.”—E.G.
In Newsweek,Fareed Zakaria examines the difficulties faced by foreign travelers to the United States. While the declining value of the dollar should make America an attractive tourist destination for foreigners, he finds that bureaucratic fear of “[letting] in the next terrorist” has made traveling to this country a nightmare for many.—J.M.
Vanity Fair includes a striking image from Extraordinary Circumstances, the upcoming collection from the Ford administration White House photographer David Hume Kennerly. The photograph, taken in a Los Angeles hotel room, features Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan swathed in shadows, the lights of the city glimmering in the distance. At the time, Kennerly considered the picture too “brooding”; now it seems “that darkness captured something of the spirit of the time,” the encroaching gloom of inflation, defeat in Vietnam, and post-Watergate uncertainty.—E.G.
New York tells the fascinating story of the life—and bloody death—of Linda Stein, the Bronx woman who became the manager of the Ramones and “realtor to the stars.”—G.H.
Vanity Fair works itself into a lather over Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, calling her “kittenish” and anxiously analyzing her past relationship with Salman Rushdie in a standard, slavishly flattering puff piece. The article is all appetizer, no entrée: At the beginning, she wears a white gown with “a hint of nipple”; at the end, she spoon-feeds Harvey Weinstein chocolate.—E.G.
The Weekly Standard offers a withering review of Beowulf, complaining that “never, in the annals of motion picture history, has an adaptation of a great work been run through the shredder quite as thoroughly.” The piece particularly disdains director Robert Zemeckis’ sweeping changes to the original story: “Imagine a movie called The Torah that tells the story of creation from the perspective of Christopher Hitchens, and you might get a sense of the rather shocking transformation that takes place here.”—D.S.
Worst Cultural Analysis
New York navigates through a tale of two strikes—those of the writers union and the stagehands union—and tries to uncover why public sympathy rests with the writers. It addresses underdog theories, PR strategies, and the media bias. But it leaves one explanation untouched: TV writers affect more people than stagehands.—G.H.
Best Media Article
Vanity Fair declares ours “the age of the media gadget,” detailing how the gadget has altered both the production and consumption of content. Yet in spite of the transformative “power and supremacy of the gadget,” the article suggests, all things come full circle: future gadgets may offer songs and videos for free. All you will have to do is watch an advertisement—just like television and radio.—E.G.
Best Cocktail-Party Factoid
From Newsweek’s intriguing piece on the death of the book and the rise of the e-book: “Only 57 percent of adults read a book—any book—in a year.”—J.M.