New York Times Magazine, March 31 The cover story traces the erosion of the Republican Party following the disastrous 2006 midterm elections. GOP elders “worry that the social conservatism that helped seal Rove’s majorities might create for them a deficit that lasts a generation, that the party’s position on social issues like gay marriage may permanently alienate younger, more moderate voters.” The National Republican Congressional Committee reports that “on at least one occasion,” a disgruntled conservative activist returned a fundraising request in an “envelope stuffed with feces.”… An article explores a Darfur advocacy group’s “nuanced” efforts to pressure the Chinese government to drop its arms and oil dealings with Sudan as Beijing Olympics approach. … A trend piece about “abstinence clubs” on Ivy League campuses explains that many formed in reaction to what they viewed as “institutional encouragement of promiscuity” through college-sponsored safe-sex education programs.
Time, April 7 The cover story addresses deficiencies of the much-touted alternative fuel ethanol. An alarming, and paradoxical, consequence of the biofuel craze is the depletion of the Amazon rainforest. The demand for allegedly eco-friendly energy has driven crop prices through the roof, and farmers in Brazil want a piece of the profits. So, ethanol is “doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended.” In addition to ethanol’s negative impact on the environment, its production is also causing food prices to rise—which could spark a global hunger emergency. … A piece questions the future of Fox News, which “will need to remodel itself again” after Bush’s presidency comes to an end. Though the network has been unfocused lately, its viewers likely won’t go away: “It just has to figure out what’s going to make them mad starting in 2009.”
Economist, March 29 The editorial leading the cover package on American foreign policy cautions it will be difficult for a new presidential administration (be it McCain, Clinton, or Obama) to repair the United States’ shredded global reputation. “The mere fact of not being Bush will bring a dividend of goodwill,” but Europeans want “America to stop playing world sheriff and submit to the same rules as everyone else under the United Nations.”… A piece surveying Bush’s foreign-policy legacy notes that his approach to world affairs has made him “one of the most polarizing presidents in American history.”… However, another article concludes that the source of many Europeans’ anti-Americanism is that they are “furious with the Bush administration precisely because of its refusal to live up to the American ideals that had served the country so well during the second world war” and that with “a little wooing, they might be willing to fall back in love with America.”
Harper’s, April 2008 A piece considers the alarming possibility of transmittable cancer. Contagious forms of the disease persist among certain animal populations: Tasmanian devils suffer from parasitical facial tumors that they pass to each other during fights and mating skirmishes; a sexually transmitted cancer exists among dogs. There are documented cases of humans “catching” cancer, too. Most were doctors or laboratory workers who accidentally came into contact with cancerous cells, either by a cut or needle prick. … An article explains how a flood of Iraqi refugees has destabilized Syria, which has now closed its borders to displaced Iraqis. The neighboring country, which once enjoyed sectarian peace, now copes with the antagonism of the primarily Sunni refugees toward its Shiite inhabitants, while the added economic strain cripples its infrastructure. One Syrian man says, “Iraq is an atomic explosion. It is a chain reaction that has not come to an end.”
GQ, April 2008 An article investigates the flagging mail-order-bride trade in the former Soviet Union. As Moscow prospers, the “vaunted ‘Russian bride’ may soon be a thing of the past.” Men after “their very own superhot June Cleaver” now look to places like Colombia, Thailand, and Brazil, where women are less selective and still believe in the “myth of the well-heeled American swooping in to save the day.”… A profile visits Joe Francis in jail as he waits for a trial date for charges on tax evasion. (Francis has since been released.) During the interview, the Girls Gone Wild founder says in front of a female guard, “Look at that rack.” “Can you take me home?” he asks her. “Don’t I get conjugal visits? It’s been eight months.”
New York’s cover package on the Bear Stearns buyout provides a glimpse into the boardroom dealings between JPMorgan, the Fed, and Bear—as well as a from-the-ground report on how the investment firm’s employees reacted when they heard they’d been bought out for $2 a share.
Time interviews Hillary Clinton but doesn’t succeed in cracking the senator’s boilerplate responses—her paragraphs-long replies sound as if they’re fresh off the campaign press.
Best Politics Piece
Forget the swirling debate over the Democratic primaries. Newsweek asks the question on everyone’s mind: Why don’t female politicians have more sex scandals?
Best Culture Piece
Harper’s profiles the farmers of the “raw milk underground,” who believe it’s their mission to bring consumers unpasteurized milk, and the government’s attempts to shut them down.
Best Cocktail-Party Factoid
A piece in the New Republic reveals that after an economist proposed etching a black fly near the drain of toilet bowls in a men’s restroom at an Amsterdam airport, “spillage” was reduced by 80 percent—”It turns out that, if you give men a target, they can’t help but aim at it.”