Today, Other Magazines reads Newsweek, The New Yorker, New York, and the Weekly Standard to find out what’s worth your time—and what’s not.
A Weekly Standard piece written and published before Monday night’s contentious debate seems prescient while intelligently examining the Democrats’ identity-politics clashes. The article is rooted in a deft understanding of the Democrats’ political correctness, which the Clintons defined in the 1990s and are now trying to undermine in their nomination battle with Barack Obama.—C.M.
In The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik offers a strained dissection of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s romance with model Carla Bruni. The 1,000-word essay pulls off a hat trick of cultural elitism: a bait-and-switch lede that subs in Simone de Beauvoir for Bruni, an oblique reference to the “Oo-La-La! division of the Mon Dieu! school of the American press,” and three attempts at using the word canoodling ironically.—C.W.
Best International Piece
Newsweek says that credit for decreased violence in Iraq doesn’t just go to Gen. Petraeus. The cease-fire with Muqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army has also been central to stemming micro-level neighborhood conflicts. Order is achieved through bloody ends—the story describes a neighborhood gangster, one of their own, killed by the Sadrists for his disruptiveness—but is trickling upward nonetheless.—N.M.
Best Campaign Piece
TheNew Yorker’s George Packer writes a compelling narrative of Hillary Clinton’s political character that stands out as one of the more readable of the season’s many profiles of the Democratic candidate. The article quotes several Clinton family friends and colleagues speaking warmly of Barack Obama or taking jabs at Clinton’s personal secrecy.—C.W.
Worst Campaign Piece
Newsweek tackles Michelle “The Closer” Obama’s appeal to undecided black voters in the run-up to South Carolina’s primary. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really shed any new light on the intriguing but somewhat inscrutable would-be first lady. The piece notes that her childhood on the “gritty South Side” of Chicago will help her relate to black voters more than Barack does, but the only biographical anecdotes included are the now-shopworn details of her courtship with Obama.—N.M.
Best Obama Plug
In Newsweek, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson laments the lost soul of his Republican Party. The one candidate who can make the GOP “downplay their divisions, renew their purpose, and join hands in blissful unity?” Hillary Clinton.—N.M.
Fantasy of the Week
William Kristol, in the Weekly Standard, gives voice to every neocon’s dream: “And if there is no clear-cut winner, then the delegates at the GOP convention can turn on the fifth ballot to an obvious fallback compromise candidate, one who would be just fine with conservatives—Dick Cheney!”—C.M.
In the Weekly Standard, Irwin Stelzer explains how ever-changing data from the past stops economists from successfully predicting what’s going to happen next. “Economists not only have to peer through a fogged-over windshield; they are afflicted with clouded rear-view mirrors.”—C.M.
New Yorknails the vital take-away from the Britney Spears derailment—our obsession with “Bad Mommies,” and why we love lash to bash them. —J.R.
Best Literary Review
TheNew Yorker’s Jill Lepore decodes the many layers of satire and subterfuge in Benjamin Franklin’s “The Way to Wealth,” an essay that the quintessential American Renaissance man compiled from 25 years of Poor Richard’s Almanac. Franklin, as Lepore presents him, is a literary Proteus capable of mimicking nearly any style, from low-brow to liturgy, who prided himself above all else on his irrepressible wit.—C.W.
Best Fashion Piece
New Yorkexplores the year’s most-talked about accessory—the $18,000 belt, with its hefty and handcrafted platinum buckle. Its leather is made by an English tannery that was supposedly founded during the Roman Empire, and its cost may actually fluctuate based on the platinum market.—J.R.