New York Times Magazine, April 26 Christopher Buckley memorializes his parents, William F. and Patricia Buckley, in a series of darkly comical vignettes. Most of the stories show “Christo” learning to find humor in the Buckleys’ inconsiderate behavior and his efforts to forgive them for their failures before they passed. But underneath Buckley’s acid wit is a devotion to and deep admiration for his late parents, poignantly illustrated in a scene where his dying father dictates to him the final lines of a memoir. “My eyes misted up as I typed,” the son writes. “I was, for the 1,000th time in my life, in awe of him.”… Virginia Heffernan studies reader responses to Washington Post and Slate columnist Anne Applebaum in search of ways to improve online feedback. The outlook is bleak: “Maybe nothing can—or even should—be done to curb entirely the brute urge of readers to defy what they’ve read.”
Time, May 4 In the cover story, Joe Klein grades Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, concluding that this administration “is as serious and challenging a presidency as we have had in quite some time.” The Bush administration has been a “convenient foil,” and Obama is lucky to have the reeling Republicans as opponents, but his legislative achievements are “stupendous.” He has changed the national mood, one of the most important tasks of a new president. But it could all revert if his policies prove inadequate to the monumental challenges they hope to address. … An article jokingly wonders if the United States should call Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s bluff and let the Lone Star State secede. Since one in five Americans thinks states should be allowed to leave, “maybe every couple of hundred years, the country should have the debate, just to keep our muscles warm.”
Texas Monthly, May 2009
An article tells the heart-wrenching tale of John McClamrock, a Dallas man paralyzed by a vicious football tackle in 1973, when he was 17. McClamrock became a local hero and received nationwide attention after his accident, even getting a handwritten note from President Nixon. But long after the world forgot him, McClamrock’s mother, who had already lost two husbands and a son, sat by his bedside six days a week. Her nightly prayer was that she would live one day longer than John, “because I can’t leave him.”… An article profiles Sir Robert Allen Stanford, the “simultaneously flamboyant and secretive Texas billionaire” who masterminded an international Ponzi scheme out of Houston before sparking an investigation in February. Like Bernie Madoff, Stanford played to his clients’ desire to belong to an exclusive club. Instead of Upper East Side snobbery, he sold his naive investors on “the style and values of Texas.”
Economist, April 25 The cover story sees glimmers of hope for the world economy but cautions against premature celebration: “Optimism is one thing, but hubris that the world economy is returning to normal could hinder recovery and block policies to protect against a further plunge into the depths.” The economic slump is slowing thanks to an “unsustainable transfusion,” but the darkest days and hardest work are still ahead. … An article gives British Prime Minister Gordon Brown his last warning, arguing that the budget he presented this week is “downright dishonest” and that his recent behavior makes him look Nixonian—“shifty, angry and with a list of enemies to smear.” His budget is so overly optimistic—it depends on drastic, unlikely spending cuts—that it resembles “one of those childish excuses that begin with a little exaggeration and morph into outright falsehood.”
Esquire, May 2009 The cover package explores “how to be a man in 2009.” An essay conceptualizes the ideal man; a “list of men” presents the roster of men who should be emulated; a self-improvement guide urges men to “lose weight, make money, have more sex”; a list lays out the essential life skills every real man should have. … A profile examines Todd Palin’s life as manager of the teeming Palin household in Wasilla, Alaska. He uses his BlackBerry to keep in touch with Sarah and to monitor Google news alerts about her. (His daughter Willow urges him to put it away when reporters are around because his slow typing embarrasses her.) Most days, Todd shares baby-sitting duties with his oldest daughter, Bristol. He sometimes goes to meetings in his wife’s place if she needs some time at home. Then he ducks out of the house to get his sleds ready for the snowmobile racing season.
Texas Monthly’s story on paralyzed high-school football player John McClamrock is a moving page turner that’s worth the cover price.
It’s got a few good tips, but Esquire’s “how to be a man” package is primarily a collection of well-worn, stereotypical lifestyle advice.
Best Politics Piece
A Weekly Standard essay on the Republican Party’s existential crisis calls out superficial discussions of party “branding.”
Best Culture Piece
Christopher Buckley’s memories of his late parents in the New York Times Magazine paint a fascinating portrait of a family with deep personal and ideological rifts.
If You’ve Got Six Hours To Spare …
… then you might check out some of this week’s great but dizzyingly long pieces: the New Republic’s cover story on Obama’s governing philosophy and The New Yorker’s comparison of American and Japanese auto manufacturing.